Marriage Separation - How to Separate Effectively

Marriage Separation - How to Separate Effectively

There's a lot of confusion surrounding marriage separation and how to separate effectively. It's important to clarify that when I suggest separation, it's intended as a leverage tool to hopefully motivate your partner to make positive changes. It's not proposed as a step towards divorce, but rather as a wake up call to your partner who has fallen asleep.  

6 Steps To An Effective Marriage Separation

1. Recognizing when separation is necessary.

There are several instances where I recommend getting a separation. One instance is when there's an active addiction affecting your partner's life in multiple areas, such as work and marriage, and they refuse to seek help. In such cases, the addiction controls their life, hindering their ability to be a supportive partner or employee. For example, if you're married to someone struggling with alcoholism, and their excessive drinking impairs both their work performance and home life, yet they refuse to address it, separation may be necessary to serve as a wake-up call for them to seek treatment.

Another scenario is if you're married to someone who has had an affair and refuses to end contact with their lover and open up all accounts for transparency with you. This situation is quite common; individuals may engage in affairs with coworkers, gym buddies, neighbors, etc., and insist on maintaining contact under the guise of friendship without crossing boundaries. However, this notion is unrealistic. Once an affair has occurred, the risk of redeveloping feelings for the other person persists and continued contact with the affair person makes it impossible for the betrayed partner to heal. If your partner has had an affair but refuses to cut ties with the other person and be transparent with their accounts to prove there's no more contact, get a separation. 

The third scenario where I advocate for separation is when your top marital needs are chronically neglected and your partner is indifferent. Common needs include affection, emotional intimacy, quality time, and sexual intimacy. If you have regularly communicated your top needs to your partner and they refuse to make changes, the next step is to seek counseling or coaching. If they refuse counseling or coaching or participate for several months but still refuse to make any changes, get a separation. 

Another situation where I strongly advise separation is when any form of abuse is present. It's crucial not to tolerate any type of abuse. In severe cases of abuse, obtaining a restraining order may be necessary to ensure safety. It's important to recognize that tolerating abuse, especially if one has been conditioned to accept it due to past experiences, only perpetuates the cycle of harm. If your partner is abusive in any way, it's imperative to seek separation and, if needed, legal protection.

2- Stop enabling your partner. 

Staying in a relationship under these scenarios enables your partner's behavior. Remaining with an alcoholic who refuses treatment communicates acceptance of addiction. Remaining with a partner who continues contact with the affair person sends a message of condoning infidelity. Remaining with a partner who consistently neglects your needs says your needs don't matter. Remaining with a partner who's abusive communicates abuse is OK. In each of these cases, remaining in the relationship enables and reinforces harmful behavior. It's crucial to understand that by staying in an abusive or unhealthy relationship without taking action communicates acceptance of mistreatment. This passivity not only undermines your own well-being but also allows your partner to continue their harmful behavior unchecked. Taking steps to prioritize your own safety and well-being through a marriage separation is essential to breaking the cycle of mistreatment.

3- Gain financial independence.

Thirdly, if you find yourself contemplating separation, it's crucial to achieve financial independence first. Do you have your own source of income? Are you capable of sustaining yourself financially? If separation becomes necessary, being financially independent is essential. Otherwise, your partner may attempt to use finances as leverage to dissuade you from separating. They might threaten to cut you off financially if you pursue separation, leaving you trapped in the relationship. To avoid this predicament, consider how you can establish financial stability and independence before pursuing a separation. 

4- You move out.

If you're initiating the separation, then you move out. Don't expect your partner to leave. You can't control their actions. Requesting your partner to move out puts you at their mercy. What if they refuse? By asking them to leave, you relinquish control of the situation. You can only control your own actions, so moving out ensures you're not trapped in a situation where you're being mistreated. Moving into your own place gives you autonomy over the separation process, rather than relying on your partner's compliance, which you cannot control.

5- Outline the changes needed. 

It's crucial to outline the specific changes you need from your partner before considering moving back in together. Don't simply move out and expect your partner to intuitively understand what needs to change. Instead, if you're initiating a separation, create a clear, explicit list of the changes you need to see. These are the areas that need improvement, and these are the changes that must be in place before reconciliation and cohabitation can occur again. By clearly defining the changes you need to see, you provide your partner with a roadmap for salvaging the relationship. 

Also, the changes need to be sustained for at least 3-6 months before you should consider moving back in. Anyone can put on a temporary facade of change, but true, lasting change takes time and effort. Therefore, it's unwise to rush back into living together without concrete evidence of genuine transformation. Wait until you see consistent, sustained effort over time. Only then is it prudent to consider reconciliation and moving back in together. 

6.Consult with a lawyer.

Finally, it's wise to consult with a lawyer to ensure you're taking all necessary steps that are recommended from a legal perspective with finances, children, property, etc. 

In summary, here are 6 steps to an effective marriage separation.

1-Recognizing when separation is necessary.

2-Stop enabling your partner.

3-Gain financial independence.

4-You move out.

5-Outline the changes needed.

6-Consult with a lawyer.

Dr. Wyatt Fisher

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What else would you recommend for an effective marriage separation?

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