The case for separation

Today I want to talk about separation, and why I think it is a good thing if you are contemplating divorce.  In many states, a separation period is required before a divorce can be filed at court.

Now, I don’t believe a separation should just be used as an escape, although removing yourself from an unhealthy dynamic can certainly feel good. As I talked about in one of my very first blog posts, I look at the separation period as a discernment period.  This is your time to figure out what is the best direction for you in your life moving forward.

To me, a separation does not necessarily mean your marriage is over.  While separated, I remember my ex telling me, in a rage, “You are just prolonging a divorce, why don’t you just give me the papers now.”  Ironically, later on all hold ups in our divorce process were originated from his end. 

The purpose of a separation is to give yourself the time and grace to come to a decision that brings you peace inside.  The time frame is going to be different for everyone.  This is such an emotional process, and very individualized.  Clarity may come quickly, or it may take a while. 

For me, it was 9 months into the separation when I reached clarity and decided to serve the divorce papers.

It was at that point that I knew I deserved to be happy, stopped hoping things would change (since they didn’t), and knew a future with my then-husband was not healthy for myself and children. I came to peace with my decision and decided that I had the strength for whatever was ahead of me.

However, within a separation if both parties are committed to working on the marriage and dedicated to improvements, I think a reevaluation at 4-6 months can be beneficial.

I believe that separation is a good thing because the space and distance can provide clarity.  By removing yourself from the immediate vicinity of the problem, you become aware of the truth. 

Often when we are enmeshed in a situation it is hard to really see it for what it is.  We rationalize behaviors that deep down we aren’t okay with.  Or we tell ourselves “it’s not so bad” and ignore what is going on day in and day out.

Separation creates awareness and provides clarity.

This concept became clear to me the other week when I was doing a cleanse.  My three day cleanse was no meat, no dairy, no grains, and no coffee.  Now I’ve known for a while, that I am sensitive to dairy, but I kind of ignore it because, well, I really like cheese.

In my opinion, a charcuterie board (cheeses, cured meats, crackers, olives, roasted peppers, etc), and wine is a pretty perfect Friday night happy hour dinner.

However, eliminating the dairy made me very aware of my sensitivity to it when a few days later I had a small amount of yogurt as a snack.  Holy stomach pains!  Luckily, most cheeses (unless super creamy) don’t affect me; yogurt, ice cream, & milk tend to be the culprits. 

Similarly, when I left my marriage, my eyes were opened wide.  I became aware of it all.  I could see the behaviors that I had been ignoring and rationalizing, I could see that I was unhappy and unfulfilled, I could  see the red flags, and I could see that I wasn’t being respected or loved as one should be in a marriage.

This did not come into my awareness immediately.  It took time to unfold and I needed to come to these conclusions on my own.  The shock and trauma had to settle a bit before I could really gain clarity.  For me that took months, as the drama didn’t end when I left.  Several other events occurred in the months to follow.

Close family and friends can often see things more clearly than you, because they are not directly involved. This why coaches and therapists are so helpful.  We tell you what we see going on.  You usually know it inside, but someone else saying it validates it as truth. 

One thing I have learned is that we have the answers inside, we just have to listen to them and believe that we know what is best for us.

Divorce is a big, life changing decision.

Therefore, in my opinion a separation period makes sense.  It allows you to create the needed space to see the reality of your life more clearly. 

Whether you decide to work on your marriage or proceed with a divorce, you have given yourself time to analyze and come to peace with your decision.  You will then know you have made the choice that is best for you. 

If you need support during this challenging time, reach out to a coach like myself to help you on your journey.  Everything is easier with support! 

Have you removed something in your life to gain clarity? Please share in the comments below.

2 responses to “The case for separation”

  1. Angel says:

    Good points, Christina. I wanted a separation but my STBX did not. I “separated” privately from him; I told him that. Then, when I wanted a formal separation, he said “why prolong the inevitable” and “divorce is cheaper”.

    I suggested to use a mediator or one lawyer. He refused. He already had a lawyer and did not tell me. He filed first. For someone that didn’t want to separate/divorce, he moved fast.

    A separation might have eased the shock of the divorce, allowed for acclimation for family members.

    All about control… on his part.

    • That is a good point as well. The separation can ease others into the notion of what is happening, although that is not “reasoning” to do it in my mind. Unfortunately, we cannot control others, only ourselves and how we respond.

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