The past two days have been the hardest I’ve had to face in a very long time. They have me taking a step back and wondering, “Is separation good for marriage?”
Because right now it’s looking like separation is a good idea.
Emotionally, I swing wildly from regret and doubt to acceptance and relief. I feel guilty that my kids are now living in a home where their parents are in the process of separating.
On the other hand, I have moments where I know that taking a step back in this way is a good move.
I know that I’ve done the right thing by shielding them from the unhappiness and instability we have been living with for so long.
I know there are many others like me who feel the same.
Finding Support During a Separation
I’ve turned to my sister for support, as well as a support group for other spouses like me. I’m trying hard take each day as it comes, though sometimes I consider it a success if I can take it minute by minute.
One woman in an online group shared a quote that very much resonated with me.
If you leave a toxic relationship, you are not giving up on anything. You are giving to yourself.
If you’re desperately looking for support, considering filing for divorce, or going through a separation, I recommend these resources:
- How to Handle Things at Work When You’re Separating or Getting a Divorce
- Mental Health: Coping with Your Separation
- List of Divorce Support Groups
So, is separation good for marriage?
Honestly, I’m not sure, yet. It’s impossible to measure what success after a separation would even look like.
A good outcome could be coming back together as a happily married couple with better communication skills and a keener awareness of just what’s at stake.
However, another possible outcome could be filing for divorce.
I just don’t know right now.
It’s even more confusing because there is such a horrible stigma surrounding divorce.
That’s something that has been especially hard. Part of me feels like I’m giving up or that I’ve failed in some way. It’s almost like it’s programmed into us in America that separation or divorce are evidence that you didn’t try hard enough.
The Unfair Stigma of Divorce
What that horrible stigma fails to account for are the years I’ve spent fighting to get my husband back.
I have spent so much time miserably waiting, pushing, yelling, and crying to get my husband to seek treatment. I’ve begged him to take responsibility for his health and care. And I’ve pleaded with him to just work toward anything at all.
As far as he has come recently in some ways (he is now consistently taking his medication and in therapy), it just isn’t enough. More than that, other issues have actually gotten worse.
I feel guilty, but the logical side of me knows that I’ve hit my breaking point. I need some time and space from him while he works on himself.
I’ve realized that I can’t fix someone for them. They have to do it themselves.
I still haven’t given up on us, and I don’t love him any less. Reassuring myself that taking a step back is a good step for our marriage right now has become somewhat of a daily activity.
It’s like trying to swim to a boat while you slowly drown, but every time you get close, a wave crashes over you and pushes you back again. I need a lifejacket and to tread water for a while. To me, that’s what this trial separation is.
What happens next?
I’m a natural planner. While trying to control things too much often gets me into trouble, exercising a moderate amount of control is helpful.
It allows me to focus on what is within my sphere of influence.
I’m putting my needs first for a little while because they’ve been sorely neglected.
Ways to Stay Supported During a Separation
- Stay connected to friends and family. As a mom with 3 kids, getting out and about is not always possible. Instead, I’m being more intentional with my virtual communication. If my sister texts me, I’m going to text her back soon, and I’ll check in on my moms’ group on Facebook more often. I also want to make sure I’m staying in touch with other moms on Instagram and Facebook. There is strength in solidarity.
- Get out of the house. Although I’m a introvert, I need to make sure I’m getting out. Even if it’s just a lunch with my mom, a pedicure all by myself, or a scavenger hunt with the kids outside. I already feel isolated in my marriage right now. The last thing I need to do is further isolate myself by hiding away in my home.
- Spend time on hobbies. Get crafty with me! I’m going to spend more time pursuing the hobbies I love so much. I plan to keep myself busy cross-stitching and learning embroidery. I might even take a painting class!
- Read more books. I used to read way more often than I do now. Reading takes you on an adventure in your head, and it is so beneficial when you just need a break from life for an hour or so.
Single Mom Blogs
While I’m not a single mom, yet, I don’t consider it outside the realm of possibilities. A separation can go either way really. I’m trying to hold onto hope, but part of me needs to seek out others who know what I’m going through.
I need to know there are others like me who have no clue what they’re doing!
(List of blogs updated for 2019)
- Emma Johnson, Wealthy Single Mommy
- Single Mothers by Choice
- The Life of a Single Mom
- Divorced Moms
- Rock-a-Bye Parents
- Single Mother’s Survival Guide
- Mommy Delicious
- The Single Mom Blog
Separation in Marriage and How to Cope
I’m not quite sure that I’m coping, yet. It mostly feels like surviving at this point.
I feel at war with myself. There is a lot of sadness and relief, guilt and a small amount of happiness. It’s incredibly confusing.
I do think that in this case taking a step back and separating from my husband is a good thing for me. It might work out to be good for my marriage, too. I honestly don’t know at this point, but I desperately need some good things for me for a change.
Luckily, there are a lot of resources at my disposal, and I feel like I have a fairly solid plan.
It’s as if I finally have that lifejacket on and can stop drowning. At least for today.