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The Benefits of a Trial Separation: When You’re Not Sure About Divorce

A trial separation is an unofficial, temporary split from your partner. Instead of deciding to end your relationship permanently, these splits allow you to spend some time apart. At the end of the separation, you may decide that it’s worth working with your spouse to fix your relationship, or you may realize you should end the relationship for good.

There are several benefits to trying a trial separation before you go decide to divorce. Here are the ways that you can grow during your time apart from your spouse:

Clear Your Head

The most obvious benefit of living apart from your spouse is the chance to clear your head. If you and your partner are constantly arguing, it can be hard to find time to cool down. Over time, that stress can build, and even tiny disagreements may seem worth ending your marriage over.

When you take time to be apart without communicating, you can think about what actually triggers your disagreements. Forgetting to put a fork in the dishwasher probably isn’t a good reason for screaming arguments. You may realize your work is stressing you out, or you’re worried about money. These aren’t problems with your relationship; they’re problems with your situation.

Take the time to list the things you fight about before you are separated. Wait for a week or two, then come back to the list and reread it. Are you still upset about what you wrote? If someone else complained to you about those problems in their relationship, what would you think? It’s easier to tell real issues apart from minor annoyances when they aren’t occurring in front of you.

Get Perspective

Once you’ve had some time to cool down, a trial separation can help you develop some critical perspective on your relationship. When you’re used to spending all your time together, it can be all too easy to build relationship tunnel vision. You stop noticing the good things about your partner or fail to see their dangerous and abusive behavior.

For some couples, time apart can help them realize that the things that bothered them while they were together aren’t worth splitting over. Complaints like a partner forgetting to fold the laundry fade away as the pair lives apart. These couples may find that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Other couples notice the opposite. Behaviors you thought were normal from your spouse may stand out as cruel or unsafe once you no longer live together. Taking time apart can be one of the best ways to identify if your relationship is unhealthy or abusive.

Whether you come out of a separation missing your partner or with a better understanding of why your relationship is unhealthy, you’ve gained perspective. That can help you work through future rough patches or help you stay strong while filing for divorce.

Practice Living Alone

By the time a trial separation is on the table, many people have been in relationships for years or decades. Living as a single person can be frightening or even impossible. If you’re nervous about whether you can live by yourself after so long with your partner, a trial separation can help you relearn how to live independently.

When you live alone, you need to manage household chores, paying bills, and your social life without your spouse’s input. A trial separation can be a valuable time for you to learn skills that you lack. If you and your partner have split chores in the past, you can take the time apart to learn how to manage their everyday activities.

If you decide to remain together after the separation, the new skills you learn can be helpful. You and your partner will have a renewed appreciation for the work the other does. It can also help you find a new, more balanced split in household duties.

Otherwise, if you split, you’ll need to handle these activities yourself. If you’re in an unhealthy or abusive marriage, you may find that it’s easier to navigate all of these tasks on your own. You won’t have to work around temper tantrums, your spouse’s erratic schedule, or excessive spending. You may find that living alone is more fun than you expected.

See Things Fresh

There are two ways you can approach your marriage from a new perspective using a separation. First, you can spend time talking to your friends and family or a therapist about your relationship. Many people will be more honest about the problems they notice in your relationship when your spouse isn’t currently in the picture. Just remember that your friends have your best interests at heart – they aren’t trying to insult your relationship. They’re trying to help you see the problems you didn’t notice.

Second, you can try returning to your old life after the separation ends. Many couples will return to married life for at least a little while after a trial split. This return to normal allows you to compare what it was like to live alone to your life with your spouse. You may find that you have a new appreciation for your time together. On the other hand, you may be able to see the ways your spouse disrespects or mistreats you more clearly.

Make Informed Decisions

Divorce is a major, permanent decision. If you’re not ready to commit to a divorce, spending time apart from your partner is an essential tool. You can learn more about yourself and your relationship by giving yourself the freedom to be apart.

You may decide to remain with your partner, or you may end your relationship forever. If you choose to split, reach out to a qualified Oregon divorce attorney to get the process started. You’ve done your due diligence. There’s no reason to draw out the end of your relationship any longer. Get started today so you can begin your new life.