Why Splitting Up, Could Save Your Relationship
Counselling many couples over the years, I realise that staying put in a long-term relationship is an ‘ideal’ not always achievable. We change so much over the period of our lives in our wants, needs and beliefs. The person you married at 25 may not be the same person at 45 and same applies to you. If you and your partner do not ‘grow’ at the same rate, then it may be that one or both of you feel the need to dissolve this duo and move onto pastures new.
If you now find yourself needing a map and a compass to find your original love and desire for your partner, then perhaps you’ve considered the unthinkable – singledom? Very hard to do and especially so if you have children. So many lives are affected, your fear of upsetting the apple cart may well override your need to escape. As therapists we’d always advise frank communication before making any moves. Serious discussions for both to speak and more importantly to listen to each other and take it seriously without it degenerating into a row. This is serious stuff not the time for bickering or point scoring. At that point, if help is needed, do seek out mediation counselling from a specialist couples therapist if you’re both able to handle allowing a third person in on the discussions.
If no resolution is achieved after that, then a temporary separation may be the next option, providing the love and care is still there on both sides. After all, how do you know you miss someone if they are there all the time? I often suggest a split of around 6 months where one of you stays elsewhere, and has minimal contact with the other (no meet ups, no messaging, unless of course you are collecting/dropping off children.)
Now this next bit is all important - You MUST agree a date set in the diary for six months hence, for a full-blown ‘party conference’ between the two of you, to reflect on your time apart.
For some, this planned meet up will signal the end of the relationship, but for others it’s a starting point to say “I’ve really missed you, let’s try again.” Now is the time to set new ground rules for the relationship, to stop you making the same mistakes as before. From now on, chances are you’ll think twice before making a destructive, unkind or disloyal move with each other, as you both remember how it felt to ‘lose’ the other person, albeit temporary. You may not feel you’ve got the guts to freefall through six months of being alone, but if you want to make massive changes and still love your partner, it may be your best option.