When couples are overwhelmed by distress and painful emotionality the “D word” may feel like the only option. Thankfully, there are other separation options available with the most effective initially being a structured trial separation. This option is an informal splitting for an agreed upon length of time with no legal ramifications. This separation with boundaries option typically benefits those couples who feel they cannot reconnect without assistance.
The overarching goal of a structured trial separation is to put off the weighty decision of divorcing or staying married while intentionally working to build empathy, love, and respect for each other while improving communication, safety and trust.
The specific objectives for a trial separation are the following:
Prevent further deterioration
Gain a realistic more objective perspective of partner, self and marriage
Determine individual and relational needs
Decide what each would like the relationship to be different
Allow each partner space to decide what he/she is willing to contribute to make the relationship work more effectively
In my next post, I will lay out specific guidelines to follow for executing a structured trial separation.