Surviving Separation

He’s had it. He (or she) wants to separate. He swears there isn’t anyone else, but he’s just not happy. He thinks time and some space might help. You didn’t see this coming, and you are devastated, which is of course understandable.

Your first thought is probably that you will become a statistic, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. Separation can sometimes be a positive thing, despite the fact that it is a painful and difficult process.

If you and your spouse really want things to work out, a separation might actually work to your benefit. It may give the two of you a chance to miss one another and to appreciate each other more. It might provide enough distance to allow the two of you to engage in counseling, and be completely open and honest, without the anxiety of having to face the other person on the ride home or at home afterwards.

Keep these things in mind, during this difficult time:

Don’t Berate, Blame, or Accuse

If he swears there isn’t another woman, and there is no real evidence of an affair, give him the benefit of the doubt. Don’t engage in screaming matches, no matter how hurt, angry, and upset you are. It will turn him off and he won’t respond the way you want him to. Wait until you’re calmer to try to talk and never attack or try to blame him for everything. When calm, ask how the two of you can work together to make things better. Find out is he’s willing to try counseling. If you keep exchanges amicable, in time you might even suggest a date.

Don’t Act Like a Stalker

Seriously. Don’t follow your spouse to see if there really is another person involved. Don’t call several times a day or at all hours. Don’t read his mail. Don’t just happen to show up as he’s leaving work or as he’s arriving at his favorite coffee shop. By all means, never harass or embarrass him at work. Neediness is not attractive, and if it crosses the line, it can actually be considered stalking. Always think things through before you act or react, and try not to make purely emotional decisions.

Find Neutral Territory

This means both location and subject matter. If you need to discuss bills, the kids, or other important issues, stick only to the imperative points, speak in factual terms, and arrive at a decision together. Keep the list to a minimum, so it doesn’t feel like a list of demands or a bunch of excuses to monopolize his time. By finding a neutral location, especially a public place, you can help reduce tension as well as reducing the chance of heated arguments.

Be Respectful but Expect the Same in Return

Remember how much you love your spouse, and try to show respect and common courtesy. Remaining civil will help keep the two of you from building walls. You’ll be more at ease with each other making it easier to discuss and sort out important issues. However, you should never allow your spouse to walk on you. You are deserving of respect and courtesy as well. If your spouse behaves hatefully, try not to react over-emotionally. Simply disengage and tell him you will speak to him another time when he can remain civil.

Live Your Life

Don’t sit by the phone waiting for him to call, but don’t always be immediately available either. Live your life. If he asks to talk or get together but you have other plans or obligations, say so. Don’t drop everything every time he calls. Instead, offer another more convenient time if you do want to see him. Keep yourself busy and take good care of yourself. It’s easy to slip into depression and it definitely shows. Instead, remind him just how attractive you are and that it’s well worth the wait to see you.