When you stood before your husband on your wedding day with your friends and family gathered in excitement for you, marital discord never entered your mind. The thought of a separation from your husband may be humiliating, devastating, angering - or it may be a relief. Perhaps you want a permanent separation that will eventually result in a divorce, or you simply want a short time apart to think and work through your problems. Before you can separate, however, you must communicate this desire to your spouse.
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Decide whether you want a permanent or trial separation from your spouse. Some states require that you live apart from your spouse for a year before you can get a divorce, but maybe you just want some time away to decide what you actually want from your relationship. Make your decision before you speak with your spouse so you can communicate your desires as clearly as possible (See Reference 2).
Make a list of reasons you want a separation. If your husband doesn't know your marriage is in trouble, he may be shocked and devastated when you reveal that you want time apart. Explain the reasons that made you decide to request a separation. Keep your list in front of you for reference in case you get upset and find it difficult to focus.
Choose the right time to bring up the separation. Send the kids to bed or let them sleep over at a friend's house. Make sure your husband has eaten dinner and had some time to relax after work. Don't bombard him as soon as he walks in the door after a difficult meeting. You should also be as relaxed as possible before you talk to your husband. If your schedules often conflict, schedule your discussion on the calendar.
Take responsibility for your own actions. Realise that it takes two people to make a marriage work and two people to make it fail. Avoid placing blame on your spouse for all of your problems and admit that you have your own shortcomings.
Discuss whether you're willing to go to counselling during your separation in an effort to make your marriage work. If your spouse is concerned about the financial commitment of marital counselling, remind him that many churches offer free or low-cost counselling even if you are not a member of the congregation (See Reference 1).
Seek legal counsel together if you plan to pursue a divorce. Call a professional who can let you know the laws in your state regarding how long you have to live apart and any documents you need to file.
Set a time limit for the separation. If you just want time apart to think about your relationship or some space to work out a difficult issue, set a time limit for your separation, such as three weeks or six months. Choose something you can both agree on with the understanding that you can extend your separation if you need to.
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