They hadn’t stopped loving each other, but it seemed as if one of them was always stressed out or exhausted from work and more interested in scrolling through his or her smartphone than engaging in dinner conversation. “We just needed a break,” says Patty, a retail associate in her mid-40s, who, along with her husband, asked that her last name be omitted to protect her privacy. population said that they were separated from their spouses, according to marriage consultant Marie Brinson-Sampson, author of “I Am the Marrying Kind: A Guide to Getting Married, Staying Married and Being Happily Married” (Outskirts Press; 2012).
“We didn’t believe in divorce and just needed some breathing room to get perspective on our relationship.” Temporary separations are nothing new, but in a country where half of marriages still end in divorce, more couples are taking time apart in an attempt to save their marriages. However, that does not include unofficial marriage breaks like the much-publicized separation between Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who announced a split back in September and have yet to file for legal separation.
Patty and Gus, of San Jose, never thought marriage would feel like this.
After 21 years together, they barely spoke except to argue about whose fault it was that a bill was delinquent or a car was still in need of repair. Finally, when the bickering sped up and the intimacy stopped, it was Patty who asked Gus to move out so they could “both get space” and try to remember why they got married in the first place.
Even the new term — marriage break — carries a lighter, more optimistic tone.
How do you facilitate a break, and what are the rules?
Many times, couples will separate in hopes of saving a marriage. After all, just getting distance from a painful, antagonistic situation can provide you with enough perspective to come back together weeks or months later and sort things out. The man, a newspaper reporter, left his wife in Boston and went on assignment in Russia for a year.
Their marriage had been on the rocks, but during the year apart, the two developed an email correspondence that brought them new intimacy and understanding.I borrowed his paper, a USA Today; we started talking and discovered that after our first leg, we were heading to the same city on different planes. We were living in San Francisco then, and the weekend of Memorial Day, I drove down to Los Angeles with our almost 4-year-old daughter. The two months before I’d had bout after bout of bronchitis.He tried to chat me up mid-air, but the flight attendant made him go back to his seat when turbulence hit. Still, he tracked me down to the radio station where I worked and we moved in together five months later. My doctor kept searching for a physical reason why I couldn’t shake it, eventually asking, “Is there something going on that’s causing a lot of stress?One of the most common temptations people fall for when a relationship is ending is the desire to find a new love - Often these people have been unhappy and missing love, companionship and sex for a longtime, and so there's a real pent-up, unmet need for love.Since I counsel men and women before, during and after a relationship or marriage, including through a divorce, I frequently see people dating when separated.It varies by couple, but experts say that in setting up these guidelines and specifics of a temporary separation, couples begin to effectively communicate again and rebuild their mutual respect.