Trial Separation Rules and Advise
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Going Through Divorce or Separation A new addition to our forums, a place to go for sharing and support for those going through divorce and separation.

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Old 04-27-2012, 12:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Trial Separation Rules and Advise

Hello Everyone,

I have been reading here for a while now, and wanted to give some small backstory and see if I could get some advice from some of you who have been through a trial/healing/controlled separation.

My wife and I love each other very much. Over the past two years there have been strains on our relationship. Overall we have a relationship that at its core is strong, but has had it's issues. What relationship does not.

About a month ago she sat me down and laid out a slew of items that were bothering her. Many of which I cannot control and only she can deal with herself. At the same time there were things that she laid out that have to do with us and how our relationship seems in a rut and that I was not being the best listener, etc.

She thought the best thing would be to take a one month separation in the month of May and at the end of that time we would talk and see where things stood. Since this conversation happened at the beginning of April. I asked her if she would be willing to go to MC. She agreed and we started. After several session and some very good insight and growth between the two of us. Our MC still recommended at the end of our last session a trial separation for 90 days.

His guidelines were 90 days, no dating others, take the time to work on ourselves. After leaving his office we both started to come up with more questions. I have a call into him to discuss these, but he is not available till Tuesday. I tried researching this and have come up with some vague answers. So I thought I would turn here and see if some of you have dealt with this and could possibly provide some answers.

She is planning to move out around the 8th of May. We both know that an initial period of No Contact will be good for us. I have read that scheduling time say once every 3 weeks to have a date day or time together is a good thing. Agree, Disagree, Why?

She wanted this time apart, I would rather we continue MC, but I am completely resolved to giving the time for her to work on herself and for me to work on me. If she wants to end the separation earlier than the set 90 days, should we? Or should we stick out the full time of the contract?

She is planning to attend IC and has actually already started. Should we continue MC after the initial 3 week No Contact period? Or should we keep things light when/if we decide to spend time together just having fun? Then if we decide at the end of the separation to be together start MC again at that time?

After the 3 week NO Contact period, should we stick to only seeing each other every 3 weeks or should we date each other regularly? I don't want to muck things up and delay any healing processes. My thought was that after the first 3 weeks, we would spend a day together every 3 weeks up until the time that we have scheduled for us to finally sit down and discuss our directional heading at the end of July.

3 months apart is such a long time. We both know and understand the purpose behind it all, and we want to set up guidelines and rules that will give us the best chance to work on ourselves and not create confusion for what we are trying to figure out alone and together. So we have a lot of questions rattling around in our heads right now.

A little more backstory. Our relationship is in no way toxic, there has been no infidelity, no abuse (physical or mental), there are no drugs or alcohol abuses either. We both love each other very much. We still sleep in the same bed, we are still intimate, still go out on date nights (Have one tonight =)), spend loads of time talking and caring for each other.

I still have my own hobbies and my own time. This is one thing that has been lacking for her for about the last 8 months and she is missing, and part of the reason she wants to time on her own to find those things again and do a bit of soul searching for herself. Figure out some issues that stem back to her childhood and her family. Also, deal with some financial issues that she has been dealing with and a potential career change. She has been diagnosed with a high level of Anxiety and our MC actually suggested Lexapro which she has been taking for about two weeks and has made a world of difference.

Thank you all in advance for your advice.
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Old 04-27-2012, 02:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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NoKids, you post an interesting story, one that lacks the proverbial "smoking gun."

As you describe it, your marriage is strong and non-toxic. No drugs. No physical abuse. You still sleep together physically and, well, physically.

There are a bunch of things she wants to change, and they appear to be so huge that she can't change them with you present.

So I have to think that while you love your wife very much, (and you think that your wife loves YOU very much), she actually doesn't love you that much.

See, here's the weird thing. You might want to read it a few times to let it sink in-

When a wife loves her husband, she wants to live with him.

Yeah, I know. Profound, yet simple.

So when you examine your situation and find that your wife doesn't want to live with you, you have two choices.

1) Pretend that your wife is just being silly, even though she is leaving you, or

2) Realize that your wife is leaving you, and that there are some big-a$$ problems in your marriage that are speeding it towards the precipice that is "divorce."

So. You ask for advice, and here it is.

If you want to stay married to this woman, I advise you to work really hard to find out what is going through her head such that she wants to move out on you. Try to see if her actions are in agreement with her words, because if she says "I'm moving out because you have bad breath," but then goes out and buys $500 worth of lingerie, it may not really be your breath.

If she moves out anyway, I advise you to "give her the gift of missing you." Plow yourself into your hobbies, and expand your "own time" to the point that you have no time for her. At all. If she comes back, explain to her that "trial separations" are not how married people in non-toxic relationships featuring no abuse and no drugs grow together as a couple. If she doesn't come back, file for divorce. While the trial separation is going on, assume you will be filing for divorce anyway, and make plans in that direction.

And just for kicks, go get yourself tested for STDs, just because. Not that you don't trust her or anything.
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Old 04-27-2012, 03:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Trial Separation Rules and Advise

youve been so vague as to the problems that exist that I have no idea what to say
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Old 04-27-2012, 03:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Trial Separation Rules and Advise

I read a book about a year ago called, "Should I Stay or Go? How Controlled Separation Can Save your Marriage".

My situation ended up being much different than yours. However, I did read this book when my ex-husband first started talking about moving out. I thought it was an interesting book, and I think it would really help you for your situation.
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Old 04-27-2012, 05:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Sorry for being so vague. Let me lay out some of the issues that we do have going on between us.

Communication has gotten a bit strained. She felt I wasn't listening to her, and she wasn't completely incorrect. I was putting work and other things ahead of our relationship. This I have since made a big change to, and she has stated how she notices the change and sees the effort I am making and she really likes what she is seeing.

She moved to Northern California to live with me from Southern California 4 years ago. The last year she has really been itching to move back. This came to a head a few months ago and she literally broke down crying while I was away on a business trip. We live in an amazing home and I said years ago that I would never move back to Southern CA, but a few times in the past 8 months I asked her if she wanted to move back.

She was up in the air on the issue, or thought I was just saying it to make her happy and that I didn't really want to move back. See our communication issues above that added to this confusion. We are both actually moving back during the time apart and this will be good for her to be back around all her friends and family, also for me to be back around friends I do not get to see very often and also all my family as well.

She has a bit of an abandonment issue as well, she brought this up in our MC and it came down to her anxiety never giving her the complete level of security that she wishes she could have. Basically it came out that she has this constant feeling of impending doom and that something bad is always going to happen. The therapist even got a bit to the root and found that it was so overwhelming that she would focus so hard on this that it would be very difficult at times to see the good things that were happening around her.

Then there is her inability to actually forgive things. Our MC brought this out of her recently in our session. Basically she will hold on to grudges for things that are years old. She says she forgives me for them, but then every time she is in the same scenario she will remember the incident and it brings back bad feelings. I am far from perfect, and she knows this is something she needs to work on, but it still has had a profound effect on our relationship. As many things have bottled up over the years. Especially since I do my best to be a man, but I still on occasions will do dumb guy things.

There are other things too, many we have discussed and come up with answer as to how they can be dealt with in the future and we have both agreed that we have solid solutions in place to take care of these issues and nip them before they do become larger issues should we decide to progress forward with our relationship after the trial separation time.

She wanted a 30 day time frame, but the therapist recommended the longer time frame. Mainly as he saw the things she was battling inside herself and wanted her to really have time to figure those things out before rushing back into a scenario where she was using me as a crutch for her issues.
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Old 04-28-2012, 07:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Ah. Well, NoKids, in light of more information from you, I will add a little advice.

You have now put forth effort to "listen to her more." You have now offered to move back to Southern California, walking away from what you describe as a nice lifestyle up north, so that she can be close to her friends and family (since you don't fill her life up satisfactorily). You have been a flawed but mostly standup guy (I hear Northern Cali ain't cheap!) and she has rewarded you by focusing on the negative and having "abandonment issues." You have tried to let bygones be bygones, to the point that I bet there are a LOT of things you don't do anymore because you don't want to upset her, because she neither forgives nor forgets.

You are well on your way to becoming a doormat in the relationship.

Why do I say that?

Because of the title of your post. You are looking for help in figuring out how to behave while your wife takes sometime off from being around you.

You're not looking to figure out what the problem is. You're not trying to fix the problem, or even make it better. You're just looking to make it through a 30 to 90-day separation.

Can you stop and look at yourself, and see that you're the only one putting in meaningful effort here?

If you can't, well, just suffer in silence.

If you can see that, take a look at what you are getting in return for your effort.

You: Good guy, no drugs, not abusive, successful (that whole north Cali thing again), trying to be more attentive to your wife's needs, going to MC with her, getting run down in arguments for things you did months or years ago that you already apologized for.

Her: "Needs some space."

My new and improved advice: Skip trying to find out why she is ungrateful and not really in love with you, and move on to "giving her the gift of missing you." Find a woman who likes you so much that she is happy to live where you want to and share your life and not separate from you.

But that's not actually the advice you're looking for, is it?

You're really wanting to know "what am I supposed to do, and not do, while my wife separates from me for 30 to 90 days, and then hopefully comes back to me?"

Well, don't start dating other women. Try not to bug her with frequent contact. Try not to be too miserable without her. Keep in mind that she's not responsible for your happiness and emotional well-being, YOU ARE. So when you do find yourself feeling miserable, realize that it's not her fault you feel miserable, it's yours. And understand that you're using her as a crutch, too.
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Old 04-28-2012, 09:44 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Ah. Well, NoKids, in light of more information from you, I will add a little advice.

You have now put forth effort to "listen to her more." You have now offered to move back to Southern California, walking away from what you describe as a nice lifestyle up north, so that she can be close to her friends and family (since you don't fill her life up satisfactorily). You have been a flawed but mostly standup guy (I hear Northern Cali ain't cheap!) and she has rewarded you by focusing on the negative and having "abandonment issues." You have tried to let bygones be bygones, to the point that I bet there are a LOT of things you don't do anymore because you don't want to upset her, because she neither forgives nor forgets.

You are well on your way to becoming a doormat in the relationship.

Why do I say that?

Because of the title of your post. You are looking for help in figuring out how to behave while your wife takes sometime off from being around you.

You're not looking to figure out what the problem is. You're not trying to fix the problem, or even make it better. You're just looking to make it through a 30 to 90-day separation.

Can you stop and look at yourself, and see that you're the only one putting in meaningful effort here?

If you can't, well, just suffer in silence.

If you can see that, take a look at what you are getting in return for your effort.

You: Good guy, no drugs, not abusive, successful (that whole north Cali thing again), trying to be more attentive to your wife's needs, going to MC with her, getting run down in arguments for things you did months or years ago that you already apologized for.

Her: "Needs some space."

My new and improved advice: Skip trying to find out why she is ungrateful and not really in love with you, and move on to "giving her the gift of missing you." Find a woman who likes you so much that she is happy to live where you want to and share your life and not separate from you.

But that's not actually the advice you're looking for, is it?

You're really wanting to know "what am I supposed to do, and not do, while my wife separates from me for 30 to 90 days, and then hopefully comes back to me?"

Well, don't start dating other women. Try not to bug her with frequent contact. Try not to be too miserable without her. Keep in mind that she's not responsible for your happiness and emotional well-being, YOU ARE. So when you do find yourself feeling miserable, realize that it's not her fault you feel miserable, it's yours. And understand that you're using her as a crutch, too.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read through this and reply.

Not going to get into this any more. What I am going to tell you is that pretty much what you are saying hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday morning. She came home after running a few errands and we started talking. I asked her a couple questions to which she answered, "I don't know." None of the questions were deeply probing, but basically the second I asked them I regretted asking them. I immediately came upstairs and dove into working and getting stuff done. We had to take one of our dogs to the vet and then to the dog park. Prior to that a switch flipped in me. I realized that I had done the things I needed to do, and now I needed to back off and realize that this is no longer about me, it is about her. There is nothing that I need to do to change her mind or any bull**** like that. So I immediately went into a bit of me mode. I didn't really change the way I was acting towards her, I just stopped the walking on eggshells.

We ran our errands and took the dogs to the dog park, then I came home and dove into work. We went to dinner last night and then came home and watched a movie. The remainder of the day I backed completely off and did not initiate any contact with her. She almost immediately started to do so. In bed last night while we were watching the movie and was being far more affectionate and that continued on this morning.

I had a few things to do today so I took off for a bit and while I was out really thought about this process. It is time to get back to putting the focus on me. I still can't believe how easily the switch flipped, maybe I was just fed up with who I was becoming and the lack of confidence I could see in myself. Either way it flipped and I am not going back.

I had planned to talk to our MC about the questions that I have posed in this thread, but truth be told, I do not need the answers any longer. The truth is simple. I am a great guy, and while I want my relationship with her to get through these stormy waters. I can not be the only one rowing the boat.

Who knows where this will end up, her original move date back to SoCal was May 1st. That is not happening. Then it was May 6th. That is not happening. Now she is saying May 11th. I am not holding on to the chance that she will come to her senses and say that she doesn't still need time to work on the things for herself that she wants to work on. I will deal with that if it happens. For now, it is time to focus on me and if she wants to enjoy the ride then it is time for her to pull her head out of her ass and see what she has standing right in front of her.

So while she is here I am going to do as much as I can to keep myself busy and do my own thing, and do things for me. I will still continue to do things with her, but she will see far less of me. As you stated, "Give her the gift of missing me."
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Old 04-28-2012, 11:39 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I wish you luck. I think if you separate the marriage is likely over. Just my opinion. Yes it is about her.
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Old 04-28-2012, 11:45 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I wish you luck. I think if you separate the marriage is likely over. Just my opinion. Yes it is about her.
Thank you for the well wishes. Only time will tell.
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Old 04-29-2012, 08:58 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Well, NoKids, it sounds like we can add "smarter than the average bear" to your list of good qualities! A typical guy learns from his own mistakes. A smarter guy learns from OTHER guy's mistakes!

So yeah, it sounds like you have turned the corner on things mentally, and you're going to be fine, regardless of what happens.

May I humbly suggest that you wander over to Married Man Sex Life and read some of his articles for purposes of just gaining some general knowledge (very GOOD general knowledge) on modern relationships? I think it will give you some framework and definition on what is going on in your marriage.

I'd wish you good luck, but it sounds like you're fixin' to knock it out of the ballpark all on your own!
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:05 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Hey all,

I have been reading these boards and others, and it always seems like I get into a thread and find that at some point it just drops off and leaves me wondering what happened to these people. Did they work things out? Did they end up divorced? What worked or didn't work for them.

With that said I wanted to give you guys an update as to my story.

Last time I updated you guys I had pulled a 180 and basically just went back to being myself and focusing on me. I still worked on the things I knew I needed to work on, but I did it for me and not for her. She also pushed her move date back to May 8th. Then May 11th. Then May 15th. Now she is set on May 21st.

I can't be sure, but I believe a part of her thought she had made this decision but she could push it off and keeping doing so. Well, I forced that hand pretty quickly. I found renters for the house we live in and they are moving in June 1st. She even admitted that when the house was rented things became much more real for her.

Each day that has gone by since we decided on the trial separation she started to get closer and closer to me again. The pet names returned, the regular affection, "I Love You." more frequently. And so on.

I have completely avoided the subject of our relationship. Like I said before I chose to move forward focused on myself and if she wisened up and pulled her head out of her ass she could come along for the ride. If she didn't then I would be just fine.

Last Friday a conversation started while we were in bed laying there just BSing. She brought up the fact that she sees us living in LA together as we are just too good together. I just laid there and let her talk about it for a bit until she finally asked me what I thought. I told her, "I am not the one who wants time apart", but I am not going to move together unless she is ready to give the relationship 100% effort. Including her own individual counseling and couples counseling as well. I told her I didn't want her to answer right then, I wanted her to think about it and we could discuss it later.

Fast forward to Sunday and again a random conversation arises, started by her, bring up moving to LA together and not taking any time apart. I asked her what, if any last hold ups were to making the decision. She thought for a moment and said that she just wants to make sure we are on the same page as far as getting a good level of balance in our lives. With both of us spending time with friends and family, by ourselves, and then spending more quality time together even though we would be sacrificing the quantity of time that we spend together now.

We talked about this a bit more, and I explained my point of view and how I plan on spending far more time with friends (We have many more friends in LA and also both our families are there) and family when in LA. Not to mention far more time with business associates that I have in LA. That she should expect to see me far less than she does now.

At that time we had to cut the conversation a bit short as she had a friend coming into town that she had to pick up at the airport. We ended the conversation by agreeing that we would talk about it more after the friend leaves at the end of the week (Tomorrow)

With her friend her and after the above conversations, affection from her continues to grow, as well as intimacy, and what I consider to be a recommittment to us as a couple and less of her preparing for life alone. I have continued to do my own thing and focus on myself.

Nothing is in stone yet, and us taking some time apart is still on the table. Honestly I am still resolved to the fact that this is the way things will be. With that said things are moving in a good direction, with many positives, and a lot of growth on both our parts.

Thank you all for the support in a time that it was needed. I promise to keep updating our story,
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Old 05-10-2012, 06:25 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Stay the course.

Read Robert Glover's No More Mister Nice Guy

You'll recognize yourself as the lead character.

Keep in mind.

If you keep swallowing hard and "doing things to make her happy", when she isn't happy, guess who is to blame?
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:59 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Stay the course.

Read Robert Glover's No More Mister Nice Guy

You'll recognize yourself as the lead character.

Keep in mind.

If you keep swallowing hard and "doing things to make her happy", when she isn't happy, guess who is to blame?
Staying my current course is my plan.

The good news is she has been telling me how happy she is lately. Like I said I am not bending over backwards for her, just making changes to myself that I want to make.

It is also nice to see that she is recognizing things that she wasn't before, and seeing all the things that I have always done. I think much of that has to do with the fact that she has been on Lexapro for about 4 weeks now, and it is night and day for her. The difference is amazing. I have watched her anxiety level drop massively, and thankfully she has had very minimal side effects.
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Old 05-30-2012, 11:47 PM   #14 (permalink)
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As I stated before so many times I read through these forums and see stories that make me wonder what happened to the couple.

I wanted to give you guys one final update on my situation.

Before I do that I want to thank all of you who took the time to respond and also to send me PMs. The support and encouragement over the past few months from you, my friends and family, has been overwhelming. To this I am eternally grateful.

In the end and after many discussions, we have decided not to take any trial separation time. After many positive discussions and us truly opening up the lines of communication like they were never open before. The realization for both of us was that we were basically spending too much time together. She was relying on me to be everything to her, best friend, mate, the works.

We have moved back to the LA area, and things are night and day between the two of us from two months ago, let alone a month ago. We both acknowledge that we have things we need to work on, and are 100% committed to working on them, not only together, but also on our own.

She is continuing with individual therapy for issues that exist from her past and is making some great strides. We are continuing couples therapy to keep a nice outside perspective on things we are doing to continue to see our relationship get stronger.

Once again thank you all. I wish you all nothing but the best.

NoKids
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