Many couples that we work with are at a crossroads in their relationship.  They are trying to decide if it really can work, or if it will not.  Every couple is different and therefore it is impossible to make broad statements about separation and divorce.  That said, the first thing to determine is which of the two paths you are on, divorce or restoration of your marriage.  Depending on how you both answer this question makes a huge difference in the steps you would take in your relationship.

One experience that can exist on both the path to divorce and separation is that of going through a time of separation.  Separation while on the path to restoration is very different from separation on the path to divorce.  Before a couple separates, they must both know what path they are on and what the purpose of that separation will be.  Separation does not always have to be just one step closer to divorce.  If done intentionally as a growth-focused time of perspective gaining, it can greatly help a couple while they are on the path to restoration in their marriage.

In order for a separation to be used on the path to restoration, it must be mutually agreed upon.  It must be directly communicated between you and your spouse that the purpose is to regain a healthy perspective on the marriage in the hopes that it will move on towards restoration.  It must also be time limited.  We would suggest it being no longer than three months with 2-4 weeks being the preferred length.  Finally, both partners must be using that separation time intentionally to improve their marriage.  That would include both being in therapy, dating each other towards the end the separation time, seeking encouragement from community, etc.

The reality is that even if couples enter into a season of separation for the purpose of regaining perspective on their marriage, the marriage can still end in divorce.  Whether there has been an affair, addiction, or years of conflict, a growth-focused separation can sometimes be the most loving thing for the marriage.   The best case scenario would not include separating as you are often most likely to resolve issues while together.  However, don’t completely rule out separation as just a sign of inevitable divorce.  Sometimes it can be exactly what the marriage needs to become healthy and restored.

For more information on marriage, separation or divorce recovery please feel free to contact us at