When you chose to marry your spouse you were in love and had big dreams about the future you would share. Being separated was not one of those dreams. We never go into marriage thinking it will fail. We go into a marriage filled with hope for the future and excited to spend the rest of our lives with the person we love, the person who makes us feel complete.
If your marriage is in trouble and you decide to separate, there are two possible outcomes of that separation—reconciliation or divorce. One or both spouses may be hoping for reconciliation or one or both spouses may desire to end the marriage. Regardless of the desired outcome, a healthy separation is in the best interest of both parties.
Separation comes with strong feelings and it’s important to remember that negative emotions can cloud our decision making process. Depending on the circumstances of your separation, it may be easier for some spouses to move through hurt feelings, betrayal, frustration, confusion, sadness, or any other valid feelings associated with separation and divorce.
There’s no doubt separation is difficult but we can strive to have the whole process be as healthy as possible. If you’re feeling confused about what the outcome of your separation may be—reconciliation or divorce—being aware of the following positive signs your separation is going well may bring some peace of mind.
1. Healthy Boundaries are a Good Sign Your Separation is Going Well
Having healthy boundaries between spouses is the foundation of a healthy separation. The goal of separation is often to work on yourselves and your relationship in order to reconcile, but even if you are moving through the process of legal separation because you know you both want to end the marriage in divorce, it’s important to strive for healthy boundaries.
A relationship cannot be healthy without boundaries and if you have children together, it’s especially important to build boundaries because you’re going to be in each other’s life for the long haul—married or not.
Boundaries keep our relationships healthy, and if you didn’t have clear boundaries in your marriage, it may have been a big factor in the breakdown of your marriage. It may take time to build new boundaries in this challenging time of separation, but it is vital if you’re hoping for reconciliation.
Unhealthy boundaries can keep us in a constant state of frustration, stress, and exhaustion. There are many different types of boundaries we can begin to create in our lives to keep us healthy and safe—physically, emotionally, and intellectually.
5 Personal Boundaries to Set During Your Separation
- Emotional Boundaries
- Physical Boundaries
- Sexual Boundaries
- Financial Boundaries
- Time Boundaries
One aspect of having healthy emotional boundaries is to take responsibility for our actions and not blame others for the outcome of our own actions. An important emotional boundary might be to have integrity around social media interactions regarding your marriage and separation.
Respecting each other’s physical boundaries includes personal physical space, touch, and physical boundaries within your home. During separation, it’s important to create clear physical boundaries.
Be clear with each other about what you’re comfortable with physically—do you not want to be touched? Do you stay out of each other’s physical space? Are you respecting each other’s living spaces?
Beyond consent, sexual boundaries involve communication around what you’re comfortable with and respecting each other’s feelings around what you’re willing to do and what you’re not.
During separation, deciding to be intimate or not can get confusing. If one of the goals of your separation is to resolve intimacy issues it may be an investment towards reconciliation and even help you fall in love again, but it could also be a very risky endeavor resulting in even more confusion and false hope. Setting clear sexual boundaries at the beginning of your separation is key.
Regarding intimacy with your spouse during a separation, please consult with an attorney regarding what elements are required to be considered separated for purposes of a divorce.
Financial boundaries can be created during separation by deciding which spouse can afford to pay for which expenses. It’s important for both spouses to not make any extravagant purchases during this time. If you have children and assets together and your separation results in divorce, agreements will have to be made regarding every aspect of your joint finances.
Having healthy time boundaries during separation shows that you respect and value each other’s time. For instance, if you have children and you commit to picking them up at a certain time, doing so shows that your family can trust and depend on you to respect their time boundaries.
If you and your spouse have these five boundaries set and they are being respected by the both of you, there may be hope for reconciliation if that is what you both desire.
Regardless of the outcome of your separation, having these boundaries in place is a positive step towards a healthy relationship in the future—married or divorced.
2. Healthy Communication is a Good Sign Your Separation is Going Well
If you and your spouse are yelling at each other every time you speak, your separation will only become more stressful and your issues may escalate even further, causing an even deeper divide in your marriage.
4 Tips For Healthy Communication During Your Separation
- Be Honest With Each Other
Being honest about your feelings and concerns in a respectful way is key for healthy communication with your spouse during your separation. Communicating about what went wrong in your marriage can lead to discussions about how to resolve those issues.
- Respect Each Other During Communications
Respect each other during communications by allowing one another to speak without being interrupted. Acknowledge the feelings and concerns of your spouse and try to respond in a way that shows you are taking responsibility for your part and that your goal is to resolve conflict rather than encouraging a narrative of faut, blame, or guilt.
- Consciously Listen to Each Other
Consciously listening to each other’s fears, feelings, and concerns helps us to get a better picture of where the marriage went wrong. Understanding one another can lead to being empathetic towards our spouse, which can lead to conflict resolution and healing the relationship.
- Validate Your Spouses Feelings
Telling your spouse they’re being too sensitive or that you don’t want to hear their complaint only leads to resentment. Validate your spouse’s feelings by telling them you understand how they’re feeling about the issues you discuss.
If you are engaging in healthy communication during your separation, there’s a good chance your separation is going well.
3. Self Reflection and Personal Growth are Positive Signs Your Separation is Going Well
In most cases, both spouses have some responsibility in the breakdown of their marriage. Taking time for self reflection and personal growth during your separation is important.
If we don’t ask ourselves “what went wrong?” and “what could I have done differently?” we may never know and therefore won’t be able to heal from what didn’t work.
If both spouses take time to reflect on what they could have done better to cultivate a healthy marriage, and then learn a lesson from those reflections, we grow our capacity for emotional intelligence and are able to be our best selves inside of our relationships.
If you are going through a separation and are looking for an experienced divorce attorney in Virginia, we can help. Our divorce lawyers specialize in getting our clients a fast, easy divorce without ever having to step foot in a courtroom.