Separation Can Help Couples Recover From Infidelity
Is there a “right way” to separate from infidelity in marriage? The answer may surprise you.
Some couples may need time away from one another to get out of the hurtful situation or to devote time to personal growth after a betrayal. Whatever their reasons, couples considering marriage separation may wonder if their time apart will be beneficial for healing the relationship or whether it is just a pit-stop on the way to a divorce.
It is hard to recover from an unfaithful indiscretion, but it isn’t impossible if both partners are willing to putting in the work and commit to using their marital separation time wisely.
Here are 6 ways you can ensure you’re making the most of your marriage separation and getting back on track to healing after infidelity.
1. A Cooling-Off Period
After an affair has been revealed, emotions are high. The wounded spouse often goes into survival mode. During emotional survival mode, everything a person does is reactive; unable to plan ahead and feeling little control over one’s life.
While in survival mode it can be difficult to process emotions or deal with the aftermath of the affair.
Furthermore, anger is a dominant emotion after finding out about your spouse’s affair, which can lead you to do or say things you don’t really mean.
A trial separation allows the wounded spouse the opportunity to come out of survival mode and experience a cooling off process. This allows the couple to come back together with a calmer demeanor to talk about the future of their relationship.
2. Reduces Stress
Marriage separation is a stressful experience. Time apart may reduce relationship stress, trust issues, anxious attachment, and jealousy that occur when trust has been broken.
Common side effects of stress include high blood pressure, fatigue, depression, lack of motivation, emotional outbursts, substance abuse, difficulty sleeping, feeling overwhelmed, social withdrawal, and over/under eating. It is natural to feel stress and high levels of anxiety when your life has been thrown into chaos, but too much stress can have a negative impact on your mind, body, and health.
There is no way to fully block out the stress that comes from infidelity in marriage. So long as you are committed to coming back together to work out your core issues, a trial separation may be a way to temporarily curb the immense stress and anxiety you are currently experiencing.
3. Gives You an Opportunity to Miss Your Spouse
Finding out about an affair is an emotionally draining experience. Being betrayed by someone you trusted cuts deep. You’ll go through stages of anger, sadness, regret, and despair. Because of these emotions, it may feel impossible to ever miss or desire your spouse again. Yet, time apart may do just that.
Time apart during marriage separation gives both partners the opportunity, for better or worse, to see what life would be like if the separation was made permanent. This may cause you to miss your spouse and long for their companionship once more.
Marriage separation also gives you both time to focus on the good. Of course, there are problems that must be worked out before you get back together, but focusing on your spouse’s positive qualities is one way you can begin healing from the affair. Focus on what made your marriage special, in what ways you and your spouse are compatible, and the good qualities your partner once possessed.
Many couples feel lost once they were in their trial separation. Much of their identity may have, at least in their own mind, been wrapped up in being part of a “couple”.
It may be beneficial for partners to work on their own personal growth during their time apart and reflect on who they are, who they want to be, and what they require out of their lives going forward.
It is also important for individuals to do a personal examination of their role in their marriage. Ask such questions as, how could you have done better? What responsibility do you have in the affair? For either the unfaithful or the wounded spouse, how did your actions lead to a break in the marriage? If choosing to stay together after the marital separation is over, how can you prevent future betrayals from happening?
5. Learn to Communicate
Communication is what makes a marriage work. You cannot resolve conflict, heal from infidelity, or maintain a strong relationship if you can’t talk to each other.
While you are separated you will both be sticking to your own schedules and living separately. This means that when you’re seeking your partner out, you’re seeking them out specifically to talk. Not to watch television or engage in some other day-to-day routine.
This forces couples to work on their communication skills and learn how to voice their feelings, thoughts, wants, and needs to one another.
Many couples also find it helpful to seek professional assistance on the road to better their marriage. A marriage counselor can help you both identify troubled spots in the marriage, discover how the affair was made possible, and teach you both how to effectively communicate to strengthen your relationship for the future.
6. Work on Rebuilding
After there has been infidelity in marriage you can’t go back to how things were before the affair happened. But you can start a new, healthier, stronger relationship than you had before.
With both partners taking time apart to gain clarity, they can work on rebuilding their relationship. Start dating each other again. Schedule date nights and work on charming one another, building trust, and going back to having fun together instead of feeling a mounting anxiety every time you are in the same room.
Date nights are a great start to seeing one another regularly once more. It can help you re-establish the bond of trust by staying true to your word, showing consistency, and expressing your love and affection for your spouse.
Marriage separation isn’t easy for either spouse, but it can be beneficial for coming back together after there has been infidelity in marriage. Use this time apart as a neutral ground for cooling off, de-stressing, and pursuing personal growth. Strengthen your bond by focusing on your communication, dating one another, and rebuilding trust during your separation.
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