In marriages characterized by coercion and destructiveness, a separation can create space for healing and open the door for potential reconciliation. It allows for time away from the destructive environment and constant triggers.
There’s an old saying, “If you love someone, set them free, and if they come back to you, it was meant to be.” I don’t think life is really as fatalistic as that, but there is definitely something to be said for the deeper element of free will. When free will is taken out of the picture, love ceases to be love. If love is coerced, demanded, expected, or required, it ceases to be meaningful and simply serves to benefit one person who is exercising power over the other in some way.
Hear that again. Love ceases to be love when it is not freely chosen.
It is a common belief that separation signals the start of the end. In reality, the end was already well underway, and separation is what is needed is for something to shake up the status quo and interrupt where things are headed. There is much good that comes when both parties get a chance to step back, reevaluate the trajectory of their life both individually and together, and take the time to be intentional about what happens next. This encapsulates our Healing Together philosophy which is the idea that when both individuals in the relationship take the time to work on themselves first, it is immensely beneficial to the relationship and accelerates the healing process.
A therapeutic separation, when done under proper guidance of a well-devised plan, creates space for each spouse to deeply reflect upon how they are choosing to show up in their world—to shift from living a reactive life to an intentional life.
The kinds of questions you ask yourself will determine the quality and direction of your separation. This isn’t a waiting game; your spouse is done waiting for change. It isn’t a power struggle; it’s already been proven which of you is more powerful. It’s not a free pass to do whatever you want. If you choose any of those options, divorce isn’t that far off.
Instead, ask questions that lead to life:
- Where are my choices leading me? What path am I on? Your destination is determined by your steps, not your intentions or hopes.
- What kind of person am I? Is it congruent with who I know I want to be? Does my true character match my reputation?
- In what ways might I be silencing my spouse? Where am I taking away his or her right to decide who to be and how to show up?
- What do I want my marriage to mean to my spouse and kids? To the people around me? Do I have a mission statement for my marriage?
- What do I need to acknowledge about what I’ve done to damage the relationship and how can I make true amends? Do I need professional help, rehabilitation, or ongoing coaching?
- What is my spouse saying he or she needs for healing? How can I help make room for what they say they need?
If you are at a crossroads, facing a separation, we would love to help you use this opportunity as a powerful time of reflection, growth, and healing. Path of Renewal is designed to help you create a roadmap to bring healing and connection to your marriage, no matter how far beyond hope you think it may be. Contact our Client Care team at (206) 219-0145 or check our website to find out more!