Although no married couple likes to consider the possibility, separation and divorce are becoming increasingly common in our country.
Reasons for Separation and Divorce
Obviously, there are as many reasons for separation and divorce as there are marriages. However, here are some of the most common:
- Financial difficulties
- Trouble communicating
- One partner is unhappy with the other spouse's change in appearance
- Stress caused by long hours at work
- Drug addiction or alcoholism
- Emotional or physical abuse
- Basic incompatibility
A Trial Separation
In many cases, a trial separation is the way couples decide if a divorce is necessary. The separation allows the couple to experience life apart without the hassles of a divorce. There are two types of separations.
- In an informal separation, you and your spouse simply reach a mutual agreement that one of you will move out of the home you share. You divide money, cars, furniture, and other assets however you see fit.
- In a legal separation, you and your spouse enlist the help of lawyers to figure out the division of assets, custody of any children, and other important issues. Since a legal separation is almost as expensive as a divorce, this option is usually only used when couples have a religious objection to a formal divorce or when one spouse must remain legally married for a reason such as maintaining health insurance coverage.
An Opportunity for Reconciliation
One of the most notable reasons to consider a trial separation is that the separation leaves the option of reconciliation on the table. In fact, some couples use the separation as a type of therapy technique. Living apart for a short time provides an opportunity to reflect upon their differences and contemplate the reality of divorce.If you and your partner agree that your marriage might be saved, the two of you can plan to attend marriage counseling during your trial separation. To find a therapist in your area, check out The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy's therapist locator.
Telling the Children
For many couples, explaining the situation to their children is the most difficult part of a separation and divorce. Here are some tips to help your child cope:
- Don't badmouth your spouse in front of your child. Remember, that he/she is not your confidant. Save your venting for your trusted friends.
- Try to keep your child's routine as normal as possible and encourage him/her to spend as much time as possible with each parent.
- Don't buy expensive gifts for your child in an attempt to "win" his/her love. It's not a good idea to get your son or daughter in the habit of expecting a flood of presents.
- Encourage your child to talk to you about his/her feelings regarding the separation and divorce. Listen carefully and avoid being overly judgmental.
- Don't avoid disciplining your child. Although he/she may misbehave more frequently because of the added stress at home, you must still discourage inappropriate behavior.
Experts also recommend that you let your child's teacher or daycare provider know that you and your spouse are going through a separation and divorce. Understanding your situation at home lets him/her be more supportive and understanding towards your child.