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Do Trial Separations Ever Work?

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Old 02-07-2013, 09:12 PM   #1
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Default Do Trial Separations Ever Work?

DH and I are going through some pretty tough stuff these days. He is very depressed and I'm afraid I am becoming pretty depressed too. We are seeing a counselor, which does not seem to be helping much (or it did seem to be helping until about a week ago when DH just all of a sudden decided that our marriage was over- he has since retracted that, but is still really unsure). I want to save things, I do not want to get divorced and I love him very much. I know he wants to be with me, I know he doesn't want to be alone or with anyone else (and he has sincerely told me this), but his self-esteem is so low, he thinks I am constantly critical of him (which is not true, but he thinks he is so worthless, he can't see how I could love him, I think- which is a shame, because I love him with all of my heart). I try being sweet, loving, walking on eggshells and biting my tongue. He still feels like I am very judgmental of him. I'm so frustrated, and it feels like we have the same fights over and over again, and I don't know what I can do that will make him feel loved (I have asked him and he can't come up with anything).

So, long story longer- I am at my wits' end. He has told me FOUR times in the last six months that our marriage is just OVER and there's nothing I can do about it, only to change his mind hours later. Last time I had even packed my things and left. I did tell him that next time he says something that straightforward (ie: "I'm leaving you" or "Our marriage is over"), I will not come back.

It is extremely emotionally draining for me to think that he is leaving me, and it is starting to take its toll on my career (I just started a law practice in November). Do trial separations ever work to reunify people? I don't want to leave, for fear of making things worse, but at the same time, I am starting to get angry, which is not how I felt before. Anyone have any experiences they'd be willing to share? FWIW, we don't have any kids and we've been married 4 years.

I hate to hit up a cheery place like 3FC with this, but I am reluctant to talk to friends/family because our marriage is not over (yet) and I don't want him to feel like I blabbed our business all over town if we do work it out and he has to see these people again.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:18 PM   #2
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You are seeing a counselor, but is he seeing someone about his depression? hard to mend things if you can't mend yourself (himself).
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:28 PM   #3
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If the problem is his depression then him getting his head right, on his own, is probably the best solution. Hopefully he is getting individual help. Depression is a terrible thing.

Just my opinion and I have no formal training, backgroud, education, or even reading for pleasure on the topic.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:32 PM   #4
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We started seeing the counselor together, but she picked up on his individual issues pretty quickly and has been seeing him individually as well as seeing us together. I also have a (separate) individual counselor that I've seen for a couple of years (longer than we've been in marriage counseling, by far).

I guess I'm more worried about whether or not separating would be a death-blow to our marriage or whether it could provide some perspective and relief. We don't really have the money for me to get an apartment or anything like that, so I would probably stay with a friend or relative. Any experiences?
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Old 02-07-2013, 10:07 PM   #5
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Im sorry you are dealing with this. My husband is also depressed and it has taken a toll on our marriage. He finally agreed to see a doctor. He was put on an anti-depressant (one week ago) and he had some blood work done. Turns out his testosterone level is waaayyy below normal. This can cause depression, irritability, lack of motivation and interest, and a host of other issues. We are waiting for an appt with a specialist next week. This might be something that your husband may want to check into. I hope things work out. **hugs**
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:15 AM   #6
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I know one couple that was separated for a year about 20 years into their marriage. They have a wonderful marriage now but they had a lot of hard work and healing to do even after they reunited. So with n=1, yes, it can - at least, it's possible.

Aside from all that, I recommend the book Love and Respect. Based on a few keywords in your post I think that book's thesis may be helpful to you.
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Old 02-08-2013, 06:30 AM   #7
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I have a cousin who it did work for but I think it really depends on you guys and your motivation to work things out.
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Old 02-08-2013, 10:53 AM   #8
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Several have mentioned getting treatment for depression. I don't know if your therapist can prescribe anti-depressants or not. However, before possibly moving forward with a separation, make an appointment for your husband with your physician and have a complete physical performed. My suggestion would be to go with him. My former husband suffered from depression and then wouldn't tell the doctor anything unless I went with him and forced the issue out. Turns out he had some physical issues that were causing the problems, got the right medication, and it helped immensely.

Hope that you are able to find some help with this. I know this didn't answer your question, and I apologize.
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Old 02-08-2013, 11:27 AM   #9
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DH and I were separated for 5 months fairly early in our marriage(we've been together 20 years, married for 15). The problems mostly centered around my stepkids, who lived with us and were a huge source of contention. We did get back together and now have an almost 10 yo son together.

It has not been easy, and there are still problems, but I'm glad we are still together. Things did get easier once the skids grew up and moved out, but DH can be very difficult and we clash a lot(he would say the same of me).

I think if you commit to continuing counseling and working on the relationship it can be a positive thing, and gives you each some room to work on yourselves as well.

I wish you the best.
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Old 02-08-2013, 01:43 PM   #10
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I also separated from my DH for about 4 months during a really rough time in our marriage. This was about 8 years ago. We even had elementary school kids at that time, which made it extra difficult. But it absolutely needed to happen. I remember the first night in that apartment with my kids. After they went to bed I thought that I'd probably really be sad and have a lot of sleepless nights. But what happened was that I felt calm. Looking back, there was so much tension at that time in our house that just getting away gave us both a little peace. Instead of walking on eggshells and stressing out every night, I finally felt I could breathe. We didn't really try to work on things for awhile, and that kind of helped with keeping things together at work and to have the alone time to really decide what would be best for everyone. After about a month, month and a half, we did go to someone to see if we could work it all out. And it did. We celebrate our 26th anniversary at the end of this month.
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Old 02-08-2013, 06:03 PM   #11
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It's pretty clear it's what he is asking for, just seems like he chickens out at the last minute when things get serious about it really happening. In my experience, men often need us to be the " bad guy" in the relationship because they're too chicken to do it themselves.

I think whatever is going to happen is what's going to happen, whether you separate for a bit or not wont necessarily change the outcome, but it definitely will clear your heads during the process so you aren't making long term decisions based on fear or tension or emotions that are flared.

As soon as you start walking on eggshells and it becomes unbearable to live with that person, well in my opinion there is nothing worse for your physical, mental and emotional health than this environment. It's so toxic, and nothing good can come from it.

So if it's feasible, you might want to think about taking that trial separation, but continue counseling and open dialogue if you are interested in saving the marriage.

I know a couple who were married for 15 years, they had 2 kids and all of a sudden the husband had a breakdown, moved out of the house for a year, and then they got back together and are very happy and healthy.
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Old 02-08-2013, 07:11 PM   #12
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See if you can get the book "His Needs, Her Needs." (Affair Proof Marriage) It has some amazing insight and offers advice. I'm not saying he is or has had an affair at all. But this book really put a lot in perspective for me and since applying some of what I read, our marriage has been MUCH better.

My husband and I had a very rough marriage and did separate for a year. I was fully intent on divorcing and moving on, but after a year we decided to get back together and we are so happy we did!!

Our marriage is now stronger than it ever has been. So can a separation help? Yes, it can but doesn't always. Is it the end all to a marriage? No, not at all.

If he is suffering from depression, hopefully the counselor can help him through and things in your marriage will get better.

Do you have similar interests? Is there something he like to do that you don't? Maybe if you do something with him that he likes (even if you don't) it will start to mend and heal whatever it is that is broken/breaking?

Some of the advice may seem outdated in the book, but the book was actually recommended to me by several men and women who read it and found it helpful. My husband and I were able to have some good discussions reading through this book.

If you need a bit of breathing room to get a mood lift and refresh your spirit, can you spend the weekend with a girlfriend? Even a weekend at a hotel where you can just veg out and relax?

Or can you AND him go somewhere for a weekend? Bed and Breakfast, perhaps? Hubby and I had a week to ourselves while our kids went to my parents' house, and it really did wonders for us to be able to focus just on each other. (Well, and our pets and chickens! LOL)

I also started sending my husband texts just to say I was thinking of him, and loved him, or even to thank him for whatever came to mind. It has boosted my husband's self esteem, and I see that.

I know you didn't ask for a novel of advice, but since I have had a separation and worked things out with my husband, I just wanted to share with you what worked for us.
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Old 02-11-2013, 02:36 PM   #13
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I'm hesitant to weigh in on this topic because mine didn't result in us getting back together. But, I'm happier now - a lot happier! (Sad about not having my kids full time - that pain has outlasted the pain of losing my marriage.)

Do they ever work - sure. Will it work for you? I don't know. I read a book called Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay. It's about the situation that you are describing - that I went through where you are deciding what you want to do. I was just like you - I wanted nothing more than my marriage to be fixed and he went months unsure. It was torture to say the least. Finally, I cut the cord. I couldn't take it anymore. For me, that was the right choice. But I don't know what the right choice is for you. I will say that the separation helped and hurt at the same time. It helped me by giving me the time I needed to find myself again and to work through my emotions away from my kids. It hurt, I suppose, because I learned that I was okay on my own and that I felt better away from my marriage than I did in it. Also, living in the same house was so hard. The more I was around him, the more I saw that my life was never going to be the same. I could see the "vacancy" in his eyes and the lack of love. Getting away from that helped me. So, I guess the answer is that the separation helped me - but not my marriage. If I had a different situation and found that I did want my married life more and it had helped me to realize I did love him more than anything - it might have helped my marriage. I guess, it gives you an answer - but not right away. It could take 6 months of being separated before you get that answer.

In the meanwhile, take the time to work through it emotionally, work overtime if you can, find healthy ways to deal with stress. Find a support system. I personally learned about how valuable my girlfriends were through all of this. A lot of times, we have our husband as our best friend (which is a good thing), but we married women forget about our girl friends. Let them help. Cry with them, laugh with them, go shopping, whatever. Just get out and do things on the days when you can. Don't hide under that blanket forever.
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Old 02-11-2013, 02:49 PM   #14
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Another lesson I learned - I have no control over how anyone else feels.

The more I tried to get him to love me, the more I seemed to push him away and the more I lost myself. I had to accept that I had no control over what he wanted and whether or not he would stay. All I could do was work through my own feelings and to decide what I wanted. And - I did have a choice. I wasn't a powerless victim dependent on his mood that day.

Mostly - You'll get through it - one or way or another - you'll look back on this someday and be thankful that your life is better.
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Old 02-11-2013, 03:00 PM   #15
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Yes, they work. Whether you decide to stay together or not, they work. They lead you to the decision you know is best and that will help you move on.

My situation was a little different but I can relate. I was dating a guy long-term and we lived together, and talked marriage but never actually moved in that direction. Although we weren't married, neither of us wanted to make the move toward actually breaking up. We did a lot of what you are doing...threatening to leave, etc. One day I reached my breaking point and gave him an ultimatum, go see a counselor with me or we're ending. He refused to see the counselor and I finally broke up with him, sort of.

So I walked out and visited a counselor on my own. The counselor recommended that we wait a month before we finalize anything. I think she did this more for my benefit, because I was severely depressed when I first started seeing her. I think she wanted me to be in a more stable mindset when I got to that point. I forced him to move out and started healing, and we did break up after the month was up.

In that month, I did get perspective and I could see that there was no repairing our relationship. I was able to start focusing on my work again, for the first time in months. I think that might be good for you too.

Since your DH is depressed, I think some time apart really can make a difference. It's not a rational state of mind. If he can start to improve and see things more clearly, that could really benefit your relationship. In the meantime, you'll get a break from the constant ambiguity.

Good luck, I hope things get better for you.
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