Is it time for a trial separation?

Julia Faulks / 29 September 2015

In some cases a trial separation can allow you and your partner thinking space, but it's worth considering what you really hope to get out of your time apart.



It’s not always easy to face up to problems in your marriage or know how to get things back on track. But in some cases a trial separation can help you both to take time out and recouple.

There is no right order to do things when it comes to working out any conflicts or resentment in your relationship. The risk of enforcing this kind of breathing space can become too tempting an opportunity for one, or both of you, to have your cake and eat it. This can cause even more resentment further down the line.

Having that distance from your partner can be difficult and challenging – especially if it’s your partner who is the main driving force behind having a trial separation. This can leave you feeling abandoned and anxious about what the other person is doing with their time.

It may help if you ask yourselves the following questions:

  • What do you want to achieve from a trial separation?
  • Are you using it to spend more time with someone you may have had an affair with?
  • Do you feel the need to go out and experiment during this time?
  • Are you using the time to think about what it will be like to be without the other person in your life?
  • Have you considered relationship counselling to help you explore your feelings towards one another?

If you are struggling with the answers to any of the questions above or you feel guilty for feeling a certain way, then it is a good idea to seek further support from a counsellor, psychiatrist or coach who can help you work through these issues.

“If you separate and come back together saying that it is just going to work because you love each other, then that may not be enough if you still upset each other in the same way,” says Dr Annie Kaszina, author and relationship coach.

Getting the most out of a trial separation

The outcome of a trial separation will largely depend on how you actually deal with the time spent apart. If you are looking at it as a positive way forward in your relationship and you want to make things work then it may be a good idea to take the following steps:

Do some work on yourself

By having space from one another it may be easier to work on resolving any bad habits and think about ways you could do things differently. Changing behavioural traits that have been with you for years is never going to be easy, but it can help if your partner sees you making positive changes, and in doing so, will find it easier to do the same.

Seek further help

You don’t necessarily have to go to counselling with your partner for things to improve (and they may refuse to do so). Instead you may want to consider speaking to someone on your own who can help you explore what makes you feel or act a certain way and understand how to move forward.

Read our guide to rebuilding trust in a relationship.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.