Separation is typically a precursor to divorce and signals the end of your marriage. Needless to say, it can be an emotionally exacting phase that can leave you riddled with conflicting emotions. But it doesn’t have to be a dead-end from which there is no coming back. Knowing how to rebuild your marriage during a separation can give you a shot at a second innings with your spouse.
“There are clear signs that my separated husband still loves me. How do I build a bridge and salvage my marriage?” “My wife and I are separated but we both wish we could make it work.” If you and your spouse have entertained these thoughts and questions, there is still hope for you.
The road to rebuilding your marriage won’t be easy or straightforward, but with consistent effort, you can make it happen. Counseling psychologist, Kavita Panyam, who has been helping couples work through their relationship issues for the past 22 years, shares some actionable insights into how to rebuild your marriage during a separation.
Can I Save My Marriage During Separation?
“Can I save my marriage during separation?” If you ponder over this question often, you’d find it reassuring to know that there is a good chance of saving and rebuilding a marriage even after you and your spouse have separated. You are not yet divorced, and so nothing is set in stone.
That said, to fight for your marriage when separated, you first need to look at and examine the reasons that drove you and your partner apart. Was the marriage abusive? Were you married to a narcissist? Are you a narcissist? Were you an abusive spouse? Were there issues of substance abuse or addiction? Infidelity? Dysfunctional parenting? Abuse toward children?
Usually, it’s not just one factor that drives couples apart, but when a marriage is riddled with such toxic tendencies, one consistent factor can take its toll.
If you’ve been enduring toxicity or have been trapped in an unhealthy relationship for a long time, then separating and walking out becomes a more viable alternative than reconciliation. When the marriage is not healthy and you’ve opted out of it, rekindling that toxic connection will only take you on a downward spiral.
The question of “can I save my marriage during separation and how?” is not for people who are in an unhealthy, toxic, or abusive marriage. Rebuilding a marriage during separation is viable only in the case of functional marriages that may have been affected by certain issues or where both partners are in and out of functional behavior.
Such marriages may become temporarily dysfunctional due to financial issues, health issues, children, spiritual differences, interference by in-laws, social disagreements, and so on. In these situations, yes, you can save your marriage during separation.
The separation period can serve as a makeover factory where you work on yourself and come back afresh, a functional person. Apart from keeping hope during separation, you also have to be prepared to put in the work necessary to make your marriage the second time around.
Separation should not be treated as a garage where you dump your issues and get back together. If you want to use the separation phase as an opportunity to salvage your marital bond, you have to work on transforming your speech, actions and behavior so that you can go back and try earnestly and honestly.
Related Reading: Trial Separation Checklist – Do’s And Don’ts
How To Rebuild Your Marriage During A Separation – 13 Tips
Assuming that you were in a functional relationship that didn’t work out for some reason, the realization that you want to give it another shot can make you restless with the desire to take immediate and concrete steps to make amends and fix your broken marriage. You may wonder how to win your husband back during separation. Or fixate over what you can do to show your wife that you love her and want to get back together.
However, getting back together prematurely won’t serve any purpose. To reset the clock on your marital bond, you have to be prepared to do the groundwork to address the underlying issues. These 13 tips on how to rebuild your marriage during a separation will help you do just that:
1. Identify the issues
Whether your partner has walked out of the marriage or you have or you’ve both decided to take some time off, don’t rush to end a separation. Take the time to reflect and work on your issues. Your thoughts, speech, actions and behavior have to change for you to be able to work your way through the issues that drove you apart in the first place and for the marriage to work.
Don’t let thoughts and emotions like ‘we love each other and can’t live without each other’ or ‘we have children and don’t want to throw away the life we built together’ govern your decision to get back together prematurely. You already knew these things and yet something caused you to separate.
So take the time to identify and fix those issues. Otherwise, you may fall back into the same patterns over time and will find yourself standing at the crossroads of a separation again, sooner or later.
2. Make a decision
Once you’ve had the time to reflect on your issues, make up your mind about what you want. Do you want to stay in the marriage or quit? Be very clear, no dilly-dallying or hanging in between. Indecisiveness leads to a lot of anxiety and depression.
Again, the issues that caused you to separate must factor into this decision. Was your marriage toxic or unhealthy? Or was it the case of the usual ups and downs of married life taking a toll on your bond?
Functional people with momentary issues can work on their issues and differences. Dysfunctional marriages, on the other hand, cannot sustain for the long haul. Not without taking a toll on one or both spouses, anyway.
It’s absolutely non-negotiable that you take a realistic view of whether salvaging your marriage is feasible and if that’s something you really want for yourself. Not for the sake of children or society but yourself, because you genuinely believe your bond can be nurtured into an enriching, fulfilling partnership.
Related Reading: 12 tips to successfully save a broken marriage
3. Communicate your desire for a reconciliation
If you find yourself rushing back to your spouse because you fear they may move on or the divorce may go through but you want to give the marriage another chance, reach out to them and communicate your desire for reconciliation. Depending on how tense or polite the equation is, you can either write to them or talk to them to let them know that you’re working on your issues and need time but would like to give the marriage another chance.
When communicating with your spouse during separation, keep the conversation to the point. Don’t go into the details. At the same time, encourage them to do so. It’s vital that your spouse too is willing to work on their own set of issues for you to have any hope for rebuilding the marriage. So, being on the same page is also important.
If they don’t respond immediately, don’t get impatient. Spiraling into thoughts like ‘how can I make my husband miss me during separation?’ or ‘how do I make my wife see how much I love her?’ will only put you on the path of unhealthy behavior.
4. Ask yourself what kind of marriage you want
Once you’ve decided to stay together and make the marriage work, ask yourself what kind of a spouse or marriage do you want. What kind of a spouse do you want to be? To fight for your marriage when separated also means introspecting and understanding what you seek from this relationship.
Clearly, something wasn’t working out in your marriage and that’s what drove you apart. So, evaluate how you’ve evolved during the time you were married to your spouse. How have the ups and downs changed you? And how would you want to make it different this time around? Write these points down, so that you have a ready reckoner for whenever you and your spouse decide to discuss how to rebuild your marriage during a separation.
5. Seek help
If you cannot figure out the answers to these questions, it’s always advisable to seek help. You and your partner can consider going into couple’s therapy and work with a counselor to figure out a way to swerve into a new direction. If you’re a spiritual person, you can even seek guidance from a church leader or a priest. Likewise, you can also ask a family elder to mediate and help you and your spouse rebuild your marriage during separation.
When seeking help, the medium you choose must resonate with both of you. For instance, if you’re a religious person and your spouse is not, going to a spiritual or religious leader together may not be the best idea. In that case, it’s best to choose something more neutral as seeking help from a counselor as a couple, and you can turn to spiritual guidance individually.
It’s also crucial that you don’t turn these sessions into slinging matches where you’re digging up dirt from the past and throwing it at each other. No blame game or airing dirty laundry in public. Whenever you are tempted to go down that path, remind yourself that you’re here to fight for your marriage when separated and not fight each other.
Related Reading: How I Made Myself a Home Again After My Separation
6. Rebuild trust
To fight for your marriage when separated, rebuilding trust becomes paramount. Whatever be the reason for your separation, the trust may likely have taken a hit. Of course, if you’ve separated owing to infidelity on part of either spouse, then reconciliation and rebuilding trust can be a long and arduous process. You mustn’t rush it.
Take the time to heal, individually and together. During this time, don’t make a laundry list or constantly blame your spouse for their mistakes. That won’t serve any purpose. Even if you remind them of their transgression a 100 times and they apologize for it every single time, the thought of their betrayal is always going to hurt you. And vice-versa.
Instead, both spouses need to establish their trustworthiness through actions. Say if one spouse’s drinking problem is the core issue in the marriage, then they can give up alcohol to take the first step toward rebuilding trust. If it’s an addiction issue, joining AA can be an encouraging step in the right direction.
If you’ve cheated on them with a coworker or vice-versa, switching jobs can open doors for rebuilding trust in the marriage. The decision about what needs to be done has to be arrived at mutually, and both partners have to be willing to give in a little, adjust and mend their ways.
7. Be functional as a couple
To end a separation and turn over a new leaf in your marriage, you need to be functional as a couple. To achieve that, first and foremost, you need to spend time together. Talk to each other, share your hopes, dreams and aspirations.
It is also equally important that you work together as a team. For instance, if you have children, the responsibilities of parenting have to be shared, depending on your individual strengths. One parent could take on the responsibility of helping the children with their studies, the other could take charge of their extracurricular activities like helping them with sports.
The same applies to sharing the load of household responsibilities as well. If one spouse is a better cook, the other can pitch in by taking care of other chores like doing the dishes, laundry and so on. The idea is that you both feel heard and seen in the marriage consistently, rather than being trapped in an erratic pattern where one spouse validates the other’s feelings and expectations at their whim.
Even after you rebuild your marriage, differences and disagreements are bound to crop up. Don’t suppress them or brush them under the carpet because that will only make them resurgent over time. Instead, make the effort to resolve conflict healthily and respectfully.
8. Look for the good in your spouse
Whether you’re trying to win your husband back during separation or make it work with your wife after reconciling, you must focus on looking for the good in your spouse. Now, this does not mean that you must turn a blind eye to the bad or undesirable parts of their personality. Doing so would impede your ability to take a holistic view of your marriage.
What I mean is that you don’t go about berating your spouse. Refrain from badmouthing them to your friends or venting on social media if they’ve done something to upset you. When you feel triggered or angry by their behavior, try to divert your energies into something productive.
Perhaps, you can incorporate activities like exercising, gardening or anything else that has a calming effect on you to counter any negativity and channel excessive energies. As far as possible, try to focus on the good qualities and positive attributes of your spouse’s personality. Don’t fixate or nit-pick on the negatives.
Related Reading: 20 Ways To Make Your Husband Fall In Love With You Again
9. Manage your expectations realistically
Both you and your spouse come from different families, and chances are that your expectations may not always align. From the little things like food habits to major life decisions like whether both spouses should work or one must stay home to take care of the children, the divergent expectations can often become a root cause of conflict in marriages.
How to rebuild your marriage during a separation? One crucial aspect of this puzzle is to learn how to manage your expectations realistically and find a middle ground wherever your views on certain matters clash. It doesn’t have to be an either-or situation, you can create room for your respective notions of right and wrong to exist in a marriage.
For instance, if you have embraced veganism, expecting your partner to give up meat can be an unrealistic expectation. It may seem like a trivial issue but constant bickering over every meal can get exhausting after a point. So, the middle ground here would be that you both accept each other’s dietary choices without begrudging them.
Likewise, if in the past your spouse has not been supportive of your career choices, you must talk to them about it before you end a separation and convey that having a job and being financially independent is extremely important to you. Together you can find a way where you can both pursue your careers without domestic or parenting responsibilities being neglected.
10. Change together to make the marriage functional
To make sure that you don’t fall back into old patterns that can serve as a breeding ground for issues, you must be prepared to change your behavior. You don’t – and shouldn’t – have to change yourself completely or become a doormat for your spouse to walk all over in order to make the marriage work. The focus, instead, should be on changing together to make the marriage functional.
For instance, if your spouse’s lack of attention was a persistent issue in the marriage before, you can find a mid-way to weed it out. Perhaps, your spouse can make more effort to give you their undivided attention during your intimate moments or by planning regular date nights. At the same time, you can let go of a constant need for their attention at other times of the day.
By making these small changes, you can create a marriage where everyone – be it you, your spouse, or children (if there are any) – thrives.
11. Give them an ultimatum on deal-breakers
While keeping hope during separation is a good thing, it must not be done at the cost of your values, convictions or happiness. If there are any issues that are relationship deal-breakers for you, you need to give your partner an ultimatum that they need to make amends for you to be able to rebuild your marriage during separation.
Deal-breakers can be anything from addiction to proclivity to infidelity, making decisions without consulting you, workaholism, controlling your expenditure, unhealthy spending habits. When communicating with your spouse during separation, tell them that any chances of giving the marriage a second chance ride on their readiness to address these issues.
At the same time, be prepared to work on any tendencies of yours that may be deal-breakers for your partner. Without it, you cannot turn over a new leaf and start afresh.
Related Reading: Surviving The Hard Times In Marriage
12. Let go of the past
“I see signs that my separated husband still loves me but I cannot find myself to forgive him.” Or “My wife wants to make the marriage work but something is holding me back.” If these thoughts have been on your mind, it may be because you’re holding on to the pain and hurt caused by the betrayals or issues of the past.
These residual feelings or the debris of the past issues can lead to resentment, which can get in the way of even the most earnest desire to rebuild your marriage during a separation. Before you take the leap to end a separation, you need to address this resentment and let go of the past.
Go into therapy, talk to a counselor, choose the path of spirituality, do whatever you need to for working through these uncomfortable emotions before going back to your spouse. Do not suppress or bottle up these feelings just because dealing with them seems hard. Doing so will only make them come back stronger, like a surging tide that can wash away all the hard work you and your spouse may have done in making the marriage work again.
13. Treat it as a new relationship
Now that you have succeeded in your efforts to win your husband back during separation or make your wife fall in love with you again, you must treat the second innings of your marriage as a new relationship. After all, you are two ‘new’ people, who have come back together after working on and fixing your individual and shared issues. Make that the basis of your new equation.
No revisiting the issues and mistakes of the past, no blame game, no accusations. Instead, focus on accountability and robust communication. Set new boundaries for your relationship and list out all that you need to do together and separately to keep this relationship functional.
Most of all, the answer to how to rebuild your marriage during a separation lies in patience. If your marriage has been affected by certain issues to an extent that you and your spouse decided to separate, know that you won’t be able to change, undo the damage and reconnect overnight. But with persistence and perseverance, you can find a tune that you can sing to together.
To fix a separated marriage, you need to uncover and resolve your relationship problems and issues. At the same time, it’s important to understand and acknowledge your role in contributing to these problems and take accountability to fix your individual issues that aggravate your marital woes. Once you’ve done that and decided to give the marriage another chance, leave the past behind and start afresh.
Ideally, it should last anywhere between three and six months, so both spouses have enough time to assess whether they want to give the marriage another chance and figure out how a way to make it work. Working through relationship issues takes time, so getting back together must not be rushed.
No, sleeping with your husband or wife while separated is a bad idea. You and your spouse would already be in a messy headspace during the separation phase, and throwing sex into the mix can trigger a host of new conflicting emotions. What you need most at this time is a clear, collected mind, so that you can decide what’s best for you.