How long should a separation last

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: Two weeks ago my wife said that she wanted to try a separation to find herself. I have not been doing the things she needs and treating her the way I should. Well it’s been two weeks, I still pay all the bills and am living with a friend. She has both of the kids, but I talk to them nightly. I want to move back home, even if it is in the other room. I miss my kids and my wife…how long should I wait until I tell her I am moving home and if she needs more space then she needs to go somewhere else?

A: I’m sorry you and your wife are going through a rough patch. Most marriages do have ups and downs. Hopefully, by working this through together, you will come out stronger. The key word in that last sentence is “together”. I know you miss your kids. I know you want to be home. It’s honorable that you continue to pay the bills to support your children. But working this through means talking, not telling.
You and your wife need to figure out why it is that you haven’t been treating your wife as you should and why she thinks that she can”t “find herself’ within the marriage. You need to work together to regain the love and interest and attention that has somehow been lost.
The separation will only help if you two work together to make important changes. Some people can do that after a break of only a few days. Some people need a long time. It’s not the length of time that ensures success. It’s the quality of work you do. If you can’t do it on your own, please contact a couples therapist to help you learn how to communicate better and how to treat each other well.
Please make the effort, both for your own sakes and for the two children you have brought into the world.
I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Feb 2007

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2007). How long should a separation last. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 30, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/02/02/how-long-should-a-separation-last/