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How long should a separation last

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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…and I’d like to come home. 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?

How long should a separation last

Answered by on -


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 in time. 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 to her about how you feel, not simply “telling” her, as this implies you are not soliciting an engaged conversation. Working together is key in a partnership such as marriage.

You and your wife need to figure out why it is that you have not 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 along the way.

According to Family Education website: “When a married couple decides to separate, the people in their lives often see it as the first step toward divorce. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Some couples find that a temporary separation is just what they needed to work on their marriage and reconnect, while others might find that just remaining separated without ever taking that further step into divorce suits them just fine. It really all depends on the couple and what they come to realize is best for them.”

“Separation, physical or legal, doesn’t always lead to divorce. Sometimes separation can be a time of forgiveness and renewed commitment. Many couples separate in hopes of saving a marriage, and sometimes, that can work. After all, just getting distance from a painful, antagonistic situation can provide you with enough perspective to come back together weeks or months later and sort things out.”

“We often view separation as a trial period that either ends in reconnection or divorce, but in some marriages, separation — rather than divorce — becomes a permanent way of life. For some, divorce holds nothing positive. It would erode their joint fortune and diminish the money available to their children.”

The separation will only help if you two work together to make significant and important changes. Some people can do that after a break of only a few days. And, in other cases, some people need a long time. It’s not the length of time that ensures success, but rather, it’s the quality of work you do. If you can’t do the work together on your own, please make sure to contact a couples therapist to help you learn how to communicate better and how to treat each other well and with respect.

Please make the effort, as it is important both for you as individuals and the health of your marriage, as well as for the two children you have brought into the world.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How long should a separation last

This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on February 2, 2007.

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2019). How long should a separation last. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 22 May 2019 (Originally: 2 Feb 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 22 May 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.