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Trial Separation - do they ever work?

(20 Posts)
notthehappiest Fri 20-Aug-10 10:35:49

DH is moving out tonight for a trial separation . Just wondering (and hoping) whether anyone has had experience of couples coming back together at then end of a trial separation and making it work long term?

notthehappiest Fri 20-Aug-10 11:29:17

Nobody? Looks like my marriage is doomed then

Gaslit Fri 20-Aug-10 11:45:50

Had one from the Tuesday evening to the Sunday afternoon. So just under a week. My idea, but he extended it. This was 2 years ago. Have been going from strength to strength since and just got engaged. Good luck, OP. xxx

atswimtwolengths Fri 20-Aug-10 12:05:40

I suppose it would depend on whether you both have the same intentions, really. Some people might suggest a trial separation because they are too cowardly/scared to ask for a true separation. Do you intend to just have a break from each other or to see whether you prefer to be apart?

It's hard to know what the rules are with a trial separation - can you see others? How often do you see each other?

notthehappiest Fri 20-Aug-10 12:25:30

we have discussed separating before and he has always managed to persuade me try again, but last night I said I wanted to split and he (after going for a walk) said let's try a trial separation to see whether this is what we really want.

The crux of the matter is that I don't want our marriage to end, but can't continue with his behaviour as it stands - and the likelyhood of him changing is pretty minimal (considering the amount of times we've talked about it and things have ended up the same).

I guess I am hoping he realises the error of his ways during the separation (I am sure I have stuff to work on too). But don't hold out too much hope.

atswimtwolengths Fri 20-Aug-10 12:31:18

What is it about his behaviour that you want him to change? Do you think he will see the error of his ways (!) simply by being apart from you? Do you think he should see a marriage guidance counsellor whilst he's away from you? Can you afford to split up? Do you have children together?

Sorry there are so many questions!

Karmann Fri 20-Aug-10 12:38:11

There are probably two schools of thought on this - some will view it as the beginning of the end and others wil view it as breathing space to view problems from a distance.

The success or failure of the process will depend on the effort made to work on the issues that have brought you to this point.

Set out clear boundaries, clear intentions and specific points to be addressed.

I hope it works out for you.

notthehappiest Fri 20-Aug-10 12:52:34

Sorry, I have been rather vague haven't I.

OK, we have been married for 2 years, together for 4. We have a 2 year old daughter.

The fundamental issues I have with him and his behaviour are:

- persistent lying (nothing too major, just consistent - thus ruining my trust in him)

- going out and staying out till all hours even when he has promised to be home at a certain time (then only returning home when I have managed to contact him) - one a couple of occasions returning home off his head on coke

- excessive drinking and smoking weed

- blatant refusal to stop smoking - very hard I know but we discussed smoking before having our DD, and one of the reasons we decided to have her is because we would both stop

- he has always been very messy and gave me minimal help in the house, although this has admittedly improved a little (we both work full time and I have always been lumbered with most of the housework) - I still do most of it, including all the "admin" such as bank, insurance etc.

There are others, but these are the main ones.

He has issues with me, which he lists as:

- I am obsessed with having a tidy house (I do indeed like a reasonably tidy house, and clean clothes, but not obsessively so), and my expectations of him are too great - thus boss him around. In my defence, if I didn't ask him to do things I would have no help. His reaction when I ask him to do something is always, "I was GOING to do it!"

- I am always right - probably because I usually am - although I can think of numerous occasions when I have admitted being wrong about things

- not liking his family - his family have been pretty shit to me in the past but I have made a concerted effort to put water under the bridge and build a good relationship with them

We are at the stage when our arguments are turning into screaming matches, and I have felt somewhat scared of him and his reaction at times. I think there is a mutual resentment going on, I also find myself questioning my decision to marry him in the first place. I really don't want our daughter being witness to her parents at each other's throat.

notthehappiest Fri 20-Aug-10 12:54:10

Thankd for the wise advice Karmann - I am going to ask if we can sit down in a neutral environment before he leaves tonight and we can discuss the boundaries, intentions and specific points to be addressed during our separation.

Karmann Fri 20-Aug-10 12:56:24

Oh - not quite so simple then! A few more issues going on than first thought!

Got to go to work now but will be back later.

blackberryway Fri 20-Aug-10 16:44:08

There do seem to be some very serious issues there - lying, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, going back on promises, laziness/dependency, resentment. Must say (although I probably shouldn't because I don't know him at all) that you might well find you are happier without him. I was a bit concerned as well at your remark that you sometimes feel scared of his reactions during your rows.

I have had experience of two family members who had trial separations then got back together and have stayed together. I don't know how happy they are exactly but they are certainly amicable.

Fiddledee Fri 20-Aug-10 16:50:12

So he is a compulsive liar who takes drugs and smokes. A trial separation is not going to fix these things, he needs help to change his behaviour if he doesn't want to get any then there is nothing you can do.

BaggyAgy Sat 21-Aug-10 01:13:28

Hi, he sounds like a rebellious teenager and wants you to play the role of his Mother. He needs to grow up. Drug takers and drinkers don't usually do that until they kick their habits. You may well be relieved to be free of his unreliable and irresponsible behaviour. So sorry for you and your child.

lucy101 Sat 21-Aug-10 07:22:58

I had a trial separation with my husband for a year after 8 years of living together (before we had married). I clearly remember saying as I left that we should split up before either one of us did anything that our relationship couldn't come back from. A year later (we also saw other people during that time but don't talk about it!), we started speaking about getting back together and a condition of doing so was that he had therapy and there were other behavioural changes.

He did this (it took another year of nagging though!) and we started afresh, new home, got married etc. and did overcome the problems. I am so glad we did it and for us it was lifeline. I love him anew, much more and in a completely different way now (been together 14 years now).

However... our problems were maybe different to yours. My DH didn't have drink/drug, trust issues. They were more to do with commitment and were wrapped up in a very, very dysfunctional upbringing and family that he needed to get his head around.

He really wanted to make the changes himself and was prepared to do the 'work' and I think this is the reason it worked for us. Without that I think it is more challenging....

blackberryway Sat 21-Aug-10 10:24:39

Hi notthehappiest - how did it go last night? Hope you and your dd are ok this morning.

itworked Sun 22-Aug-10 00:55:39

I can say that if the love is there then it is possible for a trial separation to work. I changed my name now but Last year I had enough of DH's behaviour and issues. Most of what you wrote is exactly the issues I had with DH except for the drinking.

The weed was one of our biggest problems because it also caused his behaviour to change. We had then issues with his family which is for another thread but all in all he lost all respect for me. We ended up having heated arguments constantly and our DD was also almost 2.

One day I just had enough because I promised myself that DD will never have to witness her parents argue the way we did ever again. We agreed on a separation with me putting clear boundaries that I did not want to near us until he sorted himself out. He had nowhere where he could move in and he had to let a 1 bed flat. I didnt care how he paid for it but I did not want him with us. His parents also did not want him with them. Living on his own made him realise what he stands to lose and slowly he came around. The weed stopped and I notices loads of changes. But I refused for him to move back in (did not want him to do it just to get back with us) After 6 months finally agreed he could move back and he is a complete different man. He quit all his nonsense. No more weed. He comes home everynight because before I never knew when he would be home, (later the eve or following day). Our DD is crazy about dad and he is besotted with her. He is finally being a husband and dad and treats me with respect. We also recently found out that we are expecting another baby which is planned. But it has been 7 months now. We havent argued since. We had little disagreements but we both talk about things now.

Sorry for long post but like I said we did it because I knew that deep down he could be the man I fell inlove with if he stopped his weed abuse. We are back the way we were (actually he is better than what he was before) and I dont regret not living with him for the 8 months.

Good luck to you and your partner

notthehappiest Mon 23-Aug-10 09:49:36

wow itworked your situation was almost identical to mine, you have really helped me get things into perspective - i.e. that this behaviour is absolutely not acceptable, he has indeed lost my respect - and I just can't see how I am going to be able to in the future.

blackberryway - thanks for asking, we're OK. My daughter is in the midst of the terrible 2's and I am finding her behaviour (which I am sure has been exacerbated by the situation) somewhat difficult to manage. But my mum has come down, thank god, and she is being a HUGE help.

DH came round yesterday and picked up DD for the day, he then came home and gave her a bath and put her to bed, which was really nice for her. His devotion to his daughter is and has never been in question, the behaviour he is exposing her to (i.e. his) most definitely is.

JessicaLuis232 Sat 03-Sep-16 07:35:54

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Kirsttt91 Tue 02-Jan-18 00:13:31

I know this thread is really old so I’m not expecting a response but praying I might get one.. As, I’m thinking of a trial separation from my husband and I feel terrible for even thinking it as he’s not in that mind space at all. But I just feel unhappy. I feel distant and separated from the marrriage already. We’ve been together 7 years married 1 with three children. He’s recently started working a new job and is gone all hours of the day and night meaning I often don’t get any help with the house work or looking after our children which makes me feel very much like I’m a single parent anyway. And, more often than not any disagreements we have sometimes only about minor things blow up into huge blazing rows and I feel as though this is worse for our children sometimes than if we weren’t together. I don’t know if I’m being stupid or irrational to think about separating perhaps all marriages are like that? X

FredaNerkk Tue 02-Jan-18 04:30:46

@Kirsttt91 If these feelings have come on since he started his new job, perhaps you and your husband could first try employing someone a few hours several days per week to help your family?
When you are both properly supported to manage all the family duties -- paid work, children, house etc, you might find that your fuses are not so short and that you aren't so angry with each other.
Employing help would be much less upsetting for the children than trial separation, and cheaper than renting an additional roof. And importantly it might be a happier result for you too.
If he vetoes additional help, then yes trial separation might be sensible if relationship counselling won't suffice. You can't know where the trial will lead - it will depend on lots of factors outside your control - but it sounds like something needs to change.
You might also want to offer to be patient with his new job - after all new employees have to "put in extra" to build the right impression and it is often quite stressful being a new employee - but you might also want to be clear that the current situation can't go on beyond 6-12 months without harming your relationship and family.

One other point - in many countries, trial separation can be difficult to agree - if he refuses you can't force him out of the home unless you have sole legal rights, and if you choose to leave there can be legal complexity taking the children with you because they are his children too, he has parental responsibility (even if he is at work all day) and the status quo is that they live in the family home. On the other hand, given the sort of job he has with long hours, it might not be easy for him to prevent you leaving with the children. For example, unless he thinks of a better or equally appropriate plan to care for the children if you leave (e.g. quitting his job, after school care half the week), or a good reason why it is not in their best interests to go with you (e.g. if you travelled so far that the children had to change schools, or couldn't see him regularly). Some people doggedly refuse trial separation even though that attitude basically seals the fate of the relationship, and leads to a a very unpleasant home environment. In these situations the slow and unpredictable legal system is a pita; also it's emphasis on the status quo. Another reason trial separation can be difficult to agree is because the housing that the 'mover' moves into can affect their legal position in the divorce - for example if it is small and cheap or paid for by a relative, it might be said to be evidence that the individual does not 'need' bigger accommodation (or that they have a source of income from the relative) so they should get a smaller share of the financial split (even though the person who moved only saw it as a temporary hardship (or favour) to try and save their marriage). This argument doesn't necessarily succeed but it means that trial separation is a risk that some people are not prepared to take. If there are friends or family that one of you can stay with, this can make it easier.

I am not trying to dissuade you from the idea of trial separation - just to give you a heads up on what might happen. It's not as easy as the media/tv makes out. But if something has to change, then you have to ride the waves whatever they are. And trial separation may be less choppy and a better outcome than divorce.

Sorry for the long post. Been there done that - so just offering you the benefit of my experience...

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