Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Do trial Separations work??

(44 Posts)
brockenpurpleheart Thu 30-Jan-14 18:37:03

DH told me before Christmas he no longer has feelings for me. He denies depression and has been quite nasty, when he is really not a nasty person. We made christmas work and things seemed ok, but he has decided he needs space to sort out his feelings (which I suggested before Christmas). He is moving out next week when DS is away and will be back to discuss this with DS on his return.

He sees it as space to "see if he can get his feelings back".

We are going to relate, which has made us more civil to each other. I am heartbroken DS will be devastated.

My question is does this ever work? Have people got back together??

brockenpurpleheart Thu 30-Jan-14 19:43:11


TheGonnagle Thu 30-Jan-14 19:45:03

I don't know, but I didn't want to leave you unanswered.
I hope everything works out for you, until then (((hug)))

JonSnowKnowsNothing Thu 30-Jan-14 19:45:25

Doesn't this often lead to "we were on a break" type messiness when one party shags someone else during a trial separation?
Sorry, I've no experience but I wouldn't be able to cope with it, personally.
Sorry you're going through a tough time.

foolonthehill Thu 30-Jan-14 20:00:54

Probably depends what you mean by "work" and also work for whom...?

Separate as an ultimatum "change X behaviour or you will stay out" might work as a wake up call in an otherwise highly invested relationship (but probably doesn't usually).

Separate so a person who has emotionally checked out of the relationship can have "space" is usually code for "is the grass greener over there?".

If you want a relationship to work surely the thing to do is to stay and work at it...not move out for an indefinite amount of time (yes a weekend away might clear the mind) leaving devastated people in your wake. Selfish.

brokenpurpleheart Thu 30-Jan-14 20:02:26

Fool, to be fair that's my thinking, that he is selfish. But relate suggested it was a good idea so ....

foolonthehill Thu 30-Jan-14 20:26:52

If you decide this is the way forward (or actually sounds like he has taken a unilateral decision) my suggestion would be to use the time to get clear in your own mind what it would take for you to accept him back.

Go to minimal contact , don't tell him your feelings, out of the house means out of the house including when DS comes back for contact. Don't be drawn into lengthy discussions about him and his feelings. If you can afford to, go to a counsellor for yourself and find the inner strength that you have. Make it clear that the space allows you to re-evaluate your relationship too and that you may decide it is over whatever he ultimately decides (channel the beautiful south!!

I really feel for you, but i firmly believe that a person who wants to stay in a relationship will work on the relationship (and you can't do that alone) unless there is a physical/mental health or addiction reason that they have to sort out before that can be the priority.

I wish you a good an strong future.

Lavenderhoney Thu 30-Jan-14 21:01:57

I would say you also use this time to see if you actually want him back.
Don't contact him, imagine you are single, arrange a few nights out, friends to stay, tidy up and clear, and any conversation he has with your ds you should sit in on and be clear what he will say before.

I haven't had this myself, with dh, but a previous LTR suggested it. He was on the phone by week three, and I said, no, see you first week of feb. Byeee!

Don't know where I found the inner strength, but I had major changes in that month, including being rushed to hospital and losing a job/ getting a job and I was buggered if I was going to run to someone who had merrily asked for a month off.

Plus a friend of mine, on hearing of it and the no dating if someone asked ban as well, said " that's enforced celibacy!"

We got back together, because it wasn't up to him, it was up to me by then. He was shocked I hadn't called him.

Parsley1234 Thu 30-Jan-14 21:08:40

I'm in similar place dp wants to try and get his feelings back too came out in therapy last week have been very low since then but now I'm glad it happened we were in a rut were taking each other for granted a bit . I was finding it hard not to contact his but like what lavender and fool say I'm working on what I need to move forward with him not just what he wants. Feal stronger and I'm working it with a therapist invaluable its been tough deal pain but I'm working it through good luck xxx

LyndaCartersBigPants Thu 30-Jan-14 21:17:25

I'd have thought that being apart is less likely to bring back the missing intimacy. Unless you are actively 'dating' and putting in some real work at your relationship, the break will most likely push you further apart, getting you both accustomed to being without each other.

I'm afraid I would presume he's trying to be gentle on you, suggesting this as a halfway house so that he doesn't have to make the big break.

It can also be a delaying tactic for people who have other options. They appear to have moved out/on to the ow/om, while keeping their spouse on the back burner. Is there any suspicion of an ow?

LyndaCartersBigPants Thu 30-Jan-14 21:20:19

P.s I think the timing sucks. DS will always associate going away with returning to find something awful has happened. Could it wait a while until he gets back and give him a bit of time to settle first? I can't imagine how upsetting it would be for a child to get back all excited after a fun trip, looking forward to being home, only to find that this has happened.

brokenpurpleheart Thu 30-Jan-14 21:28:13

Thanks for the comments. Lynda, that is what I have said too.

Lavenderhoney Thu 30-Jan-14 22:06:18

Oh yes! I discovers my LTR was having a break to try with another woman! Fuckwit.

Still, I went back with him, but we started again by dating, no sex... It was an opportunity to sort everything that pissed me off, and boy, did I use itsmile

But op, its not up to him. And your ds- he needs to know its nothing to do with him, keep telling him that.

JammieMummy Thu 30-Jan-14 23:03:07

My DH and I had a trial separation of sorts and it worked for us BUT no one moved out and it was very specific circumstances.

I have no idea why but 3 months after we got married I woke up one morning and thought "what the bloody hell have I done marrying this man"! To this day I have no idea why I felt that way, he was (and still is) the most supportive, caring and loving person I have ever known. I tried to ignore this little wobble and over about a year it turned into a massive divide between us, with me no longer sure how I felt about him or if I wanted to be in the relationship. We tried everything to fix it and in the end we agreed on a trial separation but we was very clear there would be no sleeping with anyone else etc it was simply to get my head together. We carried on living in the same house but I moved into the spare room and I made him stop being "my husband" in all the little lovely things he did for me (I was very clear I couldn't have my cake and eat it too, the idea was to get my head together not have the positives of the relationship with none of the commitment etc).

It was a tough couple of months and I have no idea why it worked or what changed but slowly things did. I think I started to truly appriciate all that he did for me, I realised that we were stronger together than apart and I suddenly remembered why I married him, because my life was SO much better with him in it!

I was just so lucky that he waited for me to get my head together! But I had/have never cheated, or been tempted, and I think he knew I had just lost my way for a little while but once I found the path again it would lead me right back to him. We are a good few years and 2 children further down the line now and I still text him randomly (at least a few times a week) to tell him how much I love him and how lucky I am to have him, he texts me the same.

So what I am saying is if it is done in the right way, you are totally honest and open with each other etc then it can work but if done for the reasons given by posters above I don't think it can work!

Fairenuff Thu 30-Jan-14 23:22:17

I think it's strange that he wants a separation as a means of 'getting his feelings back'.

I see it as the opposite actually. Like, you want to split but worry that it might be the wrong decision, so you trial it. If it goes ok, you see it through and separate for good.

If he wanted to get his feelings back, he would certainly be trying to re-connect, probably suggesting going out on dates, etc.

Tbh I think he is lying. Is there/was there someone else?

And why does he get to call the shots. It sounds like he wants to leave (sleep with someone else?) but is keeping his options open. Do you want to be with him?

brokenpurpleheart Thu 30-Jan-14 23:45:15

No there is no one else. Yes I do want to be with him. Relate suggested it as a "space" thing.

Fairenuff Thu 30-Jan-14 23:51:31

I don't really understand the 'space' thing. If my dh told me that, I would tell him that he was free to leave but not to think about coming back.

If it's over, it's over and a clean break is less painful than dragging it out. Also, he might think twice about it if he knows you won't be hanging around pining for him.

At the moment he has got the option of living the single life, seeing other people, no childcare to worry about and a wife sat waiting at home for him should he chose to grace her with his presence.

Sod that, I'd tell him to go if he's going and start making arrangements to see a solicitor.

ashamedoverthinker Thu 30-Jan-14 23:58:40

It did for us.

You need defined boundaries.

Went to hell and back, nearly divorced.

Worked very hard. Still had family time together regular contact.


DH moved back and we are still good and benefiting from lessons learned.

Notcontent Fri 31-Jan-14 00:16:21

As other have said, I imagine a trial separation can be useful if the partners are having a difficult time, arguing, etc.
But when one person suddenly declares that their feelings have changed, etc and suggests that they need some space, it usually means they want to leave for good, but this is just a cowardly way to do this. That's my experience anyway.

Leavenheath Fri 31-Jan-14 00:18:54

First off, I take a dim view of Relate and the competence of its counsellors. This sounds like terrible advice they've been giving you, but I'm not surprised to see it.

The only trial separation I know of that sounds similar to this involved a bloke who parroted that 'I love you but I'm not in love with you speech' before buggering off to 'get some space'.

In reality, he was having a secret affair but still wanted the option to come back.

All I can tell you is that if my husband ever said this to me, despite it being far removed from his character, I would assume he was having an affair that he wanted to try out for size before committing to divorce.

I'm far too practical and long-in-the-tooth to think affairs are rare occurrences and far too logical to assume that the No. 1 reason for men's stories of sudden lost love (an affair) didn't apply to me.

My response therefore to a man telling me he no longer had feelings for me would be to let him go and refuse to have him back if he changed his mind.

I suggest you ditch this wanky counsellor, stop assuming he's an oddity who's not having an affair and tell him that you don't want to stay with someone who doesn't love you. Tell him to go and stay gone.

brokenpurpleheart Fri 31-Jan-14 00:44:06

Wow leave, just so you know I am no mug. He is not having an affair - 100%. Back story is his depression, what he is saying is he has no feelings. It is me that suggested he leave, relate just confirmed it would be a good idea. We both need space to process our thoughts and he knows that he will return on my say so if that is what is decided. You sound very bitter about men.

And ash thank you! I was kind of hoping for some positive stories! How long were you apart for? May I ask why you separated?

Leavenheath Fri 31-Jan-14 00:50:26

No I'm not bitter about men, love.

No reason to be. I've been married to a lovely one for over 30 years.

Just a realist, who's never heard of a man claiming changed feelings who wasn't having an affair. Plus I've been here for a long time and I've never seen a thread with these circs and there hasn't been someone else involved.

I'm also wise enough to know that unless you spend 24/7 with this bloke, you can never know '100%' he isn't having an affair.

So no, I don't hate men.

I do hate people being lied to and made fools of though.

brokenpurpleheart Fri 31-Jan-14 07:32:21

Well you have now.

CuttedUpPear Fri 31-Jan-14 07:50:24

DP and I had a trial separation over xmas. We have been together for 6 years.

It was at DP's instigation but I will admit that I pushed him into it.

It was shitty timing but at least I was excused the experience of Xmas with the MIL.

We didn't have any rules about no dating or how long it was going to be - and I admit that my head was really done in, I was a mess.

However a couple of weeks in I started to get some clarity. DP was showing signs of wanting to see me. I found myself in the position of being able to call some shots, something that I hadn't had for a long time.

DP was keen for us to get back together but I used the time and space to negotiate some terms.
We are back in a relationship now and things are a lot better. It's early days but we talk about things more and I feel that if we can continue like this, the relationship has a good future.

Fairenuff Fri 31-Jan-14 08:13:25

It is me that suggested he leave, relate just confirmed it would be a good idea. We both need space to process our thoughts and he knows that he will return on my say so if that is what is decided

I don't think you made this clear from the start. What you are saying is that you have asked him to leave and you are not sure if you want him back.

If you do take him back, do what Pear said and negotiate the terms. There is no point in a trial separation if you are just going to go back to how it was before. Use the time to decide what you want and make the changes that reflect that.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now