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Separation: Beginning of the End, or a New Beginning?

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A Separate Peace

As with the decision to divorce itself separation is often experienced differently by the individual who initiates the separation and the one “informed” that an impasse is at hand. Whether you are the dumper or dumpee, remember that your future will be impacted by your decisions during this critical time.

It only makes sense that the person who initiated the divorce comes to embrace the single life of separation sooner; that individual has been living with the decision for quite a while. Given this fact, the individual who has initiated the divorce should see the separation as a means of providing his or her partner with time. Even though you might be saying, “Okay, we're going to end the relationship. Let's get working on the terms of the separation. Let's see if we can mediate this,” your partner is still reeling from the pain. At first, he or she will not be nearly as ready to negotiate the terms of the agreement —certainly not in any sense that could be favorable to you.

If you have been rejected by your spouse, on the other hand, use the separation period to help yourself heal. As you go through the stages of grief, you will come to see yourself as a solo act. You might need to utilize this time to brush up on job skills, gain self-confidence, or simply come to know yourself as an individual who stands alone. You'll know you have arrived when you too can say, “Okay, I can see our incompatibility. This needs to end. At this point, I would also choose to end this relationship and go on in a new direction.”

Remember, the process is painful. If you're like most people, you won't pass quickly through the emotional gauntlet of separation. Typically, psychologists say, the first year following separation is most difficult. During this period, you're most prey to mood swings, sadness, feelings of loss, and anger. If you remain on this emotional roller coaster for more than a year, however, you are not progressing fast enough. It is time to seek counseling or some other form of psychological help.

Published research bears this timetable out. According to a study from psychologist Joan Kelly, Ph.D., of the Center for Marital Transition near San Francisco, couples in conflict report that conflict drastically reduces after 12 months. Other research indicates that conflict and anger tend to diffuse after a period of separation, and if couples have not continued to interact, at the end of two years, most of the conflict will be gone.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Surviving Divorce © 2002 by BookEnds, LLC. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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