How Do I Maintain Emotional Stability During A Temporary Separation?

Question: Yangki, I love your site so much. My ex and I were in the jaws of divorce and your advice and books have helped me convince her that we can work again. Her therapist insists on a separation, so I agreed to a 3month temporary separation down from the 6months her therapist advised. I also got her to agree to keeping the lines of communication after her therapist advised no contact. We have 2 young ones and she agreed that no contact makes no sense. So far Im happy with how things are and she seems happy too. My question and concern is how do we make this separation work for us and for the kids? My oldest 11 is having behavioral issues at school and blames his mom for me moving out of the house. Do you have any advice on how to maintain safety, security and stability for the kids while respecting the terms of the temporary separation?

Yangki’s Answer: First of all, I think you are doing everything right in recognizing that not everything can be solved with distance and . I want to think its all about my advice and books but there is no question that both of you have the maturity, love and respect for each other to be able to get to where you are.

I suspect this is not what you want but are doing the best you can with what you have. In some cases, a temporary separation is just what a couple needs to work on the issues in their marriage, improve communication, reconnect emotionally, increase positive interactions and recommit to a better marriage.

I don’t know if I have the answer to your question about providing safety, security and stability for the kinds while respecting the terms of the temporary separation because of the limited information I have about your situation.

From the many clinical studies I have read, children of separated parents often act out in ways that they hope will lead their parents to reconcile. It’s important to make sure that they understand that the two of you are putting their best interests ahead of yours.

What has worked for some of my clients in almost similar situations is one of you stays in the house with the kids and the other stays with friends or parents for a week and then switch places like when one parent leave for a week-long business trip.

1. It will not feel (very much) like one parent moved out as there will be some kind of stability, probably even safety and security for the kids.

2. You both will have a week to yourselves to do your own stuff knowing the kids are taken care of.

3. You both have security of having a home to go back to.

Talk to her about it and maybe the two of you can come up with ideas on how to make this work even better (the way you have done with everything else so far).

Dr. John Gottman, world-renowned for his work on marital stability and divorce prediction, found that trial separations can be effective if couples “honestly evaluate the relationship, work on themselves, and work on the relationship.”

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