Can Marriages Survive It

shI sometimes hear from folks who are reluctant to agree to a long amount time of away from their spouse. Often, the marriage has been struggling and they are afraid that the time apart is going to be more than the marriage can handle.

Regardless, often the spouse who is being asked to stay put wants to accompany their spouse because the idea of being separated for an extended period of time scares them. They are afraid that the physical separation is going to turn into a literal separation. Someone might say: “my husband has a long-term job offer in another state. I admit that it is a great opportunity. And I probably would not be as worried about it if our marriage was doing great. But it is not. We have been struggling for almost a year. I also feel that my husband would not be considering this position if our marriage was still thriving. Since he is considering it, I feel like he is trying to escape me and our marriage. He is telling me that he thinks that a separation will do us both some good and will help us to reevaluate what we want. The way that he is talking, it makes me think that he believes that we are going to be officially separated while we are separated by distance. I’m afraid to ask him if this is true. My worry is that if he takes this position and we’re officially separated at the same time, our marriage just will not survive this. There is no word on how long the position will last. He could he gone for a quite a while. Do any marriages survive a long separation (time wise) when the couple is literally separated with a long physical distance?”

Yes, marriages do survive this. Sometimes, when couples “officially” separate, one of them moves away — or at least travels for some time. There are bicoastal marriages that survive. (Granted, many couples who attempt this have strong marriages. But many who are struggling make it also.) And the reason for this is that sometimes, the time apart can bring about a change in perception. When your spouse is no longer there, your ability to take them for granted diminishes. You may find yourself feeling lonely rather than free. And once this process happens, you may begin to realize that the issues that you thought were insurmountable may not be – assuming that you are willing to work hard to fix them.

Tips For Minimizing The Damage During A Long Separation: Whether you are talking about “long” in terms of a long separation meaning time, or “long” meaning distance, I think that it’s vital to remain in close contact. It’s very easy to let long periods of time go by without touching base and these lapses can lead to an EMOTIONAL distance rather than a physical one.

With this said, it can be extremely tricky to strike a balance between staying in close contact and giving your spouse “space.” In fact, this is probably the topic that I am asked the most about. When your spouse wants to separate from you, they are not always agreeable to constant communication. And when you attempt that, they will sometimes become frustrated and distant.

That’s why I’ve found it very important to try to agree on a schedule that you can both live with before he actually leaves. If he is resistant or says that he wants to just “see how it goes,” suggest touching base with one another at set times that are agreeable to both parties. If he is still noncommittal, then know that you may have to take the initiative at first.

Then, when you call at the agreed-upon time, you may get various responses from him. Try to adjust as needed. Some days, you may find him agreeable, affectionate, and animated. And the next day, it may be like pulling teeth to get him to talk to you. All of these responses are normal. It’s very easy to panic when you get so many different responses, but in my experience, it is best that you don’t. Because this will often just make it worse. Just tell yourself that you will give it some time and re-evaluate in a little while.

I know that this is a very difficult thing that you are facing. I know how scary this is. And you can certainly share your concerns with him before he makes a decision about taking the position and initiating a separation. There’s no question that the time and distance can pose additional challenges. But, I don’t want you to be discouraged, either. Many couples do survive separations that are long in terms of both time and distance. For some, the distance actually works for them instead of against them.