Separation from your spouse can be the first step towards various possible outcomes. For some, time apart can be a way to step back from the relationship to gain perspective. For others, the change in circumstance may be necessary to give both spouses a break from ongoing tension and conflict. Sometimes, the separation that was thought to be a temporary pause can become more permanent, leaving both partners unsure of how to move forward. Whatever the reason, separation represents taking a definitive step towards changing your marriage. If you are in this situation, you may be thinking: My ex and I just separated: How will I know it’s time to move on?
You Separated Knowing You Wanted a Divorce
When some couples separate, they do so with agreed-upon goals for their time apart and a plan regarding how their separation will function. However, people may also separate without a defined objective. It may also be that one person agreed to separation knowing that they really wanted a divorce. They may have separated to placate their partner or as a way of breaking the news to them more gently. If you separated knowing that you no longer want to reconcile, allowing the relationship to remain in limbo will not be productive for you or your former partner. Further, if your partner learns that you never intended to work on your relationship, it could lead to increased conflict between you. Being upfront regarding where the relationship is going shows respect for the other person and can help you both move forward with your lives.
You are Happier on Your Own
One way to tell if it’s time to move on is checking in with your own emotions. Initially, it may feel strange to live apart from your spouse. Over time however, you may find that you are happier being on your own than with your ex. It could be that you were ready to live without conflict in your home. You may have also needed the separation to determine that you could be okay not living with your spouse. Whatever the case may be, when you notice that your overall well-being is improving, it may be a sign that it’s time to move forward with divorce.
You may also want to think about how your life would be if you were to return to living with your spouse. If you are averse to the mere idea of living together, it may be a sign that you are ready to move on. Ultimately you are the one who will know what feels best for you. That being said, separation can invoke a lot of conflicting emotions that can be challenging to process. It may be helpful to meet with a therapist to clarify how you want to move forward.
You and Your Ex Aren’t Working on Your Relationship
When some couples separate, they have a plan and distinct goals for their time apart. They may opt to participate in marriage counseling or agree to check in about their relationship status at specific intervals. If you and your ex separated with established goals that you are not pursuing, it may be time to reevaluate your situation. If you and your ex aren’t working on your relationship, it may be because you both recognize that it’s over.
There is no set schedule for how long a separation needs to last before it’s time to move forward to something more permanent. What may be a reasonable amount of time for one couple could be too short or too long for another. If you began your separation by asking how long you have to wait before moving on, it may be that you already know the answer. Asking this question may be helpful because having a timeline can provide comfort and stability during a stressful and uncertain time. Being separated can evoke a lot of questions. Talking with an experienced family law attorney can help you clarify the situation and identify your options.
Wisconsin Attorney and Mediator Karyn Youso of First Look Family Law understands the complexities of separation and divorce. She is an attorney and Mediator with over 29 years of experience helping clients understand their options and connect with resources before, during, and after their Wisconsin divorce cases. Contact us today and let us take a “first look” at your situation.