Having good separation boundaries will prevent your spouse from having his (or her) cake and eating it, too. That, along with connecting with your spouse and being attractive, will promote reconciling.
Many people do reconcile after separation. Many people do not. What makes the difference between these two groups? It is the behavior of the partner who wants to save the relationship. If you don’t want to divorce, then you have to create the right conditions for reconciling.
Three requirements for promoting reconciling
Three things are especially important for promoting reconciling, just as they are for an intact marriage–attraction, connection, and good boundaries. Many times I get emails from people who are connecting well, but who are failing to have good boundaries. While their spouse is enjoying them more, they have no desire to reconcile. Just working on improving yourself will not make your spouse want to reconcile.
Boundaries are marriage savers
Without using boundaries, your spouse can rightly say that separation is better than being together. Your relationship will be more enjoyable. Your spouse will have more freedom. Separation is a preview of what being divorced would be like. Building your relationship, with no boundaries, leads naturally to your spouse wanting to divorce.
What happens if you have poor separation boundaries
Without good separation boundaries, your separated partner will enjoy your relationship more. However, your partner will have even less desire to reconcile than before. This is because the separated partner is now able to have more of what they enjoy than they did when they were not separated. They are able to have their cake and eat it, too. You will make separation the best thing that ever happened to them.
When your spouse enjoys being separated more than being together with you, it leads naturally to divorce.
Why you should avoid being used by your separated spouse
Men and women who have such a lack of boundaries with their separated spouses will end up feeling used and rejected. They will be playing the role of the spare tire and find that their spouses are willing to be with them when they don’t have anything else planned for the evening. Not surprisingly, a lack of boundaries can lead to your eventually losing your temper. Your spouse will point to you as the reason for not reconciling.
In short, their is NO WAY to reconcile by giving in to whatever your spouse wants.
Seven important separation boundaries
Although your spouse may hate your boundaries (hopefully), they will help you to reconcile.
- A custody or visitation agreement (no family activities, shared holidays or birthdays)
- A financial agreement
- Do not coming and go to each other’s homes
- Don’t have any overnights together at any time for any reason
- No sexual intimacy until after the decision has been made to reconcile and only after trust has been restored
- Additionally, if the separated spouse is dating others, no dating of the separated spouse.
- Be sure that you do not date others regardless of whether your spouse is dating or not
Separation boundary 1: A visitation agreement
A visitation agreement is especially important when you have small children. This is for their sake as well as for the sake of your marriage. It is important for children’s psychological well being that their lives be predictable. A regular schedule will help with that.
It is usually better to share custody, so that the separated parent can bear more responsibility as a parent. Otherwise, the separated parent gets to enjoy being single and while missing the children at first, will soon adjust an enjoy their freedom while you have none.
Be sure to plan for separate holidays, birthday parties, etc. If you do family activities or holidays together, that will encourage your spouse to divorce. When people cannot bring themselves to do this, then reconciling is far less likely.
Separation boundary 2: A financial agreement
A financial agreement is important to prevent needing to discuss money on an ongoing basis, which can further damage the relationship. Separate accounts and determine who is responsible for paying which bills. Child support needs to be provided just the same as it would if you were divorced.
Separation boundary 3: Respect for each other’s homes
You need to respect each other’s homes. Your home is no longer your spouse’s home when you are separated, if if their name is on the deed. Likewise, your spouse’s home is not your home. You cannot show up at your spouse’s home whenever you like, nor can your spouse just show up at your home. Your spouse should be allowed in your home only as scheduled or with prior permission.
Separation boundary 4: No overnights together
Don’t allow your spouse to stay the night at your home for any reason, even to watch your children while you are out of town. Do not go on any family trips that require overnight stays, either. In fact, do not do anything together as a family. This is really important to prevent your spouse from having the feeling that he or she can be single AND married, as is convenient to him or her.
Separation boundary 5 and 6: No sexual intimacy or dating your spouse
Sexual intimacy, as mentioned above will give your spouse the benefits of marriage without needing to be committed or faithful to you. And, if your spouse is dating others, then don’t go out on dates with him or her. That will lose you respect while letting your spouse enjoy things both ways.
Separation boundary 7: Don’t date others
While you might feel that you have a right to date others if your spouse is also dating others, this will only damage your relationship more. You would find that if you do reconcile with your spouse, that your spouse will cite your dating others to justify any past or future affairs. Dating others will undermine your spouse’s trust for the rest of your marriage, just as his or her dating others has undermined yours.
Why some people end up indefinitely separated
Indefinite separations are a product of poor separation boundaries. Failure to have such boundaries is the number one reason that people end up in situations where they are indefinitely separated from their spouse’s because their spouses never reach the point where they want to commit to the marriage again. Their spouse enjoys the separation too much to give it up.
What you also need to create emotional connection
The second reason that separations can go badly is when people fail to create good connections with their separated spouses. Poor connections can be the result of being unfriendly, angry, controlling, or by being needy. It is important to use good connection skills even while maintaining good separation boundaries. If the only way you know how to connect with someone is by having sex with them or by letting them do whatever they want, then your relationship is in big trouble.
A winning combination for reconciling
Boundaries are necessary, but boundaries alone will not reconcile you. You will also need to work on connection skills and become a more attractive partner, in order for your spouse to WANT to reconcile with you. Many people will need coaching to get as good as they can at these skills in a short period of time. If you already have these things, then the boundaries and refusal to be friends after divorce should do the work.
The biggest obstacle to reconciling is neediness. Neediness comes from a fear of losing your spouse. It results in people pursuing, convincing, arguing, and having inconsistent boundaries or no boundaries at all. If you have these problems, and you want to reconcile, then work on your neediness.
Start with the level of help that reflects how immediate your relationship problem is. Don’t for example, rely on a book if your spouse will almost not talk with you anymore. For severe problems, working with a coach will give you the best chance to reconcile.