Can Trial Separations Save Marriages?

idiots guide to marriage Courteney Cox and David Arquette have been separated for over six months but haven't filed for divorce yet. And recently, they've been seen out and about together looking like a happy, loving couple. Hopefully, having this time apart during their trial separation is giving them a chance to save their marriage.

A trial separation like Cox and Arquette's can allow the couple to focus on what the real issues are, both with themselves and each other. And agreeing to separate, and not head straight for the courthouse, shows a willingness to try to work things out and that maybe the marriage is salvageable.


The time apart can give both spouses a little breathing room, freedom for a little "me time" and also time for both to appreciate the other in their absence. It can allow them to work on their individual issues through therapy or even, as in Arquette's case, rehab. And unlike divorce, it's easily and inexpensively reversed.

Of course, trial separations can also push a couple closer to a divorce. The freedom that comes with a separation can have the effect of letting the animal out of its cage. Or one spouse may realize after a couple of months that they are okay, or even better off, without their partner.

I'm a believer in the usefulness of trial separations. I've seen two friends recently go through this type of trial. Both separations lasted about six weeks. And both, so far, have had happy endings. The time apart was helpful to them and to their relationships.

I also went through a trial separation during my first marriage. My husband and I took turns staying at our home with the kids while the other went to a relative's house. We ultimately opted to get divorced but the time apart was helpful and I'm glad we separated first because it led to less questions of doubt after the divorce decision had been made.

Of course, trying to resolve marital issues before they get to a breaking point is a couple's best chance to stay together and have a strong marriage. But sometimes, life happens and before you know it, you're unhappy and not sure if it's you, your spouse or the marriage. And a trial separation can help you figure that out.

Do you think a trial separation is a good strategy to help save a marriage?


Image via merfam/Flickr

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