My Parents' 10-Year Separation Made Their Marriage Stronger

Love & Learn 5

Actor Michael Douglas, who separated from Catherine Zeta-Jones four months ago, was recently quoted as saying, "Sometimes people take a little bit of a break, but it doesn't necessarily mean that's the end." Given the fact that they were just spotted wearing their wedding rings and walking with their two children, I do believe he makes a good point.

We seldom see strong examples in Hollywood of couples who separate and then actually work on their issues with the hope of resolving them and reuniting again. Separation seems more like the baby step couples make prior to going for the Big, Expensive D. 

But it doesn't have to be that way.

My parents were separated from the time I was 12 until I was about 23. As a preteen, I was fascinated by the concept of "separation" in marriage and what it all meant. Clearly, it was better to be separated than divorced -- which was a total nail in the coffin. Separated implied possibilities. But it was also a trickier solution to marital troubles -- it left the door wide open for one person to date while the other perhaps did not. It let both partners have their cake and eat it too. It seemed like a quick fix for two people who didn't want to deal with the reality of their doomed marriage. 

Given the fact that they married when they were just 20, it was inevitable that my parents were going to grow up and evolve a great deal from 1970 until the early '90s, when they decided to "take a break." Kudos to couples who change together and can make that work. But I understand now how difficult that must be to do. My mom is a hot-blooded, emotional person who, at some point, could no longer deal with my dad's cool tempered, extremely rational, and borderline emotion-less way of viewing the world. He, in turn, became agitated by her drama and need to pick a fight -- any fight -- just to remind herself she could get a rise from him.

They needed to separate in order to keep from killing one another. They needed to breathe on their own and, perhaps, see other people to decide if they were better off with someone else (to this day, both remain mum on how they carried on with their love lives during that time, and I don't see it as my business to ask questions). 

Fast-forward 20 years. My parents are back together and a much better couple than I can ever remember. I'm not sure what made them "click" again. Maybe she calmed down a bit and he became more passionate with each year that passed. Perhaps having grandchildren, fewer bills, and a new, exciting, and less stressful world to share helped ignite their love. Whatever it is, at this age, they've decided they are just what they need. 

I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be together today if they hadn't taken a much-needed "break."

Do you feel separation in marriage can be a solution to problems, or do you view it as the first step before divorce?


Image via firemedic58/Flickr 

breakups, celebs, commitment, divorce, in the news, marriage


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nonmember avatar Kayla

Every couple is different, so this could definitely work for some. Unfortunately the only situations I know of personally didn't end that way.

nonmember avatar sharon

I met a man at work who told me he was separated three years and had absolutely no relationship with his wife. He approached his wife about divorce, she said she does not believe in it therefore, she will not give him one. I spoke to his wife. She said they will never be together, it is over between them but she doesn't believe in divorce. Unfortunately, he is apparently accepting of this and expects me to continue our relationship. I just can't. I love him but I just can't be in this scenario. I don't understand but I am truly heartbroken and have just accepted that I have to move on. This has been a very painful situation and I hope to heal soon. I mean no disrespect to either him nor his wife but I can't live in this twilight zone of a relationship.

Linda Meade

Do you heal  a broken leg by amputating it? Why are fractured relationships any different?

nonmember avatar Heather

All's well that ends well? A 13-23 year old has no clue if either parent's dating, even though they're still married?

nonmember avatar Gary

My wife wanted to separate so I left to make it easier because we have twins that need their bedrooms and other necessities.I started to become depressed months before this turn if events and when this happened it made my depression even worse. Shouldn't family be supportive if a family member is in dire need for health rescue? I would do anything to help anyone of my 3 ladies in our house. I've been alienated by my children and wife and it feels like the devil has me tied up by His tail. I try and let go of the past but it haunts me only because of its reasons for present living.They do say I'm not kind but these actions of not being kind are only expressed because I'm having to ask my children to do something for the household dozens of times. I never hit them and I'll always try and talk it out first before a fight arises. You see, these kids are trying to be more than what they are. They seem to live vicariously through their mom who is very beautiful and she also thinks like a mom that lives on reality TV. I do know my wife and twins are a strong force as their care for another is vehement. But I'm building my faith with going to church and reading scripture to help me carry my thoughts to a better place. I have such great love for my wife and I miss touching her, smelling her and seeing her every morning as she gets ready for her day of work. I want my family back more than anything. I love you SEH

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