Taking A Break? How To Make It Beneficial Instead Of Harmful For Your Relationship

February 20, 2013  |  

 

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Most people will tell you that taking a break is just the first step to an inevitable breakup, kind of like how a separation always leads to a divorce. Unfortunately, those people are usually right. If you and your guy are struggling at a fundamental level—perhaps having communication or trust issues—those issues will still be there waiting for you when you return. The only time a break can be beneficial is when one person is struggling with something large on a personal level, that he or she needs time alone to process, handle or just get through. And if that is the case for your break, here’s how to get the most out of it.

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Identify why you’re taking a break

Just to reiterate: be sure you’re not taking a break to avoid issues you and your partner have as a couple. Examples are: jealousy, trust issues, failure to support one another in your endeavors, control issues, verbal or other types of abuse and physical intimacy issues. These issues will not be solved by a break.

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But why not?…

Because taking a break for the above stated reasons will only put you in a state of denial: during the break, you’ll idealize your relationship, only remembering the good things and of course—you don’t have to face any of the bad things right now! You’ll come back from the break more eager than ever to be with your partner, and more disappointed when you realize all your same problems are still there. The problems only felt gone, because you were not together.

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To prepare…

So ask yourself: under normal circumstances, when life is stable and you’re both in a good place: would you and your partner still be having problems? If so, those need to be addressed in a more head on manner like through long conversations or even counseling. Or, you called it, a breakup.

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Keep communication minimal

One of the greatest benefits of taking a break, whether it was the intention or not, is that you get to see what life is like without your partner. You’ll often realize how much you appreciate them and want them in your life. But you deprive yourself of this benefit if you’re texting and calling each other all day, every day. Try to keep communication to once every couple of days.

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But do communica  te

If you cut off all communication for the entire break, you’ll come back feeling disconnected from each other. And that disconnect is often misread as you two not loving each other anymore, or having become “two different people.” Many couples will break up after a break due to that fact alone. When they would have seen, had they stuck it out a few more days that they’d fall back into feeling connected. Skip that whole mess, and check in with one another throughout the break.

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Do things for yourself

Any chance you have to do more for yourself is beneficial for you and as a result, your relationship. Spend more time with friends, take a class you’ve been meaning to take, get back into your workout routine. The more enriched and satisfied you are as an individual, the more satisfied you’ll feel in your relationship and the more attracted your partner will be to you.

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Keep busy

You will have moments of, “What the heck are we doing?” You’ll have moments when you feel more alone than ever because, while you have a partner, you don’t have access to him. And this can cause resentment towards your partner if he is the one who asked for the break. If you come back together with resentment, that defeats the purpose of the break. Then you’ll have a new problem. Any woman who has gone through a separation will tell you the key to survival is keeping busy.

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Keep things in perspective

If this is the person you hope to spend the rest of your life with, remember that a couple of weeks or even a couple of months is nothing in the frame of a lifetime. When you find yourself hitting a wall, feeling you just can’t wait any longer just ask yourself: do I want to potentially ruin my chance at a life with the man I love, all because I couldn’t be patient for a few weeks?

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Don’t expect things to be perfect immediately

So, you and your partner took a break because your partner is having some personal struggle. Perhaps he has a dying parent, or is in a particularly stressful place with his career. In some cases, when the two of you end the break, those circumstances will still be there.

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So how will you improve things?

But you went on the break because something about the two of you being together under those circumstances wasn’t working. Your partner needed some alone time: that’s fine. But if you plan on getting back together, you’ll have to figure out how the two of you can be together, within the current struggles.

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Don’t fall back into your routine

Whatever your routine used to be—perhaps it was eating dinner in front of the TV, having the same old boring sex, and falling asleep—do not fall back into this. Of course this will still be a part of your life. But going right back to these activities, right after a break, will feel depressing for both of you. Too much similarity, right away, to the way things used to be, will make you both believe nothing has changed. In fact, it will make it hard for you to see what changes have taken place.

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Go on dates

You missed each other, right? You used to be a little tired (admit it) of hearing about each other’s days because nothing seemed to change. Now you feel out of touch with one another! You need to catch up! You do find each other interesting. Take advantage of that feeling and go on dates. You probably didn’t do that enough before. This is a great way to re-start your relationship with a spark. Make one another work a little for your affections. Get dressed up. Make good conversation. Make each other laugh. In a sense, “date” your partner again.

 

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Don’t listen to your friends

Your friends are going to have high doubts about this break. They’re going to believe you’re just avoiding the inevitable break up. They’re going to hint at the idea that you’re being weak, or letting a man drag you along. You know your partner: is he asking for this break because he is just lazy, and afraid to break up with you but also unwilling to be a good partner? Or is he doing this for you, so that he can come back as a better partner? If you know it’s the latter, don’t listen to your friends.

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Put your guard down

When your break ends, as hard as it is and as much as your pride resists it: put your guard down. Don’t hold back on physical affection, don’t act distant and don’t feel awkward. You will feel an urge to make your partner work hard to get back into good graces with you. You’ll have a little voice saying, “Well why should he just get to have me back 100%, the moment he decides, when I had to wait patiently and suffer these last few weeks?” But remember: the break wasn’t easy for him either. He’s been suffering too. If this break took place, as we hope, because your partner was struggling through personal issues and wanted to resolve those in order to be a better partner to you, it hasn’t exactly been a vacation for him either. Put your pride aside and give him love. He needs it now more than ever.

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  • Nope

    Kind of a side note, but I’ve never really liked how communication is referenced in terms of its importance in successful relationships. While it’s absolutely important, it’s usually the woman saying it, and it’s code for “he doesn’t listen to me all day every day when I want and how I want”. Your/”your” man isn’t one of your girlfriends. No man wants to hear a woman complain every day about her imaginary enemies at work or at school. When he asks “how was your day”, how about you open up with some good news every now and then?

    • Well aren’t you stereotyping. You have no ideal what each woman means when she says communicate unless you ask her. Communicate does not mean listen to me b*tch and moan about my day, but means open up when there is a problem in the relationship. Talk about what’s going on in your life. Share your hopes, dreams, and thoughts once in a while and listen to mine so we can continue to grow together as a couple. You know all that sh*t you use to do when we were first talking.