The decision to separate may be one of the hardest ones a couple ever has to make. Getting separated has legal implications that involve child custody, visitation rights, property division, and more. A separation also, of course, could be the beginning of a divorce. So getting separated is unlike ending any other type of relationship.
No matter how many breakups you’ve been through, or “breaks” you’ve taken from partners, nothing quite prepares you for being separated from your spouse. That being said, a separation can be a valid option for individuals who do not wish to get a divorce (or are undecided on the matter) but wish to live separately while working out financial, emotional, or other issues. Since divorce is so final, it makes sense some couples would want to start with separation so they can think.
And let’s not forget that divorce can be contagious. A study suggests that the divorce of a friend or close relative increases the chances that you too will divorce. So before you jump the gun, make sure you’re making an informed decision and not a move that’s influenced by your friends.
Ready to call it quits? Here are 15 signs that it may be time to separate or call it quits:
1. Your partner has stopped participating in the marriage
Your partner doesn’t acknowledge he has a wife anymore. He doesn’t make time for you, he isn’t affectionate with you, he barely comes home, he will make travel plans without telling you and has generally begun to behave as if you do not exist.
2. A separation would improve your quality of life
You can genuinely say that your life would be better without your partner. You even sense that relief would be on the other side of a separation.
Before you call it quits, ask yourself these questions:
- Does this person ever meet my needs?
- Do I truly love this person?
- Does this person make me happy or sad?
- Do I see a future with this person?
- Does this person bring out the best or worst in me?
- Do we share the same personal and professional goals?
- Do we fight more than we make love?
- Would I regret ending things with this person?
3. The kids are the only things standing in the way
If the kids are the only things standing in your way then that means you’re already subjecting your children to living in an unhappy home. It’s better to separate and have them cope with the emotions that follow than make them live with parents who fight and don’t want to be together.
In fact, in 2002, researchers at UCLA found that those who grew up in homes with high levels of conflict had more physical health problems, emotional problems, and social problems later in life compared to control groups. Good health begins early in life, and you want to make sure your kids have a healthy start by not subjecting them to combativeness.
4. Finances are the only things standing in your way
Consider this: would you rather get a second job, move to a smaller place and have your freedom again or maintain your luxurious lifestyle, but spend the rest of your life with the wrong person? It’s quite simple when you think about it like that.
Need advice on saving money? Try these tips from Pamela Yellen, Financial Security Expert and New York Times bestselling author:
1. Determine your wants vs. needs
What do we really need? Stop and think about it and get clarity for yourself.
2. Curb your Impulses
Next time you feel the urge to buy something you hadn’t planned to buy, simply clench your fist or flex your bicep.
3. Wrap your charge cards
Some financial advisors tell you to leave your cards at home to avoid temptation….I prefer to wrap my cards in my goals. Every time I take a card out, I see a picture or some words that represent a goal that’s important to me. I get the opportunity to stop and decide whether what I’m about to purchase is more important than that goal.
5. Your partner has been diagnosed as a narcissist
A narcissist is a very difficult personality type to spend your life with and, unfortunately, the narcissist behaviors only get worse with age. Your partner could end up cheating on you, stealing money from you, and truly feeling no moral qualms about that.
Here are the signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder according to the Mayoclinic.
People with a narcissistic personality disorder can:
- Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
- Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration.
- Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it.
- Exaggerate achievements and talents.
- Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate.
- Be envious of others and believe others envy them.
- Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious
6. He is abusing you
If you are being abused, whether that’s emotionally, physically or mentally, it is absolutely time to separate. It will likely be time to divorce soon, too.
Sadly, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will be victims of domestic violence or abuse in their lifetime. If you feel that you are being abused, call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or chat with a live person at thehotline.org.
7. You’re in love with someone else
If you have already tried to make things work with your partner but just couldn’t, and now you’re in love with somebody else, you should separate. This will give you the space to see if those feelings for the other person are real, or just a manifestation of your rejection of your marriage.
Here are a few helpful phrases to say to end your relationship:
- “I want to be honest with you, this relationship no longer suits me.”
- “I value and respect you, but I must end things for my personal well being.”
- “I love you, but this relationship no longer serves me.”
- “I don’t believe we are compatible and I would like to end things before it gets worse.”
8. You don’t trust him
If your partner has cheated on you, he has tried everything to regain your trust but you know in your gut you will never trust him again, this marriage cannot go on. Neither of you can be happy like that.
Here are signs you trust your partner:
- You support each other.
- You can be vulnerable with them.
- You feel safe and loved.
- You feel respected.
- You can communicate with them without feeling judged or neglected.
- You feel like you can be open and honest.
- You feel that you can give them your personal information (bank account info, passwords to private things, etc.) without them taking advantage.
9. You’re just worried about your reputation
If the only reason you aren’t separating is because you don’t want friends, family, colleagues, and society to see you as “broken,” it’s time to separate.
Plenty of people get separated, and anyone who judges you for trying to be happy is not someone whose opinion you should value.
10. He doesn’t want to work on the relationship
Your partner doesn’t want to work on it, he doesn’t want to talk about it, he will not acknowledge that there are issues, and he refuses to go to counseling. If this is the case, there is little you can do to revive your relationship.
11. Counseling has failed
You’ve seen a counselor, but it didn’t help. In fact, your counselor has suggested that you separate. Even your priest/rabbi or other religious leader has suggested it. If this is your case, it’s probably time to separate.
12. You feel nothing about the separation
When you envision your life without this person, you feel nothing. You don’t feel panicked or sad. You don’t even really feel a sense of loss.
13. One or both parties have left before
If you, your partner, or both of you have mentally left the relationship and you’ve had several incidences where you’ve physically stayed with a friend or relative to get away, it might be time to truly look at the seriousness of the relationship.
14. You don’t like who you’ve become
You thoroughly dislike the person you are in this marriage. But in order for your partner to be happy, you have to be that person to keep them happy.
Here are ways to get started on being your true self:
- Forgo your comfort zone.
- Speak positivity over your life.
- Set goals, but be realistic.
- Celebrate all of you.
- Practice gratitude.
- Practice being your best self.
- Accept feedback.
- Understand your strengths.
- Define your motivations.
- Bring out the best in others.
- Try to be as healthy as possible.
15. He wants you to compromise your values
If your partner needs you to compromise your values—maybe he asks you to cover up the fact he is embezzling money or he wants an open marriage—in order for him to be happy, then it’s time to say, “goodbye.”
Your partner should never ask you to compromise your:
- Life goals
- Personal passions
- Time with friends
- Career goals