Do take the time to focus on your well-being and personal values. Virginia Satir, founder of the Satir Experiential Model of family therapy, discussed the idea of “living congruently,” this is when how you act and what you say matches with what you internally feel.
When we live incongruently we lose track of our true self according to authors in the book Marriage and Family Therapy. Often during marital conflict, individuals operate on autopilot as they suppress emotions that come with their distress.
If you take time to separate, prioritize your own needs in order to increase clarity on what is important to you. This includes whether or not you want to save your marriage.
Do have a plan. Many people experience a drop in their income during a separation states research in the Journal of Divorce and Remarriage. and have children with the partner they are separating from. It is important to consider things like bills, bank accounts, childcare, pets, living arrangements, and what communication will look like.
Consider also seeking legal advice, especially if you want a legal agreement in place during this separation period.
Do seek support outside of your relationship. This could be professional, familial, or friendship. A marital separation is often seen as more distressing and ambiguous than a divorce as a separation usually occurs first. Grief may even be something you should attend to during this time.
It is important to find trustworthy relationships to depend on for different needs during a separation.
Do prioritize your physical and mental health. Marital dissolution is one of the most significant life stresses someone may encounter and isolation is the most disruptive period of the process.
Don’t triangulate others into the marital problems. It is very tempting to involve other people in conflict to feel like we have people on our side. However, this can cause problems later on if your goal is to reunite.
For example, if you tell your sister everything negative about the marriage and your sister sees all of the negative emotions you are experiencing, this could impact their perspective on your spouse long after the separation.
It is important for you to have support, but be aware of how involvement of others could be harmful to the relationship.
Don’t emotionally rely on your children. When emotions are challenging and parents do not seek adult support, parents will turn to their children to fill their emotional needs and share distress, this is known as boundary dissolution according to the Journal of Emotional Abuse.