Do Trial Separations Work?

Expert opinion seems divided about the effectiveness of a trial separation in repairing a failing marriage.
Unlike marriages and divorces, which are formal and recorded, trial separations are informal. No one knows the number and frequency of such separations. In that sense, trial separations are similar to cohabitation, which also goes unrecorded.

Moreover, no one really has a firm definition of a successful separation. For example, suppose a separated married couple reconcile – then separate and divorce two years later. Was that separation successful in extending their marriage another two years?

Some marriage therapists say that the danger of a marital separation is that it shatters the trust, or, as one put it, “breaks the bedrock of the marriage.” Like a divorce, martial separations are seldom bilateral. The spouse who is involuntarily left may find that the break, though unsought, appeals to him or her.

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