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He Said, She Said: Taking a Break During a Marriage

If your relationship is in shambles and you can’t afford a divorce, the less drastic option that many couples pursue is taking a break. With the strain of finances, a mortgage, children, work, socializing and even pursuing an education, it tests the strongest of relationships. At times things go extremely well and your relationship blossoms in every facet, but other times they fall apart even when nothing seemingly looks wrong. Petty arguments cause the biggest of fights each stemming from issues that add up and go unnoticed throughout the years. When no one is willing to compromise or yield a discussion, resentment and anger grow like gangrene on a relationship that was once worth it all. In order to save the relationship, some couples decide upon taking a break and preserving the good parts of the dynamic they once fell in love with. However, there are always two sides to every story and taking a break isn’t always the wisest choice.

Image Credit: Getty Images/101 Dalmations

Image Credit: Getty Images/101 Dalmations

Deciding to separate in a marriage is one of the most difficult things any married couple could ever do. Wordlessly, it speaks of the end of a relationship and that’s partially because many view taking a break as the first and inevitable step towards divorce. In some cases, a separation is primarily asked for because the couple needs some time apart to cool off and think through what they each want for their own and collective futures. Taking a break will allow you to think about the relationship calmly and refrain from any further arguments and pent up resentment. It provides clarity for both partner involved and the chance to re-energize yourself to better understand who you wish to be to one another.

On the other side, taking a break from a relationship can be extremely hurtful to the other. It can create great pain and a misunderstanding through one’s psyche, ultimately causing anxiety, self-doubt, low self-esteem, and anything else to cause distress in the individual’s emotional response. By taking a break in a marriage and not addressing the issues, it’s basically like sweeping every problematic issue under the rug and deferring the inevitable. Some breaks even exacerbate underlying issues and won’t disappear unless you’re able to fully communicate, understand and trust your partner.

A gray area up for discussion in a relationship that’s on a break is when one of the partners cheats on their significant other. Is it really cheating if you were on a break? Many believe if the two were separated at the time, it’s not considered cheating because they are not a couple anymore and are treated as singles. Others believe it is in fact cheating and have doubts of whether to trust them or not, some contemplate divorce. When a relationship is on a break and a partner cheats, the real reasoning should be traced back to the decision made on whether to go on the break or not. Some feel the need to go on breaks in their relationship simply because they are unsure of the whole thing but can’t afford to leave or even divorce their partner. Ultimately, they sulk in their indecisiveness and use the separation card as an emotional shield. Of course when cheating takes place, one will feel betrayed, hurt and not trust the other but do you think you can actually get over it? That is a question for anyone who has suffered such an ordeal to really examine.

It is essential when couples go on a break that they take time to discover if their significant other truly matches their own wants and needs, and if they the best person for them. One of the key foundations of any relationship is communication, understanding and trust. If your significant other has cheated, make sure you have the capacity to forgive and trust them wholly, otherwise the relationship will suffer. It won’t be fair to keep someone for yourself just because of sentimental reasoning and past relations.

This week we hear from Beth of Green Bay, Wisconsin who experienced trouble in her marriage and and decided to take a break from her husband. After they got back together, she soon discovered he had cheated on her. Beth is now wondering what the next step to take is. Our team of writers try their best to share insight and advice with the confused wife.

He Said She Said - Beth May 1 2013

Kathleen says:

Beth, I’m sorry to hear about the poor state of your marriage. I can’t imagine how difficult and frustrating this must be for you.

While I understand that life is very busy for both you and your husband, I think that if you truly want to make your marriage work and fix any lingering problems, you have to prioritize your marriage. Though your husband has faltered, I applaud him for taking the time to attend counseling sessions and attempting to work through his issues. I realize your time is scarce, but surely there must be a therapist that offers early morning, late night, or weekend sessions. If you sincerely believe in your marriage and want to make it work, I believe this is the first crucial step you must take.

Though it may be uncomfortable or awkward at first, I think you need to make a conscious effort to say more to each other than the passing pleasantries and you need to do more with together outside of your regular routine. Take a trip, schedule a date night, go for a walk in your neighborhood. I think if you try harder and put in more effort, he will follow suit and eventually you will find that foundation of friendship that seems to be currently missing.

Additionally, though he’s your husband, assuming “he should know me by now and know what I want” is faulty thinking. NO ONE, including your husband, can read your mind. You need to articulate very clearly what you want from him now and in the future. Clear communication is the key to him understanding your needs and you getting what you want.

I know it’s difficult now, but the fact that you’re not throwing in the towel speaks volumes for how much you love your husband and your marriage. Best of luck!

Desi says…

Beth, it’s unfortunate your marriage has deteriorated so badly, and I’m very sorry that it has. No one but you will be able to answer whether you want to end the relationship, though.

Just because you have been together for some time doesn’t mean that he knows what you want – people change over time. Obviously he did – if you had any idea he would have been unfaithful, you probably wouldn’t have married him. And especially since you got married so young, you’ve both had a lot of room to grow in those four years. Even eight months is a long time, especially at that age – and it’s nearly 1/4 of your marriage. To play devil’s advocate, maybe when he was with those other women, he was still able to do some soul-searching and think about things that are wrong in the marriage.

I agree with Kathleen – if you truly want to save your marriage, look for therapists in the area with “non-traditional” hours. It’s natural for men to shut down about their feelings and talk about hard things, but the more sessions you attend and the more comfortable he is, he’ll be better able to communicate with you. Try dating each other again – maybe you could recreate a special night from your past, like your first date or engagement. This might spark some of those old feelings and reignite the romance. At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to you – how much you’re willing and able to forgive.

Matt says…

Beth, often we end up channeling frustration towards the people we love. After years of fighting, your relationship became the first place both of you went to express negative feelings. Now, you’re tied down with someone you associate anger, distrust, and resentment with. If things are this bad and you aren’t even done with college, imagine life ten years from now.

I’m a bit confused by your “eight month break.” Is it really considered cheating if you agreed to take a break for almost a year? Did you really expect to fix problems in your relationship by not speaking? It sounds counterproductive to solve your issues by cutting off communication. What kept you from you just leaving him?

If you truly want to repair your marriage, you need to trust him again. You can do that by putting in the same amount of effort. He acknowledged the problem by going to counseling and apologizing to you. I think you need to make this your priority and go with him. Otherwise, your fears of unfaithfulness are going to tear you and your marriage apart.

Love is our first priority. Best of luck!

Drew says…

I have to agree with Matt. The first thought that came to my mind was the age old “We were on a break…”

I think the first thing you have to be able to get past is exactly that issue. I’m not saying he was in the right, but if you can’t forgive him and let it go, then it’s just going to eat you up inside, and lead to bitterness in the relationship. Did he sleep with someone else before you had a break?

If you seek advice from our writers, email us at thehudsuckerblog@gmail.com! Perhaps your question will be featured in our next installment.

While our team of writers have given their advice with the best of intentions, they nor anyone of this site assume responsibility for your actions or the results of them.
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  1. He Said, She Said: Taking a Break During a Marriage | The Hudsucker | Free Online Relationship Counseling - May 1, 2013

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    […] He Said, She Said: Taking a Break During a Marriage (thehudsucker.com) […]

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