Could a 'Relationship Sabbatical' Save Your Marriage?
Sentencing reprobate kids to a time-out has become the norm — but an increasing number of couples in rocky relationships are choosing to do the same to avoid divorce.
But can a “marriage sabbatical” really work?
In a sabbatical, both partners separate for a defined period of time — a few hours, days or weeks — but expect to return to their marriage.
The goal is to give partners a break from the relationship, which would then lead to a greater appreciation of the other.
Although a little alone time seems like a good idea, some experts question whether a marriage sabbatical might actually do more harm than good, saying avoidance won’t make problems disappear.
Attorney, minister and ethics lecturer Dr. Wendy L. Patrick disagrees with the idea of marriage sabbaticals, calling them dangerous, with temptation one of the biggest dangers.
“It gives partners an ‘out’ to pursue other options, says Patrick. “You are separated from your spouse, both physically and mentally. That state of affairs can enhance the chances of the temporary separation becoming permanent.”
It also prevents couples from communicating and finding a solution to the real problem.
“When couples become willing to spend time apart in an effort to enhance their time together, the writing is on the wall. Their marriage is in trouble, and it is time to address the larger issues,” says Patrick.
“It could motivate people to become better partners and renew the spark. A [sabbatical] also gives couples time to compare their spouse to other potential partners, which may really highlight a spouse’s best qualities.”
Often when a relationship is stuck in a pattern of blame, a lot of energy goes into trying to get our partner to change, says relationship therapist Dr. Sheri Meyers.
“Taking a sabbatical gives each person time and space to remember the good and even miss each other. You stop looking outward and start connecting inward,” says Meyers.
Celebrity matchmaker Kailen Rosenberg warns that those considering a relationship sabbatical need to have rules and a plan.
If you're already heading down the road to divorce, watch the video above for tips on how to survive a messy divorce.