Dear Coleen: My husband wants time apart and I’m heartbroken

Dear Coleen

I’ve been married for six years and my husband has told me he’d like us to take a break from the relationship over the next few months. Luckily, we don’t have children to worry about but I’m totally heartbroken.

It’s true we haven’t been getting along great. It’s nothing I can really put my finger on but we’re nowhere near as close as we used to be and sex is pretty much non-existent.

We don’t even argue that much, but we seem to disagree on lots of things. We both just focus on our jobs and our ­separate friendship groups. I don’t really know how we got to this point but here we are.

He hasn’t said he wants a divorce, which is something, but I can’t help feeling that it might be the first step in us separating permanently.

I’m crying all the time, wondering how to figure this out but if I don’t agree to it, he might walk away and not come back. I’d love your advice on how to tackle this and move forward. I do love him and I think he still loves me, but we’re a bit lost.

Coleen says

Well, I think you’re right – if this is something he feels he needs to do to get some perspective, then it’s pointless kicking against it.

However, it’s important he’s honest about his reasons because there seems to be a huge communication gap between the two of you. It’s a stressful position to be in and I know you’re expecting the worst-case scenario but there’s a chance it’ll have the opposite effect.

I know lots of couples for whom a trial separation has really worked – after time apart, they’ve missed each other and realised how much they value their relationship and that it’s worth fighting for.

However, before you have this break, it’s important to agree on a timescale and also to make it clear you’re not prepared to be waiting around indefinitely. You need to work out some ground rules – you’re on a break to see what you want, not to do what you want.

And raise the subject of relationship counselling to help you get to the bottom of why you’ve stopped talking and why you’ve drifted apart. Communication is the key here.

And if your husband decides he doesn’t want to work on the marriage, don’t blame yourself. People change and, sadly, fall out of love. But it’s important you work out what’s gone wrong and why, and what, if anything, you can do to change the ­situation. Good luck.

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