Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Separation can give you space to see things as they really are
Anywhere: Do trial separations ever really result in people coming back together for a healthy marriage? My husband had an affair, I found out, he swears it is over, and we are three months into counseling. We have kids and more than a decade together, so I'm committed to trying to find a way back, but I also think we both could use some space to sort through a few issues.
At the same time, it feels fundamentally odd to me that we would create two distinct spaces and then be able to come back together. I haven't really shared the whole scenario with too many people, so I'm not able to get a sense of whether this is something other people have been through. Any thoughts?
Carolyn: Separations can be baby steps to divorce, but they also can bring the perspective it takes to fix underlying problems.
It's all in the details of who you are and what you're trying to do. If you're afraid and can't get your mind around ending the marriage, for example, then just taking the first step can embolden you to keep going, when you're confident it's the right thing to do.
But if you're having trouble thinking clearly with the person right there, and you're trying to tell the difference between fearing loss and actually wanting to stay together, then a separation can tell you, yes, I do want us to stay together.
Sometimes it just helps to take a couple of steps back to figure out whether you believe what someone's telling you, and how you feel as a result. Context is your best friend, and context — what your husband is like in general, what you're like, what you used to think was true, what you now think is true, etc. — can be hard to see when you're with someone day after day.
Don't fret so much over timing of baby announcement
Chicago: I am three months pregnant and my husband and I were planning to tell his parents this weekend. I had wanted to wait through the first trimester, and am going on a business trip on Monday for two weeks — so this is it. It's our first, so it's kind of a big deal.
We got a call last night from my husband's sister to tell us that she's pregnant, but not to tell the parents because she wants to surprise them this weekend. It's her third, and she is six weeks along.
Since SIL has basically claimed this weekend for her announcement, I feel we should wait. My husband says putting it off until I get back from my trip would put me at nearly four months, which would be insulting to his parents. What to do?
Carolyn: It is a big deal, it feels like a big deal, and it will become the center of gravity in your marriage (and for you, literally), which will become the center of your world.
But the rest of the world is busy living and marrying and breeding and dying, whether your little family is part of it all or not.
Translation: Just share your news and get on with it. Two babies! Yay for everybody. Making more of it is to make way too much of it.
And, finally, congratulations.