I think for some relationships the statement, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” might hold some weight. When you and your spouse don't see each other for brief and/or long periods of time- that reintroduction to one another on both an intimate and superficial level can be nothing short of intoxicating, lustful and even reminiscent of those initial encounters when your relationship was in its embryonic stages and everything felt exciting fresh and deliriously fun.
Of course taking a sabbatical from a marriage in which it is no longer just the two of you but now you are 17 years in, with a boat load of dependents, bills and responsibilities- takes on a whole new meaning. When you take said break do you split up the kids and dogs and take them to your new respective domiciles, do you paypal one another the fees for electric bills. Do you send each other racy text messages- or is it a clean break?
I just read a blog post from a guy who has been married a total of three years and thinks he has it all figured out. He can't ever imagine a period in his marriage where he will become disenchanted with the process or with his wife. He pontificates at length about how he has weathered all the hard stuff, in his lengthy three year union, and while he knows in time he and his wife will transform there is no way he would even entertain the concept of divorce. Personally I think three years in is akin to being in nursery school and I'd LOVE to hear back from him when he is 17 years in. That being said, I do believe that if you are going to be in a long marriage you need to embrace the changes it will need to bear.
And sometimes those changes mean- that you need a time-out that is longer than an hour. Which leads me to the title of this blog post: The Pros and the Cons of Taking a Sabbatical From Your Marriage. Perhaps a sabbatical is an alternative to getting a divorce? And while I personally would rather see my husband's mug every day, even though at times it can get old and tired and yes sometimes I'd let to slap it hard with my knuckles, I also know that NOT SEEING it for an extended period of time would be harder on me. I'm the kind of person who needs to work on my stuff right away. If I take time out and let my wounds fester, it is less likely that I will ever be able to get back to the place I started with this man. But I am just one wife- and I am always interested in hearing how others view their marriages, and the idea of taking a sabbatical from their unions. I also asked a few professionals to weigh in with their thoughts on the pros and cons of such a weighty decision and here is what they had to say. Before deciding to take a sabbatical from marriage, first become very clear in your response to the question “Why?” In other words, establish your intention, notes Human Behavior Expert Patrick Wanis PhD. offers this insight Is it to escape a painful situation, hoping it will improve upon your return? Do you expect that the break will automatically heal and eradicate any problems in the marriage? Is it because you want to find yourself or is it because you have doubts about the potential and longevity of the marriage? Wanis offers these three pros and these three cons when it comes to taking a sabbatical from your marriage.
- Done effectively and with a plan, being apart from the marriage & your spouse, gives you the opportunity to become clear about who you are, what you want and need, and whether or not you will get that in your marriage.
- You might also realize that you are equally responsible for what is happening in the marriage, and thus decide to take corrective action via personal or marital counseling.
- If you are experiencing extreme stress, a marriage sabbatical, can give you the opportunity to heal and thus to gain a new perspective. Chronic stress shrinks the brain, resulting in loss of emotional control, impulsivity and addictions, and it takes months of rest to heal the brain.
- If you are in the infancy of your marriage and thus without a foundation of understanding of each other, your needs and what you truly want, you might easily become more confused as you encounter new relationships and bond with new people.
- Your spouse might react negatively over time, developing resentment, losing trust in you and/or he/she might develop a new relationship and choose to end the marriage right at the time you might come back deciding you want the marriage.
- If you have children and depending on their age and stage of development, they will not understand your actions or motivations. They will process your actions as abandonment and will subconsciously believe they are at fault. They might also experience trauma and might become distant and less trusting of you.
Attorney and Author of ” Don't File for Divorce Just Yet – What you Must Know First.” Cheryl Taylor says “Yes, a break from marriage, a job, anything is necessary if we are live a meaningful life. Too often we view a break as a failure. That is just not the case. A properly planned “break” can prevent a fracture a relationship, or in life as a whole. What I mean is that there are times in any long range endeavor, like marriage, where we need to reassess. I'm convinced that the big stuff in life, must be done alone. Think about it, we come here alone, and we leave alone. If we can go inward periodically and figure out who we are, what we want, what we are doing, and whether it still suits us, then we are so much better off, and so are the people we love. We've got to start believing that it's okay to stop, to rest, to fail, to begin again and to rebuild a new life, create a new normal based on present changes and challenges.”
So what are your thoughts- is a sabbatical something you would entertain?