If you follow my vlogs on YouTube, you are aware that my husband and I have been separated a while. Since late August, actually, when I left Missouri and went to Arizona to stay with my parents. Soon, this separation is ending, and I’m going back to Ft. Leonard Wood with Tumbles to reunite our little family.
Before I left, I thought and prayed a lot about even the idea of separation. I read about it a lot online, and I came across very mixed messages. I don’t know if anyone will end up coming across my website sometime when they’re looking for answers, but, just in case, I want to throw my opinion into the mix. Take it for what it’s worth. I’m a young, married, Christian woman with some life experience under her belt, but I’m no psychologist, clergy member, or anything like that.
Is Separation a Good Option?
After going through marriage and separation, I have to say that I do not believe separation is a good option for any marriage. I can understand why it seems appealing, I can understand feeling you need space, and I can even understand feeling that the space and time apart could do you and your marriage good. In spite of understanding these things, however, I have to say that my advice is to do your very best to avoid separation if reuniting is your end goal. (If you are aiming toward divorce for whatever reason and do not wish to reunite, that’s sort of a separate issue.)
Before I left, I read on both sides of the issue. Even within the Christian community there were conflicting messages about whether it had any possibility to be helpful to a marriage or not. I believe the ultimate answer is that it is not helpful, but rather it is harmful to a marriage to go through a separation when the goal is ultimately to keep the marriage going and reunite.
What Happens When You Separate
There may already be emotional distance between a husband and wife, but, upon separating, that emotional distance is increased as well as the physical distance. Without the ability to touch and see your partner, you lose a sense of intimacy. Without that physical intimacy (even if it’s just a hand on the arm now and then or a hug) and without the exchange of words you get when living together, the emotional distance becomes even greater. You go from feeling a little disconnected to being extremely disconnected.
Is that bad? Isn’t that sometimes what we hope to gain from separation? Maybe you feel like you need that space because you’ve been fighting so much that resentment is building up and building up and you’re worried you’re going to hate each other or head straight toward divorce if you don’t create that distance!
To that, I would say that’s exactly what the world and the devil want you to think. That’s just my honest opinion because that’s exactly where I was! There was fighting, resentment, and serious issues that needed to be worked through, and I believed whole-heartedly that things were not going to change – could not even be worked on – until we’d had some time apart. I believed that staying together with our relationship in that state would only cause the hurt feelings and bitterness and resentment to grow to a point beyond repair. This is, I would guess, the main reason Christians who don’t want to divorce would end up separating.
Why the Distance is Bad
You think you want that distance, and you think that distance could help, and you think that if it doesn’t help, well, you were doomed anyway — something like that, right? But the truth is that the distance itself rips things even further apart. You can’t work on your issues when you’re apart. Maybe you can wait until the hurt feelings subside, but once you see your partner again, everything is going to resurface. And in the meantime, while you’re physically and emotionally distant, it’s easy – it’s so easy to allow yourself to behave towards your spouse without the love and/or respect that they need to be treated with, and it’s so easy to be tempted into indulging in various vices (cheating, drinking, flirting, squandering money, etc) because there’s no one there to call you on it and (so it seems) no one there to get hurt by it.
Basically, distance brings more distance. You can’t get close by being distant. When two marry, they become one flesh, and they need to be together and foster that togetherness, growing closer. Distance, for whatever reason, tends to be unhealthy. Being apart lets you each be pulled in different directions, and the longer you are apart, the further you get from each other. For my husband and me, the distance hurt us tremendously: emotionally, financially, relationally. It was harder to communicate, and we couldn’t get counseling. We got used to being independent again and making decisions solo. And as we got used to being apart, we seemed to pull away from each other even more until there was almost no closeness or intimacy left.
Divorce, at a point like that, becomes almost inevitable. You left angry, you didn’t resolve anything, you grew apart, and now there’s nothing left of that closeness you once felt. Even worse, if trust has been broken at some point there may be literally nothing pushing you to reunite.
Stick it Out
I have to just encourage everyone to please stick it out. It sounds crazy some times that staying together could be the right thing to do even when it hurts, even when you’re unhappy, even when you can’t seem to get along with each other. Obviously, things aren’t going to get better without change taking place, but don’t choose the route of separation. I believe it is almost always going to do more damage than good and will more often than not lead to divorce!
Get back to being friends. Maybe split up your finances, if you’ve been pooling resources. Maybe sleep in different rooms. Maybe redefine things in your marriage (chores, responsibilities, duties, expectations). Definitely get some good counsel, preferably from a good Christian therapist or a pastor. Keep telling your spouse that you love them, and keep trying to act out that love. Keep praying. Pray HARD. Pray seriously and whole-heartedly. Pray face-down on the ground, pray in your car, pray in bed, pray over your meals, pray for your marriage constantly.
If things are going to get better – if your marriage is going to flourish and begin to be repaired – it’s going to be while you are together and working jointly toward the same goal.
No two people, situations, or marriages are alike. I understand that some people may think, "That doesn’t apply to me because my situation is ____." I understand that. There are so many problems that could be taking place. All I can say is that I encourage you to stick it out if possible and if you want and hope to keep your marriage alive.
The exceptions are when you either want a divorce or when there is ongoing unsafe behavior taking place (any form of abuse). If you must separate but still hope to reuinte, I cannot stress enough how important I believe it to be to have a pre-determined time limit, rules, and goals, and it is also really important to remain close to each other so you can get counseling! I would say a 2 hour drive, max! If you plan to divorce anyway, that’s a totally different issue. Separate and do what you must.
But if you plan to reunite, and if you want your marriage to last, stick it out. Stay together. Get in counseling. Maybe crash on a friend’s couch for a few nights, but don’t leave. I left, and I thought it was necessary, but it ended up creating so much distance between us that we almost went past the point of no return. I can only attribute it to God that he worked things out in a way that brought us to a point of trying to reconcile.
I just wanted to express these things. Feel free to
contact me privately or leave a comment if you want to talk about this further
(either my situation or your own). I’ll do my best to answer.
I have the flu. Don’t worry; I’m getting over it. I credit Tamiflu and the power of prayer of many friends and relatives.
The last few days have been a blur, though… You know what sucks? Being exhausted and unable to sleep.
Tuesday was my first day of fever. I thought it was a bad cold. I went to a counseling appointment. I drove home feeling more and more lousy. (By the way, when I hear the word lousy, I always think of that episode of I Love Lucy…) I don’t even remember the rest of the day. I *do* remember taking Nyquil and going to bed and tossing and turning all night, waking up seemingly every hour. Wednesday morning came around, and I was still feeling rotten.
My body temperature goes like this:
- Normal Morning: 97.8
- Normal Afternoon: 98.6
- Normal Evening: 99.0
- Tuesday morning: 99.3
- Tuesday afternoon: 100.6
- Tuesday evening: 101.3
- Wednesday morning: 99.3
My throat was burning and dry and all I wanted to do all day was drink as much water as I possibly could to make swallowing a tiny bit less painful. I drank about 80 oz of water, not counting the cups of hot tea… And, for some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to do a 30-minute workout in my livingroom. I told myself I should do it in the morning, before my fever went up. So I did.
- Wednesday afternoon: 101.3
- Wednesday evening: 100.6
I was pretty sure, by this point, that I would wake up Thursday morning feeling considerably better. I took a sleeping pill with my cough medicine and ibuprofen and went to bed, but, yet again, I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned, dozed off, woke up to pee, and I was freezing.
Tip: If you are cold for no reason, do not bundle up.
I do it every time. I get sick and feverish, I get so cold that I swear I’ve never been so cold before in my life. And what do I do? I huddle under more and more layers, trying to get warm, all the while increasing my body temperature. Somehow, in the middle of the night in my feverish delirium, I got the idea to wander to the livingroom and pull a few throw pillows off the couch. I took them back to my bed with me and stuffed them under the covers around my body.
- Thursday morning: 102.1
I woke up earlier than ever, with practically no voice and a throat that was on fire. This was no “bad cold,” I decided. I sprayed some chloraseptic on my throat, which, by the way, felt worse than I remember it feeling even after my tonsillectomy a year and a half ago, and I called the doctor’s office. I was informed that I could walk into Quick Care between 8-4, so I threw on a sweatshirt and jeans, bushed my hair into a ponytail, and left. I barely remembered to check the time before I left the house and was surprised to find that it was just before 8am (good timing).
I’ll skip over the part where I thought I was going to die standing in line at Quick Care. Seriously? No chairs?! And the part where I had to wait for two hours with no food or drink or medicine. They did a throat swab (I gagged) and tested for strep, and then they said that it “looks more like the flu.” So I left around 10 with a little bag full of happy pills (tamiflu, mucinex, tessalon, and 800mg pills of ibuprofen). Somehow I convinced myself to stop at the shoppette for some essentials before going home (chicken soup, ice cream, bread, and gatorade – none of which proved to be very useful). I was home by 10:30 taking my first dose of Tamiflu followed shortly by a nap.
- Thursday afternoon: 99.3
I thought I was doing better… I took another nap.
- Thursday evening: 102.1
Dangit! Quick, more ibuprofen!
- Thursday evening: 102.3
- Thursday evening: 102.9
This can’t be happening! I’m getting better! I have all this medicine! It hurts! Make it stop! I finally dosed myself with some Tylenol and began applying cold compresses and stripping away as many layers of clothing as possible…
- Thursday evening: 102.7
- Thursday evening: 102.3
- Thursday evening: 101.5
- Thursday evening: 100.3
For the first time, I got semi-decent sleep and woke up during the night at the exact times I needed to take more medicine. I slept under a thin blanket…
- Friday morning: 98.3
- Friday afternoon: 98.3
- Friday evening: 99.0
Wait, what was I writing about?
I took two naps today. Because I’m sick, and I’m supposed to rest, and I don’t really know HOW to rest. I’m not good at judging my body’s needs for sleep. And really, my body doesn’t seem to be too good at judging its needs for sleep, either. Otherwise, why would I wake up early in the morning when I’m sick, after not having slept well? And why would I not sleep well in the first place? I pretty much have to decide when it’s time for sleep and then force myself to lay motionless long enough to pass out. So I decided 2 naps would be the right number, and my eyes were tired, so it seemed good. And now it’s midnight, and I should have been asleep at LEAST 2 hours ago so that I can finish getting better, but when I lay in bed my eyes don’t want to close and my brain doesn’t want to shut off, and I have a feeling I took too many naps. And that’s what I was trying to say all along.
I love my husband because…
1. You got me “just because” flowers, and they’re beautiful.
2. You give up sleep for me.
3. You have such a creative imagination.
4. You’re too smart for your own good.
5. Because you love me.
I’m having trouble managing my time. I actually sat down yesterday thinking I could create some kind of budget to account for all the minutes I have available to me in a day. But it didn’t work.
Why doesn’t budgeting time work like budgeting money? If I know I have so much money coming in every month, I can put each dollar in a category, even if one category is “extra” or “spending money.” But with my time-chart, no matter what, I never seem to have enough time. By my estimation, I need about 35-40 hours a day to live comfortably. But I can’t just go adding hours to the day, can I? I mean, maybe if I change my sleep schedule up. It would be pretty difficult, though.
I think it’s good to have ambitions and goals for using your time that you might not actually reach, but it’s hard to be content with not reaching your goals! The truth is there just aren’t enough hours in the day. So what should we do?
Remember to Be
Let me remind both you and me again of the Importance of Being. We need to savor life, not rush through it. Be happy about each thing you accomplish, and think about the benefits of having done that.
So far today, I’ve:
1. …made the bed. This is a new habit I’m trying to develop. It feels really good to walk into our bedroom throughout the day and see a neat bed. It is complete with the decorative pillows that came with our set of bedding (a wedding present from some lovely friends of ours – who I am reminded of when I look at the bedding, all neatly made). It also makes me feel like Hubby will be better able to see my effort to take care of the house, and it is nice to pull back the covers on a neat bed at night and slip between unwrinkled sheets.
2. …started another load of laundry. We aren’t going to run out of clean undergarments, tshirts, or uniforms today. And now that I’m doing a little bit of laundry every day (almost), it’s a lot more manageable to keep up with the chore.
3. …loaded the dishwasher. The sink is empty, available for washing things, filling glasses with water, or whatever else we need. No stinky, dirty dishes in our noses.
4. …wrote 750 words. I’m on a 13-day streak, and I feel pride in that accomplishment. My thoughts also feel more organized.
Don’t Budget Every Minute
Don’t be like me and try to account for 1440 minutes each day. Even if you could squeeze everything you want to do into those 24 hours in theory, you very likely wouldn’t be able to do it in actuality. It takes time to move from one task to the next. Things can happen that you didn’t include in your plan, such as phone calls or spontaneous conversations. You just can’t account for what might happen. You can’t plan it in. And unlike with finances, you can’t keep a separate emergency fund of a few extra hours in case something comes up. It doesn’t work that way.
We should enjoy a slower pace, in my opinion.
My advice is to alternate which tasks are important on which days. For instance, I would like to have time to write on my novel, draw, crochet, deep-clean my house, and hang out with my friends every day. But since I know I’d run out of time trying to do all of it on one day, I can choose to spend Monday’s free hours on writing, Tuesday’s free hours on art, etc. If you’re like me and trying to figure out how to fit it all in, that’s the only advice I have.
Any Advice is Welcome
Time Management has never been one of my strong points. I’d like for it to be, but usually I… well, fail. I fail. 😛
When I was younger, my time was always eaten by the TV. Then it was eaten by AIM and MSN Messenger. Now it’s eaten by Facebook, reading blogs, and reading novels. Is that ok? I don’t know. Don’t I look back fondly on those times I spent hours and hours on AIM? At least it’s a good memory.
What about you? Do you have any advice for managing time? Techniques? Thoughts? Or do you just sympathize with me? Leave a comment and let me know!
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Tumbles: Whaa? Bedtime? You coulda just let me sleep here..