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Taking a break to get divorced

Ursula wrote:

Earlier this year, I began seeing a married man who was in the early stages of getting divorced, as I was. As these things sometimes go, we became very involved and ended up living together for four months. However, during this time, neither one of us was moving forward with our respective divorce issues, so we have decided to take a break in order to finalize our divorces and have a little private space to grow in. We are thinking six to eight months. We have agreed that we will talk sometimes and date two or three times a month, we will be living about an hour apart, both temporarily moving in with family members.

We are very compatible (the first person I've ever lived with and had no joining of life issues) and love each other very much, we have discussed the future in broad terms, have committed that we want to be together and that this is the best way for us to do so. I have always heard that someone should have some time after a divorce, even if they had been separated for a long time. Both he and I had been emotionally separated from our spouses (living in separate bedrooms and such) for several months before we moved in together.

I would like to know if you think that this time off period is a good idea and if, in your experience, it strengthens relationships. We have decided to do this very recently, it was an entirely mutual decision, and I haven't heard from him since (about a week). I am concerned that going from being so intimate to being apart may have a severe negative impact on both of us, and that we may not be able to bring it back together.

Dear Ursula

There's plenty of evidence to show that many relationships after a major emotional trauma are more about support and survival than true love - that's not to say that folk are dishonest; far from it, it's just that they want a successful relationship so badly, that it's easy to convince themselvesthat any relationship is a good one.

That sounds harsh, and it is - but it's often true. But not always.

Your relationship is unique, as are they all, and you are both 'in the same boat'. That doesn't make you immune, but it does mean that you have a good chance of at least understanding each other.

In general, taking it slow has to be a good idea - so long as it's what you both want. There's no such thing as an 'entirely mutual decision' - whose idea was it?

It certainly won't work if you are getting separation anxiety. Is he not calling because he has better things to do, or not calling because he he thinks that's what you want?

The best way to make it work, is to agree who will call who, and when - but that shouldn't mean the other cannot call!

But the point that matters is that if this 'agreed separation' is falling apart so quickly (I said IF!), then clearly the relationship was not meant to be.

Call him, agree some 'house rules' - with flexibility - and see what happens.

Que sera , as they say, sera !

For the younger reader, "Whatever will be, will be."

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