A chasm is not a canyon. Consider the Grand Canyon, very deep but also very wide. Seeing it is awe-inspiring and humbling. Consider, though, a deep, narrow fissure, so deep you cannot see the bottom. It is far more terrifying than awesome. Couples facing marital separation may feel a wide canyon separates them, but the fear they feel really means they are on two sides of a chasm, a deep, frightening abyss. Take a step away from the brink. Breathe. Try these tips.

Are You Hoping to Avoid Separation?

One way you two may be able to weather rough times is by sleeping separately, according to experts interviewed by USA Today. Something as simple as a partner snoring can create a rift that leads to a separation that leads to a divorce. Short-circuit that path by getting a good night’s sleep in another room. Home builders are even contemplating dual master bedrooms for upscale homes.

Communicating your concerns, however small they are, is better than letting things fester, says the parenting blog Scary Mommy. Among their ideas:

  • Be clear — “You snore, and I can’t fall back asleep.”
  • Do not keep score — “What about that April 23rd five years ago when …”
  • Express your feelings — “I get very crabby and short-tempered when I do not sleep well.”
  • Be willing to apologize — “I’m sorry I snapped at you. I am tired, but I still love you.”
  • Let it go after you are done venting — “Thank you for considering separate bedrooms. Now let’s have sex.”
  • Learn to say “No” — “No, I do not think you should come along on my fishing weekend with my buddies on the Rappahannock River, but that doesn’t mean I won’t miss you.”

If you detect the beginnings of an earth-shaking rift opening between you two, fight to bridge it. Marriages are work, and you both need to be willing to work at it. The two of you could seek counseling together. Keeping open and frank discussion alive between the two of you is more important during this time than at any other in your relationship.

One of you will be reluctant. Reluctant to discuss past wounds and hurts; reluctant to be dragged to a counselor, therapist or religious leader; reluctant to admit responsibility or mistakes. The other one will, then, take the lead and shoulder more of the burden. If you both want to close the rift, be willing to take charge. If.

Are You Seriously Considering Marital Separation?

Somewhere in the gathering darkness of your marriage, you mentally moved from hoping to patch things up to considering marital separation. Now what do you do? Avoid publicizing your thoughts. Do not “mull it over” with friends. Choose your confidants carefully. An impartial counselor, psychologist, religious leader, or social worker will be a better sounding board than a bartender or your fishing buddies.

Plan for the split. Do it the right way, which means taking some emotional and practical steps, says Forbes magazine:

  • Close jointly owned credit card accounts
  • Get a clear picture of your finances, including assets and debts
  • Schedule a visit with an attorney to start work on a separation agreement
  • Avoid starting a new relationship
  • Clean up your online presence
  • Discern between essentials to take and luxuries you can leave behind
  • Visualize yourself away from your wife and (if you have them) children
  • Keep quiet as you plan (sound familiar?)

Think hard about your separation. Do not simply spring it on your wife. More than likely, you, not she, will move out and have to find a place to live, though you can legally stay in your own Virginia home. It adds to stress for both of you, but is less expensive than starting from scratch.

Nope, Definitely Separating!

You are not just on the brink. You are staring into that yawning, ebony-dark chasm that says you are truly separating. Do it quickly and cleanly, like removing a bandage. Avoid fights. Avoid stirring up emotions and old arguments. You both will feel plenty of emotions once you are each alone, so preserve your dignity and clear thinking to get through the mundane mechanics of separating.

The other reason, besides shortening the emotional pain, for a quick separation is to officially start the separation clock. Six months separated (if you have no kids) in Virginia gets you on your way to a divorce, says Code of Virginia § 20-91. You will also need an actual separation date for the property settlement agreement and other paperwork.

Get a Bulletproof Separation Agreement

For both you and your wife to keep your sanity, stay away from that dark chasm that tempts you to disgorge all your past anger, resentment, and frustration over your marriage. From the moment you decide to separate, you both need to proceed like adults. Each of you should get an attorney. You will have to work together to write the property settlement agreement, which in Virginia is the easiest path to the subsequent divorce. It irons out all the responsibilities for both of you.

Stay away from each other, too. Either you are separated or you are not. Virginia resets the separation-to-divorce clock each time you “connect” in whatever way, which includes:

  • Sex
  • Food
  • Shopping
  • Cleaning

Contact a Separation Lawyer

To avoid being in limbo, as if you were falling down that chasm without ever hitting bottom, make the separation unimpeachable, legally. Listen to your attorney’s advice on both the separation agreement and eventual divorce.

To contact a separation attorney for men, please contact The Firm for Men, either online or by telephoning 757-383-9184. We can help draw up a separation agreement, explain your options for proceeding to divorce, and listen to your concerns about finances, children, property and more. With offices in Virginia Beach and Newport News, we’re convenient to all of Hampton Roads and proudly serve Norfolk, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Hampton, Portsmouth, and beyond!

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