can taking a break save your marriage?

I suspect that your need for advice on how to take a break from your marriage hasn’t come out of the blue. Chances are you’ve been unhappy, irritated, angry, frustrated and/or hurt for some time. You’ve probably thought about a tempory separation more than once.

Now, it’s crunch-time. You’re wanting to take a break but aren’t sure how to go about it or whether or not it’s even sensible.

Stick with me, I’m aiming to help you find a way of telling your spouse you want a break that’s right for you. You’ll no doubt also want to know what to expect and do when you get back together again!

But, no doubt, you’ll want to know if taking a break will actually save your marriage…

Can taking a break save your marriage?

I’m afraid my answer may not satisfy you, but it’s really important you know…

Taking a break from your marriage won’t necessarily save it. Whether or not the two of you are going to get on better after a break depends entirely on what you do during the time apart.

There you have it.

So, let’s first look at why do you want to take a break, because that, to a large extent determines what you need to do to save your marriage.

  • Are you bored with your spouse or marriage?
  • Are you having an affair?
  • Are you trying to escape a stressful home life due to your spouse or kids?
  • Has your spouse changed for the worse?
  • Do you want a break because of a complete communication breakdown between the two of you?
  • Have the two of you grown apart and you want to discover how you still feel about your spouse?
  • Do you want to just soften the impact before you ask for a divorce?
  • Or perhaps a combination of the above?

I can tell you now that just taking a break won’t save your relationship. You’re going to have to step up to the plate to address any existing relationship problems.

That’s pretty direct, isn’t it?

So, what do I know…

What qualifies me to write about this?

I’ve been a registered (licensed) couples counsellor for 24 years. I have seen hundreds of couples struggling to save their marriage.

I have also seen couples where one only attended counselling half-heartedly because they’d already had made up their mind they wanted to leave. And, that’s how your spouse might view you taking a break – a half-hearted attempt to repair the marriage when you really want to leave.

Could they be right?

Background image: couple sitting with their back towards each other. Text: Can taking a break save your marriage?

Do you just want a break or do you really want a divorce?

I can totally understand that if you’re unhappy and are thinking of getting a divorce but you still love your spouse, you’d dread the thought of hurting them. You might think of them as ‘a good person’ and not deserving to be ‘abandoned’, but you’re just not sure you want to be with them anymore.

Another reason you might suggest a break could be because you fear the backlash of asking for a divorce right away. Or, maybe you can’t contemplate telling the kids their parents are going to get a divorce.

Unfortunately, by taking a break, you’re going to give your spouse hope. They’re left under the impression that if only they were to work hard on their marriage, there would still be a chance the two of you could save it.

Or, they’re going to assume you’re going to ‘sort yourself out’.

Neither is very helpful!

Separation and Divorce instead of a break?

So, if you know you really want a divorce, also read:

But if there’s still hope, read on…

Can taking a break from your marriage ever be helpful?

You now know, taking a break can’t save your marriage if that’s all your doing. But, yes, taking a break certainly can be helpful:

  • You both need a break to calm down because tempers have ridden too high and it’s making impossible to make progress sorting out your difficulties
  • You take the time to reflect on and heal in peace on whatever’s happened
  • You absolutely intend to gently begin to repair and build up your relationship again
  • You take the opportunity to get to know each other better again without the pressure of having to attend to the everyday chores (provided you’ve made some excellent arrangements to divide the necessary tasks)
  • You take the time and opportunity to get the time to address any personal problems
  • You do all you can to talk over your disagreements knowing you can cope only with dealing with a conflict situation in short bouts of time
  • You meet up with the intention of spending quality time together
  • You go for couples counselling in the meantime
  • All of the above.

In other words, a break can help save your marriage, if you take the opportunity to work on yourself and on your relationship. But, please note, there is no guarantee!

Taking a break and not addressing your problems, means that on your return nothing will have changed. Even if the break has done you good, you’ll quickly find yourself having to deal with the same irritations and problems. In fact, you’re likely to have made matters worse as you’ve raised your spouse’s expectations by your return.

Are you hoping your partner will miss you enough to want- and love you again?

Do you no longer feel loved, respected and/or cherished? Are you hoping your disappearance will make your partner wake up and think about what he or she stands to lose?

I totally understand your desperation, hopes and believes, but unfortunately, your trying to manipulate your spouse.

A client in my practice did just that. Unfortunately, her partner took the opportunity to tell her he too had been unhappy and had been thinking of leaving her!

The moral of the story is that you could be making a mistake from which there’s no return. Quite apart from that, telling your partner you want a break when you really want them to know how you’re feeling is likely to fail to repair your marriage. Your spouse can’t read your mind and that won’t have changed after you’ve taken a break.

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How to take a break from your marriage when you’re living together

I’m assuming that if that is what you’re hoping to do, the conflict between the two of you has reached a peak. Perhaps you can’t afford to move out and/or you have nowhere to go.

The only solution you can come up with is that you take a break without moving out. You want to live your own life for a while, pretending the two of you aren’t really together.

In my view, the problems would only escalate. So, what to do instead?

You’re just going to have to do all you can to fix your relationship. My site has a ton of articles on how to do just that. Read as much as you can, educate yourself on what’s required to build a healthy relationship, how you can make someone love you again and what the secrets are to a happy relationship. Start with my page: 25 common relationship problems and keep reading!

Then stop blaming your spouse, take responsibility and make up your mind to become the best version of yourself. Give it at least 6 months, who knows what might happen.

Only when you’ve given yourself no excuses, worked your butt off and given it your all (without having become a doormat that is), is it time to reconsider the future of your marriage.

What to do when you get back together after a break

Wondering what to expect on your return after having taken a break?

I can really understand that when you’re contemplating such a huge undertaking, you’ll want to know what it might lead to. Might it save your marriage? Will your partner have changed? Will they have forgiven you? Will they have missed you and have become more affectionate?

However, I’m afraid you’re asking the wrong question. A ton of work should have taken place before you took that break.

If the two of you have worked on your relationship as I suggested earlier on, you would have automatically prepared yourself for your re-entry into the marital home. You would have talked about your expectations, fears and plans.

So, if you’ve got this far and you’re still determined for a break, you now know how you can make it work for you. What you don’t know is how your spouse is going to react, though. They may be relieved and pleased! They may also be heart-broken. Either way, the consequences of your telling your spouse or partner you want a break are an unknown.

The only thing you can do is to approach the subject in the best way possible and prepare yourself for the most likely scenarios.

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Is your relationship worth saving?

How to tell your wife or husband you need a break

4 things you should expect when you want to tell your spouse you want a break

  1. Expect your partner to have difficulty processing what you’re saying.
  2. Expect and be prepared for the unexpected.
  3. Expect and be prepared for how you’re going to cope – it may be different than you had hoped or anticipated.
  4. Expect it to need more than one conversation.

How to prepare yourself

  1. Read this article again and take heed of everything I’ve mentioned
  2. Read my article on fair fighting rules.
  3. Decide when precisely you’re going to tell your partner or spouse you want a break. See further down.
  4. Have a few sentences at the ready about the whys and wherefores of your wish.
  5. Be prepared with a realistic wish list and relationship goals and ideas on you plan to contribute to building a better relationship.

Picking your time when you want to tell your spouse you want a break

When not to tell your spouse you’re wanting time out:

  1. Don’t discuss the matter just before your partner is due to go out, go to work, pick up the children, etc.
  2. Don’t hint at it just before you walk out of the door to go to work (for example).
  3. Don’t tell your spouse you want a break during a telephone conversation.
  4. Don’t tell friends, family members or colleagues you’re going for a tempory separation before you tell your partner or spouse that it’s over.
  5. During a row is not a good time to tell your husband, wife or partner you need to get away for a while.
  6. Don’t text/app your intentions either.

A good time would be when you know the two of you have time to talk it through without either one of you having to rush out.


  • your mobile phone or another listening device
  • pen and paper
  • (hypnosis download)


  • Coping tools:
  • empathy
  • patience


It might be easy for you to lose your rag under these circumstances, so remind yourself to stay as calm as you can. Remember that, as human beings, we’re not really capable of much rational thought whilst we’re highly emotional. Hence, my suggestion you take it slowly and expect to come back to it for another discussion.


I highly recommend you get some extra, paid-for, help if you can afford it. My recommendations are all very user-friendly, professional and cost-effective.

To discover how easy it is to get results with self-hypnosis, see: Hypnosis Downloads FAQ.

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You wanted to know how to tell your spouse you need a break. Hopefully, now you know how to prepare yourself, when to tell your spouse or partner and how to tell them. You even know what to do when you get back together again.

You now need a good dose of courage and empathy. It’s going to be tough, but doable if you truly have the right intention and motivation. You can do it!

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