Is two days off a week the key to having a happy marriage?
If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then what does modern marriage do? We spend every day together, living in the same house, following the same routine, saying and doing the same things, raising our children and for the most part it’s pretty good. But if the divorce rate is anything to go by, the way we are doing marriage these days isn’t exactly working and it could use a rethink that goes a lot further than regular date nights and marriage counseling.
A controversial solution is “time off” from your marriage, first suggested by author Cheryl Jarvis in her book The Marriage Sabbatical. A marriage sabbatical is when a couple agrees to spend a certain number of days each week or month apart, before returning to the marriage. It’s not about separation or divorce, it’s about rediscovering what it is that works about your relationship and trying to get rid of the stuff that doesn’t.
Married mum Flic Everett, 44, from the UK says taking regular marriage sabbaticals has her marriage. She and her husband were fighting a lot. Neither wanted their marriage to end so the decided to try this instead.
"My husband and I had been married for 10 long years, we worked together and both had step children," she told ITV This Morning. "We were arguing a lot."
"I wasn’t a trial separation, it was more space to be independent. We didn’t want to divorce, we had the children and we still wanted to be married. It is almost like a detox – instead of two nights a week without booze, I had two nights without my husband."
She says as a result of the time apart, she and her husband started to appreciate each other more. "A couple of nights a week eating dinner on your own will suddenly make you appreciate your partner sitting across the table from you."
However, not everyone is convinced this is the solution, with some claiming any couple who needs to spend time apart is already on its last legs and is just delaying the inevitable. Psychologist Jo Hemmings says taking regular breaks is the last thing married couples should do. "A sabbatical is not addressing the issues, you need to find out the root problems within the relationship," she said. "While it sounds like Flic had more of a part-time marriage than a what is considered a sabbatical, a period of time totally separate is just adding more questions. It is a bit of a last resort and it’s a bit risky. If one partner loves being apart and doesn’t want to come back then you are in trouble."
Still, with the divorce rate at almost 1 in 3 around the Western world, it might be worth trying something new to curb marriage breakdowns.
Do you think a marriage sabbatical would help your relationship?
Images courtesy of ITV’s This Morning.
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