Make time for yourself as you deal with feelings that accompany a separation.

How to Deal With Separation if Married for 18 Years

by Shannon Philpott

After 18 years of marriage, the end of your relationship can be startling and frightening. A separation can cause you to feel lost, angry, resentful and sad. Recognizing that these feelings are common, normal and healthy as you heal can help you grieve the loss of your marriage while finding the confidence and strength to start a new life on your own.

1. Ask for Help

It’s important to know that you do not have to cope with these changes by yourself. Reach out to your family, friends and counselors when you need someone to listen to your concerns, fears and feelings, suggests Los-Angeles based psychotherapist Barton Goldsmith in the Psychology Today article “10 Tips to Survive a Breakup.” Many community centers, churches and social service organizations offer support groups for separated and divorced women. You may find that talking through your feelings with someone who is experiencing the same emotions will help you heal during your separation.

2. Learn Something New

When couples are married for many years, it’s easy to get into a routine and delegate tasks based on strengths. If your husband had sole responsibility of the finances, you will need to learn basic budgeting skills. Many local colleges and community centers offer free classes on a variety of topics, including car maintenance, household repairs, technology and finances. Getting involved in a new activity and staying busy may also help keep your mind off the loss you are experiencing during a separation.

3. Accept Your Feelings

It’s perfectly normal to feel angry, confused, sad or exhausted during a marriage separation, according to according to Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Gina Kemp, M.A., and Melinda Smith, M.A., mental health experts at HelpGuide.org. Allow yourself to cry, laugh and mope while you are coping with your emotions. At times, your emotions may even be intense and cause anxiety. Learn to accept that your feelings are valid and that over time, you will move forward and begin to feel like yourself again.

4. Pamper Yourself

Just because you are grieving or working through difficult feelings, it doesn’t mean your health has to suffer. Continue to take care of yourself and even engage in some pampering to take your mind off of the stressful process of a marriage separation, recommends according to Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Gina Kemp, M.A., and Melinda Smith, M.A., mental health experts at HelpGuide.org. Eat healthy, exercise and relax when you are feeling stressed. Break out a book you’ve wanted to read or join your girlfriends for a special dinner to keep your spirits high.

About the Author

Shannon Philpott has been a writer since 1999. She has experience as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer and online copywriter. Philpott has published articles in St. Louis metro newspapers, "Woman's World" magazine, "CollegeBound Teen" magazine and on e-commerce websites, and also teaches college journalism and English. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Southern Illinois University.

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