The only phrase that can get you as riled up in your relationship as the phrase, “We need to talk,” is when the person you’re with says to you, “I think we should go on a break.”
While your initial reaction might be to scream and cry in panic, thinking that your spouse wants to break up, or have an excuse to date other people, the idea of taking some time apart from each other could help heal a relationship.
“Taking a break is a good idea if you feel something needs to change or you need some distance,” says Susan Golici, PhD and Certified Relationship Coach.
Golici recommends that you ask to go on a break from your partner if you’re dealing with something and need time to get through it, but don’t feel like you want to end the relationship.
“While it’s not easy to hear and could be interpreted as a break up, it is important to share as much as possible about what you are going through to try to help your partner understand,” says Golici.
Benjamin Ritter, the founder of The Breakup Supplement, says that the main difference between taking a break and a breakup is if this resentment is due to issues that can or cannot be solved. If the issues can be solved, a break offers space and time that can help you emotionally and mentally process your resentment into a more manageable state.
“In certain cases trying to 'fix' something while you are still resentful is practically impossible, and only a break, or some space apart can help,” says Ritter.
Though, Ritter says if the issues you have with your partner are issues you know can never be solved, or one of you isn’t willing to work them out, taking a break is only delaying the inevitable.
Another reason why taking a break might be a good solution for a rocky relationship, is that time has the ability to make us realize how much we care about another person.
“It could give you a little more distance to look at the relationship more objectively,” says Alice Roberts, a CSW is a psychotherapist with Wasatch Family Therapy.
Though, Roberts says if the issues you have with your partner are issues you know can never be solved, or one of you isn’t willing to work them out, taking a break is only delaying the inevitable.
“We generally don’t want to hurt people, and suggesting a break might feel like less of knife to the heart than breaking up,” says Roberts. “This ultimately is drawing out the pain for longer than necessary, and giving false hope. Sometimes, the hard thing to do is the best. If you don’t see a future in your relationship, and you have tried to fix the problems with no success, everyone will be better off in the long run if you just pull the plug.”
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