How to Manage Depression during a Marital Separation

Marital separation is a common precursor to divorce. This is one of the most painful experiences many adults face in their relationships, and there is a strong correlation between marital disruption and depression. If you’ve found yourself in the depths of depression as a result of your separation, these tips will help you manage your emotions through this challenging time.

Set Boundaries to Protect Both of You

Separation and divorce are traumatic experiences. The other person in the relationship may trigger your trauma responses. You can minimize these emotional rollercoasters by setting firm boundaries. The boundaries may include:

  • Sleep in separate rooms or households
  • Create independent schedules for meals, laundry, watching TV, using the pool, etc.
  • Keep conversation to written formats as much as possible
  • Reserve emotional conversations for counseling sessions
  • Avoid all forms of physical interaction unless you are in a position for reconciliation
  • Respect the boundaries the other person chooses to set

You can personalize this list to fit your unique needs, but that may give you a starting point. The goal is to keep communication to a minimum and focus on your own healing. You may come together afterward with a new perspective on your relationship, or you may solidify your separation. Either way, you need boundaries to jumpstart the journey.

Allow Yourself to Truly Feel

In the midst of heavy depression, you may be tempted to push aside your feelings. The pain can be excruciating at times, so it makes sense to avoid it. Nevertheless, it’s important to allow yourself to process your feelings, even when they’re painful. Pushing off your emotions will only make it harder to heal from them.

Journal about Your Feelings in the Moment

Journaling is an incredibly powerful tool. It helps you convert your feelings and emotions into words. As you verbalize your thoughts, you can process them and get to the root of the feelings. Why are you angry, hurt, or scared? What’s going on at the core? Are there feelings from the past you never fully processed? Have you figured out areas where you were wrong but could not see so in the moment?

Write these thoughts down or create a video journal capturing your raw emotions. The journal doesn’t have to be pristine or logical. You’re likely going to tell your story out of order or not make sense in certain areas. Let your stream of consciousness guide your healing.

Remove Stressors You Have Control Over

This is likely to be a stressful time in your life. Make sure you remove exterior stressors where possible. For instance, you may limit the number of extracurricular activities you commit to or avoid eating out to reduce food expenses. You might need to take personal days off work or get a friend to help you with meal prep. If you can reduce stress outside of your marriage, you’ll feel more capable of handling the stress within it.

Talk about Your Depression with a Therapist or Loved One

You do not have to manage separation depression alone. Talk through your depression with a loved one or licensed therapist. Your therapist can help you find coping strategies based on your specific needs. You can use these tools to manage depression in the future, no matter what the source may be.

CNLD Testing & Therapy offers couples counseling and individual counseling services. We provide a judgment-free environment to work through your feelings and embrace the challenges ahead. Reach out to (734) 994-9466 to schedule an appointment with a therapist near you.

Remember: You Are NOT a Failure

Your relationship may not have gone as planned, but that does not make you a failure. There are tons of variables that lead up to separation. You can acknowledge room for personal improvement but do not attach negative labels to yourself. You can and will work through this.