When You Want To Take A Break From Marriage – Is It Ever Okay?

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Take a break from marriage – does it ever work?

What do you do when you really want to take a break from your spouse?

Please note: This post is written to wives who are in overall-healthy-but-disappointing (a.k.a growing) marriages. It is not for women facing chronic neglect and abandonment, abuse, infidelity, addictions or any form of manipulation or control.

These thoughts are for women or spouses who are overwhelmed with the normal effort of becoming one-flesh and are looking for a “break” from it all. If you are in a chronically problematic marriage, evidenced by a continued and unrepentant lack of empathy, care and concern for your welfare, you might be in an abusive marriage. Click here for resources that might help.

My husband and I clashed a lot as newlyweds.

Which just broke my heart because while I expected disagreements after the wedding (because we were mentored to expect imperfection) I thought the resolution would be quick, sweet and calm.

But resolving issues was anything but fast or smooth. He was detached and angry and I was frustrated, weepy and bewildered.

s it ever okay to take a break from marriage? How can we reframe our thoughts? A few insights for the couple interested in a healthy strong marriage

And maybe I would have been less sorrowful if the disagreements happened once in a while and lasted a short amount of time.

But we disagreed a lot (because we are strong-willed) and the quarrels stuck around for days. We had days upon days of silence, not talking to each other at all.

We talked with our mentors, but our discussions did not yield immediate changes.

Note to the new bride: just because you know what to do does not mean you will do it immediately. It takes time to change the thinking behind a habit, and for God to penetrate our hard shells. Give your man and yourself a little time. Keep talking about it, having standards and a goal to work towards. But give grace – lots of grace. And hold on to Jesus more than you hold on to your marriage.

With all the drama and storms in our young marriage, it wasn’t long before I wanted a break from it all.

Taking a break from marriage

Recently a young wife wrote to me, asking if it was okay to take a break from marriage.

“…ever felt like you just need a break from marriage? Like your overall marriage life is just a burden you can’t bear. I am not talking divorce, just what to do when you need a break from the pressures that come with being married. How do you escape in a healthy way to get your heart and mind right, and how would you communicate that to your husband without sounding dramatic?”

If you have been married longer than a day, you likely have had moments when the strains and stretches of becoming one-flesh became unbearable.

So let us take a deep-dive on this question – is it okay to take a break from marriage?

My short answer is no; don’t take a break from marriage, in the sense your mind and emotions want to, if you desire to create a strong marriage.

Is it ever okay to take a break from marriage? How can we reframe our thoughts? A few insights for the couple interested in a healthy strong marriage Click to Tweet

Instead of “taking a break from marriage”, change your thinking to “self-care”.  Self-care involves curving out alone-time to think, calm down, refuel and talk to God.

From hindsight, I felt I needed a break when we had extended issues, when I felt like I was losing myself and when marriage became too complicated and (I thought) my husband was not putting in enough effort.

Nonetheless, what I needed, and eventually learned to do, was to take my brokenness and disappointment to God.

I mean that in the literal sense; talking it out in prayer, moment-by-moment. In tears, journaling, allowing the Spirit of God to work on my attitudes and change my own heart.

It turned out that “taking my issues to God” was not a one-time thing, it was a constant habit and discipline I had to cultivate.

I would learn that a great marriage is not something you create on the side. You can’t pick and choose; it is not “I’ll have a burger, hold the fries” type of thing.

It’s all or nothing. A beautiful marriage comes from building a strong relationship with God. A good marriage is part and parcel of our walk and life in God.

As a new bride, and as my desperation grew, God began to show me that the answers I sought were to be found in relationship in Him.

Looking back, I am grateful God did not supply immediate answers to my problems because the delay forced me to dig deeper and to grow.

If God had answered my prayers the first time I prayed, it would have been the last time I sought God with the same hunger and intensity.

But delayed response caused me to hunger for the answers and God took the time to teach me that what I needed was more of Him, not more of my husband.

From knowledge to wisdom

So as I began to seek God, He started to give me wisdom (not just head knowledge) on how to approach our issues.

For example, walking out of the house right after a disagreement without telling my husband where I was going was not exactly mature or working towards rebuilding the rift.

Is it ever okay to take a break from marriage? How can we reframe our thoughts? A few insights for the couple interested in a healthy strong marriage

While the act itself was good (we both needed time think and cool down), how I did it was wrong (walking out in a huff, without saying a word). A better way was to tell my husband “I need to go for a walk, I need time to think and I’ll be back in ten minutes”.

That way my husband was more understanding, less hurt and we could continue working together, instead adding more gas to the fire.

And because God had humbled me and helped me, I could receive His comfort and wisdom and conviction when I went for that walk.

Same case with my husband.

Icing-up in extended silence instead of asking for time to process his thoughts was not endearing to me or helping our communication problems. Using words to communicate his needs was more appropriate.

The difference between “taking a break from marriage” and “self-care” is the approach.

If you are in a healthy marriage, walking off in a huff can be indicative of re-activeness. It can be fueled by feelings of despair, pride, selfishness, retaliation and all things “flesh.”

The latter is a more mature approach which shows value for the relationship as well as value for yourself and your space.

You’ll probably still be as angry, confused and overwhelmed. Which is okay. You need to sit with your emotions and figure out what they are telling you.

The difference here is that rather than respond based on emotions alone, your taking time to process.

You can hold your words where appropriate, dig inward and take responsibility for your thoughts and actions while holding your spouse accountable. 

When you feel like you need to take a complete break from your healthy marriage, remember this:

You need “me-time” and so does your marriage. But often, personal time in a healthy marriage isn’t the same as complete separation from your spouse.

Also, the early months can be all about “twinning” but at some point, you have to cultivate a life of your own.

Ideas for self-care routines;

– Spend time with God every day.

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11

– Cultivate friendships

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another Hebrews 10:24 – 25a

– Cultivate a hobby

Pursue a personal interests that do not necessarily involve your husband (but which does not take away from your marriage entirely!)


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4 Comments

  1. Powerful post. I got do much put of this…I’ll be re-reading it a few times.
    I love what you say about God not immediately answering our prayers. I’ve experienced this many times and can testify that the wait was worth the lessons I learned. Nothing beats being refined by fire. Thanks for this reminder to not rush God.

    1. I am glad you enjoyed the post, TC. I agree with you. The process might not be enjoyable but the end result is priceless.

  2. Alicia Wiemeyer San Nicolas says:

    It definitely takes time and prayer, and lots of both, to work through whatever problems surface in marriage. You will always have to trust the Lord and His wisdom more than anything. Sometimes it takes more time time and thought to get to what the real root of the problem is. And when children come along too, the self care becomes even more important since there is a lot more physical work and emotional energy required. And just when one problem gets solved, another one takes its place! But it’s not about the problems; it’s more about our willingness to work hard with a tender Christlike attitude.

    1. Amen, Alicia. Your thoughts remind me of what Christ said, “in the world you will have many problems but cheer up I have overcome the world!” 🙂 We will surely overcome once we keep our eyes on Him and keep applying ourselves

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