Couples today want to have the best of everything - they want to remain married and yet, at the same time, want their individual freedom and capacity to pursue selfish desires. Couples ranging in ages from 22-37 usually fall in this undecided group. These individuals want the security and comfort of the marriage - the support and affection of the spouse, family and mutual friends, but they also want something more. Separation allows for people to remain ambiguous as to life decisions. It allows them to stay afloat and prevents them from committing to either divorce or legal separation, or the alternative of staying in a bad marriage and suffering in silence. Social psychologists point out that human beings, in general, shrink from responsibility. They resent the idea of being in charge - taking decisions and facing the resulting consequences. Human beings are, to a large extent, escapist by nature. The Freudian theory suggests that human beings seldom like to face reality and deal with harsh truths. They prefer to live in an idyllic hopeful world and do not read the signs of potential disasters. In other words, a spouse prefers to think that the bad behaviour exhibited by her partner is only temporary. Things will change and the partner will also change and consequently the marital life will become normal once again. Social psychologists have described this behaviour as "delusionary syndrome.' It is usually displayed by people who are insecure with low levels of self esteem. These people are unsure of their own abilities and feel that they will collapse if they divorce from their partner. These individuals feel more secure and happy if they simply separate from their partner with no legal recourse. This gives them their desired security while also giving them the freedom to explore and pursue personal pursuits.
The desire to merely separate and not divorce becomes more apparent in marriages involving children. The partners do not want to face the prospect of custody and lose contact with their kids. The option of separation seems attractive as it provides them the opportunity to be in constant touch with the kids and enjoy their own freedom. Couples who feel unsure about their differences also perceive separation as a viable option. These people feel that their marital differences are trivial but persistently irritating. The differences might demand a separation of ways for a short time, but not for a long time. Separation gives them the needed chance to experience life alone - take their own decisions and face all life situations on own terms. In short, separation gives couples the much-needed time and space to rediscover themselves and come to terms with the partner's viewpoint. They realize that perhaps they were being too stubborn and refusing to see sense. Separation provides the opportunity to view situations from the partner's viewpoint.
There is another view perpetuated by social psychology. The theory argues that human beings are fundamentally group animals choosing to live in proximity with other human beings. Thus, the institutions of marriage, family, neighbourhood, society, state and nation have come about. The theory states that human beings cannot live alone - it is not in accordance with their personality and biology. They need to have human contact through any of the five senses of auditory, verbal, visual, sensation, touch and taste. This implies that when couples plan to go their separate ways - their biological and mental dispositions do not allow them to file for legal separation. It does not allow them to shut the door to human contact permanently. True, a divorcer can start dating and develop intimate relationships in time. But the human biological makeup does not allow for any lapses. Human beings thrive on constant groupism - they have to be in close touch emotionally and mentally with another person. Here, the concept of separation comes to the fore. It provides for emotional and cognitive human contact while, at the same time, maintaining physical distance.
But the issue of separation is a subjective one. It basically depends on the priority and importance accorded by one to the institution of marriage. Separation is a way of trying to get back together either through professional marital counselling or simply through open and frank dialogue. But, where divorce is final closure, separation is a temporary shutdown with every chance of renewal.
James Walsh is a freelance writer and copy editor. If you want to find out more about a solicitor managed divorce see http://www.managed-divorce.co.uk
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