It's not uncommon for people facing a trial separation to seek out statistics on the same. It's normal to want to know what you are up against. People want to know if separation is usually a precursor to divorce or if the process actually helps most of the couples who attempt it.

Before I go any further, I have to warn you that the statistics are not very encouraging. Please know that everyone is different and that you, and your marriage, are not a statistic. There are also tactics to ensure that yours is in the category of the marriages that survive. And, within these statistics, I believe that there is some encouragement after all (more on that in a minute.)

Statistics Regarding Marital Separations: There are only a few studies available, and neither was completed within the past couple of years. One study (from 2002) indicated that around 80% of couples who separate ultimately end up divorced. The average duration of the separation was three years for the couples who divorced and less than that for the couples who did not. I am not a scientist, but my perceptions based on my own experiences are that these statistics look awfully bleak.

From my own experience and from comments of people who visit this site, my perception is that reconciliation is more common than one out of five couples, but again, my observations are very un-scientific and it's possible that my exposure is mostly to people who are in the reconciliation category. Obviously, this site attracts people who want to save their marriages.

Regardless of what the numbers say, I don't want anyone to read these statistics and think that their situation is hopeless. Here is an additional set of statistics that I find VERY hopeful.

Statistics Show That A Statistically Significant Amount Of Unhappy Marriages Turn Around With Time: Within these same numbers is another statistic that is often overlooked. Of the couples who identified themselves as unhappy, eight out of ten defined their marriage as happy five years later. The couples that divorced defined themselves as no happier divorced as they had been married.

To me, this says that in many cases, if the couple can hang on and effectively work on the marriage, happier times could be just around the corner. However, you can't reach that promised land if you give up and get divorced. And, it does appear that if you do get divorced, you may not be any happier.

I think it may be more helpful to focus on this statistic since it actually offers both hope and a concrete goal. (And I believe that the goal is important. I don't think it's prudent to assume that you don't have to do anything about your marriage but wait it out.)

How To Ensure You Are Not A Statistic: I'm glad that I wasn't aware of these numbers during my own separation. I was discouraged enough without thinking that the odds were against me. The circumstances were plenty bad until I learned how to turn things around, so I didn't need to know all of this. (The entire story of how I turned my separation around can be read by clicking here.)

From experience, I believe that taking concrete action is the best way to give yourself the best chance of success. Agree on a regular schedule to communicate with and hopefully see one another. Try to increase the level of comfort between you so that you can eventually come to a place where you're actively trying to rebuild your marriage.

Don't give in to the urge to act on your worst fears and impulses. Believe me, this is easier said than done. But every time I became afraid, I acted out with pettiness, paranoia, or aggression. Obviously, these emotions did not help my marriage. Always ask yourself if your actions are bringing you closer to reconciliation or further away from it.

The Importance of Having A Flexible Plan: By now, it is probably obvious that I believe that one of the best things you can do to increase the odds of saving your marriage is to have a plan. It's optimal to regularly communicate and work on the bond between you. However, you will often hit snags, delays, and detours. It takes two people to make this work. But sometimes your husband may not be as cooperative as you may like. When this happens, it is vital that you are flexible and not give up.

There were times when things seemed to be disastrous during my own separation, and I was on the verge of throwing in the towel. Instead, I took a break and I worked on myself since I did not have the cooperation of my husband at the time. This made all of the difference. Sure, the separation lasted for longer than I wanted it to. And yes, there were very lonely days. But by pausing the action, I was able to re-set and my husband and I ultimately reconciled since I bought myself that time. Yes, it does ultimately take two people to reconcile. But if your spouse isn't ready for that just yet, there is plenty that you can do in the meantime.

Please do not panic over these statistics. I had friends and family members who said it was obvious that my marriage was over. There were days when I was sure that this was true. And yet, I am still married. Thankfully, I did not give up. There were days when I definitely thought about it. But my experiences reinforce the statistic which suggests that if you can just stick it out, things can and do change. (You can read about how we ultimately reconciled and how I turned the corner at

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