What do you do when you find the spark has faded in your relationship? Go on holiday? Shake things up in the bedroom? Spend a weekend with no one but each other for company?
Well according to one couple, the solution is to take a relationship sabbatical.
Ruby Warrington and her husband Simon spent eight months apart and they claim it saved them from getting a divorce.
The couple met when Ruby was 21 and Simon 25, and they got married three years later.
By the time she reached her early 30s, however, Ruby says “the lustre had begun to wear off.”
She found herself doubting the relationship and wondering whether she was still in love with Simon: “I missed the intoxicating feeling of our earlier years together. Having ‘settled down’ so young, was I missing out on something better?” Ruby writes for the Mail Online.
It is not uncommon for the spark between a couple to fizzle out over time, and once the cracks started to show, Ruby and Simon made the unusual decision to take a break: “to take time out from married life in the name of re-igniting the spark that brought us together.”
Unsurprisingly, their friends and family were perplexed by the decision - was it a trial separation? Or a break-up?
But it worked.
Ruby had just received a job offer in Ibiza which gave them an opportunity to take the plunge.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make though and the couple hadn’t thought about what they’d do if either of them met someone else: “We were aware this could be make or break for our relationship. It was a huge risk,” says Ruby, author of Material Girl, Mystical World.
The only rule they made was that they’d immediately tell each other if there was a chance one of them might become romantic with someone else. Apart from that, Ruby and Simon barely communicated.
As it happened, neither of them had more than brief flirtations.
Having been in a relationship for practically her whole adult life, Ruby didn’t know how to be single. “When all is done ‘as a couple’, you can forget what you found so attractive about your partner in the first place,” she explains.
But Ruby says she was surprised by how easy she found the experience: “I was shocked by how little I thought about Simon, and how easy it was to let five or six weeks go by with barely a phone call.
“I didn’t pine for him, but I did feel guilty about having so much fun, knowing Simon was still unhappy back home.”
Despite her happiness, the separation made Ruby appreciate what she had with her husband: “Every cheesy chat-up line or lustful glance across a dancefloor reminded me how special my connection with Simon was.
“The sense we belonged together never went away,” she says.
At the end of the sabbatical, Ruby was nervous about seeing her husband again, and it wasn’t a reunion worthy of a rom-com - Simon didn’t pick her up from the airport and Ruby got home to an empty house.
When he came home from work, there were no declarations of undying love. “Our re-entry into married life felt awkward as we’d both outgrown the well-worn grooves of our relationship,” Ruby explains.
But she maintains that the sabbatical was a positive thing to do.
“The empty space we’d created had allowed us to see each other as individuals again,” Ruby says, adding that she was reminded why she wanted to be with Simon in the first place.
“I look back on that summer as a window of self-discovery and a crucial chapter in our relationship history.
“Beyond the conventions of marriage, it was an opportunity for us to choose to be together again, forever.”Reuse content