March 24, 2023

This week, journalist Celia Walden, who is married to Piers Morgan, said that the pair’s six-week ‘sabbatical’ from their marriage had done them a world of good.
The pair took a conscious break from each other after spending all their time together due to the pandemic: ‘It was very good for both of us,’ Celia told ITV’s Lorraine.
Speaking to stand-in host Christine Lampard, Celia said that the couple did still message throughout the break, but didn’t have many phone calls.
‘I just found it so exciting when we saw each other again,’ she said. ‘It felt like the early days of our marriage, or even the early days of dating and I loved that.’
Despite Celia’s glowing review, there’s a lot of contention around the topic of whether relationships can really come back from a break – even Ross and Rachel struggled.
But is a relationship sabbatical the same as a break? And how do they work?
In simple terms, a relationship sabbatical is a planned break from a long-term relationship with the intention of coming back to it later on.
As dating and relationship expert Julia Kotziamani explains, a relationship sabbatical ‘can be useful for couples needing time and space for a specific reason, such as after lockdown or after an affair etc).’
She says that these breaks give couples a way of exploring other lifestyles and potentially relationships, or as a way to trial a more permanent separation like a divorce. 
Essentially, it’s about taking some time away from the relationship.
‘This could be physically – like living apart – emotionally, sexually, or in terms of a financial separation,’ Julia tells 
‘The details of the sabbatical will totally depend on each individual couple’s reasons for entering it and there are no hard and fast rules.’
‘It will be down to the couple to decide and communicate on whether it is a full break or whether there will be stipulations, such as sexual fidelity or co-parenting duties.’
Clearly, for Piers and Celia, taking a sabbatical from their marriage worked like a charm, but that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. 
‘There are so many versions of this kind of arrangement and so, for some situations, it will be a good idea,’ says Julia. ‘But for others, it may just defer work that needs doing until later on.’
She says that, for a sabbatical to work, both parties need to be on the same page. 
‘Things get more challenging when parties want different things,’ she continues. ‘If one person wants a sabbatical but the other wants to stay in the marriage and work on things, for example, you will be dealing with lots of big feelings and difficult conversations.’
Julia adds that, like with Piers and Celia, a sabbatical can be ‘an amazing way to build excitement for seeing each other again – especially if you’ve started to take each other for granted.’
Conversely, time apart could also lead to jealousy and instability, especially if there’s a lack of communication, which Julia says poses the very real risk that ‘one party might enjoy life outside of the relationship so much they don’t want to reconnect.’
‘It’s worth making sure communication is strong between you and you have explored all the potential outcomes before embarking on something like this,’ she adds.
If you want to initiate a relationship sabbatical, Julia stresses the importance of communicating your reasons as sensitively as possible – and it’s vital your ‘why’ is really clear. 
On top of that, though, understanding that taking a break isn’t a cure-all is imperative if you’re using a sabbatical to fix existing relationship problems.
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‘Remember that, though space can help give you time and room to work through things that are difficult within a marriage [or long-term relationship], it’s not going to be a solution in and of itself,’ says Julia.
‘Most issues in partnerships need to be worked out as a team and a break may only offer some time to individually reflect rather than solve them.’
If you don’t feel a full sabbatical is right for you, Julia says there are other ways to get space from one another without cutting each other off.
‘For instance, you could choose to live apart if you’ve spent too much time together over lockdown,’ she says. ‘It will just be about what feels most comfortable for everyone.’
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