Some peoples' opinions about a separation are different from others' in that they think it is easier to live with the separation than being totally cut off from whatever social and family relations they built over the years. Some think people still give the social and family roles status as long as they know the person who is separated is not completely out of the family loop by divorcing.
For some, divorce is the easier way to get over with most of the personal and emotional hardships they faced from being married to someone. They would rather face what society has to offer as a hard time than being emotionally drained on a daily basis at home.
Some people think of the ordeals their children might face by their parents' divorce. They think separation is somehow a nulling factor where children are comforted with a sense of mom and dad still being connected. But both of these approaches have their own drawbacks and benefits in the long run. They not only impact a person's emotional well being but also his or her financial stability, social status, family relations, relationship with kids, etc. It is not really easy either way to face all the inner demons of fear with being alone and, if children are involved, raising them.
A friend of mine has been separated from her husband for over eight years now. The emotional trauma she faced is not less than what she might have with divorcing. She contemplated divorce many a time but could not bring herself to go through with it for the fear of facing her children's resentment. Belonging to a society that strongly believes in long relationships in marriages, her position was made worse over the years. When children are younger in age it is much easier for them to grow up with the fact that they can have both parents even if they are divorced or separated. They accept it faster than when they grow up to be teenagers or beyond. Adult children are the hard ones to convince that their parents are having difficulties in their marriage. Because they grew up with the sense of family life, doing things together, having dad for soccer games, mom to chauffeur them to school or attend PTA meetings, they believe this will last forever. They cannot envision the family breaking up. And when it happens, some older kids take it very hard, resulting in different habits and disciplinary disturbances and it could affect their academic progress too. Given her background with culture, religion and the traditions my friend grew up with, she chose the path of separation rather than divorce.
A separation is as good as the divorce in terms of the couples go their separate ways of living. But, in a divorce situation the children's responsibilities, including the time spent with them, are shared by both parents. Mostly, the parents settle their differences with property issues unless they are huge estates. Parents each develop their own social status and associations. People accept their divorce as a finality in order to be associated with whomever they want. They develop relationships and eventually settle down with significant others. Since the responsibilities are shared there is not too much pressure seeing or running into each other at a future time. Children settle into their routines sooner and come to an understanding as to where they belong at any given time. This gives them emotional stability as well as assurance that even though the parents are divorced they could count on them. They often learn to mostly accept the newcomers into either of the parent's lives. For some older children this might be hard for awhile but they usually come to terms with it as the time goes on. In some very rare cases of divorce it might be difficult for the children to learn acceptance, which sometimes stretches up to even after the demise of one of the parents. These children, no matter what they know in reality about their parents' reasons for divorce, could not bring themselves to forgive them.
A separation is, as I came to know, far more difficult to deal with especially for the woman. Building up a family life takes years, but when it crumbles down it doesn't take much time at all. When the separation occurs social status is divided. People do not know whose side to take. Some people speculate right in front of the person who is separated. My friend stated that some of her best friends and cousins even stopped coming to her house or speaking to her after her separation. When someone divorces it is easier for people to accept when they get friendly with others or eventually marry. When separation occurs people watch every move the person makes. For men it is different in the sense of the popular belief that he is a man and how long can he stay alone? But when a woman is separated she is watched more closely. Alienation is the biggest issue facing a woman who is separated. Most of the time children are left to a woman's care so the financial responsibility falls over her shoulders. Caring for the children's emotional well being, the daily chores of bringing them home, attending games, looking after their academics, and the associations they make becomes a constant stress factor besides dealing with loneliness inside and outside the house. She cannot go out of her limits in the fear of hurting the children further by associating with someone special. It is very hard for most children to give the place of either parent to a new person.
After years of separation and going through tremendous amounts of stress emotionally and otherwise, my friend still could not get over her guilt of separating and affecting the kids' lives. She is still being talked about by others regarding her social status and as the one who is married but not together. She could not attend too many events since people who were doing the invitations did not know who to pick. She went through immense pressure of answering to and putting up with the children's outrage and resentment. Since it is not settled legally she cannot get any financial paybacks from the husband. And still, she thinks she is doing some good being married for the children. I think she is fooling herself by staying married and depriving herself of a new life and happiness in the name of children. I have my doubts sometimes of her insecurities about divorcing and moving on. I stay neutral for sometimes speaking out your mind could affect others' decision making. And most of all it is not my place to tell her what to do even if it hurts me to see her suffer. Mostly I believe that people go through what they do because of their own choices whether they are happy or not. I don't have to agree with it because I believe everyone deserves their own happiness and peace because, OUR LIFE MATTERS.