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More Couples Turning To Marriage Sabbaticals To Overcome Relationship Hurdles

IRVINE ( — It seems fewer couples are staying together, and relationship experts say more people faced with that fact are taking breaks to solve their problems.

It's a new trend called marriage sabbaticals.

"It helps them to really regroup, rejuvenate and look within to find their identities," family therapist Fran Walfish said. "But in a marriage sabbatical, both partners separate for just a defined short amount of time and hope to return to the marriage."

Walfish said some couples argue absence makes the heart grow fonder. But she often finds the problems are waiting for the couples when they reunite.

"When they come back, those issues have been tucked under the rug, and it makes it harder to dig in and get to those issues," the therapist said.

Irvine newlyweds Ashley and Jeff Cader were together for nearly 10 years before they tied the knot.

"I think that we definitely balance each other out, and I try to be honest a lot," Jeff Cader said.

The Caders say they've never separated but do take time apart after arguments.

"We definitely would, I think, just not be in the same area, whether it's one in the bedroom and one in the living room, one goes out with some friends, just to have that space," Ashley Cader said.

Walfish recommends that couples interested in marriage sabbaticals take no longer than one week apart every three months.

"It can be thought of as separate vacations, separate filling-up-my-tank-with-new-energy," according to the relationship adviser.

Walfish also recommends each partner see a therapist separately and then a couples therapist.

It's important, she said, to keep lines of communication open. The therapist also suggests bringing romance back into the relationship.

The Caders said they hope to start a family soon and don't expect a marriage sabbatical in their near future.

"Marriage is a positive thing, and it's a celebration, and taking that step back and realizing, 'OK, its going to be OK,' " Ashley Cader said.


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