The Wall Street Journal dips into marriage therapy, talking to a host of counselors who think a separation of about six months can work wonders for a troubled relationship. It can't just be one person storming out, though. Both partners need to agree on finances, child care, and other logistics. It also needs to be long enough to give both partners time to truly assess things—hence, the six-month time frame. One therapist estimates that about half the couples she puts on this path wind up back together.
"Sometimes having a dress rehearsal for divorce makes them realize they don't want to do it," says another marriage counselor, a psychologist. One couple profiled is a case in point. The husband moved into a condo after 35 years of marriage when he and his wife mutually decided they couldn't stand each other anymore. Or so they thought. "It was kind of like falling in love again," says the wife. "He would come over for some silly reason, and we would have a heck of a conversation and a really good time." They've been married 42 years now.