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on January 27, 2004
You know that you are in an unhealthy relationship. And, you have repeatedly PROVEN you cannot work it out under the same roof.
But you don't want a divorce. And you don't want things to stay the same.... Whoah: There is another option to those 2 extremes! CONTROLLED separation.
{Note: 2 Marriage therapists got rich off us & FAILED us because they lacked this vision. To them: PLEASE READ THIS BOOK. Can't hurt to add to your repetoire!}
This book helped me break that paralyzing fear of staying 10 more years VS. cutting all ties & being suddenly alone.
It gives you structure. You work out your own contract, with or without therapists. Once apart, you can conduct a productive exploration of your self & your relationship. And talk to each other as you decide, on a VERY limited schedule, to see how it is going. No fault finding, no blaming. (We each have therapists and support groups on the wagon for this venting.)
Read chapter "My Marriage is Making Me Sick" first. Then, read the "Differences between trial and controlled sep.". This was better for my husband's attention span. Then, he was hooked.
Then get a 6 month lease somewhere. If you have a verbally/emotionally distant, abusive or very insensitive mate,
this may mean PEACE for you the 1st time in years.
THE GOAL IS: Happy, healthy reunification. But -- If nothing else, this approach lets you KNOW you tried EVERYTHING you could before divorcing. And you learn how to avoid similarly BAD partner match-ups for the future.
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on March 7, 2001
I bought this book as if looking for permission to do what I thought I wanted to do. I ate it up, because it gives such clear directions--with thorough explanations of every term or idea with case studies & every-day real-life examples. It is so fair to both parties in a relationship that my husband--who had fought this trongly--was willing to accept it, discuss it (!!!), and even plan a date that was more financially feasible for this to work!
Meanwhile I have a therapist who against all ethical rules of her profession, keeps interjecting her opinion & retracting it (one week she TELLS me to leave the guy, the next week she's ok that I didn't, adding to my confusion!), making my stuckness even worse. I'm stuck still, after reading this book, because my husband took me seriously when he saw this book on the coffee table every night, obviously well read, ear marked, highlighted, etc. LOL
NOW he's listening, NOW he's paying attention & changing the harmful behaviors I could not live with. This book still sits there on the coffee table, the contract still sits on my computer hard drive where I saved "our" version & it is all ready to use at a moment's notice. This makes it easier to take one last look at the possibility of staying together.
The sample contract is in the front of the book--the rest of the book explains how the contract works. Each couple can customize the contract specifically for their own issues--but the reason the rating is a 4 instead of a flat out 5 is that it does NOT include sample contracts for different situations, nor examples of how to fill out the contract specifically. Still, it gives enough information that couples could choose to do this easily without a therapist's guidance if desired, and in case that worked better for him & I to do this on our own (without my therapist making it worse with her own issues projected into ours).
We're both discovering our dysfunctional family roots & the damage caused in our childhood from abuse, neglect, being forced to create false selves because our real one's weren't acceptable to our mentally sick parents. This journey is bringing us together in a healing way to change our self-defeating behaviors. I chose him because of a sick part of myself just as he chose me for his own sick reasons. Now we're rooting out those issues & have hope. It ALL started with THIS book, as we both knew if we split there would be no coming back.
Good luck on your journey & if you too are stuck & can't decide because one day your SO is being great but most days suck, this book gives you the clear directions you need to get UN-stuck, however that may work out for YOU. And if a separation IS in the picture, this is the fairest version going to keep you (or create) advocates instead of adversaries.
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on March 8, 1999
It is no secret that the institution of modern day marriage is suffering. Yet on the day when a couple joins together, they deeply believe that their love will surmount any problems. Or one of the partners secretly thinks he or she will have the power to change whatever is annoying in the other. Or the whirlwind of courtship has disguised personality conflicts that only arise after years of living together.
The world is changing at such a rapid pace that the stree placed upon married life is profound. Not to mention the fact that people change as they live their lives. You may find that the person you married years ago is not the person to whom you are married today. So what do you do when you find yourself suffering in an unhappy married relationship? Are you trying to decide, as Lee Raffel's title suggests, do I stay or do I go?
Lee has been there. She suffered for years in a bad marriage. Then the experience of a good second marriage gave her the insights with which to help others. During years as a professional marriage counselor, she watched too many couples struggle unsuccessfully to get out of the mire. Her deep desire to help stop this pain motivated Lee to create a focused plan which enables couples to call a "time out," a time in which they can let the dust settle so they can experience each others' humanity again. In Transactional Analysis (TA) terms, this road map of Lee's encourages two adults, rather than two angry, hurting kids, to guide the relationship.
In this easy-to-read, very informative manual, couples in distress follow an explicit and compassionate guideline which allows them to separate, physically if need be, and emotionally in order to put sanity back into thier relationship. Lee's "controlled separation" (CS) model offers nurturing guidance, a resonable time frame and practical rules. Couples can use the book by themselves or with the aid of a professional. Within the CS framework a couple may find that they have grounds on which to work things out or they may decide that it is time to end their marriage. Either way, the decision comes from a well-thought out and heartfelt place.
As one couple commented after a three-month CS in whicy they "reinvented" thier partnership: "The CS was a blessing. It gave us a chance to take the bull by the norns and strighten ourselves out. It was a relief to get reacquanited again. We could be private about our CS and for that, we are grateful."
Lee Raffel's timely book is profoundly deep and empathetic - true nourishment for the soul of marriage. She covers virtually all possibilites of occurrences and feelings. Every reader will identify with some situation. This is not only a book for troubled relationships, it is a good support for any couple. Thank you, Lee!
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on March 19, 2003
Two years ago my husband & I were going through a nasty, unexpected separation. I read many many books on our situation, then came across this one in the library. I have since purchased 2 copies for friends.
This book gave the best, most concrete advice on determining what our next steps should be. The helpful tool provided by this book is the Separation Contract which lets each person spell out their needs. It helped me think through all of the important issues, document what was important to me, & discuss it all with my husband. (We also shared our finished contract with a trusted pastor friend for accountability purposes.)
I would recommend this book to anyone who doesn't know what to do next & would like to at least consider doing something positive for your relationship, even if you think there is no hope for your situation.
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on October 27, 2000
I loved this book. I was so glad to find a book that deals with this difficult situation with such compassion. It also helps you transition any children into the separated state. Many of the books I have read on separating consider the parties involved mortal enemies without hope for an amicable parting. Ms. Raffel shows how to make a separation work for you and your relationship instead of against you. Whether you're the initiator or the one being left this book is helpful on all levels in that it helps you to see all sides of the situation. I highly reccomend this book to anyone in this unfortunate situation. It truly does give you hope and insight during a period that can feel so hopeless.
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on August 29, 2001
I searched for guidance and self-help books to help me with the agonizing decision of where I should turn when my husband & separated. Most books out there were 'how to make a better marriage' or 'how to cope with divorce'. There was nothing in the middle until I discovered this book. I read the book in one day and actually took a highlighter and highlighted the parts that hit home. I have a completely different outlook on what separation can do for a marriage. It doesn't necessarily mean the end to a relationship but possibly a new beginning.
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on October 23, 2004
If you have been in a marriage relationship for sometime, as I have, and yet that relationship is less healthy than you believe it should be, this book may be for you. I found this book to offer a plan that is a sensible alternative to giving up, getting ugly, or even "making do". Not everyone is angry and wants out of a marriage, at least not without trying everthing possible to mend or reinvigorate the relationship. Lee Raffel offers a blueprint for exploring whether or not a relationship can be "fixed" or saved. Because Raffel's suggestion of controlled separation is negotiated between the two parties, there is buy-in by both parties, at least on some level. Raffel clearly and succinctly lays out the plan, even offering assistance with the negotiating part of the process. She includes everything from how to broach the subject with your spouse, how to tell the kids, how to handle the money, whether or not to seek professional counseling, etc. The book is not written in a "clinical" manner; it is written for the average reader. Also, there are many examples of each step in the process that helpfully illustrate the details from Raffel's case studies.

It is my belief that anyone who may cousel or give advice to someone whose marriage is less than satisfying should read this book. I would think that in particular pastors, who may not be as skilled as they would like when dealing with couples in crisis, might find this a helpful technique to utilize.
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on October 22, 1999
My husband and I have been considering a separation for a while now and this book gave me the confidence and a way to proceed with our controlled separation. I love that Lee gives you control of your separation and is fair to both parties. This book describes separation and it's phases from all directions and lets you know what to expect. It also gave me a lot of food for thought.
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on April 7, 1999
What a joy to read! A wonderful, much needed book that reads effortlessly.
If you are stuck in that agonizing dilemma of "should I stay or should I leave" your marriage, here is a book that provides a clear roadmap to help you make that decision. Using an innovative approach called "Controlled Separation," couples are provided with both the knowledge and tools to make one of life's most difficult decisions. Without moralizing, and through illustrative stories of real couples, Lee Raffel empathically guides the reader through the maze of confusion to the light at the end of the tunnel.
Constance Ahrons, Ph.D., Professor and Director, MFT Program, College of Letters, Arts and Science: Sociology, University of Southern California
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on August 30, 2006
This book offers an alternative to radical action that could help save many marriages and preserve the friendship in cases where the marriage is over. It was nice to know there are ways to soften the transition if it is determined that one or both of you do not wish to remain in the marriage. It is also good to hear that in many cases, the author's suggestions helped rock the boat enough that the couple was spurred to actions that resulted in not only saving the marriage, but restoring the relationship to health.
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