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By Leslie Cane: I sometimes hear from panicked folks who worry that their trial separation is going to mean that they can’t save their marriage. They are often concerned that since they are no longer living with their spouse, they aren’t going to have the access required to improve their marriage enough so that it can be saved.
Common concerns are things like: “I didn’t want to separate from my husband, but he insisted. He says he feels like we need some time apart. I have tried to reason with him, but nothing has worked. He has assured me that he has no plans to file for divorce. He says that we should just wait and see how things go between us during the separation before we make any decisions about our marriage. The thing is, I want to save my marriage during the separation. The idea of losing my husband is not one that I can face. Is there anything that I can do to save my marriage during the separation?”
It’s my opinion and belief that there is plenty that you can do. I believe that my actions during my own separation ultimately saved my marriage. Unfortunately, I didn’t always do or say the right things, especially in the beginning. But over time I was able to try and tweak some strategies that ultimately made some very big improvements. I will go over some of those things below.
Allow Your Spouse The Chance To Miss You: I find that this is probably the most common mistake that people make. It’s absolutely normal to panic and to be affected by fear when you are separated. You expect and fear the worst. And this can inspire you to do things that hurt you rather than help you. Specifically, during this time, people have the tendency to cling very tightly to the spouse who had told them very clearly that he needs space.
I am certainly not saying that you should ignore your spouse or not make yourself available when your spouse is reaching out to you. But so often, people call, text, or come by constantly so that they are not giving their spouse the time that he has asked for and they are not giving their spouse the opportunity to miss them. The most common reason that people give for beginning to change their mind about the separation is that they found that they missed their spouse and that they realized that they took their spouse for granted or that they should have been more flexible or accommodating.
This process can make your spouse much more open minded and patient when it comes to working through your problems. But if you don’t give your spouse the opportunity to miss you, then you may miss out on the positive improvements that this process can bring about. If you fear that you are coming on too strong during separation, back off a bit and see if things brings any improvement.
Take This Time To Work On Yourself And To Reevaluate The Issues That Divided You: Not all spouses will agree to couples counseling during the separation. And many spouses who want to save their marriage become very discouraged about this. But, nothing says that you can not go to individual counseling or do some individual work if you think that this would benefit you. Often, the separation gives you the time and the introspection that you might not otherwise have had. Take the opportunity to really examine your issues more objectively and ask yourself what you can do differently this time in order to get a different result. It’s very common for people to become more open minded and flexible during the separation because the distance has given them a little more objectivity that they didn’t otherwise have.
And working on yourself and becoming as healthy and as strong as you can be as an individual is only going to help your marriage. There is no need to put your own healing on hold or to wait to see what is going to happen with your marriage. Self work is always going to benefit you and you probably have more time on your hands right now.
Allow Your Spouse To See That You Can Still Connect In A Very Positive Way: As I alluded to before, fear can cause you to act in ways that you know are destructive and unnecessary. Fear can bring out the worst in you when you know deep down that you should instead be putting forward your best. So many couples find themselves actually arguing just as much or more during the separation because of the fear and uncertainty. Please do not fall into this trap. It’s so important that you show your spouse that not only can the two of you get along, but you can connect in a meaningful and light hearted way.
Always show your spouse someone who is cooperative, light hearted, and loving, especially when you are separated. Because your spouse is often trying to evaluate if there are any romantic feelings or if the spark is still there. But if you argue with your spouse every time you interact or if you behave in an abrasive or accusatory manner, then your spouse isn’t able to see that the feelings are still there. Alternatively, if you allow your spouse to see the fun loving, sweet, and exciting person that he fell in love with, then he is just naturally going to consider maintaining the marriage in order to get that back.
I am not saying that you have to act insincere or to portray things that you aren’t actually feeling. Your spouse would be able to see through this anyway. But what I am encouraging you to do is to bring forth the most positive thinking attitude that you possibly can. Because people tend to think favorably toward those who make them feel positively while they pull away from those who invoke negativity. You don’t want for your husband to think you bring him down every time you communicate. Because once this happens, he will start to avoid you. Instead, you want him to get a lift every time that you are together so that he is willing to spend more and more time together so that you can rediscover one another.
I’d like to make one more point. Many people will try to solve their major issues while they are separated. This is an important consideration, but I would suggest that you attempt this very gradually. Often, when your marriage is on shaky ground, it can’t withstand you putting it under a microscope and constantly drawing your spouse’s attention to your problems. My suggestion would be to only focus on your problems as your progress allows.
I hope I’ve shown you that you can save your marriage during your separation. But in order to do so you will often need to be very deliberate with your actions. It took me too long to learn this, but I did learn it. And this knowledge enabled me to save my marriage. If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com
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