It’s done, he’s out of the house. Whether you wanted this separation or not, it’s happened. Your husband is currently not living with you. So, your marriage has been a little rocky lately, and perhaps the separation will be a good thing. At least, that is what you try to tell yourself. But really you just want to cry. What you really want to know is how did things get this bad? And can we put things back together again?
Separating from your husband is probably going to be one of the hardest things you ever do. The uncertainty alone can crush you. Because you aren’t sure if this is one step away from divorce or whether it’s just what you need. If you just knew what to expect, you would be fine. You could learn to cope. But not knowing? Plus, you just miss him. You love him, and you want him near, even if you two are bickering more than normal.
But it’s done, and now you have to deal with it. Here is how:
Learn to Accept Today
Your mind is going to want to obsess over every little thing you both said or didn’t say in the past. And then your mind will want to go over every possible future scenario. Please, resist this urge. When those thoughts come, recognize them, then gather them up and let them go into the air. It’s so freeing to allow your mind to just stay focused on the present. Although the present—being separated—isn’t what you envisioned in your life, it is what it is. Accept your current situation. Try your best to be ok with it.
Realize it Doesn’t Have to Last Forever
The hardest part about separation for couples is that they feel like it will never end. It’s true that each day will just drag and feel like forever. But think of this: if you could have an awesome marriage for years and years, but the only way to get that was to be separated short term, would you do it? Most certainly. It’s not to say that separation IS the answer. But it could be a stepping stone for you and your husband. So talk to him about a possible timeline. Discuss how long you both need to cool off and think. Then revisit the conversation weekly or monthly (decide on this together). Resist the urge to text, “Can we talk about when this separation will be done?” every day. Respect his space and time to think. Tell yourself that this won’t last forever, so just chill a bit for now.
Talk to Someone You Trust
Whether it’s your mom, best friend, sister—talk to someone you trust who can lend a listening ear. You’re going to feel alone with your husband out of the picture, so it’s important that you connect with others. If you and your husband aren’t telling anyone that you are separated, then keep that promise. But you can still talk about concerns in your marriage, or just how you feel an overall sense of sadness that has been difficult for you. When someone else listens, you can start to process your feelings and see a little bit better through the fog.
Don’t Give Your Husband the Cold Shoulder
He is still your husband. No matter how negatively you feel towards him regarding the state of your marriage, he still is a human with feelings. Treat him accordingly. You’ll naturally feel guarded around him, and that’s normal. But don’t be unkind or cold. When you see him, give him a hug. It’s not a kiss, but it is some physical touch that will send the signal that you are trying and you are happy to see him.
Date Your Husband
Either suggest it or accept dates your husband asks you on. You two are in the rebuilding phase of your relationship. You can’t rebuild unless you spend some quality time together. So agree to weekly time together, either casual or formal. The point is, go to a neutral location and talk. You could just talk about your lives, or the marriage, or anything that comes up. You can even hold hands if you feel the urge. If you aren’t ready for something, say, “I’m not ready for that yet, but I still love you.” It’s important that you both feel respected and understand each other.
Go See a Marriage Therapist
Perhaps you should have started seeing a marriage counselor earlier, but you didn’t. Don’t dwell on it! Just go do it now. If your husband won’t go, then just go alone. He may choose to join you later. But even if he doesn’t, the time will be well spent. You can talk about the issues and your therapist can help you work them out. And if your husband does come, you two can spend time reconnecting and learning to communicate again. That is definitely worthwhile.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.