I often hear from folks who are desperate to save their marriage before their separation turns into a divorce. Many didn't want the separation in the first place. And now they feel as if they are hanging on a thread as they try to change their spouse's mind before that same spouse files for divorce or chooses to end the marriage.
I often hear comments like "I am desperate to save my marriage but we're separated. It's hard to gain any ground when we don't live together anymore and I don't see my spouse every day. How are you supposed to reconcile if you're no longer living together?"
I know how frustrating and scary this can be. I lived in this situation for months before I figured out how to change things. And although it may not seem like it's possible to you right now, you can save your marriage during a separation. It often takes a very specific plan played flawlessly and a little luck, but you can do it. I'll explain this more below.
Being Separated Doesn't Mean That You Can't Improve Your Relationship And Eventually Save Your Marriage: I know that being away from your spouse is no fun and I know that this likely feels like a huge rejection that has shaken your life to its core. But, as of today, you are not divorced. You are still married so there is still a chance. I know that it's extremely easy to get discouraged and worry that there's not much you can do but wait and see what your spouse decides to do, but this just isn't true. There is plenty that you can do.
But, in order to make but I'm about to tell you work, you have to do your part and believe that saving your marriage is possible. In order to have success, you truly have to believe that you and your spouse will get back together and be happily married. This sort of quiet confidence is VITAL to your success. If you approach or are around your spouse when you deep down believe your marriage is over, you're projecting the wrong attitude on the whole thing.
People are attracted to and drawn to upbeat people who make them feel good about themselves and their situation. It is so important that you understand this. I know it's hard to portray this confidence when you doubt it. But you'll only need to do it until you can gain some ground.
Get Access To Your Spouse (But Use Some Restraint:) It's common sense that it's going to be hard to change your spouse's mind about you and the marriage if you don't ever see them. Yes, you might get lucky and the distance might make them miss you, but this is leaving a lot to chance.
You'll have a better chance of success if you at least have some access to them. Now, you don't want to overdo this. You don't want to hold on too tightly so that you are the one doing all the chasing. But you do want to be able to check in enough so that you are still in one another's lives. And when you are doing this, you want to be changing your spouse's perceptions about you at the same time.
So if you are in a situation where your spouse is avoiding you, or there's tension that keeps them from being open to you, then you will need to very gradually and gingerly change this. You want to make this a gradual process because otherwise your spouse will suspect you are trying to manipulate them.
Have a positive attitude and make it clear that you're trying to maintain some sort of relationship (no matter where this ends up) because you value them too much to walk away. They are too important in your life to just drop out of their life completely.
Once they understand this (because you have gone though this process very convincingly,) they may gradually allow you more access to them. Once you see these improvements, that's when you need to use some restraint. Many people will get so excited when they see some improvements that they immediately want to push for a commitment to save the marriage. This can be a huge mistake. All that you have gained might be lost. When you feel them responding to you, then it's time to let them initiate thing the next time.
Ultimately, You Want Them To Be The One Who Makes The Decision To Save The Marriage: It's very likely that your spouse already knows where you stand. So when you are acting positively and being light hearted and avoiding the heavy and desperate conversations, your spouse still knows that you are invested in the marriage. So when things are going well, you don't need to keep repeating this or to keep asking what they are thinking about the separation.
And once things are clicking between you again in the name of friendship or keeping your relationship healthy (even if you don't know where this leads,) then you'll want to let your spouse take the lead sometimes. You'll want for them to be the one to call or ask to see you or whatever the case may be.
Why is this so important? Because if you are always the one making all of the effort, they won't be nearly as invested in this entire process. But, if there is a give and take, when they do decide to work with you to save the marriage, you both will know that this is a mutual decision and you will have a much better chance of the process actually working because they are fully invested. This will also give you the peace of mind that they came to this decision on their own.
Rebuild The Intimacy And The Feelings Before You Try To Officially Save The Marriage: So let's say that this has all gone so well that your spouse decides they want to move back home and help you save the marriage. Wonderful, but what happens then? Well, here's another area where people make a mistake that they regret later.
Many people will think that they FINALLY have their spouse where they want him so now it's time to get down to the “work” of saving the marriage. But this too is a little premature. Because you still haven't rebuilt the intimacy. In other words, you're probably still on shaky ground. Work very hard on creating a sense or “we” and “us” again so that you feel very connected to one another and are on the same page. Once you're sure that you are reconnected and have been for a while, then you can begin to very gradually work through your problems.
But you never want to attempt too much too soon or you run the real risk of being right back where you started and then having your spouse thinking “here we go again” so that you might have actually made things worse instead of better.
How do I know this? Because I lived it. I had to muddle through this myself when I was trying to save my own marriage during our separation. And I made many of the mistakes that I'm telling you not to make. But I eventually figured out a plan that worked. If you want to read more about how I saved my marriage while separated, please visit my blog.
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