The overwhelming sense of loss that accompanies a crumbling marriage is nearly impossible to describe. It’s so much more than just the loss of love and companionship, but also the loss of trust and respect, an abdication of dreams held close.
You wanted to be that couple. The couple that everyone talks about: married sixty years, devoted until the end, surrounded by loving children and grandchildren.
When a spouse walks out, it’s a betrayal of that dream. Carving time up like a melon so that the kids can shuttle between each parent isn’t what you had in mind when you said “I Do”. Giving up when things get tough isn’t part of the sacred vows. But here you are.
Can You Get Him Back?
First, putting aside for a moment any religious or family expectations, you need to ask yourself if you really want him back? Because getting him back is going to be hard. And despite your best efforts, it still may not work.
Women leave a marriage for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they don’t feel like they love their spouse anymore, or they feel they are missing something in the relationship.
For men, they don’t leave to “find themselves.” They leave because they have already found what they were looking for. And they don’t want to give it up. Coming back means risking losing something they don’t want to lose. It’s a difficult battle. Not unwinnable. But you have to be sure that this marriage, and this person who left you, is really worth the fight. Does he possess good husband qualities?
Assuming the answer is yes, here are some things to think about.
Avoid being Clingy/Needy
I know this is hard. It’s an emotional time, and you are feeling desperate. But the worst thing you can do is turn on the helpless woman routine. If he already has one foot out the door, he’ll quickly step all the way out to avoid dealing with your emotional crises. No, he doesn’t want to hurt you. But if he is already nurturing feelings for someone else, or enjoying his new-found freedom, he won’t want to risk losing these things in order to jump back into the emotional turmoil.
Now is the time to show him how strong you can be. Avoid emotional breakdowns when having conversations with him. Don’t beg or make promises. Role play with a friend if you need to do, but do whatever it takes to ensure that any interaction with him is mature and emotionally stable.
Reflect and Work on Yourself
It may be a bit of a cliche, but “it takes two to tango” is an apt description. While you are not the entire cause of the failure in the relationship, now is the time to work on those areas that have contributed to the vicious cycle you have been on.
We all carry with us destructive habits, behaviors, or baggage that can infect a relationship. It’s very common for people to leave a marriage and remarry, only to find the same issues coming back around to bite them. Seek the aid of a marriage coach if needed, but if your marriage is going to succeed, then you must find and eliminate destructive behaviors.
That said, now is NOT the time to start listing for your straying husband all his faults you think HE needs to work on. You’ll just remind him of why he left in the first place. The time will come. But for now, give yourself this time to work on you, and become the strongest, most confident you can be.
Find ways to have pleasant interactions. This will help remind him of the good times and the positive things he is leaving behind. However, don’t make it sound like you are inviting him over “to work on your marriage.” He will automatically resist and pull the other direction. Just keep it light and natural.
Find little things that you can agree on to help forge those connections, and then build upon them. Again, this is not the time to pepper him with your list of things to fix the relationship. In some ways, you are starting over in finding those connections, the commonalities that attracted you to one another.
If you have kids, then this presents a lot of opportunity find commonality, but you can also connect over a number of other areas as well. Keep it light, positive, and be supportive of him in these areas.
Avoid having heart-to-hearts about your relationship too soon. Take the time to build the connections first. If you try to dive right into communication, it’s going to just look like desperation. This process takes time and effort, and it will take enormous strength and restraint on your part.
When the time comes to communicate, don’t just schedule a sit-down with the purpose of talking about your relationship. Don’t schedule date. Men communicate much better when they are doing something they enjoy, and the conversation can just evolve organically.
If they feel threatened or backed into a corner, they will just resist. If you take it slow, building up your connections and let the communication naturally evolve, he may start to wonder why he made the decision to leave in the first place. This is what you want.
Avoid the pitfall of initiating, or letting him initiate sex at this point. It’s too soon. You have more work to do. He will also be struggling with himself a bit. Once men make a decision, it’s difficult for them to backtrack.
They are afraid of looking weak, and they may also have their buddies, family members or perhaps a love interest advising them that nothing will ever change, and going back is a bad idea. Good solid communication is important, but you aren’t out of the woods yet.
Build Opportunities to Cooperate
Like connecting, cooperating together toward a common goal is critical in reminding him of the many positives in your relationship. And if you struggled in this area prior to the break-up, hopefully the work you did to reflect and eliminate your own destructive habits may help him see a new side of you, to see the work you have done to improve yourself, and recognize improvements he may need to make in himself.
Couples who cooperate and support each other build strong foundations that make it difficult for either to leave the relationship. Again, if you have children, you have some built-in areas where you can build cooperation between the two of you, but you can also look for other areas.
Now may also be the time that you can broach the subject of reconciliation. It’s not about going back to the old relationship, but forging a new one, based on the new connections you have build and work you have done to eliminate destructive cycles. He may be open to couples counseling at this point, but don’t push.
The above steps obviously take a lot of time. You can’t fix in a day what took years to undermine. You must be patient, rational, supportive, and positive. You cannot rebuild your relationship if it’s based on insecurities and fear.
You must be strong and patient, and you must understand that still may not work out. If that is the case, at least you have done the work on yourself to help ensure that your next relationship isn’t prone to the same pitfalls as this one.
If you do succeed, your relationship will be stronger and more secure than it ever was. If this man, and this relationship is worth fighting for, then they are worth the effort and the patience.
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