It’s not easy to keep your marriage alive after you’ve been separated. You and your spouse will be full of apprehension, remembering past hurts and dreading making new mistakes. You’ll feel like you’re walking on eggshells, which is surely uncomfortable. But it’s not a bad idea to be careful and tread lightly at first.
The important thing is to make sure the issues that caused your separation in the first place are resolved. If there is still addiction, infidelity or emotional and physical abuse, then nothing’s changed and your marriage is still in trouble. Your separation will have been in vain unless you both come clean about those issues.
But how do you survive and thrive going forward?
Establish an open and honest relationship. When couples separate, there are usually trust problems. If your spouse has mistreated you, you can’t trust him to behave properly toward you. Even if he has promised to change, the only way you can really trust him again is when he shows you over a period of time that he has changed for the better. Be transparent about schedules, Internet use, finances and whatever else you need to know about your spouse. Agree about how to be more open so you can each feel more secure about the other.
Love does mean saying you’re sorry. You both have to own up to your mistakes. Yes, he was the one who had an affair but maybe you had something to do with the reason he strayed. You both need to examine your behavior honestly and be willing to say you’re sorry. It won’t do for one of you to be obdurate while the other’s mantra is mea culpa. You both have to come together in a spirit of honesty and forgiveness.
Be open to changes. If you want your relationship to be like it was before, you’re going to be disappointed. If it goes back to where you were, then you will repeat the problems that made you separate in the first place. So accept the idea that changes will take place—you will have to make some adjustments and so will your partner—for the sake of your marriage.
Practice patience. Precisely because you and your spouse need to make changes, there will be starts and stops. There will be miscalculations and misinterpretations. The road to success is seldom linear. You need to give yourselves time to find your way again. You need to be patient when a change doesn’t work. At the same time, give your spouse and yourself credit for attempting to make a change. Slow but sure is the way to go.
Catch your spouse doing good. Make a point of appreciating her efforts. Share how much you notice her attempts at improving your relationship. And let your spouse know how you feel about other things, too. What are your hopes and dreams for the future for the two of you? What are her hopes and dreams? What will you need to do to make your relationship a success?
Your relationship has been broken. It will take time to repair it. Give your spouse and yourself the benefit of the doubt. Be generous. Be giving. Be loving. You can do it.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact