I often hear from people who separated and who intuitively know that they need to back away slightly during the separation. Many understand that placing their focus on their self and on their own well being might provide some relief and help the situation. But, in real life, they just don’t know how to actually carry this out. It is often harder to actually do this than to think about it.
I heard from someone who said: “my husband left me about six weeks ago. He says that this is just a trial separation and that he has no immediate plans to seek a divorce. However, he isn’t very accessible or receptive to me right now. If I want to talk to him, I am always the one who has to call. He never calls me. If I didn’t take the initiative, I would probably never talk to or see him. Sometimes, I feel like I am being a pest to him. I feel like I shouldn’t be bothering him as much. Many of my girlfriends say that right now, I just need to take care of myself and stop worrying about him so much. I know that this is good advice. But I don’t know how to start. The other day, I thought I might write in a journal and every word was about my husband. I ended up in tears and I had to stop. Everything comes back to him no matter what I do. How do I focus on myself when thoughts of myself always bring me back to him?” I will address this in the following article.
I understand this very intimately. My situation was similar. I became so focused on my husband that eventually he was trying to avoid me. I knew that I was making many mistakes and coming on too strong, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself. I knew that calling or texting or coming by again was only going to annoy my husband. And yet, I picked up the phone or got in my car anyway. I knew that it was a destructive pattern and cycle. And yet I couldn’t stop it.
Eventually, I had to remove myself from my husband’s presence in order to stop this. I actually went to visit my family so that we weren’t in the same town. That was one way that I knew that I wouldn’t continue on with what I knew was hurting my situation. I gave my cell phone to my mom and asked her to put it away. These things were very rash, but they became necessary. And looking back, I don’t think that I would have had to take it this far if I had done small and relatively easy ways to stop me from this cycle. I’ll offer some suggestions that will hopefully help you do this below.
Set Up Positive Outings And Encounters That You Won’t Or Can’t Try To Cancel: I believe that it is so important to get out of the house when you are going through this. I know that many people will pull out the old photos, put on the old pajamas, and play the old songs. And this can be OK and necessary for a day or two. But you don’t want to isolate yourself in this way. Here is some examples to get you thinking about what might work in your own situation. Find a good friend or family member and make some regular plans so that someone is counting on you and will not allow you to beg off. Tell your neighbor that the two of you will go power walking every day after work. Plan to volunteer a couple of times of week and know that you don’t want to let others down by not showing up. Pay for some personal training knowing that you will go so that you won’t waste your money. Sign up for a class that requires you attendance. In short, do anything that you need to do in order to have standing plans that get you out of the house and keep you focused on positive people and worthwhile goals that have nothing whatsoever to do with your spouse or your marriage but have everything to do with you.
Find A Way To Improve Yourself Just Because: A good way to focus on yourself is to strive for your own self improvement. I know that many people will chose to go to counseling or to focus on self help while they are separated and I believe that this can be a great idea as long as the focus is not solely on your marriage. People will go to individual counseling and not focus on themselves. That defeats the whole purpose. Yes, improving yourself through self help or counseling can ultimately help your marriage. But that should not be your goal when you are trying to focus on yourself. Your goal is to allow you to evaluate what you want and how to blossom right now. You want to take a look at what works for you and pursue more of that. And want to define what is hurtful to you and to do less of that.
I know from experience that it is very easy to get into the habit of dwelling or of remaining stuck. And you likely know that this hurts you and you know that this isn’t helping your marriage. But you can’t stop. The key to stopping is to having small successes one day at a time. Make yourself accountable. Make it very difficult for yourself to continue on as you are. This might mean giving your cell phone to someone for save keeping or making appointments or commitments every evening to get yourself out of the house. Be gentle with yourself right now. Give yourself what you need to feel better. It doesn’t help you to feel sad and to focus on what is wrong when there is still plenty that can feel right. Remember that you are worth the effort.