Marriage & Relationship Coach

Preventing Divorce: Reconnecting with a Separated Spouse

Preventing divorce with a separated spouse happens in stages, the first of which is reconnecting.

preventing divorce, mending hearts

Preventing divorce starts with connecting, not convincing

The first and most important step in preventing divorce to a separated spouse is reconnecting.  What reconnecting means is increasing your spouse’s desire to communicate with you and to be with you.  All attempts to convince your spouse to come back or work on saving your marriage need to be set aside for a bit. The main reason for this is that before your spouse desires to be with you, all attempts to convince will just result in rejection and a stronger resolve on your spouse’s part to end the marriage.  It would be like trying to convince a child to eat liver because it’s nutritious, after he or she has had to eat liver every day for several years.  Just the thought of that is repulsive and no amount of sweet talk or reasoning is going to overcome that gut reaction.

The ability to reconnect does not depend on whether your spouse wants to or not

The good news is that unless your spouse will have no communication with you, the reconnect is under your control. The way that you communicate will either automatically create a connection or automatically push your partner further from you.  This is because the way we say things trigger attraction or repulsion at the subconscious level.  We have no control over who we become attracted to.  We only have control over whether we approach them or not.  Reconnection takes advantage of this subconscious process.  When you only have minimal contact with your spouse, each word can be important.  A really nice message can backfire if it contains just one needy word.  Many people choose to get coaching at this point to be confident that their messages are helping, rather than harming, their chances to reconcile with their spouse.

Apologies and reasoning do nothing to prevent divorce.

Many people try to reconnect with their spouses by being apologetic, overly generous, or even by using reasoning.  They attempt to apologize for having made mistakes and then to try to convince their spouse that his or her leaving was a mistake.  It is an unattractive message: “Yes, I made many mistakes, but you should come back to me because I have changed now.”  Such messages result in loss of respect rather than attraction, for a few reasons:

  1. The apology is too late.  Apologies should have come long ago, if you were really sorry about the behavior.  Now, they just signal that you want your partner back.  The apology is seen as self-serving.
  2. The reasoning ignores their current feelings.  If you try to convince your spouse that your future relationship with them will be much better, it ignores the fact that they are not emotionally connected to you. A person who is not in love with you now is not going to believe that they could fall in love with you in the future (although that is possible).
  3. You sound needy and unattractive:  the message that really comes across is, “Regardless of how unhappy you are with me, come back to me because I need you,” which is a really selfish and needy message.   You must overcome neediness to be more attractive, not become more needy.

No one who feels like they have been a victim of a bad marriage is going to want to return just because their spouse needs them or claims to have changed. During the connection phase of reconciling, you have to be careful not to slip into “convincing mode” for any reason.  That’s not easy to do when your spouse is telling you it would be better if you were just friends or to give him or her “space.” Clients often need a lot of guidance at this stage because their emotions make them want to react in a way that just pushes their spouse further away.

Reconnection moves gradually from communication to activities

Especially when your spouse is first separating, the connections you make by agreement will be very weak.  But, if you do this well, your spouse will increasingly enjoy communicating with you.  Only then will it be time to start doing activities together.  Your spouse won’t want to think of this as “dating,” and it shouldn’t be framed that way.  It’s an important time to continue to work on building connections and attraction, but still with no attempt to persuade your spouse to come back.  Doing that at this time would just break the new emotional bridge that you have started to form.

Your spouse can’t intentionally become attracted to you (but you can make it happen)

And, that’s the main reason that persuasion, no matter how good, would not work for long. Think of it this way–can you intentionally make yourself attracted to someone?  Or, do you find that you are just somehow attracted to some people and not to others?  That’s the way it works in your spouse, too.  What you do as the connections are being built will determine whether he or she becomes attracted to you again.  Your spouse can still consciously decide not to see you, but he or she can’t consciously stop the feeling of attraction for you from growing if you are using good connection skills.  Some people are able to consistently get others to be attracted to them. They don’t do it by explaining to the other person why they should be attracted to them.  They do and say things which naturally create the attraction.

Problem solving comes after, not during the reconnection stage

I don’t recommend that you try to work on any marriage issues until after your spouse starts to desire to rebuild your marriage.  Although problem solving is essential for getting rid of the problems that led to the separation in the first place, working on marital issues and reconnecting at the same time will make both more difficult and less likely to succeed.  It is much easier to work on problems with a spouse who enjoys you, wants to be with you, and is motivated to work on the issues that are getting in the way of that.  Marriage coaching is something you use alone to learn to reconnect with your spouse.  Marriage counseling is something you use together with your spouse, later on, if issues remain. If loss of connection was the major reason for your separation, then marriage counseling is not likely to be necessary once you have reconnected with your spouse.

It is the connection between you and your spouse that keeps your marriage together, rather than a legal commitment or marriage license

People do not want to be in marriages simply because of obligation.  There is nothing protective in having a marriage license.  Marriage is important because it demonstrates the level of commitment that couples have toward each other at the time they are getting married.  After that, they must continue to enjoy each other daily to keep their emotional connection strong.  Emotional connection can not be put on a shelf while you raise the kids or focus on your career.  It must be maintained throughout or it won’t be there later.  This is a lesson that many men and women do not realize until after their spouse has separated from them.  Then, they find themselves without the skills they need to create a desire in their spouse to give them a second chance.  It is important not to try to use your spouse’s obligation to the marriage, or to the children as motivators to get your spouse to come back.  Guilty compliance creates more distance and would make your relationship even more disconnected.  Most of the time it will not work anyhow, as your spouse already believes he or she is doing the best thing for your family.

The right mindset, being calm and empathizing

To be effective in rebuilding your relationship with your husband or wife, you will need to make a shift in thinking from what you want to what your spouse wants.  Be familiar with the reasons why husbands separate or why wives separate, depending on the gender of your spouse. Because, instead of trying to convince your spouse to come back to you because you need him or her so much, or because it’s the “right” thing to do, you need to start thinking about your spouse’s perspective.  You need to carefully think about how you would feel and what you might do if you were in your spouse’s situation.  You need to start to empathize with the reasons your spouse has separated.  Unless your spouse is a monster, he or she has not separated in order to hurt you or to do wicked things.  Your spouse probably has not been happy for some time and just really wants to be.  Understanding that will help you to be in the right frame of mind for getting started on reconnecting and rebuilding your relationship.

The practical things, initiating contact and responding

The right mindset is important, but you may still want guidance knowing what to say and do in your particular situation.  There is no single thing to say that you can just look up in a book or on the internet.  If there were, I would tell it to you. You need to either just use guiding principles (as listed above) and do the best you can or get help.  Some of my clients only have a little text message contact at the time they begin services with me and some have daily contact with their spouse.  Because of this I offer flexible coaching packages that offer daily or weekly help.  How much help do you need to prevent connection mistakes and miscommunication?

When is it too late to prevent divorce?

Once there is no longer any communication, or once your spouse has already committed to another partner, there is nothing to do but to move on.  If your relationship is not at that point yet, don’t wait for that to happen before using a better approach.  Start today to emotionally reconnect with your spouse. Don’t lose a person who may still have some love for you in his or her heart, but who does not feel any hope of making that work with you again.

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