Q & A About How to Reconcile After a Marital Separation
Knowing the answers to a few simple questions can make the difference between reconciling or not, following a marital separation
Are you wondering if you will be able to reconcile? Are you unsure about how to do that? What if there has been an affair? What if you’ve already tried to reconcile and it went badly? How do you decide whether to reconcile or not?
Coach Jack answers common questions about reconciling.
“I heard that once you separate, your marriage is over.” Is that true?
Most of the time, no. The better your relationship is before separation, the more opportunity you will have for creating connection once you are separated. On the other hand, If you stress your spouse out right up until the day you separate, it may create a no contact situation. Then your relationship may well be over because you won’t have as much opportunity for creating connection. When I work with clients, our typical first steps are about helping their spouse to relax. Too often, clients are focused on convincing their spouses and push them away.
If you can help your spouse to relax with you and even start to become friends again, then separation need not be a problem. Done correctly, separation can help to continue relationship building. Some couples do so much damage living together that separation is the only way to save their marriage.
Your spouse asking for “space” is one of the best indicators that you are stressing your spouse out with pursuit behavior.
Boundaries prevent the friend zone, but boundaries will not work without connection. So, for connected couples, separation should lead straight to separation boundaries. If the relationship is poor, then connection must be built before the boundaries are put in place.
If there is little contact following separation, the focus must be on attraction, rather than connection. Attraction is what makes a person want to be us in the first place. It is what we do on our own, so can be done even when there is little contact with a spouse. Things like becoming more social, getting into shape, and earning more more money are good examples of becoming more attractive.
“I heard I should just stop all contact and wait for my spouse to miss me”
This is another misguided piece of advice. If you have been stressing your spouse out, then stopping contact will help your spouse to relax–preventing your relationship from becoming worse.
However, it does nothing to build your relationship. If your spouse is no longer in love with you, your spouse is not going to miss you no matter how long you wait. Your best chance of reconciling will happen when you help your spouse to relax with you before the separation, so that contact will be pleasant after the separation.
Absence only makes the fond heart grow fonder. Someone who is stressed out by you won’t miss you. Quite the opposite. They will feel better.
“I already badly handled the separation (being needy and self-focused). Have I blown my chances to reconcile my marriage?”
While you have done more damage to it, which increases the emotional distance, you probably have not “blown it.” As long as you and your spouse still have regular contact you can start to rebuild a bridge between the two of you.
This is done gradually, using good connection skills. Most of the people who come to me for coaching have had such a bad start, but are able to move forward again. As long as your spouse will still communicate with you, it is not too late to get things going in the right direction.
“What if my spouse refuses to reconcile after I create a good connection?”
Not everyone who works on reconciling will be able to reconcile, even though they may be able to recreate a positive connection.
It is equally true that no one can reconcile unless such a positive connection is made. That’s why I emphasize creating connection and desire rather than working to convince your partner to reconcile. Convincing creates distance, whereas connection reduces that distance.
A common mistake people make is asking their partner to reconcile before a good connection has once again been made.
“When is it too late to reconcile?”
It’s too late when your spouse is already in a committed relationship with someone else. Trying to reconnect with your spouse at that point would make you the other woman (or man), although you may be legally married.
Not only is this morally questionable, it would also create an incredible amount of disrespect for you. It is also too late to reconcile if your spouse will no longer have contact with you, since there is no way to build a relationship without regular contact.
“I am very upset and can’t work to reconcile in a positive way.”
That’s very understandable. My best advice is to take time to take care of yourself until you have some kind of peace of mind. Spend time with your friends, get support and guidance from God and scripture. Get counseling if things are feeling out of control or you are having any thoughts of hurting yourself.
If you don’t take care of yourself, you will make yourself even less desirable for your partner. The best partners take care of themselves and are loving, but not needy. This is just as true after separation as before.
If you feel like you “have to” reconcile to be happy, then you are being too needy and you should work on overcoming your neediness. You will have more success at reconciling if you “want to,” but don’t “have to.”
“My spouse or partner cheated on me. Why should I reconcile?”
You have a right not to. You also have the right to try to keep your partner and rebuild your relationship. But, you can’t do both. You will have to choose whether you will love or whether you will leave your partner. It is a value decision that only you can make.
If you will not be able to emotionally move past the affair, even after reconciling, then it is best not to reconcile. Lack of forgiveness does more damage than affairs do.
On the other hand, working on empathizing with your spouse can lead to forgiveness. Most spouses don’t have affairs because they are evil. Affairs are always damaging, but can lead to a renewed relationship for you and your spouse.
Separation doesn’t have to be the end. It can become a new beginning for your marriage
It’s never too late or too early to work on having a better relationship. A new beginning is possible for your relationship before or after a separation. If you are able to detect a separation or divorce warning sign, it is an excellent time to start building your relationship before things get out of hand.
Your spouse separating from you does not need to be the end of your relationship. Most couples have had at least a temporary separation in their marriage or relationship. Separation creates new opportunities for openness and connection.
Working on the relationship, the emotional connection, rather than focusing on trying to convince, gives you the best chance of saving your marriage.
Separation is almost always a well thought out decision. Reasoning, arguing, pleading, and apologizing are not going to persuade a spouse to change his or her mind. The only thing that can do that is if your partner once again desires to be with you. Not until then will he or she have the motivation to work on the problems that led to the breakup.
Don’t let the fact that your spouse doesn’t desire you now convince you that he or she never will again.
If you are ready to start connecting with your partner from your very next interaction, you will want to choose the Re-Connections Marriage Coaching Package. This package was especially designed to create emotional re-connection when one spouse is rejecting, separated, and/or says “I don’t love you anymore.”