Updating good advice - 05/08/00 04:14 AM
*********************************************Hi there. I just wanted to point a couple things out. I was a walk-away wife. My husband constantly cried and carried on. Before I left, he again had said that he would kill himself. I was so ready to leave, and so fed up with that threat, that I told him, " You will do what you have to do, it is not MY fault. This is YOUR problem to deal with" Sounds cold, I know, but I couldn't stand the control anymore. Anyway, after the separation, he constantly came around. Always calling and crying. Always wanting to know where I was, who I was with, getting mad when I went Repelling, wanted scheduled sex sessions, etc. He would drive by my house all the time. One night, when I returned from being out dancing, he was at my front door waiting for me. That was the final straw. I filed for divorce that Monday. I was hoping to work things out. I NEEDED space, but he refused me that space. I did divorce him. Later, we became friends and then I fell in love with him. I could write a book about my marriage, so I will be careful here...LOL We were apart from beginning of June to mid October and overnight, we reunited. It was a miracle, that I must say, came from God. However, I believe in miracles, and if you give your W some space, and show her a change in you, you have a much better chance. My H did change. I finally was able to see him being happy as himself, not needing me anymore as his lifeline. That was a big improvement. As a W, we need a strong, but yet, tender, H to have and to hold. Good luck with your situation. I will be hoping for best for you. Just remember, give your W the space she is so desiring.
More good advice:
1)No matter what, don't spend too much time alone! Especially in the beginning, because without distractions, your mind will fixate on the pain. Keep yourself busy! Get involved with something that you always wanted to try, but never got around to it when you two were together, try to make it something that she would find surprising (I volunteer/tutor at the School).
2) The more they dislike us, the easier we are to forget about. So be prepared for a woman that has programmed her memory to ERASE ALL GOOD MEMORIES! My wife told me how she would get really uncomfortable around me sometimes because she would actually catch herself staring at me, or laughing at my jokes, or enjoying my cologne. They don’t want us to be the good guy in their eyes. Very annoying!!!
3) Try your best to refrain from initiating any conversation that puts her out when you bring it up. Suggest that the two of you meet every Sunday night for at least an hour, so you guys can discuss legal matters, financial arrangements, visitation schedules, and any other serious issue that needs attention. NOTHING EMOTIONAL, or MARITAL, at least not for a while (this means no more venting your feelings). All questions and issues that deal with your failing marriage or your broken heart must be put on hold until she wants to talk about them, which can take a long time (it took my wife 4 months, and that is fast compared to others on this board). I know how hard this one was for me. I felt like she was constantly blowing me off, so I started forcing the issues every single time we talked. Big mistake, b/c she stopped returning my calls, until we agreed to meet weekly. Eventually, she was actually happy to hear from you. Of course, issues concerning children should not wait until your meeting, they are priority over EVERYTHING!
I don’t know about you, but I only got to briefly see my wife 2 or 3 times a week as we exchanged visitation, which usually involved a hi, or hello. I wanted her to hang out for a bit or just act like she could stand me. So, I started being more polite and relaxed every time I saw her. After a couple of weeks of this, these one syllable conversations started getting longer and more enjoyable, because she was no longer worried that I would ruin the day by complaining about some legal crap. THIS IS NOT EASY, but this was where I first noticed that my wife started warming up to me.
4)Her guilt is a time bomb, be careful. I think most women, especially my wife, can NOT handle the guilt of breaking up their family, so they avoid anything that may remind them. Sometimes they’ll start crying if you tell her how much you love her, or how miserable you’ve been since she left. But BE CAREFUL, these tears most often come from guilt, not true love. A good example: my wife and I were talking about all the bills that I needed to remove her name from (gas, credit card, etc.). Talking about the mortgage loan, she calmly stated that she wanted her name removed from that too, but that meant I’d have to re-finance, which we both knew I couldn’t qualify alone. So, that left only option…..sell the house. She began crying, and I thought it was because she knew she would never be able to come home. WRONG! She felt guilty b/c I bought the damn house for her, and now I was screwed. Her crying spells during our divorce talks, created false hope that she might not divorce me.
5)NEVER LOSE YOUR COOL!! Always smile and be polite. I had to always remind myself that my estranged wife and I were “casual neighbors” (it works).NEVER, NEVER, NEVER let her drag you into a ‘fight’, if you have to excuse yourself from the conversation, stating that you’ll return when you can talk, not yell. Remain stern and honest, but show her how cooperative you can be. Throw her off once or twice by giving in to her, without a struggle.
6)Don’t ever expect an apology or an admission of guilt for leaving you. I know how hard this was for me, but I quickly realized that waiting for her to say “sorry” only made it harder for me to think of anything else. The more you want her to apologize, the more disappointed you’ll be every day that she didn’t. She might surprise you. An example: One random evening, we were at the park with our daughter laughing away, when all of a sudden she broke down in tears. I gently asked “What’s wrong?”……(more tears)……”Do you want to talk about it, or do you need to be alone?”. She said that she had been wanting to talk, but what she wanted to say was obviously hard for her. After telling her that I wanted to listen, she hugged me and talked for hours. She was crying because she didn’t think I would forgive her. My wife says that she wanted to apologize to me, long before she actually did, but she didn’t think I would be able to accept it.
7)SEEK COUNSELING FOR FAMILIES GOING THROUGH DIVORCE! As loving parents you both will learn a lot about what your both doing right now to your kids if your being careless in your conflicts, it will also help you two strengthen your general concern for getting along. Without a doubt, this allowed my wife to remember how committed I am to being a wonderful father and husband. It being my idea, she saw that no matter how much pain I had to endure, I was not going to let this divorce hurt us any more.
When you choose a new therapist make sure they are both Licensed Family Therapist AND Licensed Marriage Therapist. Make sure she is involved in the selection process, so she won’t suspect hidden agendas. When we went to our first parent counseling session, he asked what each of us wanted to achieve through therapy. We answered the same on all goals (anger management, communication, etc) but I added that if I was allowed to, in later sessions I would like to discuss what went so wrong with our marriage, and if it could ever be fixed. It was never brought up again. Two months later, as we sat down to start, she just blurted out that she was ready to talk about us and our marriage. The counselor and I both sh#t our pants!
8)If she ever hints that there is a small chance that you could work things out, treat the situation with extreme care. Show genuine gratitude for their bravery in telling you this, comfort them by letting them know that your scared too. DON’T TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN, but certainly pay soft attention to it. Never say or do anything that makes them embarrassed or ashamed for wanting to change their mind.
9)DO NOT EVER ARGUE ABOUT HOW SHE FEELS, because it will only make her feelings stronger. I know, they change every 5 minutes later, and are as unpredictable as the weather, but you have to let them know that you respect their feelings, even if you have a problem with them. A great example of how I changed is this: my wife used to complain that I was never affectionate towards, which made her feel unattractive. I used to say “well that’s silly to feel that way. I tell you all the time how beautiful I think you are. You just need to pay more attention and give me some credit”. WRONG! Now I say: “Tell me what I need to do more of, because I think you’re extremely attractive.”
10)No gifts, I love you’s, special occasions, or anything other than a very helpful father and kind friend.
11)Read every book you can get your hands on, on improving communication between a male and a female. The more I read about the differences in a man and a woman the more amazed I become at how easy it is for me to approach my wife, without ruffling a single feather. As a matter of fact, I have gotten so good at being cooperative and fair in all disagreements, that I think she has started to ask how I changed so fast. (I also found two of my books in her bag). Remember that communication is only half talking, the other half is listening.
The following advice was about the importance of not threatening, begging or laying a guilt trip on your reluctant partner. It's great advice, follow it!
Ginny, I don't know that this is really going to help ('cuz I know exactly what you're feeling -- and how very hard it is), but I sure hope you can avoid the mistakes I made while my H and I were separated 'cuz they only prolonged our separation. Just as I'm afraid you may be about to do if you give in to your instincts...
I felt just like you do. We were separated for over a year; I filed for the big D after about 10 months hoping that would shake/wake H up -- 'cuz he wasn't making any moves to come home and I just couldn't take it any more. Daughter's grades were falling big-time; she was crying at night. I was in such pain, but most of all just wanted to get on with my life -- with or without H (but, hopefully, with).
Anyway, I tried to tell him how much I hurt, how much our D hurt, all the usual stuff. But you know what? He didn't hear it. He heard instead that I was pleading, begging, etc., etc. (which I wasn't doing, thought I was stating facts in a nonconfrontational manner). But he heard what he heard and interpreted it as "more of the same." That I hadn't changed at all (even tho I, of course, TOLD him I had ).
Anyway, after I shared my feelings with him, you know what the result was? It actually prolonged our separation! He said later that he'd been thinking about coming home just before those episodes, but when I started in on the pain, our D, etc., he decided he just couldn't do it. That he didn't want to return to the same old situation at home.
So, my words of advice??? NO MATTER WHAT YOU'RE FEELING TODAY, only show him happiness and contentment. Show him someone he will want to return to. If he doesn't see her in you, then it will only take longer -- and your pain will continue that much longer.
So, go out, take a walk, exercise, scream, cry hysterically, or whatever, BEFORE he comes over. Work those feelings out the best/however you can. Then, when he arrives, be pulled together, "serene" and happy. Tell him what a wonderful evening you had last night (even if it sucked), that you're really looking forward to this next century, and that you hope he had a good time, too. (Be mysterious about what you were up to if you can.) Don't even think about what he might have been doing with his date. Remember, he might not have done anything other than go on a "date." But even if he did, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it -- EXCEPT use it as a way to show him the changes you are making, by being positive, upbeat and supportive.
I know this sucks. I know how hard it is. But I also know that it was only when I stopped showing my H how much I cared, how much pain I was in, etc., that my H decided to come home. So, please, use my experience to shorten your own?
I just finished reading your final post in "do a 180" and I am at a loss to accurately express the feelings and deep emotions that are filling my heart and brain right now.You and I have shared several posts reagarding my situation and I believe now that I have found the missing piece of my plan that will hopefully allow me to win back my life and my wife.
I have been participating at this site for about 7 months. I discovered Michele's book by browsing Amazon.com and was immediately taken by her sensible get the job done approach. The basics of her principles are very straight forward to understand but not so straight forward to deliver correctly. I have been working on my 180 for about 7 months now and can report that it has made a difference. The biggest problems for me are a lack of patience and a failure to recognize that letting my needs creep into my efforts only slows the whole process down and frustrates me even more.
You and I have speculated about an unscientific model for how long anyone who enters this process can expect to take before having any chance for success. I do believe that a good rule of thumb is 1 month of genuine change is necessary for every year of marriage. If it took 15 years(as in my case) of getting it wrong it probably will take 15 to 18 months of hard work to have a chance of getting it right. If I could alter Michele's DB book in just one way it would be to advise the readers of the effort of raw time that is necessary to win back a heart that has been wronged. Every set back and backslide in my efforts has a direct correlation to my impatience. I see even the smallest positve from my wife and I'm ready for full reconcilliation. It just doesn't work that way.
I have been able to get through the last 8 months of my wife's virtual seperation from me because I care, I believe that change can make a difference, and because I have been able to find truth and wisdom in this site. I could never find the words to say to everyone who have unknowingly inspired me and saved me on many days when I wanted to quit and take the easy path through divorce.
I never imagined how much effort and time would be necessary to create a chance to succeed. No wonder the divorce rate is 50% plus! This is easily the most difficult challenge of my life. I pray every day that I can find the strength to continue.
For what it's worth I have compiled my personal summary of the mandatory DO's and DON'T's of this process. I found all of these to be true, unavoidable, and necessary to have any chance for giving birth to a new relationship after an old one died. I hope this list helps any new comers who discover this site and feel the same despair that we have all felt.
MANDATORY DO'S WHEN DIVORCE BUSTING
1. Be patient. Time is an assest even when it seems to be killing you.
2. Listen carefully to what your spouse is REALLY saying to you.
3. Learn quickly that anger is your enemy
4. Learn quickly to backoff, shut up and walk away when you want to speak out.
5. Take care of yourself. Exercise, sleep, laugh, and focus on all the other chances in your life that are not in turmoil.
6. Be cool, strong, confident and speak softly.
7. Know that if you can do a 180, your smallest consistent actions will be noticed much more than ANY words you can say or write.
8. Read as much as you can on this subject
MANDATORY DON'T's WHEN DIVORCE BUSTING
1. Do not be openly desperate or needy even when you are hurting more then ever in your whole life and are desperate and needy.
2. Do not focus on your self when communicating with your spouse.
3. Do not believe any of what you hear and less then 50% of what you see. Your spouse will speak in absolute neagatives because they are hurting and they are scared.
4. Do not fall into the "green eggs and ham" trap. (see Dr. Suess for clarity)
5. Do not give up no matter how dark it is or how bad you feel.
6. Do not backslide from your hard earned changes.
These are the one's I've learned so far. I've also lived everyone of the Don't's so far. Some more then once. I encourage others to add to the list.
[This message has been edited by Michele (edited 05-08-2000).]