She finally got up the courage to leave after years of trying. So why did it take leaving for him to realize he didn’t want her to go?
Hi Felicity – I need a good dose of encouragement (and maybe some gentle advice). My marriage has been flat for the last few years. My husband is a nice guy (no drinking, cheating, or abuse of any kind)…but he treats me like a buddy, not a wife. After trying to work on things with date nights and special vacations to drum up the spark again for many months, I finally gave up. I moved out two months ago. And in my mind, it’s over. What is confusing is now that I’ve left, my husband seems to have woken up. He is attentive and begs to talk and spend time with me. He has even had flowers delivered three times in four weeks. In 10 years together, I’d only received surprise flowers five times. I feel pulled in totally different directions. One part of me is drawn toward my future and a life (and future love) that I won’t feel resentful about. But part of me can’t help but wonder if I’m making the right choice. Even if my husband’s attention is too little, too late…at least he’s finally acting afraid of losing me. What should I do?
Oh, honey. I have been right where you are and I know how confusing, scary, and frustrating it can be.
When I was in your position, I was actually infuriated that it took me LEAVING before he even noticed me.
Why did my pleas and rants go totally ignored? Why did the wakeup call happen AFTER we’d gone through the pain (not to mention expense) of him moving out and me starting to move on?
The mix of emotions was intense. I waffled between anger, frustration, fear, and then a tiny twinge of hope, too. Because, after all, he was finally showing me the care and attention I’d always wanted.
It’s a tumultuous and uncertain place to find yourself. I get it.
So let me give you that encouragement and gentle advice you asked for.
The first thing I recommend is give yourself time. LOTS of time.
Even though it sounds like the decision to leave your marriage wasn’t done in haste, I still recommend you give a decision to divorce (or potentially reconcile) time.
You might have people around you suggesting you file for the Big D immediately. You may even have people urging you to get back into the dating pool right now, too. And while that’s tempting, I urge you to say N-O. Your feelings are already confused, no need to add another person’s heart into the confusion.
The flip side is your husband is likely pretty desperate to get some kind of agreement to work things out. He realizes he is about to lose you for good so reconciliation is likely his top priority. Like immediately. Right now.
But I want to tell you that you don’t have to know the answers right now. You don’t have to make any decisions one way or the other at the moment.
You deserve the time and space to consider your options.
You should get used to what it feels like to be on your own. Get comfortable with this potential new direction. Learn what it takes to stand on your own two feet.
Because you will more than likely learn that you CAN make it alone. And that if…IF…you decide to work on repairing your marriage, it’s because you love him. Not because you are afraid of being single.
I recommend you both come to an agreement on time. That you will allow the separation to just simmer before making any big moves in either direction.
The length of time is up to you but three months to a year is reasonable. And if the time is up, you can always extend it.
This gives you both some breathing room. He doesn’t have to romance your socks off to get you to come home right away. And you don’t have to feel pressured to make a choice.
You can just live in the now, day to day. And just see how things begin to unfold. For you both.
Allow some grieving to happen
This is the really big bummer to this process. It’s going to come with some sadness. Even if you are mostly feeling relieved or even a bit excited, some sadness is going to show up.
It just will, sorry to say.
Ending any significant relationship requires a certain amount of grieving and processing in order to move on.
If you don’t allow time for that to take place, you will carry that weight into every future relationship. Or right back into your old one, should you decide to work things out.
And although you are the one who decided to throw in the towel, you might be surprised that you will grieve your marriage ending.
I found that the grief came in layers. And it wasn’t so much grieving losing him as much as it was letting go of the hopes and dreams I once held for my marriage.
What I don’t want you to do is run away from the feelings. And certainly don’t run back to your husband just to avoid this awful part.
The only way out is through.
And once you start to come out the other side, you will be amazed by your strength.
Your heart and mind will be clearer and you will be at a solid place to know which direction you truly want to head in next.
As for what decision you should make, only you will know the answer my dear.
But if you give yourself a lot of grace and treat yourself with huge doses of kindness, I know that you will wind up making the right choice.