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Don't allow the two of you to grow apart
By Andrew Rusbatch
I received an email from a member the other day who has been married for a number of years before marital problems started to arise. The couple separated for a length of time before re-examining the relationship and gettting some help.
This couple undertook counseling before one partner pulled out, and the separation continued for another length of time before efforts were again made to repair the relationship.
This game of cat and mouse, going to counseling before continuing the separation for another length of time has been going on for a number of years now, and the client who wrote to me is at the limit of his patience. Divorce has been discussed, but the partner who continued to back away from repairing the relationship seemed reluctant to end the relationship.
As far as the effort goes, it has been very one-sided, and decisions now need to be made if this relationship is going to survive, or whether both of these people need closure. The idea of effort coming from one side only is a common scenario, which is why I feel this is especially relevant.
I have removed any references that may identify the client, but felt that the response to this client is worthy of sharing with so many other couples out there in similarly harrowing circumstances.
Here is my response:
Thanks for your email.
From my calculations, you have been living apart for a number of years. This is a significant obstacle to you and your partner getting back together, and every month you continue to live apart the more difficult a chance of reconciliation is.
Your partner's fear of being rejected and the marriage not working out again is irrational. In shying away from her fears, she is letting her fears become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The issue here is that your wife is unwilling to put the effort in, and for some reason her fears are holding her back. In addition to this, the time that you have spent apart is significant. You have both grown accustomed to living as single people, and any change to this situation now is going to require a huge life adjustment.
This is not about picking up your marriage where you left off. This is about creating a new relationship with your wife, with new rules and new intentions. This is an opportunity to get to know each other all over again.
This situation has been allowed to fester for far too long.
A separation should never be longer than a few months, and the problem with splitting for several years is that she has grown accustomed to life without you. She may even like her single life. She may also be scared about living with you again.
You need to move forward or you need closure. She doesn't want to try to save your marriage but she doesn't want to be the one responsible for ending it either.
You need to tell her that she is living her fears in her reluctance to try and save your marriage. Giving things another go is a huge leap of faith, and she needs to take strength that you believe in her enough to have faith in your marriage. If she doesn't share that faith then it is time to respond with love.
Thank her for being your wife. Thank her for giving you the years of happiness that you had together. Tell her you will always be her friend. But if she doesn't want to live with you anymore then it is time to walk away and give this terminal relationship some closure.
Love is not always possession.
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