When you and your spouse are separated, it’s hard to know what to do, what to say, how to act, and when to act. Don’t worry. I will give you five things that you can do when you are in a marriage separation that will help you, starting now. You can save your marriage while separated.
Here at Marriage Helper, we have helped thousands of people who have been in a situation just like yours. And we’ve taken their experiences, what has worked for them, what gave them the best results, and simplified them into five quick things that you can learn. Then, you can start implementing these things to make a massive difference in your marriage.
Without any further ado, let’s talk about something we call SMART Contact.
You see, what we find is that when you look at how you act during a separation, if you were to google that, then you’re going to see thousands of different results. You’re going to see articles, videos, and podcasts with everyone who has an opinion about what you should do when you’re going through a marriage separation.
Unfortunately, many of those people are divorce lawyers or just talking about their individual experiences. Maybe they’re separation mitigation-type lawyers, and they’re telling you what you need to do, but only if you’re not looking to save your marriage.
But what we have found is that even if you’re currently separated or on the verge of separation, there are five things you can do to save your marriage and bring your spouse back.
One school of thought taught out there is this: don’t contact your spouse at all. If they’re gone, then they need to miss you. And the more that they miss you, the more they’ll want to come back.
What we’ve typically found is that it doesn’t work very well.
On the other hand, some people say, “Well, you should contact your spouse every day by sending a text message, a positive note, an email, or leaving a voicemail.” And that method, we’ve discovered, typically doesn’t work well either because you’re overwhelming a spouse who already currently wants out.
So, we don’t recommend contact all the time, and we don’t recommend no contact. What we recommend is called SMART Contact. Here’s what you do.
Step One: Stop “PUSH” Behaviors
Push behaviors stands for the following: First, you don’t want to plead, whine, or beg.
Maybe your spouse already wants out or walks out the door; you follow them. Perhaps you’re begging, pleading, crying, whining, trying to get them to stay, or trying to elicit any emotions of compassion towards you at that moment.
While I understand what you’re trying to do, it’s probably not going to help in the way you want. In fact, when people feel like you’re pleading, begging, or whining, it pushes them further away. So, you don’t want to do that.
You don’t want to have any unnecessary crying.
You know what I mean. When you feel like your spouse can see how much you’re hurting, then maybe they will stay. Perhaps they would come back to you or apologize. But, unfortunately, that also typically doesn’t end up the way we want.
Again, it ends up pushing them out the door. Instead of seeing us as strong, independent people who are attractive, they see us as people who have lost their minds. People who have been overcome with emotion and can’t even control themselves, continuing to push them away.
You don’t want to start fights.
You don’t want to contact your spouse to tell them something they’ve done wrong or yell at them about how much they have hurt you.
I’m not saying you don’t need to protect yourself legally, financially, and all those ways; you should talk to a lawyer. What I’m saying is, if you want to save your marriage, and you’re reaching out to them by fighting with them, and that’s how you start that conversation, it’s just going to push your spouse further away.
Please don’t hover.
Don’t hover. Don’t watch what your spouse is doing, don’t try to control them, and don’t track them. Please don’t put a GPS tracker on their car.
When your spouse finds that you did those things, it will infuriate them.
If there’s been any progress in them hopefully coming back home and then they find that you’ve been tracking them, trying to control things they’ve been doing, monitoring their emails or text messages, or anything like that, they’re not going to trust you.
All of these push behaviors that we talk about, the pleading, the crying, the fighting, the hovering, the controlling–we do those things because we love our husbands and wives. We want them to come back.
But unfortunately, the way we demonstrate that love for them and how hurt we feel ends up pushing them further away.
So, step one is to stop doing the push behaviors.
You might be thinking, “Okay, if they’re gone, what am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to try and communicate with them?” So that leads us to step two.
Step Two: Manage Items Together
You want to manage business items together.
Here’s what that means. I don’t mean that you have a business together, and you’re managing the finances, employees, and things like that. Although, if you do have a business together, this can work in that sense.
I mean that you want to find the areas of your marriage that you will have to continue talking about because of those items’ nature. So, for example, when tax season rolls around, you typically have to do your taxes together or at least communicate about your taxes, mortgages, or financial things like that.
Kids are a great one. These are items that don’t necessarily have emotions built into them. You’re not trying to talk to your spouse about your marriage when you’re talking about these things. You’re discussing something that you have to speak to your spouse about. So, that’s why kids can be a great topic.
You should update your spouse about how the kids are doing, any exciting things that have happened, what’s going wrong, etc. You want to reach out to your spouse when it’s about something that makes sense to reach out to your spouse.
So, manage those business items together. As you are handling these items together, the goal, what you want to do, is not to have negative interactions during this time.
You want to be strong, calm, and gentle during this time. When you call your spouse, that is preferred: calling them or talking to them in person. Text messages can cause a lot of problems.
But when you’re talking to your spouse, even if they try and fight with you, don’t fight back. Keep a calm demeanor. Please don’t fall victim to any fights your spouse might try to have with you, because that’s what’s normal for them. They’re used to, maybe, fighting a lot or maybe ignoring each other. And so, your spouse is going to try and continue in those patterns, but you can change the cycle.
Be the best “you” you can be in those interactions.
And then, over time, as you have those interactions and your spouse begins to realize that they can talk to you without it being a complete disaster, you can start asking your spouse some questions, as long as the questions aren’t emotional.
So, things like: “Hey, how was your day today? How are things going at work? How was your weekend with the kids?” Anything that’s not going to elicit negative responses from your spouse, start there. You want to start with things that are on even ground.
Once you can have some of those conversations where they aren’t getting emotional, and you’re talking about things that are surface level, so to say, then this goes into the next step.
Step Three: Allow Spouse to Talk
Allow your spouse to start conversations with you.
If your spouse starts to say to you, “Yeah, actually, here is something that happened at work.” And they begin to tell you about a problem they’re experiencing, or maybe start to open up to you about how they miss being home or start opening up to you about feeling guilty for something they’ve done. This is key.
When they are opening up to you about their feelings, whether or not you agree with the emotions or not, you need to be a safe place.
This is the most critical moment for you to shine, because what your spouse needs to see from you is that you can hear what they have to say. Even if it hurts to listen to it, even if you disagree, you need to respond to them in a calm, strong, and gentle way.
Now, I’m not saying that if your spouse begins to attack you, you stand there and take it, not at all.
But, if your spouse begins to open up and says, “You know, they’re downsizing at work. I’m terrified that I might get fired. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know how I would be able to continue to provide for the kids. What am I supposed to do?”
At that moment, it’s not the chance for you to say, “You know, if you hadn’t left us to begin with, then you wouldn’t have to worry about your apartment bill and providing for the kids. We would have less to worry about. So, you need to come home.”
That’s not the way you want to respond.
Instead, when your spouse opens up to you, you say back to them, “Wow, that’s a lot. Is there anything I can do for you during this time? I’m here to listen.”
You’re not listening to give your thoughts back to them, but you’re listening to understand. You’re listening to hear. Listen more than you’re talking.
Step Four: Respond Strongly, Calmly, and Gently
Next, like we’ve been talking about, you want to respond in a strong, calm, and gentle way.
You want to be that safe place for your spouse.
You might be thinking, “Well, my spouse isn’t a safe place for me. If I try to open up to him/if I try to open up to her, all they do is bash me, tell me how they don’t wanna hear it, things like that.”
That is hard, and I completely understand how you feel if you’re going through that situation.
But guess what? At this moment, you get to decide to be the bigger person. You get to choose how to respond no matter the situation around you. You get to respond in a way that shows your true character.
And I’m not going to lie; this takes a lot of effort. It takes a lot of mental preparation. It takes a lot of failing and doing it over again. You’re not always going to respond ideally every time, and that’s okay.
But you want to make it a goal to think before you speak and to make sure that you are acting back to your spouse in a way that has the long-term goal of saving your marriage.
Step Five: Take It One Day at a Time
And finally, number five, you want to take it one day at a time.
Every day is going to be different.
Some days are going to be better than others. For example, some days, your spouse will open up to you a lot more, and the next day they might completely shy away from you.
They might completely ignore you, and it might feel like you’ve taken one step forward and 15 steps backward.
I want to encourage you that if you start filtering your mind through this process–if you stop push behaviors, manage the unemotional business items with your spouse, allow your spouse to open up to you, respond in a way that is strong, calm, and gentle, and take it one day at a time–then you will be the stronger person.
You’re going to become the strongest person that you can be.
You’re going to be able to handle more than every thought you would.
And ultimately, one day, this can help you bring your spouse back.
So, if you’ve heard this and think, “I get it, but I still have some questions. How does this apply to me? What should I specifically be doing in my situation to bring my spouse back, to use this SMART contact?”
We Can Help You
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