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(0:00) 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’m going to give you five things that you can do when you are in a marriage separation that will help you starting now.
My name is Kimberly Holmes. I’m the CEO of Marriage Helper, and 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, and what has worked for them, and what has given them the best results and simplified it into five quick things that you can learn, that you can start implementing that will make a huge difference in your marriage.
If you want more information like this, go ahead and subscribe and we will continue to give you content and information that you can use for your marriage.
(0:50) But without any further ado, let’s talk about something we call SMART contact.
You see, what we found is when you look at how do you act during a separation, if you were to google that, then you’re gonna see thousands of different results. You’re gonna see articles, videos, podcasts with everyone who has an opinion about what you should do when you’re going through a marriage separation.
(1:15) Unfortunately, a lot of those people are just talking about their own individual experience, or they’re people who are divorce lawyers, or separation mitigation-type lawyers and they’re telling you what you need to do from that point of view when you’re separated, but if you’re not looking to save your marriage.
But what we have found is, even if you’re currently separated, or on the verge of separation, there are five things you can do if you want to save your marriage to bring your spouse back.
One school of thought taught out there is: 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 doesn’t work very well.
On the other hand, there’s people who say, “Well, you should contact your spouse every single day by sending a text message, or a positive note, or an email, or leaving a voicemail,” and we’ve found that typically doesn’t work really 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.
(2:29) What does that mean? What does SMART contact mean? How do I do that? Here’s what you do.
Step One: Stop “Push” Behaviors
“What are push behaviors?”
Push behaviors stands for the following:
First, you don’t want to plead, whine, or beg.
If your spouse is already wanting out, or if they’re walking out the door, and you’re following them, begging, pleading, crying, whining, trying to get them to stay, trying to elicit any emotions of compassion towards you in that moment.
While I understand what you’re trying to do, it’s probably not gonna come out the way that you’re wanting it to. In fact, when people feel like you’re pleading, begging, whining, it just ends up pushing them further away. So, you don’t want to do that.
(3:25) Next, you don’t want to have any unnecessary crying.
You know what I mean. Those times when you feel like if your spouse can just see how much you’re hurting then maybe they would stay, maybe they would come back to you, maybe they would apologize, and that also typically doesn’t end up the way we want it to.
Again, it ends up pushing them out the door. Instead of them seeing us as a strong, independent people who are attractive in that moment, they see us as people who have lost their minds, who have been too overcome with emotion and we can’t even control ourselves, and it continues to push them away.
(4:04) The third is, you don’t want to start fights.
You don’t want to just contact your spouse in order to tell them something they’ve done wrong in order to yell at them about how much you’ve been hurt, in order to scream at them about an extra $10 that they spent out of the account.
I’m not saying you don’t need to protect yourself legally, financially, and in all of those ways, and you should talk to a lawyer about that. But what I’m saying is, if you’re wanting to save your marriage, if you reach out to your spouse, 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.
(4:44) And then, finally, don’t hover.
Don’t hover. Don’t watch what they’re doing. Don’t try and control them. Don’t track them. Please don’t put a GPS tracker on their car.
Because when your spouse finds that it is going to infuriate them.
If there’s been any progress in your marriage, if there’s been any progress in them hopefully coming back home and then they find that you’ve been tracking them, or trying to control things that they’ve been doing, or monitoring their emails or text messages, or anything like that, they’re not gonna trust you.
All of these push behaviors that we talk about, the pleading, the crying, the fighting, the hovering, the controlling, all of those things we do because we love our husbands and wives. We want them to come back.
But unfortunately, the way we are demonstrating that love for them and how hurt we are ends up pushing them further away.
(5:46) So, step one is stop doing the push behaviors.
Now, you might be thinking, “Okay, well, then if they’re gone what am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to try and communicate with them?” That leads us to step two.
Step Two: Manage Items Together
(5:58) You want to manage business items together.
Here’s what that means:
I don’t literally mean that you have a business together and you’re managing the finances, and employees and things like that. Although, if you do have a business together this can work in that sense.
But what I mean is, you want to find the areas of your marriage and of your relationship that you are going to have to continue to talk about certain things because of the nature of those items.
For example, when tax season rolls around you typically have to do your taxes together, or at least communicate about your taxes, mortgages, any kind of 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 talking about things that you have to talk to your spouse about. So, that’s why kids can be a great one.
You should update your spouse about how the kids are doing, any exciting things that have happened with the kids, anything that’s going wrong with the kids, anything like that you want to reach out to your spouse when it’s regard to something that makes sense to reach out to your spouse about.
So, manage those business items together.
(7:19) As you are managing these items together, the goal, what you want to do, is not have negative interactions during this time.
So, you want to be as strong and calm and gentle through this whole time as you can. When you call your spouse, and that’s what preferred, calling them, 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 temper. Don’t fall victim to any fights that 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 gonna 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 as your spouse begins to realize that they can talk to you without it being a complete disaster, then 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 like that that’s not going to elicit negative responses from your spouse, start there. You want to start with things that are on an even ground.
And then, once you are able to 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, which is step three.
Step Three: Allow Spouse to Talk
(9:02) Allow your spouse to start conversations with you.
So if your spouse, in the middle of you talking about the kids, or the mortgage or whatever else it might be, maybe 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 they begin to open up to you about how they miss being home, or maybe they begin opening up to you about how they feel guilty about something that they’ve done.
This is key.
When they are opening up to you about their feelings, about their emotions, whether or not you agree with the emotions or not, you need to be that safe place.
This is the most important moment for you to shine, because what your spouse needs to see from you is that you can hear what they have to say, and even if it hurts to hear it, even if you don’t agree with it, you’re able to respond back to them in a way that is calm, and strong, and gentle.
(10:06) Now, I’m not saying that if your spouse begins to attack you that you just stand there and take it, not at all.
But, if your spouse begins to open up to and says, “You know, they’re having downsizing at work. I’m really terrified that I might be laid off. 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?”
In 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, and we would have less to worry about. So, really, you just need to come home.”
That’s not the way you want to respond.
Instead, when your spouse opens up to you about that 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 in order to just give your thoughts back to them, but you’re listening to understand.
You’re listening to hear.
You’re listening more than you’re talking.
Step Four: Respond Strong, Calm, and Gentle
(11:10) Next, like we’ve been talking about, number four, you want to respond in a way that is strong, and calm, and gentle.
You want to be that safe place for your spouse.
Now, 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, anything like that.”
That is hard, and I completely understand how you feel if you’re going through that situation.
But guess what, in this moment you get to decide to be the bigger person.
You get to decide how to respond no matter what the situation around you is calling for.
You get to respond in a way, and choose 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 in the perfect way every single 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
(12:27) And finally, number five, you wanna take it one day at a time.
Every day is going to be different.
Some days are gonna be better than others. Some days your spouse is going to 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 backwards.
But I want to encourage you that if you start filtering your mind through this process, through stopping the push behavior, managing the business unemotional items with your spouse, allowing your spouse to open up to you, responding in a way that is strong, and calm and gentle, and taking it one day at a time, then you’re going to be able to 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. And ultimately, save your marriage.
(13:30) So, if you’ve heard this and you think, “I get it, but I still have some questions. How does this actually apply to me? What should I specifically be doing in my situation in order to bring my spouse back, in order to use this SMART contact?”
We can help you.
You can give our team a call at 866-903-0990, and we can tell you how our coaches, our workshops and our online courses can help you have the smartest contact with your spouse, and ultimately save your marriage.
Even while separated, you can still work on being the BEST version of yourself. Check out our PIES Bootcamp here!