Sometimes, when your husband is away because you are going through a marital separation, the day he comes back is considered one of the best days of your life. After all, you have worked for this day. You have sacrificed for this day. You have dreamed of this day. In fact, I know first hand that we have planned this day for so long, very few us worry nearly as much as to what happens after he is actually home.
This is understandable. Because often, it’s so hard to get him to come back that we are using all of our energy and our skill to make this happen. However, unfortunately some of us learn that not spending enough time on the “what happens afterward” question turns out to be costly.
A wife might say: “I can’t believe it’s been six months since we separated. It’s not as if the time flew by or that it was like a vacation. It was awful. Every day felt long. It’s just that there was a time when we were so happy that never would I have figured we would willingly be apart for six months. Perhaps willingly isn’t accurate. He was willing. I was reluctant. I never wanted the separation to begin with. But I knew that if I didn’t go along, he would probably just divorce me. After much work and patience, I have finally gotten him to agree to come home. Sometimes I don’t think that he is excited about this as I am. I am thrilled. I can’t wait. He seems willing, but not particularly excited. I asked him the other day why I felt a little hesitation on his part. He said he had concerns about what was going to happen once he came home. He is worried that we are going to have the same problems that we had before the separation. I have vowed to be very careful and to be on my best behavior.
But I know that I can’t walk on my tip toes forever. Most of our problem was every time there was conflict, it would just explode into a fight. The thing is, we always had a little conflict in our marriage, but in the beginning we handled it just fine. It wasn’t until the last couple of years that we really started fighting and having those fights cause problems.
So I don’t know which version of us I’m going to get once he comes home. I’m hoping that we’re back to the mode where disagreements don’t really shake us, but I have no way to predict that. What should I avoid when he comes home. What should I not be doing?”
A. Focus On Natural And Easy. Avoid Pressure: It’s normal for there to be a lot of pressure when a separated spouse comes home. And this is very unfortunate because it’s that very pressure that sometimes creates problems. You want to try to make things flow as naturally as possible. There is bound to be a little bit of awkwardness, especially at first. But, to the extent you can, you want to try to make sure that things feel very natural and easy.
Does this mean that you need to pretend that nothing is wrong when something obviously is? No, but you should try to understand that, at least at the beginning, your marriage is going to be a little fragile, so you want to make sure that you’re handling disagreements as gently and efficiently as you can. It’s unrealistic to think that you’re never going to argue once he’s home. Sure, every one is bound to be on their best behavior, but you can’t have an authentic relationship without conflict coming up at some point.
B. If You Build Up The Intimacy, The Negativity Doesn’t Tear You Down As Much: Many people find that when they are very bonded and having a good deal of intimacy toward one another, their problems don’t seem as large. That is why you fight fair and efficiently in the beginning and find that you just can’t resolve things toward the end.
And that is why intimacy and closeness should be a primary goal once he comes home. Don’t focus on the negative – if it comes. Focus on the positive gains that you are wanting to see. Conflict is easier when you’re feeling loved and loving. Maintaining this should always be important. That doesn’t mean that you bite your tongue when you have something important to say or that you act as if your spouse can do no wrong. But it does help to focus on what is right instead of what is wrong. Newlyweds do this all the time. And in a sense, when he comes back home, you may well be in the honeymoon phase for a time. That’s actually a positive thing because it may help with the uncertainty and awkwardness.
C. Don’t Over Think It Too Much: There can be a real tendency to over analyze everything that happens and to not relax because you’re scared of anything that may indicate that your reconciliation is just not going to work. This is natural. But try not to let this feeling take over. Try to relax and fall back on the knowledge that he wouldn’t be home if he didn’t want to make this work. Since you want it to work also, that is half the battle.
Focus on what is right between you and what remains. Try to rebuild and then maintain your closeness and intimacy. Avoid sabotaging yourself and your marriage with fears and doubts. Just enjoy this time. Every one worries that it won’t work. But you don’t want to make this worry a self fulfilling prophecy.