Coping With Separation: Surviving the First Few Days
Several years ago, my relationship with my first husband ended, starting with an abrupt separation. It was the one of the most devastating experiences of my life. I survived those days, and it is my hope to help and comfort others who are going through a similar experience.
Basic Self Care
Breathe. Just breathe. In and out. Take some deep breaths. Pay attention to your body. Are you tensing your shoulders? Your jaws? Open up your hands, drop your jaw open. Just breathe deeply for a few moments.
Are you eating? Drinking water? Getting enough sleep? Make it a priority to take care of yourself so you can think clearly and make good decisions in the upcoming days.
You might have to make a few decisions immediately (see below), but many decisions can be put off until later. Don't make a big decision or choice that you might regret later. Take slow steps, and don't let anyone rush you.
Go to people you trust the most, perhaps people you have known for a long time. Quite often this is family, but it can also be trusted clergy or friends who will listen and support you. Don't share everything that is going on with everyone you know. Stay quiet a little bit and let things sink in.
Go about your normal day....or don't
If you are working and need to take a day or two off, go ahead and do that. For others, it might be better to keep your normal routine going, and process later on when you have some time off. Do what feels helpful to you.
Resist the urge to retaliate
Chances are, you are dealing with a huge range of emotions right now. This is not the time for desperate conversations, angry words, or pleading with your spouse. Things can change quickly. Sometimes separations end up being temporary. Don't say things you'll regret later.
This isn't the time for self blame
It will be necessary and good to evaluate the separation at some point. It will be good to consider the causes, and consider your role and responsibility. However, this is not the time to start despising or berating yourself. Don't start a pattern of self-hating speech, as that will not be of any benefit to you.
It's okay to cry if you need to. It's okay if you don't cry, too. People react so many different ways to these things. Don't judge yourself based on your responses. There is a wide range of "normal" in this situation.
If you are a person of faith in Jesus Christ, you have the God and Creator of the universe on your side. He is with you. He will never, ever forsake you. He will walk with you through the pain and grief. You can absolutely pour out your heart to Him in prayer. If you don't have words, He still hears your cries and knows the aching you feel in your heart. The Psalms can be a very valuable resource when you are going through the pain of separation. Some favorite passages in this situation include Psalm 69, 77, 80, 88 and 130. It's important to go to your pastor, priest or close Christian friends for support and prayer when you are going through a separation.
A few practical matters to take care of immediately
- Find a good attorney. This does not meant you are getting a divorce. It means you are attending to basic practical matters. If you know someone who has gone through a recent divorce, perhaps they can recommend one for you.
- Stay where you are (depending on the circumstances). It may or may not be a good idea to leave your home. If you are in any danger, you need to leave and go somewhere safe. Otherwise, it may be advisable to stay. An attorney can advise you on what is the best thing to do in your situation.
- Protect yourself financially. Depending on the laws in your state, it may be necessary to file for a legal separation. Getting a legal separation is not the same as getting a divorce. When I was first separated, my stomach turned at the very idea of divorce. I was separated for nearly a year, hoping that my marriage would be restored. However, it is vital to protect yourself financially from a spouse that may no longer have your best interests at heart. This is the one thing you should do as soon as possible. Again, it has no bearing on whether or not you ultimately get divorced. It protects both of you in the interim.
These are dark days but....
It is hard to comprehend at this time, but you have some very good days ahead of you yet. Hang on for the ride. It's going to be tough for awhile, but you can make it through this. Maintain your integrity, and you won't have regrets later on.
How about you?
Have you gone through a marital separation? Do you have any advice, or thoughts to add? Please comment below. I plan to add more hubs on the topics of divorce and separation soon.
© 2013 Karen Fritzemeier