“I just can’t get over him,” Kendra said sadly, wiping tears from her eyes. “I especially can’t live with the fact that he is with that woman!”
Kendra was having another challenging day, filled with the ups and downs that come with losing a mate. She came to counseling hoping I could help her digest something non-digestible.
We explored her history. Her husband of seven years, Kevin, left abruptly nine months earlier and was preparing to file for a divorce. As much as she tried, she could find no good reason for him leaving, making his rejection even more difficult to understand.
“What happened in the marriage that might have led up to this?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she said firmly. “Sure, we had our little squabbles, but nothing that would lead to ending a marriage. What kind of man would walk out on his wife like this?”
Kendra spent a few minutes berating Kevin. However, nearly as soon as she berated him, she launched into a dozen reasons why she still loved him. In spite of the fact that he had made it clear their marriage was over, she found herself alternating between clinging and letting go.
“What’s the matter with me?” she asked, week after week during our counseling sessions. “I’ve got to be crazy. Why do I keep the possibilities open when he has said it’s over? He’s with another woman, and I think about taking him back?”
“You’ve been married to him for a long time, Kendra,” I offered reassuringly. “Letting go is never easy, especially when the future is uncertain. You can’t really expect yourself to simply walk away without second thoughts when you’ve loved him as long as you have.”
With those words, Kendra brightened. She wanted hope of any kind.
“But, I’m also not telling you to hold out for hope. It doesn’t look good. Kevin has made his intentions clear. He’s with another woman and shows no intention of coming back to you.”
“So what do I do?” she asked sadly. “I hate this rollercoaster.”
“Yes, I know. You’ll know in time whether he is having any second thoughts. If you see no indications of second thoughts from him, you will have little choice but to move forward with your life.”
My counsel wasn’t the clear-cut answer Kendra wanted. She hated living in limbo and wanted to know precisely what to do. But, how could I tell her what to do since it had been only six months since her husband left. Fortunately, there were many thins she could be doing in the meantime—and perhaps if you’re struggling with letting go of a mate who has left, you can do the same. Here are some strategies offered in my book, Living Beyond a Broken Marriage.
First, go slowly. This is a time of transition and you cannot know exactly what the future will bring. It is a time for thoughtfulness and reflection. You will likely regret making any sudden rash decisions, or making any rash statements to your mate, are likely to be regretted.
Second, get support and counsel. Rejection and the possible dissolution of a marriage are painful times. You’ll need extra care and counsel to know how to navigate the rough times ahead. Wise counsel will help you know how to handle the challenges as well as help you learn from the experience. There are also actions that can be taken to enhance any possibility of saving the marriage.
Third, be honest with yourself. With prayer, Scripture reading, wise counsel, and reflection, you will discover wisdom. You’ll discover the truth of the situation. In Kendra’s case, it had not been long since Kevin left, and the future was still uncertain. However, when honest with herself, she realized that the likelihood of him returning to her was small.
Fourth, do no harm. While Kendra could do little to win her husband back, there was plenty she could do to make him push even further from her. She had sent angry emails. She had been oppositional when he asked to retrieve his things from their home. She had been difficult when it came time for his visitation with their two children. These actions, while understandable, only made him more certain of his decision to divorce her.
Fifth, make wise choices every day. Kendra needs to make wise choices every day that will help stabilize her life. She must carry on with the routines that have helped her so far, such as exercise, meeting with friends, caring for her children and work. She needs to pursue her hobbies that have given her pleasure, journal and pray. In time, and perhaps through the actions of Kevin, she will know if and when it is time to completely let go of her husband.
Finally, trust in the Lord with all your heart. Get good counsel, find supportive friends and family, but place your trust in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6). The Lord knows exactly what you’re experiencing and promises not to let you fall. Scripture tells us that He knows when a sparrow falls to the ground (Matthew 10:29). How much more does He care for you and your marriage?
Like Kendra, you may be feeling rejected and abandoned. Your world may be filled with confusion. You must take wise action to save your marriage—and there is much you should do, and much you shouldn’t do. But in the end if you trust in the sovereignty of God, you will be well.
I’d love to hear how these strategies work for you. Please feel free to contact me for further information or advice on Marriage Intensives or consultations on what may be needed to assist you in your marriage. Share your concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on my website, www.yourrelationshipdoctor.com.