Help When You're In Denial About the Breakup of Your Marriage
By Susie and Otto Collins
Kim continues to fix dinner for two, even though her husband moved out three weeks ago. She keeps leaving space in the garage for his car, regardless of the fact that he's not parked there for almost a month.
When Kim's friends ask her to dinner or a movie, her automatic response is, "I'll have to check..." before she gives an answer.
She is in denial that her marriage has broken up. She is unable (and unwilling) to look at the reality that her husband has hired an attorney and filed for divorce.
A part of Kim is well aware the her husband is not coming home and they will soon legally be no longer married. But, another part of Kim keeps holding out hope that he will change his mind.
She continues to e-mail, text and call him asking for a second chance. He continues to refuse to respond-- except through correspondences via his attorney.
You might not be in denial to the extent that Kim is. You may be slowly moving ahead with your life after the breakup of your marriage. Or, you might be putting a lot of your energy into attempts to "win back" your ex.
What it comes down to is this...
If you are pretending that your marriage is temporarily "on hold" or "just going through a rough spot" when your spouse has made it clear that he or she wants to end your relationship, you are probably in denial.
Even if you have accepted the separation or divorce, you might be ignoring what your ex is saying and grasping at the hope that he or she will have a change of heart.
Being in denial will not serve you. It won't serve your healing, your ability to move ahead with your life.
Continuing to deny the reality of your current situation may also put your health and the health and well-being of those who depend on you in jeopardy.
Do a gentle reality check.
No matter how attached you are to your hope that your ex will come back, it can be extremely helpful to do a reality check. Make sure you are gentle and patient with yourself as you do this.
Find a comfortable and private place and take out a piece of paper and pen. For the moment, set aside your plans for winning back your ex and just look at where you are right now.
Make a list of what your reality is at this moment in time. Try to be as observational and unbiased as possible.
For example, you might write down things like this...
"I am living by myself."
"I am responsible for paying my own bills."
"I sleep alone."
"I am the one who needs to feed, bathe and care for my children."
You might have strong emotions that come up when you make your list. Allow yourself to cry, get angry or whatever it is that you need to do-- but, for the moment, don't take action. Just be with your feelings.
As you look over your list, there may be some things about your reality that you are missing.
Here are some examples...
"I can call my friend _____ whenever I need someone to talk with."
"I have an open invitation to visit _____ whenever I feel lonely."
"My friend ____ has offered to babysit when I need help."
"I feel a little bit better when I laugh."
"I saw a flier for a support group on the bulletin board at my
"A friend gave me the name of a reputable and affordable financial planner."
This exercise is meant to not only help you come into the present moment and assess where you are, it is also a way to remind yourself of the potential support that's available to you.
Find out what you really want...
beyond wanting your ex to come back to you or for things to return to the way they were.
Every situation is different and, in some cases, couples who split up and even divorce do get back together again.
However, this is not the norm. And, the couples whose reunions are long-lasting and happy take the time to work on themselves while they are apart and before getting back together again.
Aside from your possible desire to get back together with your ex, take the time to explore what you really want at this point in your life.
Look at what you want when it comes to your career, your finances, your personal growth, your relationships with those close to you, your spirituality, your health, your social life and more.
Think in terms of the quality of life you want and don't get fixated on the specifics of when or how this will happen.
For instance, you might want to have more energy and get in shape, feel close to certain family members and friends, go out dancing, laugh more or perhaps further your education.
You can also get clear about what is most important to you in a love relationship. This can be very general and about the kind of connection or qualities you'd like in a relationship.
There doesn't need to be a "face" on the person in your mind with whom you share this envisioned relationship.
If thinking about love relationships is too painful, don't. Come back to what helps you feel more interested and possibly even excited about your future.
If you'd like more advice to help you heal your broken heart, click here for our FREE mini-course.