So you think things are already way too crazy? Get ready for a crash course in Courtship Craziness!
First of all, it’s not courtship initially. Your spouse is likely to be considering a date or two as due diligence before pulling the pin on the marriage. They have to prove to others that they did their very best to see if there was anything there to resurrect.
Your spouse is far from coming through whatever crisis it is they’re in. They are still shredded inside yet acting all confident and sure of themselves on the outside. They feel disproportionately wounded by all the hurtful things you’ve done to them cumulatively over the years of your marriage. I’ve written about that in previous blog posts. You represent Pain!
You’ve been watching, listening and reading. Deep within YOU there is a growing confidence and surety. You are the calm for yourself and your spouse. Make an effort in your appearance, ask your closest confidants to pray, but do not tremble inside. You must be alert and strong because your spouse will still be quite hurtful in their actions and words. The date is not going to be enjoyable as far as they’re concerned.
Especially be steeled mentally for the things you may hear that are your soft spots. One of those for me was hearing my spouse brag about what he was cooking at his apartment and how easy it was. That could nearly take me out so I had to be ready to hear that and have ‘canned responses’ in my mental repertoire. In their MLC state they have some kind of twisted need to devalue you. Don’t bite the bait!
You have prayed that this day would come and now it all feels so confusing, maddening, bewildering, sad, and scary.
It’s not at all like when you first were dating, but that’s the feeling they’re likely looking for and thereby judging the experience. They don’t think it’s possible to have that excited and fresh love feeling with you anymore.
They will say things that will make you want to strangle them. Strangely enough, they may talk to you openly at times about what they are feeling and thinking. Actively listen yet say little.
They may have bouts of road rage. That’s quite troubling to endure and gives indication to the pressure keg they’re in. Use your own transportation to meet up if possible. Meeting them on your own also alleviates being dropped off after at home which in my opinion is deplorable. I’d slump on the floor and cry my eyes out from the grief of that. A scenario to be avoided by all means as it clouds the whole experience and your perspective.
When our dating started to heat up and we were going away on the weekends and he was staying the night several times a week I found that to be another level of confusion and sadness. I could not get my head wrapped around the concept of waiting for him to return home. Empty that apartment and throw away the key already!!! It was one girlfriend in particular who kept me steady during those weeks. She kept reminding me that he would return home if and when he was ready. It had to be his decision and not something he was doing for my sake.
Dating with benefits? Well I had a pretty clear idea about how and when that was going to happen if it was to happen for us again. I had to hear and see certain things. Sometimes I felt like overturning those boundaries and jumping him. 😉 At other times I had to redirect his hand . . . as I said, it’s all very confusing. God knew exactly when and how that bridge would be crossed and it turned out to be quite humorous and beautiful. For us that was a positive turning point.
I think the biggest tip I’d like to share with you is to get yourself into a place where you can kind of disengage from all the heaps of emotions and enjoy the experience of being on a date. Surprise yourself. Maybe even surprise your spouse with how much fun it is to be together. Go on hike or back country snowshoe adventure. Meet up at a well rated cafe in a part of town you usually don’t frequent. Order a new type of cocktail and that pricier blackened halibut or rack of lamb at a nice restaurant! Go ahead and be a bit lavish even if that’s out of character for you. Remember, they’re spending good money on living apart from you so let them buy you a nice dinner or two. Relish the flavours, look at your spouse as the person they were before all the drama. Okay, so that last one is impossible, but pretend for a few minutes (or seconds) at a time.
A marriage recovery is made up of one good memory building onto another. Sometimes the BIG dealmaker for your spouse is a look you give them, a response to a question, the way you tackled an adventure . . . . or even something as nebulous as a small sliver of hope that they can’t quite quantify or describe even to themselves. What they may not account for is that you too are testing the relationship. When you go back home write down all the positives that you can think of in regards to the date. You’ll need to reread those in the coming weeks. The closer he comes to you the harder it is. I don’t know exactly why it’s like this but it is. Read others accounts too and you’ll see the pattern. I think a big part of is that you may not hear a ‘sorry’ in a direct fashion or anytime soon. This will come over the coming years in increments and in ways you couldn’t anticipate so keep setting aside this expectation. Marriage recovery entails mutual forgiveness and this too is a long process.
Here is an article itemizing some other points to consider when starting to date your estranged spouse.
Go in Peace!
P.S. My husband is so effusive about my cooking, even more so than before all the mess. But you wanna know something – when I saw that crock pot on top of a box of stuff he moved back home . . . . I swiftly gave it away. It was just a thing, but that ‘thing’ represented some serious pain for me. It was outta here!