In today’s fast-paced world, patience is a virtue that is quickly becoming rare. Because of new technology that is changing and improving all of the time, we get information almost instantaneously. We are always working, taking in new information, and processing that same information at a feverish pace.
And yet, there is a trend toward at least trying to slow down in some areas of our lives. Experts tell us the importance of mindfulness. They warn that we are going to burn out if we don’t make the effort to slow down the pace on a regular basis. But many of us find this very difficult. How many of us have sat down to try meditation only to find that our brains and our thoughts rev the second that we do?
And this churning mind can happen during normal times in our lives. But in times of stress, our mind’s revving is about ten times worse. How then, do you handle it when your separated spouse asks that you are patient at the one exact time that you can be anything but?
A wife might describe this situation: “my husband pushed for a separation for almost a year before I finally gave in. So you have to understand that we’ve been going through this process for longer than the amount of time that we have actually been separated – which is just a little over four months. I feel like we have made a little progress while separated, but my husband feels that there is much more that needs to happen before we can reconcile. He is telling me that I must be patient. But I have to tell you that I am not a patient person. It is not in my psychological make up. I have a job in which decisions are made in milliseconds. I sprint for stress relief. Speed is almost a high for me. I am not one to sit still or watch TV or read a book. And my husband already knows this about me. I have explained this to him, but his attitude is that I must find a way to be patient because he will not be rushed. How am I supposed to be patient? That is like asking a vegetarian to eat steak.”
I know that it is difficult to be patient, but I also know that it is often the best call. From my own situation and from watching and hearing about this from other couples, it is pretty clear to me that the couples who do not rush it and who lay a foundation of change and growth while separated fare better in the end. The couples who rush and who reconcile before anything has actually changed face risk that the reconciliation is not going to work.
So, as difficult as I know that having patience can be, I believe that it’s a good idea. Below, I’ll share some things that helped me to be patient. But before I do, I want to mention that it’s not clear if some sort of counseling is in place. If not, this is probably the fastest way to show your husband the progress that he is looking for. It’s silly to have patience for change that might not come on its own. A counselor can help you identify the issues and make real change in the most efficient way.
Acceptance: I believe that this is a necessary first step. Until you accept that patience is necessary, you are going to continue to fight and resist it, which is going to make life much harder for you. The first step is accepting that it’s going to need to happen for very valid reasons. Acceptance lessens the chance that you’re going to negatively resist it.
Set Up A Lifestyle That Allows You To Cultivate Patience: I know that this is going to feel weird at first. And there are some areas in our lives where we don’t have the luxury of patience. Many of us have fast-paced jobs that actually reward speed. And that’s fine in that aspect of our lives. But that makes it more necessary than ever to balance it out with a slower pace in our home life. I know it is probably pointless for me to ask you to begin meditating for say, twenty minutes per day. But I think that almost everyone can listen to calm music for five minutes while closing their eyes and just zoning out.
When I was separated, this was the only way that I could even attempt meditation, but it works quite well. And I find it just as effective. The music is necessary for me. Because I love listening to it and it allows my mind to stop in a way that silence never would. People say that this is cheater’s meditation, but I am fine with that. I figure that whatever works for you is perfectly fine.
So this covers at least beginning to cultivate patience by sitting still. But what about in terms of your marriage? For me, I did this by setting up situations that forced me not to focus on my separation. I set up things that forced me to take a break. I asked friends to regularly ask me to go places with them. I visited family and friends in other cities to force some distance between us. I volunteered my time to charities that were important to me. This was actually one of the more effective tactics, because it allowed me to see that there were much bigger problems in the world than my romantic life.
And there were times when I would force myself to not look at my marriage in terms that were so immediate. When I felt myself clinging too tightly, I would force myself to stop by telling myself that, just for today, I’d wait for my husband to reach out to me instead of picking up the phone yet again. Sometimes, he actually would and I’d be pleasantly surprised. Sometimes, he wouldn’t and I would busy myself with other things.
I learned something important during this time. Dwelling on the slower pace often does not change it. The result is that you are only more unhappy about it. But if you accept it and change your life so that it is easier, you may find that you’re working with it instead of against it. And things may change for you on many levels.