I sometimes hear from people who feel pretty vulnerable during their separation. And, although they intuitively know that they should give their spouse space and keep themselves busy, they are having a very hard time doing that. Often, they feel quite lonely and discouraged. Then, they aren’t sure how to make these feelings pass or what to do with themselves in the mean time. They often are concerned that they will do or say something that they might later regret.
I might hear a comment like: “my husband said he needed space during this separation and I have really been trying my best to honor that. But I am really struggling right now. It is so hard for me not to pick up the phone or to go by. I am so lonely. I am embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve been corresponding with guys I went to high school with just to get some attention and to feel better about myself. I know that I shouldn’t be doing this. I don’t know why I’m acting this way except for I can’t get any attention from my husband and I’m so lonely. But I can’t seem to keep myself busy in a meaningful way. I’ll try to read and I can’t concentrate on the words. I’ll try to watch TV and I don’t even take in what the show is about. How do I get myself through this? What are you supposed to do when you’re in the middle of a trial separation and you are lonely or bored?”
These are great questions and probably applicable during many separations. There was a time during my own separation where it felt absolutely impossible for me to back off. I wanted to call and text all of the time, even when it was obvious that this annoyed my husband. Sitting in the silence of my apartment was almost overwhelming to me. I’d pace. I’d tell myself that I’d call in five minutes to try to stall myself. I’d call my friends and try to get them to talk me down. So, I understand how difficult this is. In the following article, I’ll discuss some things that helped me.
Get Out Of The House By Any Means Necessary: This is vital. If you stay home, it is going to be so tempting to reach out even when you know that you need to give space. Because the memories and the reminders are every where. And, it is so quiet and lonely when you are there by yourself. That’s why it’s absolutely vital to get out of there once in a while. Go shopping. Go to the gym. Go see friends. Talk a walk. Whatever you need to do in order to not continue to stare at the same four walls is worth doing. And, leave your phone if you’re only going to leave your home and call your husband while you’re out.
And, if you can’t get out at a particular time, then invite some friends to stay with you. If possible, ask a friend to spend a couple of nights with you so that you don’t have time to be lonely since you will have some ready companionship.
Give The Feelings And Frustration Somewhere To Go: I am a firm believer in journaling. And I like journaling on a park bench, library table, or mall food court even better than I like journaling at home. Because you are releasing your feelings and giving your concerns a voice, but you aren’t saying anything to anyone but yourself. This helps to ensure that the frustrations have a release. And, sometimes, when you write things down, it makes them more clear. You might notice some patterns or some errors in your thinking. If journaling doesn’t appeal or work for you, then consider talking it out with a trusted friend. Often, we feel very lonely when we don’t think that we are heard and we don’t think that we matter. But if we reach out to friends and family, then we realize that none of this is true, which can help with the loneliness.
Offer A Helping Hand To Someone Else: This follows the theme of getting out the house. Volunteer. Find an organization that you could use your skills and go and help someone else. I know that this may not sound appealing when you yourself are hurting. But, I promise if you try it just once, you will be glad that you did and you will be likely to do it again. Not only does it keep you busy, but it uplifts you and shows you that you are needed. I particularly enjoyed working with animals. But everyone has something that calls to them.
Know That Going Outside Of Yourself May Help Your Marital Situation: I know that some of the above suggestions may seem like you are just trying to kill time in constructive ways. But honestly, it’s not at all uncommon for your spouse to notice how busy you are keeping yourself and to respond positively to this. Because keeping busy in positive ways shows him that you respect and care for yourself and this encourages him to do the same.
I know that this is challenging. But pretend for a second that your best friend was going through this. What would you advice her to do? You’d want to take care of her and make things better, right? Well, sometimes you have to do this for yourself. Sometimes, you have to sit down and ask yourself what would move you forward right now, What would lift you up? Yes, making a move can be uncomfortable, but it does get easier with time and once you start to receive some positive reinforcement.