Being recently separated from your spouse isn’t easy.
But it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.
In fact, it’s just the beginning.
Sometimes that means a focus on recommitting to a stronger, healthy relationship, sometimes it brings a brand new life without your spouse.
Either way, these tips truly will be a great start to either one.
Maybe separating from your spouse was your idea. Maybe not.
Feeling paralyzed? Overwhelmed? Took a hit to your self-esteem?
Don’t know what to do?
Wondering how you will survive a trial separation?
You’re not alone. Breaking up, being separated from your spouse, and soon to be divorced is scary.
It’s a change, no matter whose idea it was. And the thing to do is keep moving forward.
Use these tips right away and be on a firm footing. Or at least feel more like it.
Ready to start baby-stepping your way to a new life? Download this worksheet and take the first step!
After you’re done reading all about what to do for the emotional side of being separated from your spouse… read this post to put the logical side in order.
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So you’ve separated from your spouse? Now what?
First, take a deep breath. Sounds silly but you can do this. If you can continually focus on what’s my next step...the steps will come easier. Not easy, but that one foot in front of the other is the only way forward.
The old joke…”How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time. Big steps and small ones are all the same, one at a time.
So let’s jump in. This is how I was able to make it through what turned into a trial separation for my husband and me. We certainly didn’t know it at the time. We thought it was all over for good. But our outcome, or even yours, isn’t the point. The point was to make it through each day to be in a better place for me.
1. Take care of your body and brain.
Your mood, your brain, and the people around you will thank you.
If you don’t already work out in some way, find something.
Walk, run, bike.
Online workouts, the gym, indoor stay-at-home workouts.
Yoga, pilates, and tai chi are other forms of movement that can for your physical and mental strength.
To enhance your workout, try flex bands to kick it up a notch without getting crazy.
Something fun I tried recently was a weighted hula-hoop. Maybe it’s dancing.
Do what works for you.
Need motivation? Consider these…
- The fact that you’ll look and feel good will be sweet revenge, catch someone new, or breathe life back into your marriage.
- You will feel amazing.
- Your kids need you to be at your best mentally and physically to be around for them.
Still not motivated?
Find a close friend who will encourage you (or force you by any means necessary). You won’t be sorry.
Believe me, I’m not a fan of exercising. I’m naturally skinny…don’t hate.
So I don’t want to lose weight, but let’s face it. Skinny or not, over 40 it all jiggles unless you do some sort of cardio or weights. So start.
Sleep optimization is next. Some people get down and sleep too much, some barely sleep. Find a balance.
Give yourself those hours where your brain can turn off and rest, it will help.
If you aren’t getting enough sleep.
Force yourself…no really…to go to bed early.
If falling asleep is difficult, you can try a diffuser, a white noise app, music, or a weighted blanket like this one that helps with anxiety.
If you’re sleeping too much, try to find another brain-numbing activity to substitute…binge television…funny shows, like this.
Laughter is good medicine.
In fact, anything funny is great.
Follow funny Instagram feeds.
Scroll just to laugh. Pet accounts are great. Who doesn’t smile at dogs?
I unfollowed accounts that made me bad in any way.
Nothing against the accounts, for whatever reason their posts were painful to me. I can always follow them again later.
I added more that made me laugh, feel encouraged, or inspired.
For more positive brain food…read, read read.
Never mind marriage books right now on how to win your spouse back. Right now it’s how to get you back.
Find books that focus on just you.
Here are some of the ones I read.
Now, this may sound like I am contradicting myself, but these books below are three of the best I’ve ever read.
Two of them are different versions of the same concepts, but I found hearing it again in a slightly different way made it sink in better.
Yes, two are marriage books, but there is so much focus on concentrating on you in these books that I have to include it here.
Regardless of the impact on your relationship, it WILL change you….for the better.
Don’t let the titles fool you. It may seem old-fashioned but if you really read it.
Really hear what she’s saying with an open mind, it’s not what it appears at all.
Learn how to take care of yourself. Learn how to accept help. Be grateful even when things seem hopeless.
I wish I had found them sooner, but I am so glad I found them now. DON’T BE THROWN BY THE TITLE. It’s a surrender of control over people, things, and outcomes, not to a spouse.
This isn’t implying your marriage going south is your fault.
It’s about finding all about who you are and where you want to go with your new life. In seven short years, I will most likely have an empty nest. Whether I’m in the same situation, single, or in a new relationship is irrelevant. What do I want my life to look like?
Maybe you know just who you are. But I’m willing to bet while being married you lost something along the way.
Chances are the longer you’ve been married and the older your children are the more you may have lost.
The last time I was single I was 17! And I don’t mean just a few years ago, I’m talking 30 freaking years ago!
As in before #metoo. Before internet match sites or the internet even, ahem. Before naked selfies. Yikes!
I don’t want to date.
But I should get to know myself better.
What do you really want in the age of #givenofucks?
This is what I do know.
- I am tired of compromising on everything. (something I did to myself like many other moms)
- I am tired of being tired. (what is that all about anyway?)
- I am tired of expecting someone else to do for me what I can do for myself. (Light that fire!)
- I am tired of saying yes when I really mean no. (Stop that shit!)
- More than half my life is already gone!
- I want to create a good life
So I have some goals to set and a focus.
So get to know yourself better.
Start a journal. Journaling can be a way to get it all out.
How you’re feeling and help you process all the changes happening.
Recall not just nighttime dreams but remember those life dreams and goals you may have set aside.
Use a blank journal or buy one with prompts to help get you started if it’s your first time.
Learning to sit with yourself. To focus on just breathing. To close out all the outside (and inside) noise.
For beginners, it can seem awkward at first but there are great apps that walk you through it if you haven’t done it before.
All of them have free versions. The paid version of Headspace has quite a few theme pack sessions focused on different aspects of life challenges, like relationships, sleep issues, and anxiety.
Part of taking care of yourself is good food.
I don’t always mean healthy. I know, I know. But hear me out.
Right now the most important thing is consistent meals.
Eat what makes you feel good… within reason.
Don’t overeat until you feel sick and don’t skip meals until you feel sick.
You can balance it out later just keep it real for now.
And for heaven’s sake, drink water, water, water. It helps sleep, mood, headaches, and more.
Use this worksheet to get started today!
2. Find a Therapist
Having someone to talk to that you don’t know can do wonders.
Their job isn’t to judge, just listen and guide.
Don’t be afraid to try a few different therapists to find one that aligns with your personality. Whether forward or passive, a man or a woman we all relate to different people.
Does therapy always work and do you have to continue for a long time? No.
Sometimes just going a handful of times to talk uninterrupted and dump it all is good enough.
In fact, if you’re thinking about marriage counseling? You may want to think again…did you know 75% of couples who attend marriage counseling get divorced within a year?!
Contrary to popular belief, they aren’t necessarily experts. Many are separated or divorced themselves. Do some research.
When I mention going to counseling, I’m specifically talking about individual counseling.
Ask around. Who do your friends see? Get a referral from your doctor. Find someone for just you.
Use this worksheet. Just get started.
For me, after going 5 times, I found that for now, I had nothing else to say, I was just going round and round the same conversations.
What I really needed was to just talk out loud to someone who didn’t know me or my family.
She would never see me socially so it didn’t matter what she thought of any of us and her opinion was just another one to add to others to help me shape what I wanted to do.
For other people, they really need someone to talk to for a longer time.
Someone to help them sort feelings, handle the baggage, new and old, and have someone hand-hold them throughout the entire process.
That’s okay too! You have to do what works for you.
For people with depression, anxiety, abuse, self-esteem issues relating to their past, and a variety of other reasons some people will need more intensive therapy or possibly medication.
What anyone else would need or says you need doesn’t matter. It’s about what YOU need.
On that note…don’t let anyone tell you how you should feel. Every situation is unique because the person experiencing it makes it unique regardless of the similarities.
This goes for kids too.
They may not show obvious signs of being bothered by your newly separated status. Gender and age differences show signs in different ways.
Just because all of these appear to stay the same and they don’t say anything doesn’t mean they aren’t affected.
It’s a dramatic change in their life.
While they may have some relief if the level of tension is down because your spouse is out of the house, they still feel a loss.
One of the best things you can do is call your kids’ guidance counselors.
Tell them what’s going on.
Even before you tell the kids.
Other people who are watching for any adverse behavior that stands out can offer that safety net.
Often the school will be where behaviors pop out without you being aware.
Guidance counselors can be on the frontlines as an alert system.
Not to use as therapists but a quick fix if something pops up.
Then if bigger problems begin, therapy could be implemented.
An unrelated incident could trigger the dam to burst
With tweens and teens writing back and forth in a notebook you leave on each other’s pillow can be a great way to connect as well as share thoughts and feelings that may be difficult to voice.
3. Confide in close friends (even 1).
I wouldn’t run and tell everyone, even if your spouse is a real jerk or you’re sure divorce is around the corner.
Putting yourself out there for the gossip mill isn’t going to help anyone no matter how tempting it may be to make him look like the bad guy. Those types of actions only reflect on your character.
You may also have kids watching how you handle yourself. Do you really want to teach your kids revenge, bitterness, or pettiness?
Wouldn’t you rather teach your kids resilience, self-respect, kindness, and forgiveness? Grief or sadness, even anger are okay, they just don’t need to be played out in a negative way.
Being bitter or seeking revenge by humiliating people online or in public only hurts you in the long run.
Not only can it hurt your chances of reconciling but if you do get back together altering others’ opinions of both of you just makes things more difficult for no reason.
Practice a bit of grace and you will actually feel better. This is one of the hardest steps.
However, snarky is very therapeutic and that’s where your friends come in.
One or two close friends. The longer and closer the friendship the better. They also have to be totally trustworthy to keep what you say between you.
Who can you call any day any time? Keep a list handy, use this worksheet.
These are the friends that won’t bat an eye when you say the nastiest of your thoughts, they’ll even one-up it and make you laugh.
Goofing around and being petty with them is a safe haven to let it fly at its finest. The worst and most horrible things you can come up with will not change your friend’s opinion.
These are friends that you can scream and cry with who won’t judge you for hating, wanting revenge, giving up the relationship, or just as importantly reconciling.
If you’ve held back with these friends before to protect the way you or your spouse is viewed, let it go now and watch that friendship go fathoms deeper.
You may even find out you have way more in common than before.
It really is true that you don’t always know what’s going on behind closed doors and you may be quite surprised to find people who are as unhappy as you.
Not that it’s good that so many other people are unhappy, but there is a certain comfort in realizing so many people really are struggling and don’t have all the answers to this adult shit either.
4. Do something small for yourself every week (or every day if you can)
Money has been tight here for years, but I am spending more on myself lately than usual.
Crazy I know. But listen here’s the thing.
Not taking care of myself was one of the many reasons my marriage has broken down. Always feeling like I should be last. Always feeling the panic of scarcity.
So back to making now about me, I’m just going for it. Not going nuts, though if you can…go for it, lol.
Here are some of the things I’ve done for myself and some are free.
- Used a gift card I had for myself to get a massage. Legit had it for nearly a year. Sigh…I know.
- Bought face cream for the dark spots on my face. No wrinkles baby, but the giraffe spots need to go.
- Bought new slippers
- Meditation routine including manifesting what I want
- Go out to lunch every week with my dad. His treat….thanks, Dad!
- Call, text, laugh every day with those girlfriends.
- Candy stash for low moments.
- When work just isn’t working….forced Netflix binge of non-kid-friendly shows.
- Planning a mini-makeover for my bedroom.
- New makeup.
- Declutter closet and kitchen drawers, okay weird but less clutter helps my mind and anxiety
- Read quotes that inspire self-confidence
Get a list going and keep it where you can see it….use this
5. Find A Separation Support Group
This can be in person or online. Facebook has great groups you can join. Like all groups, they all have a different set of dynamics and sometimes, hopefully, rules.
Find one that works for you.
Make a list of potential groups. Use this worksheet
If you are all for your separation, then this probably isn’t for you.
But if you even think that you may want to get back on track, check it out. It’s women only.
Situations range everywhere from under one roof and struggling to divorced papers filed and hoping to reconcile.
Regardless, all the women support each other where they are at, no matter how hopeless it seems, personal opinions aside. Everyone is welcome, appreciated, and respected.
But this is far from the only group out there. Groups based on lifestyle, faith, and other situations may be for you.
If these 5 tips seem like too much. Try one tip at a time or one day at a time.
For me, I jumped in with all of them. And truly, after just a few weeks I really did feel better.
They are not only good distractions, but they also kept me focused on something other than the separation from my husband.
Realize that your feelings will change like New England weather. Fast and often. But that’s normal. I just keep focusing on one day at a time.
I wake up and literally say…okay, what do I need to do today.
And some days I realize that means that I go sit on the couch all day and watch tv.
Not an everyday thing for me usually, but I have allowed myself the grace to feel how I feel each day rather than fight it. It takes time.
And as for love. Find love in you. Maybe for the first time.
If separation is happening to you, which it must be or you wouldn’t be here….🤦♀️ much love to you from me… I see you.😘
Looking for practical tips instead?
That’s how I’m handling it. Now it’s your turn…what have you done or not done that would help someone else? Let me know!