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Closure through meeting with ex?

Guest_598
Community Member

Hi there,

my partner, who separated from his wife ten months ago, is still carrying around a lot of anger and resentment for his wife. To move past this and progress through the grief, he has decided that he needs to meet and talk with her. She lives in a different state but is going to come to meet with him for two days this weekend. He has been very open and honest about it with me. He said, he is uncomfortable and worried because he is concerned that he will get angry and flip out (which would not help working through the anger effectively) and he wants to set boundaries.

I think it sounds good and healthy, although there is a bit of fear that he may become nostalgic or she may try to remind them of all the great things only. He said that the last time he met her, he did not feel any longing and did not feel attracted to her either. I hope it stays that way, we are very good with each other. We constantly laugh and I know he cares about me. So I am hoping that he will progress as he is planning but I am worried about whether two days is a bit long. Usually, you would meet up with someone, chat and part ways. But she will be there for two ways, what if it turns badly? Wouldn't that be counterproductive? Or what if she gives him a feeling of normality because she visits him in their marital home.

I am scared that he may get more confused or that he may become too nostalgic and give in to a ghost of a relationship that does not really exist anymore. Do you have any experience of spending that long together to find closure or at least the ability to move on and clear the air? I don't know what to expect after those two days. We will meet and talk but I am scared about the outcome. The signs look like he doesn't see going back as an option but I also don't want him to get stuck even more than he already says he is.

12 Replies 12

smallwolf
Community Champion
Community Champion
Hi,

(Think we have spoken before?)

One way of looking at this is to consider the effect of not getting closure? You have remarked about your partner's honesty and how open he is, so perhaps that is what you have to rely on. And when he comes back you can talk that part through. From your post it there is only love between you and him, and anger with the ex because of whatever happened. Have you spoken about your fears with him? While we never know what happens in the future, and living with uncertainty sucks, all we can then is to live in the present.

There are threads on grounding and mindfulness on the forums here you might want to look at to help you stay in touch with the present and deal with the worrying thoughts.

And for what it is worth - your thoughts are normal.

I could talk about a book I had read on moving forward but it would take another post. Except that for this group of people, forgiveness and closure allowed them to move forward.

Tim

Alana_H
Community Member

Hi AussieGal81,

I definitely agree with smallwolf, what you are feeling is really normal. I can't imagine anyone being able to go through that situation without having some worry, it sounds like it's going to be a really rough weekend. You sound like you have a strong and open relationship with your partner, but having him see his ex who he has so much history sounds very stressful, especially since you also seem to be worrying about his wellbeing as well.

I suppose the only thing I would offer would be to try and not worry about it too much until after the weekend (easier said than done I know!). Sometimes we use so much energy worrying about what might happen that we don't have any left to deal with anything after. It sounds like you have a very open relationship with your partner and you might just have to trust that for now (again easier said). Try and be kind to yourself while he is away, meet up with friends or go somewhere nice (or have a bit of Netflix/chocolate weekend). Also like smallwolf suggested mindfulness can be a good way of stopping the mind ruminating about the future, there is apps like Smiling Minds that are really helpful.

Feel free to keep posting on here about it, sometimes getting our thoughts out can be helpful in itself.

Alana_H

Thank you both so much, I really appreciate your help. I am seeing a psychologist so I am just hanging on for Friday afternoon. It is helpful because it can put things in perspective but unfortunately the effect fades a little after a few days of not seeing someone who provides advice. I am sure it will help on Friday but my fear will be big come Sunday and Monday.

The

biggest challenge for me at the moment is that I am trying to make sense of everything and I am trying to predict an p outcome I simply cannot predict. I constantly think of how we interact with each other and whether that will be enough to fend off any risks from her during those two days.

My partner and I interact happily every day. We laugh a lot, try to touch each other while we work with each other, we kiss very passionately and he clearly feels attracted to me. I assume he would not be so warm and intimate with me if he had doubts about his separation but sometimes my fears get the better of me and I start worrying. On the one hand, there is me / us and so far, we have only had wonderful, happy and very emotionally intimate times. He describes her as a source of anger, resentment and he mentioned that he wants to set boundaries with her. He even said he wants to ask his therapist for advice on how to handle the meeting with her on the weekend. So it all sounds good to ke and that he is really trying to move on. But at the end of the day, I dont know how it will go. I would think that even if the days go well and he can find a path towards forgiveness, that would not mean reconciliation because that would be a fr longer process. I honestly believe his marriage is dead judging by all the things he told me including her addiction, lack of care for him, financial issues etc. A lot of big ticket items that built resentment over several years. But there is this never ending fear that he may let guilt or obligation overrule his feelings. I am not sure how likely that is, however. Especially considering his anger and resentment build-up and his work with the therapist regarding boundaries in his life. It sounds to me he is working on a way forward, not backwards. Is it likely that he would turn around and recommit to her after working through his anger? I don't think so but what if I am wrong? We have such great potential and are amazingly aligned in our values and interests. A lot better than they were, even he said that in the past. But he is struggling with his emotions at the moment.

Hi AussieGal81. Just to put a different perspective. I parted from my husband just over 12 months ago. At first we were antagonistic toward each other. Past anger and resentment etc, meant we couldn't even be in the same room without feeling extremely hostile. Fast forward to now. The feeling now is mutual respect, admiration. We both realize my leaving was the only way to resolve the intense anger and constant tension. We do often reminisce but because of history, that's inevitable. However, no way could we ever contemplate a reconciliation because quite simply, we've both moved on. There is no-one else in the picture, but neither of us are interested in getting involved with anyone, we're contented with our lives, as is. In your partners case, he could well reminisce, but it doesn't mean he will reconcile, reminiscing is just that, memories of happier times, but it doesn't mean they want to live together again. If I reconciled with mine, (believe me, I thought about it in the early days of parting). We wouldn't last without past hurts interfering and causing the same issues that parted us. I understand your concerns but if he was considering reconciliation, he would soon start remembering what parted them and this would cause everything to build up and re-start the arguments that caused them to part. I still care for my ex, the same as he does me, but caring isn't love. He possibly feels some sort of love for her, but I doubt he is 'in love' with her or she with him. In many ways, it's better they are civil rather than carry intense dislike as that could interfere with future relationships. My ex and I had that intense dislike to the point if I saw him, I wanted to lash out. Now we're great mates and I cherish his friendship, but NO WAY do I ever want to live with him. If he met someone else, yes, I would initially be hurt, but I care enough to want his happiness. If someone else can give him the happiness I couldn't, sobeit.

Hello Paddyanne,

Thank you so much for sharing your story, that helps me so much! I truly hope that this describes what would happen with my partner. I really hope he will realise that there has been too much water under the bridge. He told me the other day that he feels stuck in tje presence because he cannot move forward and he cannot go back. So I very much hope that his experience is similar to yours. He has realised for some time now that his anger and resentment are holding him back. So it may be like you say, he needs to release this but will still want to move forward with his life.

Maybe he also just needs to make surw that there really is no more being in love. Just like he said that he did not feel attraction or longing for her when he saw her a few weeks back after 8 months. I guess I will find out. I'm still scared of what he will tell me after the weekend, because I am sure it will be tough for him and it may be painful to hear. But your description gives me hope that this will be his path, too. And I will need to trust in what we have and that he can see the great potential for us, even through his current emotional chaos and confusion. Thank you. 🙂

Sorry Guys,

can I add another question? I spoke to my partner today and he told me that he is still drinking every night. Not too much, just two beers but every night. He is aware and has been worried about it but his psychologist told him that it is ok in the moment as long as it does not become a long-term thing. I have been worried about that for a while but thought I do not want to pressure him. Today he told me that a few weekends ago, he drank quite a lot, from the early evening to midnight. He felt terrible the next day but he said he had a particularly bad day and so he did it. He says that he tries not to do it but then he comes home into his house which makes him feel terrible because it was the marital home and so he just wants a buzz that relaxes him.

I know that people often use alcohol as an escape during the depression phase of grief but even if that is fairly common, it is not necessarily good. Are you aware of any good ways to bring it up and try to support him to change this behaviour? He is seeing a psychologist every week and I have no doubt he has discussed this regularly but I wonder how else I could support him. Not so much in the sense of bluntly telling him he should rather lay off but by boosting his mood in other ways so he no longer feels the need so much. He is not an alcoholic by any means but he is self-medicating with unhealthy methods.

We do not see each other other than at work at the moment because of the time and space he needs, so I cannot really distract him with nice things. But I wonder whether there is anything I can do to help him out of the darkness. Or will I simply have to leave this to him because it is his journey? I am also aware that too much care from me may make him feel worse. At the moment, I am not doing much but I believe even when I send him a little supportive message, he feels like a burden. I do not want to be a mother to him, I am just trying to be supportive. He says he appreciates my ongoing support but he is strangely "friendly" when he writes back to me. I mean, more like he would talk to a friend than the woman he just passionately kissed when saying goodbye for the day. It is very confusing and I wonder whether I can do anything without making him feel as if he is a loser. I believe he has massive issues with self-love and self-appreciation. He does not even accept my heartfelt words about how amazing he is, he says "you're just saying that to be kind". I am not, I love him dearly.

Hi AussieGal

It sounds like this week is really rough for the both of you, I think you are being very supportive. It's great that you care about him so deeply and that you have so many positives in your relationship. It's hard to care about someone so much but not being able to stop there pain, it must be really hurting you too.

I know its hard, but you really need to look after yourself too, this is so rough for the both of you, but if he is needing some space, the best thing you can do is try and make sure you're alright too. I'm glad you are seeing your psych tomorrow. Do you have any plans for the weekend? Maybe you could try and catch up with someone?

When it comes to his drinking your right, it's not great to self-medicate, but you're also right in not approaching the subject this week, a time that is really stressful for you both. It's good that he is seeing a psychologist and remember that he has that support to, it's not all up to you.

Let me know how it goes and be kind to yourself.

Alana_H

Hello,
On Tuesday, we got together after his wife visited him for the weekend to talk through everything. It was a terrible weekend for him with a lot of anger towards her and a lot of sadness about his stepson that does not want to talk to him. He told his wife that he has no love for her and no physical attraction. But he realised that the weekend did nothing and he continues to be stuck with his very depressed feelings. It is getting worse and worse and he is hitting rock bottom. So he has spoken to his psych and arranged for his wife and him to sit down together with another psychologist to talk through the past. He told me that although he has no feelings for her right now, he has no idea what those psych sessions may do. He told her he is not doing it to get back together but he also told me that he does not know what will happen because he is completely confused about why he cannot move forward. So in a nutshell, he said he cannot promise me anything and he cannot build anymore expectation, especially because I am suffering a lot. He says he does not know whether after those meetings with her and the psych, he will be ready to leave her and the past behind, whether something may rekindle his feelings (which I find very unlikely considering how he speaks and he even said he feels hate for her right now), or whether he may end up entirely alone. I am heartbroken after everything we have had. We only had wonderful times and we both cried a lot last night. He simply cannot commit or build up that last level of love because something undetermined is holding him back. We said goodbye and I do not know how to deal with this. I am going on a holiday today but will be seeing him at work every day again in 3 weeks. I am looking for a new job but I simply cannot understand what is happening. Is this really the end or is there a chance for us once he has worked through everything? At least if he doesn't decide to go back to his wife. It is likely that he has so many bad feelings bottled up from the last four bad years of marriage with alcohol, lack of intimacy, verbal abuse etc. that he is now covered by this suffocating mountain. Is there a chance he will be back? And how do I let go so I do not keep up false hope? I need to live my life without thinking he will be back.

smallwolf
Community Champion
Community Champion
Hi,

Sounds like a really confusing situation.

Do you wait it out? Or can you still be friends on some level? Or would they get over whatever happened?

Here is one possiblity - after a session with his psychologist what sort of support network does he have? Can you be there in that role? Do you want to be?

Perhaps write a list of pros and cons for each alternative to help you decide what to do?

I cannot imagine how heartbreaking it would be for your relationship to be put on hold.

Have you spoken with your family or friends about this development? If that doesn't work, you could chat with a counselor?

Sorry about all the questions.

Tim