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Experience with Relationship Break?

LoveSeeker
Community Member

Hi there,

my partner and I will need to have some sort of relationship break because he needs to focus on working through grief and loss from his marriage ending. He ended it but feels a lot of confusing emotions and he needs to work through the grief cycle and the feelings of loss and guilt. Since he needs to do that, he cannot really have me in the picture because I tend to be a distraction to him and he likes to avoid grieving anyway.

We will see each other at work but we have decided not to see each other privately for a while and I travel a lot, so the contact will be limited. We care about each other very much, so this is hard for both of us. But if he does not work through his past, he will not be open to a full and clear future. I just hope that I will still be a part in it when he is done.

I am after some advice on how to cope with the relationship break because I am having a really tough time. We said we could communicate, just not emotionally intimately because he needs a clear head to go through his bit. I am really scared about the outcome of this although I believe the way we are with each other and the strong connection we have are signs that we are on a great path together. I would like to understand how long it may take him to work through his pains and how I deal with mine due to the break. I am struggling to keep up a brave face at work and I am really scared that his challenges and the focus he needs to give them will lead to him forgetting me and hence not wanting to be with me anymore on the other side. I tell myself that people who go to a war zone for a while do not stop loving each other either but since he has not worked through his past, he has never told me that he loves me. Although I feel his actions have often suggested it.

Does anyone have experience with relationship breaks (for good reasons, not following arguments and crises). We miss each other already and we have only just started. I am not sure how much contact would be counterproductive for his healing process. But at the same time, I don't know how little communication would be too little and hence risk the relationship to fall over because we do not talk to each other. Help, please.

9 Replies 9

therising
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi LoveSeeker

My heart goes out to you as love and fear (to some degree) create some conflict within.

It sounds as though the 2 significant things your partner faces in life are 1) positive constructive evolution and 2) reformation (2 sides of the same coin). It appears that you're now facing this yourself: Evolution is a natural part of us, hence the discomfort of waiting. Re-forming yourself into someone other than 'she who waits' definitely offers challenges.

Personally, I see love as being found in positive constructive evolution. Investing in ways which have our self or another evolve, is an expression of love. In your case, you're both investing in a love that incorporates support and a form of personal freedom/distance. During this time, is it possible that whilst you inspire him to evolve in positive ways you inspire yourself to evolve as well? This way, this time becomes about self love, for you. You're not waiting, you're consciously growing (like him). It can become a highly productive time for you, taking some of the focus off the waiting aspect.

The reformation part can be an exciting part of evolution. Whilst he re-identifies himself positively by moving through the process of grief and guilt, you can take the opportunity to re-identify your own self in ways that excite you. I find one of the keys to reformation is found in the use of 'I am':

  • I am someone who waits can become I am someone who adventures through new experiences. Adding ventures to life is all about interacting with life
  • I am someone who misses him can become I am someone who is drawn to discover more about myself. Whether this is done through something as outside the square as yoga or meditation classes for example, it can become about getting to know more about the power of your mind, body and spirit (aka sense of connection to life). This becomes a powerful time in your life, as opposed to powerless
  • I am someone who is having trouble coping with this break can become I am someone who will create a clear management plan for this stage of the relationship. Whether the plan involves connecting once a week over dinner (public place with no temptations) and discussing each other's progress, I believe you are entitled to have a say in how this break plays out. If he wants the relationship to evolve, it takes 2 to make this happen constructively

Reforming our identity through conscious constructive evolutionary ways can lead us to the liberating place of 'I love myself'.

🙂

Thank you so much, TheRising,

I really appreciate you taking the time to respond and I agree wholeheartedly. I want to start focusing on me again, just like I did when I got out of a bad marriage. I was very happy with my evolution then and believe there is never an end to personal evolution and re-definition.

I am wondering a few things though and I would really appreciate if somebody said yay or nay. We are both very loving with each other - kind, warm, cuddly, caring. The main reason why were are taking the break is because he cannot commit fully to me while he has not dealt with his past (and in the process, found himself). Do you think that there is a chance that we will find back to each other once we have progressed on our own? We are telling each other that we will, so is that a real chance? Can people come back together to each other after they have worked through what they needed to work through?

I wish I could speak to someone about the connection I / we feel with each other and whether that means anything special. We had known each other for three years without any specific attraction other than that we liked to work with each other. Then, one day, we spent a bit more time together and subsequently, by the end of the day, something had clicked like a switch had been flicked. It was the same for both of us and from then on, we were drawn to each other like there was an invisible band between us. Does that mean anything at all?

Hi LoveSeeker

For sure, things can actually work out well. That's always a possibility, especially if the bond is so strong. Actually, the relationship may end up being stronger than ever before and you could both find yourselves even more attracted to each other than you already are.

If you think about what makes someone attractive, without necessarily factoring in typical appearance based things, wisdom, a greater sense of joy and maturity, the excitement of self-discovery and open-mindedness are just some of the many aspects. These are things you are both setting out to achieve, individually. In coming back together, you may find yourselves to be a united powerhouse of positive energy and mutual inspiration.

That invisible band remains, as long as both stay positively connected through your growth.

Take care of yourself

Hello,

me again. I am confused. My partner and I are about to have at least five weeks apart which will be good considering he needs time and space to deal with his past marriage. But he keeps contacting me, writing beautiful emails, sending me messages and calling. I love it because it is all very sweet but I am now fearful that he just distracts himself from all the unpleasant feelings he is so afraid of. At the moment, he is scared of the darkness and silence in his house. So I am worried that he writes emails to me because he does not want to cope with the feelings of being alone. I do not want to be a distraction although I know he truly cares about me. But I fear that if I continue communicating so much with him, we will still be in the same unresolved situation in three or six months. I am also starting to doubt whether his communication is because of his feelings for me, or his avoidance of unpleasant feelings. That does not make me feel very good because ideally, I would like to know that someone cares 100% about me.

What should I do? We get along wonderfully and I know he would never want to hurt me. But I wonder sometimes whether he actually realises what he is doing. Should I tell him that I think it is best to minimise contact for the next few weeks so he can focus on himself?

Hi LoveSeeker,

I hope you don’t mind me jumping in 🙂 I read through your posts and completely understand that you are torn on what to do. It sounds like you’ve got a lot of thoughts going through your head about what the best option is. I can imagine how overwhelming that must be.

On one hand, you want to love and support him through dealing with the grief from his past marriage and on the other hand you want to give him his space so he can do this properly without any distraction. I can see how that would feel so conflicting for you. Do you feel it has to be either all one way or the other, or would there be some kind of middle ground you could think about?

You mentioned that you worry about having contact because it may mean that he does not want to cope with the feelings of being alone. I think it’s normal for people not to want to feel alone during emotionally difficult times. It might be helpful to reframe the thoughts you have around having contact with him - you may see yourself as distracting him from dealing with these past issues, but he may see you as a support during the time he is taking to deal with them – I can’t speak on behalf of either of you, but this may be worthwhile discussing with him to get some clarity.

From your previous posts it sounds like you both have an amazing connection which I’m sure a lot of people strive for in their lives. You’ve obviously been a great support for him thus far, and it sounds like he plays an extremely important role in your life as well. Personally, I know having loved ones around me through difficult times only gives me strength.

You asked whether you should tell him that it’s best to minimise contact over the next few weeks so that he can focus on himself… Rather than telling him, could it be useful to have a discussion around what his needs are and what your needs are over the next few weeks (or even the next few days)? Both of your feelings and needs are equally valid and important.

I'm glad you decided to check back in and I hope this helps to a certain extent - ultimately I think these decision can only be made through open and honest communication.

Hello Everyone,

thank you so much for your support so far, I hope you are well and content.

My partner and I have begun to be on our break. We communicate sporadically which is beautiful but we do not see each other because we are both travelling for work at the moment. It has been good because he is finally facing the painful feelings and thoughts more. But he is beating himself up a lot over little things. For example, not wanting to have his cold shower in the morning and not having the energy to turn the tap to cold water. He is very self-critical and believes he is weak and should be able to live his normal routine. I believe he is mildly depressed at the moment, sometimes he has difficulties getting up etc. He speaks to his psych about this and the psych mentioned that he doesn't think my partner has healed yet.

My question is, how does the healing come about? Is it purely living through it more? Will it be a very long process to get better and be kind to himself? He also still needs to deal with a lot of negative feelings about his wife and the past that was unpleasant. I guess, I am interested in whether he is on the right track or whether there is something that could help him work through this more constructively. I am sad that he is so self-critical and I told him that I wished he could see himself through my eyes because I think he is absolutely wonderful and amazing. But that does not help much, I guess, so I wonder what else might help.

He spent the last weekend away and it was good. He has started journalling and finds it cathartic, which is great. He is going to visit a friend in another state for the whole of next week, so hopefully he can have a happier time. Are all these things helping or will they distract him from the actual issue, I mean will the time away with his friend stop him from working through his pain? I do not want him to come back and face a total wall of sadness again. I would love to know that he can gain some much needed energy to be in a better headspace when he comes back to face his life and past here. Is there anything I can do? And how long might this last? I am not in a rush, I would just love to know how long it has taken others on average to get through their grief. It took me three months while I was still with my husband, but it seems a bit more severe for my partner. Will there be any improvement at all along the way? And if so, when does that kick in?

Hi LoveSeeker

I believe wholeheartedly that we can't evolve without facing disappointment here and there. Whilst many of us are taught that disappointment is generally a negative experience, it can actually be a constructive liberating process if undertaken consciously. Working through disappointment generally frees us to become someone else. I'll give you an example:

  • I appoint myself the role of 'wife' and all that I believe this role entails. I also appoint my partner to the role of 'husband' and all I believe that entails. These roles are jam packed with personal beliefs. If my husband was to do something that deeply challenged my belief about what a 'husband' should be, I can face disappointment in 2 ways: I can dis-appoint him from the role of 'husband' (aka divorce) or I can dis-appoint myself from committing to certain personal beliefs that won't allow me to move beyond the issue. Either way, my life changes.

Whether we've been dis-appointed from a relationship (through separation or divorce), dis-appointed from a job (through being let go) or dis-appointed from appearing youthful (through the natural aging process), most forms of disappointment will ask that we alter our belief systems about our self and our expectations. Disappointment will typically ask us to re-identify our self and that which surrounds us. If we refuse to re-identify then I believe we can be left stuck in the role of 'he/she who holds on to the outdated'. We're left holding onto who we could have been or should have been or how life could have been or should have been.

Forgiving can allow us to move forward, through the act of giving our self release from outdated beliefs and the energies that keep us connected to them. Appointing new roles in life means living our way into a new self.

By the way, I imagine the visit to see his friend may help with moving forward. Just be careful that returning home doesn't see him re-turn to that sense of self or identity that relates to suffering. Turning toward the person he wants to be should be a key focus.

Take care

SammiSam
Community Member

Hi LoveSeeker,

Sometimes people need space and time to heal. They're not pushing the people who love them away but building strength to love them as best they can. Stay strong.

Thank you so much, SammiSam and TheRising,

I am really grateful. I just spoke to my partner as he is about to go on a week's trip to visit his friend in another state. I think that is really good because he is fairly depressed at the moment and I believe his good friend will give him some energy back. His psychologist thinks so, too. Do you believe that a change of scenery and some happy times can help him? And will that be lasting or will he go back into deeper depression when he returns to his dreaded place that reminds him of everything?

Also, I told him that I will not be in touch with him because I want him to have all the time he wants and needs while he is away. I will be away when he returns, so I told him he does not need to get in touch and that I give him the reigns so he can choose whether he would like to be in touch or not. He agrees that it may be good because otherwise he distracts himself with happy thoughts about me. It was all very lovely and warm, and we said goodbye following up with lots of sweet messages. My question now is, is that the right way? I really do not want to get in the way while he is going through the worst. He says, he is having a pretty bad time right now and he needs to get through it. I want to make sure he is not affected by me, so he can do what is right for him.

Do you think this is a good way forward? He says the feelings for me are definitely there and he would always be honest if something changed. We are so loving with each other. Do you think that his grief may lead to him losing his feelings for me? He tells me I am wonderful, that he feels warm and happy whenever he hears my voice or reads from me and sends lots of kissing emojis. Do you think that could simply disappear while he goes through his emotional pain? I guess, I am just getting a little scared sometimes that he might suddenly tell me his feelings are gone. Is that likely considering that everything looks as if he loves me as much as I love him?

I believe in us and that we have an extraordinary connection but I am scared of what this grief will do with him. So I am not sure whether I am just too anxious and what we are doing is the right steps or whether I am missing something I should be observant of. Am I doing the right thing by telling him that I will not be in touch for a few weeks but that he can be if he likes? Am I giving him space properly?

How can I move past my constant fear of losing him and look after myself in the process.