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As the title says. My wife of 14 years (18 years together) left me about 4 weeks ago. She told me she just didn't feel the same way anymore. The first day I did all of the emotional things you'd expect - very needy, emotional, a little begging etc. As we can't afford two places to live, she moved in with her parents (about 10 minute drive away) because I don't have family where we live.

It's been the hardest four weeks of my life. There are occasions when I don't feel like total garbage, but pretty much all day long all I can do is think about her.

 

I took stock of why she might have fallen out of love with me and realised I had turned into a bit of a selfish ahole. I didn't a use her. Nobody had an affair. However, I took her for granted and just became lazy with our relationship. I didn't show her how much she meant to me at all. She also had a lot of other stresses that contributed. I don't think she felt she had much of an identity. Didn't have many hobbies or close friends and work was particularly stressful. I've genuinely been shocked into making some changes. I'm not making them to get her back, but because I don't want to be the person who I had become.

 

We have two children (12 and 15) so have remained in contact for obvious reasons. We also have completely linked money so have had to meet to discuss that too. I find it so so hard.

 

We had a talk about 10 days ago where she confirmed why she left (what I had predicted). We've had a few meetings as a 'family' where we've had dinner and it's been lovely. No stress. Catting and laughing away. But then she goes back and I'm left missing her drastically.

 

She also got a little but tipsy as a party with her family last weekend. I was giving everyone a lift back and after everyone else was gone she told me it wasn't a physical thing for her leaving. She did miss me, but couldn't come back as she can't be hurt again. She did kiss me but I had to stop it as I knew it would make things worse (even though I wanted her more than anything). She felt terrible the next day and apologised saying it would never happen again.

 

I had always thought I'd want to build a strong friendship with her after a while. She was my closest friend as well as my wife. She has said that although she doesn't think we should do activities together by ourselves right now she does think we'll be great friends in the future. I'm turn as I want to keep her in my life, but don't think I can handle not being with her.

 

She is going for a short break tomorrow for 3 nights by herself. She said she needs to clear her mind and find herself. She's never been away by herself so she's nervous but it could also be good for her. I'm going to try and not contact her whilst she's away. She needs the time. I just don't know how I'm going to cope in the future. When she moves on to somebody else, it'll break me. I'm pretty sure she isn't looking for that right now though.

 

How do I give up the hope she'll want to come back? I know there are still feelings there. They may not be the same. They may be buried, but after 18 years there's still something there. I just don't know what to do.

 

Sorry for the stupidly long post.

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I think the best thing for you to do now is to step back and not plan anything. Give her time to be alone and see what she wants to do.

 

Obviously you have to be in touch with her on a regular basis for the things you mentioned. Why not work on yourself over the next year and show her in subtle ways that maybe you've changed and would be a better husband. Manage your expectations and understand that she may not want to come back to you.

 

There's nothing you can do right now. Contacting her while she's away is a VERY bad idea. Give her lots of space and don't make her feel that you're expecting anything of her when you're with her. A show of acceptance of the situation will go a lot further with her than puppy dog begging and whining. Show her that you're mature and worthy of her attention.

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There were signs now that I look back. As I said, I was able to work out the reasons pretty quickly. I just chose to bury those thoughts and not deal with them.

 

She has said she won't come back because she can't be hurt again. I hate myself for ruining this, but she's so strong-willed that she rarely goes back on a decision. It's hardest because I know there are still some feelings there and I just find it impossible to give up hope even when I know I should.

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I think the best thing for you to do now is to step back and not plan anything. Give her time to be alone and see what she wants to do.

 

Obviously you have to be in touch with her on a regular basis for the things you mentioned. Why not work on yourself over the next year and show her in subtle ways that maybe you've changed and would be a better husband. Manage your expectations and understand that she may not want to come back to you.

 

There's nothing you can do right now. Contacting her while she's away is a VERY bad idea. Give her lots of space and don't make her feel that you're expecting anything of her when you're with her. A show of acceptance of the situation will go a lot further with her than puppy dog begging and whining. Show her that you're mature and worthy of her attention.

 

Definitely. I've already decided to not contact her when she's away. I will send her a short message explaining why as we've been messaging every day so it would be odd to not say a thing.

 

We've got a birthday for our daughter coming up in a week though and I know she wants to still do some other things as a family unit. I want that too as it's good for the kids. It's hard though. I don't want to push her away more by not doing the activities together, but it hurts so much after when she leaves again.

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The hope lingers for a long time. 18 years of memories don't just go away. I'm wrestling with wanting to contact someone as well so I get the back and forth between what's best and what's almost overwhelmingly wanted.

 

Positive distractions are helping me. If I start feeling panicked I'll do a few pushups or sit ups. Or read something new. None to excess just something to focus on for a few moments to get past it that are good for me in the long run.

 

Wishing the best for you as it's tough going, but we're trying to do right which is a step ahead of many people.

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There were signs now that I look back. As I said, I was able to work out the reasons pretty quickly. I just chose to bury those thoughts and not deal with them.
But did she bury them too, not speak to you, talk to you about changing and what you both can do to get back on track?

 

She has said she won't come back because she can't be hurt again.
How was she hurt?

 

[qute] I hate myself for ruining this, Well, did she even give you a chance to remedy by having that talk with you or did she just up and leave and then tell you why she was? It makes a big difference in how I would advise.

 

but she's so strong-willed that she rarely goes back on a decision. It's hardest because I know there are still some feelings there and I just find it impossible to give up hope even when I know I should.
Give her space, don't "date" her... she left you after all. Keep convos about the kids and support etc. She has no idea what it will be without you so give her the gift of finding out.
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Hey Nash. I'm sorry you are going through this! I'm right there with you on this one. I could have written your post, word for word. My wife of 5 years moved out a week ago. I've made the same mistakes you did, so don't sweat it! When it comes to your kids, put them first. Don't fight with her about them. When you discuss the kids with her, keep it short and simple. They are your top priority when it comes to her. Don't get emotional. (Easier said than done!) One other thing that works for me---put your cell phone in your work bag/backpack when you get home for the night. Zip it up and don't look at it until the morning. I'm convinced that the cell phone is evil and can make you dumb stuff. (Waiting for her to call, text, etc)

 

Check out my healing journal in the 'Journals' sections. It's long. It covers about a decade. (Wow, crazy typing that). I've pasted an entry from my journal, below. Follow this plan with me and you'll get to a better place. I did this once before and it worked like a charm. It'll work for you, too. I bolded the key parts.

 

////

 

I spend a lot of time with men who are just now discovering the possibility of separation or divorce. Every man wants the same thing. He wants his wife back. He wants her to love him again. He wants to “save the marriage”. He wants a second chance to prove things can be better and he can be different. He would give anything if she would just change her mind and decide to stay with him and not break up the family. Many times he gets his wish. And, oddly, he is conflicted when his wife comes knocking again on their door. He isn’t so sure he wants her back, at least, not the way things were before.

 

Why is that? Because he has made serious changes in himself and his outlook. He has changed what he expects of himself no matter what she decides to do. He has also changed what he expect for himself…and he realizes that he’s not the only one who needs to make some changes.

 

About a Woman's Trust:

 

For the wife who has been sadly and quietly planning her departure for two years, there is almost nothing you can say or do that will impress her or change her mind. She is done with the current version of this marriage and can’t imagine taking the risk of trying again. One woman colleague explained it this way. “The only thing worse than trusting someone and getting hurt is trusting them again and getting hurt a second time. We will avoid that at all costs.”

 

It’s not that she doesn’t want to trust. She can’t trust.

 

Think of it as an incurable physiological reaction. The current version of her, you and the marriage is a horror movie – as stupid as that may sound to you. But to her it’s the only logical, self-preserving move possible. Move away from the “horror”.

 

The only reason a disconnected, untrusting and unhappy wife will want you back is if she sees real, unquestionable and authentic changes in you. They can’t be changes she wants – they must be changes you want.

 

When I see a wife who moves past her fear to attempt a reconnection, it’s because something dramatic has happened. It is something so shockingly unexpected that she becomes interested or, at least, curious again.

 

Here’s a sample of shocking things you can stop. If you actually learn how to stop these and feel great about it…she will notice. She won’t say anything – but she will notice.

 

1. Stop asking questions and demanding explanations

2. Stop initiating long, heavy conversations over and over again

3. Stop interrogating her about everything she says and does

4. Stop trying to impress her and make her pleased with you

5. Stop reacting to everything from a place of resentment and anger

6. Stop texting her about anything emotional or relationship related

7. Stop talking to her friends and family about her

Bonus: Stay the hell off of Facebook!

 

Yes. If you do all 7 of those and find a way in your manly mojo to become comfortable and confident in doing so, you will feel amazing. You must want to do these for you – not her. And you will be noticed.

 

////

 

Here are some shocking things you can start doing. If you actually choose to do these from a place of non-negotiable commitment to yourself and feel great about it…she will be curious. She still probably won’t say anything – but she will be curious.

 

1. Start spending quality time with quality men doing quality things (Team sports, gym, dude time)

2. Start learning about male confidence and insecurity and how to increase one and reduce the other

3. Remain kind, considerate and compassionate toward her at every turn (Love is patient)

4. Be cooperative but not a push-over

5. Calmly lead conversations about how the separation or divorce will go

6. Confidently lead the difficult process of discussing finances

7. Gently guide the uncomfortable conversations about child custody

8. Start the process of imagining your life as a happily divorced guy

 

Yes. This sounds like the process of giving up and letting go. Exactly.

 

The most significant and shocking change a man can make in himself at this point is to give up his need to control and his need to maintain his death grip on her.

 

And you have to mean it. You must reach a place where your desire to save yourself is more than your desire to save the old version of your marriage.

 

You must be more invested in the process of realizing your value as a man than the result of saving your status as a husband.

 

There is nothing more simultaneously intriguing and unsettling to a wife than a husband who has become clearly aware of his own value as a man.

 

////

 

What to do When She Comes Back Knocking on the Door

 

Hey, you’re the one who wanted her back. I can’t tell you what to do next. I’m just saying that I’ve seen it happen way too many times to not warn you it could happen. And if it does happen it will only be because she knows your changes had no expectation of her. You were not playing a game. You were not trying to manipulate an outcome.

 

This is only possible when you decide to make changes to your core way of thinking and way of being as a man.

 

The changes must be for you without an attachment to her reactions.

 

Yep, it’s not easy. But in my humble (but accurate) opinion, this is the very best time of your life to learn this lesson. For most guys, it takes this much pain to motivate them toward change.

 

When you make these changes you will become very clear what you expect of yourself. You will also get clear about your expectations for another go at a relationship with her or anyone else for that matter.

 

And you won’t be afraid to say so.

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But did she bury them too, not speak to you, talk to you about changing and what you both can do to get back on track?

 

How was she hurt?

 

[qute] I hate myself for ruining this,

Well, did she even give you a chance to remedy by having that talk with you or did she just up and leave and then tell you why she was? It makes a big difference in how I would advise.

 

Give her space, don't "date" her... she left you after all. Keep convos about the kids and support etc. She has no idea what it will be without you so give her the gift of finding out.

 

Tbh, she didn't ever really say outright when we were together. I guess lack of proper communication was another issue.

 

She was hurt because she loved me so much (her words) but didn't feel that she was enough for me (those words were when she was tipsy so not 100%). She doesn't want to get neglected again, but now she's made the decision I think she'd see coming back as a failure or wrong decision.

 

I know that 4 weeks isn't a huge amount of time, but it feels like forever.

 

Do you think I should say no to joint family events (regular dinners all together, cinema trips etc) for the time being? Apart from our daughter's party next week if course.

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Hey Nash. One other thing to add; exercise is arguably the best thing you can do during times like these. I love running. I love lifting weights. It makes me feel like a man when I can lift heavy things for multiple repetitions. Running totally clears my mind and destroys any demons in my head. Not only do you get psychological benefits, you get the physical benefits as well. You'll look better in your clothes. Other people, including other women and your wife, will notice. It's intoxicating to feel that good.

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If she's not going to change her mind about coming back then you would do well to start learning how to live without this quasi family dynamic. No?

 

Right now she has her cake and is eating too because she is free of all the vows of marriage but has your financial help, your emotional support and you're there like you're still her husband in all ways except as the lovers you once were.

 

I find it very strange that she never communicated to you the issues she was having with you. That is unfair and it's cruel not to give a loved one a chance to remedy. I also think its pretty weird that she's now going on some holiday by herself three weeks into the separation. Did you see any red flag behavior from her before she left? Was she being distant, secretive, varying from the normal routine/schedules in any way?

 

Anyway, don't be so hard on yourself, how were you to change what she didn't like/appreciate about things in your marriage if she never gave you a chance to remedy. I could see her leaving if she talked to you about things ad nauseum and you didn't change but she didn't.

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My marriage of 15 years ended with a whimper 3 years ago... there is nothing magic I can say except that the feelings do pass eventually. What helped me was staying busy socially even when I didn’t want to... and allowing myself to feel all of the feelings without jumping in to another relationship right away. And yea all the stuff they tell you to do helps too... exercise, eat well, sleep, nurture your spiritual side but mostly it just takes time.

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Hey man, what is concerning is that she is going away by herself for 3 days... in my personal opinion that is a red flag but I dont know you or your wife so give her the time to sort herself out however prepare yourself for negative outcome should that occur....

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Yeah. I can see how the going away might seem like a red flag. I truly believe that it's just by herself (her dad is driving her, it's a single bed place she's staying at etc). Although I'll be prepared for anything.

We spent pretty much every single day for 18 years together. I think she just wants space and she wants this short time to clear her head. I'm hoping that she's able to do that.

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Nash

Welcome to ENA

 

Just so you know the thread you wrote has been written here a great many times, you are not alone in this.

 

So far you have made some classic mistakes we have all made but you quickly turned it around and found this place so good on you. My best advice is to try very hard to accept that she is gone and realize that she has been thinking about this for some time and is way ahead of you emotionally. Time to play catch up. The best way is to separate yourself from her as much as possible. I know your instincts say "stay close so she doesn't forget you" but you need to be less available and a little aloof and mysterious. Think of it this way. If she talks to you all the time and knows everything you are doing she will not be thinking about you BUT if there is mystery there she will wonder to herself what you are up to and the more you are on her mind the better. I agree she needs to miss you, the security, the emotional connection and the support you provided. All she knows right now is the neglect and that negative emotion is covering up all the good you provided so let he miss that. Remember the old saying "You never miss something until it is gone" so be gone.

 

I am not saying play games but she has chosen to leave so make it real. You have plenty on your plate any ways so fill your time with self improvement, being the best single dad you can be and getting yourself healthy mind and body. You are motivated right now so put it to good use.

 

Time to be a man on a mission. Get up early, always be clean shaven and smell nice, get a hair cut, work out, eat better, get the house in order inside and out and spend time with your children doing simple fun activities. Do all this for you and your children and your wife will notice. Don't tell her of your plans, don't tell her anything but answer politely if she asks. It is important that what you do is genuine and humble.

 

What is the custody arrangement at the moment?

 

It is hard right now but keep busy and you will survive and flourish one day soon.

 

Keep posting

Lost

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Thanks for the replies everyone.

 

@lostandhurt

 

I definitely see what you're saying and have already made steps in the right direction. The house work takes up a lot if time anyway (really has opened my eyes as to how lazy I was before she left). I am working out more than usual too - more to take my mind off of things than anything. Also shaving my head more often too (have a shaved head, but usually just let it grow scruffy before sorting it).

 

She's away for her mini mind-clearing break from today. I messaged to say I wouldn't be messaging her as it's best to just move on (slightly better phrased to her). I was actually fine with not messaging for a free days. She thanked me for understanding her need for space and appreciated it. However, she then called this evening to talk about some stuff related to money. I was polite, but tried not to get involved in a big talk. She probably didn't really need to call tbh.

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This isn't an overnight thing so stick to your plan and be open to making adjustments as time goes on.

 

Plan for the worst and hope for the best. You can totally control what you do and work on so stay focused on that and let her figure herself out. Many times the escape plan they hatch isn't all that well thought out and reality hits sooner or later.

 

If you can make lasting changes and she notices there is a chance. Either way you need to step up because you are running that household all by yourself.

 

There is a silver lining to this so keep finding them. I bet you will be closer to your children than you ever imagined in short order and your outlook on what is really important in life will transform very soon.

 

Keep posting and always think twice BEFORE you say or do anything, if in doubt come here and ask if it is a good idea.

 

Lost

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Hope for the best, plan for the worst has become my motto.

 

Just got to say, thank you to everyone for advice and support. Honestly, this place (after reading other threads too) is extremely helpful. People are still willing to say it how it is, but there aren't people going out of their way to make others feel bad like I've seen on other sites.

 

I'll keep posting as it helps me process my thoughts, but also to keep people updated and help others where I can.

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God this is tough. Every time I feel like I'm pushing through, I feel utterly despondent.

She's been on her mini solo break since Tuesday. I haven't messaged her once. She did call on the first night to discuss money for the trip (although we'd already discussed it). As I said before, I was polite and didn't get involved into a big convo. She's been messaging and talking to our daughters whilst away. Seems to be relaxing. She's back tomorrow afternoon. Not sure how to deal with things when she does. Whether to just keep contact to discussing the girls and money or not. I know she'll want to do things as all four of us. I enjoy the times, love them in fact, but if it doesn't lead to us becoming closer then I'm not sure I should put myself in that situation. I don't want her to think I don't want to though.

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What you are feeling is perfectly normal for anyone.

 

Right now you are only thinking about what she wants and so you are trying to morph yourself into something or do the things you think she wants so she will fall in love again. How about you start thinking about what you want.

 

Give that some thought and then talk to her about it. Many times the best thing to do is to mimic her requests or agree with them completely. If she asks for time and space to think then say "I have been thinking, you are absolutely right we do need time apart so we BOTH can figure out what we want to do" "Staying in such frequent contact isn't really conducive to that goal so we should limit our contact to just setting a schedule and sticking to it"

 

This does two things:

-Gives you time to think and see the big picture

-Takes her out of the drivers seat as you are now reconsidering everything

 

Hard for a scab to heal if you pick at it all the time right?

 

Don't be a doormat, don't rush in and save her all the time, don't volunteer for anything, don't be her shoulder to cry on and don't answer any request she makes right away, tell her "let me think about and I will get back to you"

 

Do take good care of yourself, Do spend quality time with your children even if it is just watching a movie or going for a walk, DO get to work on yourself, Do reach out for help (books, therapist, gym) Do reconnect with friends you let slip away during the marriage, Do get back into hobbies or interests you had before you met her.

 

You have a say in all this too so act like it.

 

Keep posting

Lost

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