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Reconciling After Separation Advice


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My wife and I are reconciling after 9 months of separation. We've been back together 2 months and she has moved back into our house. She dated during our separation and I dated as well. I asked for a divorce and the next day she was talking with an ex-boyfriend and driving 6 hours to see him that weekend, she says nothing sexual happened that weekend but something did happen eventually about a month or so later. After he was out of the picture, she dated or talked to 5 other people. During this time, I got back with my first wife on and off during this period and had 2 other one night stands. 

 

I wanted to work things out the whole time we were separated but she did not. Eventually, I convinced her to try and we got back together quickly. She seems like she is now 100% committed but she I felt she was previously until she wasn't and I know that that is my fault as well so not trying to say she is to blame for everything. I am having a hard time accepting that she was with these other people. I know that that may not even be fair but I feel like she choose to pursue other people instead of working out our marriage and now that we are trying its an issue for me to get over as there seems to always be something popping up that about this time period and people. One of the things is that she bought a canvas picture for one of these people that he has displayed in his living room of him and his brothers. Because it was such a personal gift, I find it hard to think about this item sitting in his living room over his fireplace for the rest of his life as a gift from my wife that he slept with. I know this is irrational, but to be honest it bothers me. Alot of other things bother me too about this time period, and I guess I'm looking for what I can do to get past it. We are going to marriage therapy and are seeking individual therapy as well.

 

Thanks!

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There are two big things from your post that stick out to me: that you feel uncomfortable and that you and your wife seeking therapy.

Therapy can be extremely helpful and can give couples the skills to solve many problems, but only if both people are putting the same amount of energy into it. One thing that therapy cannot fix is you feeling uncomfortable and bothered by your wife's behavior during the separation. No matter what happened in the past, if you're looking to start a relationship again, both of you need to be on the same page. 

If your wife has really recommitted and is willing to work on your relationship inside and outside of therapy, then the next step is making sure that you are really recommitted and willing to work on the relationship. If she is not, trust your "irrational" feelings. I don't mean to assume about her, but if your wife dated many other people once, she would probably do it again if she hasn't fully changed. This is a crude oversimplification, but if someone gets bored once, they will get bored again.

I hope things work out for you and that this was somewhat helpful. Above all, put yourself and your happiness first.

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@kit2kat Thank you, yes I think I am uncomfortable. She lied about a great deal of things during the separation when we first got together and I think that pushed me away because I asked her to just be honest with me about things so we could work through them. I don't know if I can trust her, if her feelings are genuine, or if they will change as they did before. She says she is not leaving again, ever, no matter what, its just hard for me to accept that. 

 

I don't want it to seem like she just got bored and left. I did give her cause to leave and there is plenty of things I did wrong and needed to correct, and I think I have done that now. I don't think I even blame her necessarily for leaving but I do think I resent that she had to run off to other people and was not willing to work on our marriage. When she left, she was done, fully and completely, and was giving no possibility of anything working out. 

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@twistedfate I would trust that feeling of being uncomfortable. It seems to me that she's given you reason to not trust her, and if you don't, then that's not a great place to start a relationship from.

You said that it's hard for you to accept that she's not leaving again -- really think about if she's even given reason for you to accept that. Has she shown her commitment? Has anything changed from when she was dating other people? These are questions you need to answer in therapy. If you don't like the answers, trust those feelings. It's admirable that you are trying to correct your behavior in the marriage, but it's so important now to see if she is doing that too. You don't resent her for leaving, but the dating other people shows that she was not willing to work on the relationship while you were. Unless she shows otherwise, you're on different pages and the relationship probably won't work out. Think about whether she is regretful. Does she express that guilt in order to apologize or in order to get sympathy? When you bring up her past behavior, does she get defensive and angry or apologetic and motivated to change? Has she shown her appreciation for your commitment and how you've changed your behavior?

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I hope people read this and learn why it's risky to date separated -married people. 

With that said, I think you have to honor your feelings. Feel them, express them and when you are able to, forgive yourself and your wife for this period of time. 

It's unfair to punish her. you were separated. you don't get to judge her. Just as she should not judge you.  it is a painful period of life and whatever was done, well it was done. it's not a contest.

You have a decision to make.

Accept and go forward together,  in a loving and compassionate way. 

Or

decide you can't and divorce.

look inside yourself. what are your needs to let this go? Turning back time or getting a picture back are not possible solutions. 

In some sense, if you are looking for the impossible, you want to hold on to the anger and reasons why you can't forgive.

Do you like the power of being the victim here? 

Why is it hard to forgive? Pride? Shame? Embarrassment? Ego? Fear?

What is it and what makes you feel that way?

 

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@kit2kat She does seem genuine in her apologies. She has said that she was sorry and that she shouldn't have left. She said that she felt guilty about things that she had done and didn't think we had a chance of working it out (that I would ever forgive her because she doesn't know if she could forgive me for doing the same things). She has appeared to be committed. We have both changed our phone numbers and are getting rid of old email accounts and social media accounts. She does cry and does seem remorseful. We have fought almost daily for the last couple of weeks on these things and I have thrown things out there from a place of hurt that I think I shouldn't have. We honestly fought about twice a year when we were together previously. She says she wants to put the past behind us and focus on us. I'm finding it difficult and am not sure exactly how to move forward.

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@Lambert

10 minutes ago, Lambert said:

It's unfair to punish her. you were separated. you don't get to judge her. Just as she should not judge you.  it is a painful period of life and whatever was done, well it was done. it's not a contest.

I know this in my head, and its not about who was more right or more wrong. I guess I just feel like I always wanted to work things out and wanted her but she did not feel the same way. What does this mean about her feelings now? Are they real or just what she had decided in the moment? Will they last?

12 minutes ago, Lambert said:

look inside yourself. what are your needs to let this go? Turning back time or getting a picture back are not possible solutions. 

I know turning back time isn't an option and its unreasonable for her to ask to get the canvas back (its a large piece displayed over his fireplace) but damn if i wouldn't feel better if it wasnt there.

13 minutes ago, Lambert said:

In some sense, if you are looking for the impossible, you want to hold on to the anger and reasons why you can't forgive.

I honestly loved and missed her so much that I thought it would be easy to forgive her and to move on but I seem to be having a difficult time with it and I'm not even sure why. I want to forgive her, I want us to move on. Maybe, I'm scared she will leave again or she doesnt mean what she says. I often felt like she wants someone to love and want her but I could be replaced with anyone that would do that for her. She says I'm trying to push her away and maybe I am. That i am trying to hurt her for hurting me, which is why i bring these things up. Maybe thats true but I don't really want to hurt her, I just want her to have tried to work things out without running to other people and I'm deeply hurt by that and I'm unsure how to get over it.

17 minutes ago, Lambert said:

Do you like the power of being the victim here? 

No, I don't. I think there were many things I did that contributed to the separation and so I don't think I am the victim per se.

22 minutes ago, Lambert said:

Why is it hard to forgive? Pride? Shame? Embarrassment? Ego? Fear?

I think all of these maybe. Its hard for me to feel proud of our marriage after this time and I am fearful that she would leave again

23 minutes ago, Lambert said:

What is it and what makes you feel that way?

I'm trying to figure this out and trying to remove the barrier that is preventing me from moving forward. At the end of the day, I love this woman and she is not giving me any reason currently to believe that she is not committed other than lying about some things during the separation. I do want to work through things but I guess I find it difficult to know that she was with this other people sexually and imagining that is hard for me and that she told several of these people that she loved them.

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What did you do that she left you in the first place meaning to make that permanent?

Focusing on what the two of you did while separated is deflecting from the real issues that drove your marriage to the point of separation in the first place. 

So if you really want to make this work, you need stop the game of the pot calling the kettle black and focus on the real issues that drove the two of you to such a breaking point in the first place. Either you can focus on those issues and work them out with the help of counseling or you cannot and really should separate for good.

What I don't advise is deflecting and playing power games by holding what she did and with who while you were separated as some kind of a tool to beat her with when your own hands are unclean. All it will do is speed up the demise of your marriage which is already crumbling to pieces.

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9 minutes ago, DancingFool said:

Either you can focus on those issues and work them out with the help of counseling or you cannot and really should separate for good.

I think we have and are trying to work on things that broke us apart, its just the fact that I am having a hard time letting go of this separation period. 

11 minutes ago, DancingFool said:

What I don't advise is deflecting and playing power games by holding what she did and with who while you were separated as some kind of a tool to beat her with when your own hands are unclean. All it will do is speed up the demise of your marriage which is already crumbling to pieces.

Agreed, which is why I am seeking advice on what I can do to move forward. Its difficult for me and I feel very hurt from this time period and I do think I have used it to ill effect and I need to try to move forward but how do I do that? I can decide to then something from the past crops up and I am right back in the same spot.

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1 minute ago, Twisted Fate said:

I played video games that took too much of my time away from her and our family. She said she didnt feel wanted. I don't play video games any more. 

Good but I hope that you understand that you have a long hill to climb to reconnect with your wife and that's on YOU. Yet you seem to be resentful that you need to do that at all. Quitting gaming is not enough when things reached a point where your marriage is in shambles and your wife actually took the drastic step of leaving you. 

I mean your relationship had died to the point where she threw in the towel and left you. I don't think you are fully grasping the damage that your behavior caused to your marriage or the extent and seriousness of that. Even now that you are kind of seeking to fix it, you are deflecting a lot. Things that perhaps can be unpacked better in some counseling sessions.

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5 minutes ago, DancingFool said:

Good but I hope that you understand that you have a long hill to climb to reconnect with your wife and that's on YOU. Yet you seem to be resentful that you need to do that at all.

I do realize that I need to work on reconnecting with my wife and I don't feel resentful that I need to do that. I guess I do feel like she had cause to leave and I had tried to reconcile at that time but she had already started talking with her ex the day after we had a fight. I guess I feel like I did do alot and am not blaming her for leaving but for introducing other people and not being willing to fight for us.

8 minutes ago, DancingFool said:

Even now that you are kind of seeking to fix it, you are deflecting a lot

I apologize, I am not trying to deflect. I fully accept my responsibility to the cause of our marriage troubles and I have tried to work on those to the best of my ability and reassure her that those things will not pop up. I guess I am just trying to find a way to get past my resentfulness for this time period as that seems to be the immediate issue.

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1 minute ago, Twisted Fate said:

for introducing other people and not being willing to fight for us.

I apologize, I am not trying to deflect. 

That's the thing - it's not on her to fight for the marriage. She did that long before things got so bad that she gave up and left. That is also what deflection is - I broke the marriage, but why isn't she fighting for "us". It's like you are still not fully grasping that she left you because she was done with your bs for real. It wasn't a game for her. Also, she is choosing to work on the marriage by giving you a second chance. I doubt you'll get a third.

At the end of the day, it's facing up to the consequences of your own making. Unpleasant as that may be. Stop blaming her and take a good look in the mirror. You get over it by accepting full responsibility for the consequences of your actions and choices and doing some serious soul searching on who you are and who you want to be. 

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2 hours ago, Twisted Fate said:

She dated during our separation and I dated as well. I asked for a divorce and the next day she was talking with an ex-boyfriend and driving 6 hours to see him that weekend, she says nothing sexual happened that weekend but something did happen eventually about a month or so later. After he was out of the picture, she dated or talked to 5 other people. During this time, I got back with my first wife on and off during this period and had 2 other one night stands. 

You both acted out during your split, so you can't exactly point fingers.

Is good you are now in couple therapy, so maybe mention this to your personal therapist, to work through how this experience affected you...

Sadly, couples do often end up breaking up again, once they have split up once - and for reasons'.

1) What caused the split up to begin with the first time

2) The effects caused- the hurts involved. ( like you have now, not only reasons for first split, but now more hurt is affecting you due to how you two dealt with the split - going to other partners)

3) Whatever caused you to break up- may not have been dealt with (resolved) - so the cause remains.

In ways, I think it was like some kind of 'need'... something caused her to want to extend past your relationship- curiosity maybe? - As she went back to an ex- as did you -- but as you both came to see... even that experience showed you, those ex's were not much better in the end, were they?

Either way, you two do have a ways to go, in order to work on accepting all that's happened... which is a lot 😕 .... Can you do this?  Possibly, maybe.  But, only IF you two are for real in this... that you continue to work hard on working through everything and are able to accept all that is and can see an actual future.

Whatever caused your BU the first time... was that at all resolved while you two were apart?

 

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What do the therapists say about this resentment? Have you brought this up during marriage counselling or the couples' therapy? Do not hide this under the carpet for fear of blowback because this should be covered. 

If your wife or you are still in communication with the individuals you slept with/dated while separated, discuss this in therapy also. This acknowledges the past, makes way to focus on the present and what you can do to rectify issues and rebuild trust. 

The canvas painting issue is not very relevant based on the big picture and deeper issues between the both of you. How impactful is this man in your lives today? Is he someone that is part of both your social circles? Does your wife continue to see him or visit him or interact with him for work for example? How does the canvas painting affect you on a day-to-day basis aside from anxious thoughts about what the painting is doing in someone house? 

Reconciliation after separation is very hard and both of you have to put in the work and commit (more than ever before) on the marriage. If it's not coming from both of you, it won't run itself and it will fall apart. Talk with your wife. Talk with your therapists together. Your individual wants/desires brought you apart and caused you to separate so don't do that. I think both of you should focus as a team. If you are not ready to do that you are not ready to reconcile with her.

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17 minutes ago, SooSad33 said:

Whatever caused your BU the first time... was that at all resolved while you two were apart?

I feel that I did resolve alot of the issues on my side that caused the separation. Currently, its letting go of the separation period that is causing me issue. I think many of the issues I had with her are still there and tied to her coping skills and how she handles things. Sometimes this does appear better but can still come up. I dont feel like I can bring anything up without it escalating to nuclear proportions. She says she feels like she isnt good enough or that I dont want her and that she wants to die. She has outbursts like trying to grab a gun or physically hit me. I want to be able to talk to her and work on things without it getting out of hand.

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2 minutes ago, Twisted Fate said:

I feel that I did resolve alot of the issues on my side that caused the separation. Currently, its letting go of the separation period that is causing me issue. I think many of the issues I had with her are still there and tied to her coping skills and how she handles things. Sometimes this does appear better but can still come up. I dont feel like I can bring anything up without it escalating to nuclear proportions. She says she feels like she isnt good enough or that I dont want her and that she wants to die. She has outbursts like trying to grab a gun or physically hit me. I want to be able to talk to her and work on things without it getting out of hand.

If this is the case, marriage counselling or reconciling shouldn't even be on the table or options. She has much more severe issues going on and under the surface. 

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3 minutes ago, Rose Mosse said:

What do the therapists say about this resentment? Have you brought this up during marriage counselling or the couples' therapy? Do not hide this under the carpet for fear of blowback because this should be covered.

Yes the last two couples counseling sessions we have talked about it. My wife wants to not talk about the past at all and I want to discuss it and try to move forward because I don't want to have secrets or lies between us. I think this was an issue for me because she kept lying about what happened even after saying she wouldnt lie any more. She says its hard for her to be truthful and it hurts for her even when the details dont really matter. 

5 minutes ago, Rose Mosse said:

If your wife or you are still in communication with the individuals you slept with/dated while separated, discuss this in therapy also. This acknowledges the past, makes way to focus on the present and what you can do to rectify issues and rebuild trust. 

No, we are not in communication with individuals that we slept or dated during the separation. She had 2 facebooks and on one of them she was still friends with some individuals. We created a new shared facebook and have not been using the old accounts, which will be deleted soon but I was trying to get something that was linked to her facebook moved and noticed she was still friends with some of the people she talked to. I brought it to her attention, she apologized and thought she had removed them and then went through and took them off.

8 minutes ago, Rose Mosse said:

The canvas painting issue is not very relevant based on the big picture and deeper issues between the both of you. How impactful is this man in your lives today? Is he someone that is part of both your social circles? Does your wife continue to see him or visit him or interact with him for work for example? How does the canvas painting affect you on a day-to-day basis aside from anxious thoughts about what the painting is doing in someone house? 

I know this is totally irrational. I would be lying to say it didnt bother me though. I asked her yesterday if she would ask him to remove it. She said she didnt want to have any contact with him.

 

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11 minutes ago, Twisted Fate said:

I think many of the issues I had with her are still there and tied to her coping skills and how she handles things. Sometimes this does appear better but can still come up. I dont feel like I can bring anything up without it escalating to nuclear proportions. She says she feels like she isnt good enough or that I dont want her and that she wants to die. She has outbursts like trying to grab a gun or physically hit me. I want to be able to talk to her and work on things without it getting out of hand.

- Okay, is good you feel things have been resolved.. BUT, wth?

None of this with her is any good!

Is far from normal to react like this--- why did you want this back?

She has outbursts... feeling she isn't good enough. - and that she wants to die. . . 

**Grabbing a gun... physically hitting you is a THREAT to self or others- she needs to be dealt with, NOW.**

No, you do NOT accept this behaviour from this woman.  You remove yourself and get her some real professional help.

You can NOT save her.. You can NOT 'fix her'.  She is dangerous 😕

- As for you being able to reach out to here and try to get her to talk?  I feel it's way beyond any kind of help you can give her.  This needs to be addressed by professionals.. not you, her spouse.. ( I suggest you make your doctor aware of all of this going on - has she ever been in a psych ward? - I know of a few who have ended up there - kinda like a 'crisis').

But, YOU should not have to deal with this type behaviour from your partner.. She is struggling and needs help..fast.

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6 minutes ago, SooSad33 said:

Is far from normal to react like this--- why did you want this back?

I love her, life without her was pretty miserable and she's not like this all the time. When we were married it was maybe 2-3 times a year we would have a fight and it would get bad like this. 

 

7 minutes ago, SooSad33 said:

But, YOU should not have to deal with this type behaviour from your partner.. She is struggling and needs help..fast.

She has started on a medication. In fact, she said a few weeks after starting the medication is when she started being able to think about us getting back together. She will be starting her first individual counseling session this week and has talked about checking herself in somewhere. I know this isn't normal. She has issues she needs to address but as her spouse I feel that I need to be there to help her through it not abandon her when she needs me the most. Her coping mechanisms are not very good and her self-talk can be very negative. I think she is co-dependent and has a great need to feel wanted/desired and that gives her purpose to please someone else.  I'm hoping that with counseling she can improve this coping mechanisms. 

 

I guess I know I'm not perfect either, none of us are, and that I care for this woman deeply, its just how she handled the fight that split us/separation and that time period that is causing me issues

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Okay, well then I guess this is what YOU will have to deal with- on whether you can accept what happened.. or not?

But... you two were apart, so really, what she did, she did not do while with you.

Seems you both went back to your ex's.. Do you think your actions affected her?

I feel, if a couple splits, and if they are somehow wanting to 'try' and work it out, eventually, they do not or should not go running back to their ex... you both did this ( but it happens- because it someone you know & have a history with).

Instead, you should be focussing on yourselves and what caused the break up- then try and work on fixing that or yoruselves.

Anyways, what's done is done... but seems some of that has really affected you now . 😕 

Yes, things is... can you accept & get over this...  as I mentioned, do bring this issue up in your one on on therapy.

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7 minutes ago, SooSad33 said:

Yes, things is... can you accept & get over this...  as I mentioned, do bring this issue up in your one on on therapy.

I am trying, its just such a deep wound that its hard for me to get over. I know its effecting our now relationship and its something I need to work on I'm just not sure how. I was so hurt for so long and she definitely did some things on purpose to hurt me. 

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But.. I wonder.. why?

Was it her who ended it?  Was she upset then.. fed up with it all?

Or did you both agree to split? -- what all caused this?

Because it seems like now, it is YOU who's been deeply affected.

Yeah, is possible she did aim to hurt you-- but could this be her character?

I just seem to see this as you both acted out.. was not just her.

(why did you do what you did? - Usually when a couple splits up- the one who ended it moves on faster.. the one who was dumped, is the one who struggles more and is less likely to get involved again, any time soon)...

- could all be like rebounds for you ( short lived & meaningless)- because YOU were hurting.

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1 minute ago, SooSad33 said:

Was it her who ended it?  Was she upset then.. fed up with it all?

I asked for a divorce, but honestly I don't even think I wanted a divorce, I just wanted to be able to talk to her and her listen without it going sideways but it did and I asked. I went too far there. She said she was already checked out and had been for months, so when I asked she went with it. Things lined up for her to move out and she did. I tried to backpeddle and said that I messed up and shouldnt have asked but she was full force on leaving and was not willing to work on things at all. No counseling, no splitting but staying connected or trying to date, nothing, she was done.

4 minutes ago, SooSad33 said:

Yeah, is possible she did aim to hurt you-- but could this be her character?

Yes this is her character. If she gets hurts, she will hurt that person. She said that she did things specifically to hurt me. 

6 minutes ago, SooSad33 said:

Usually when a couple splits up- the one who ended it moves on faster.. the one who was dumped, is the one who struggles more and is less likely to get involved again, any time soon

I knew she was talking with someone and she said she made it seem like they were more than what they were at the time although they did eventually have a relationship. I was pretty quick to try to patch things up. I said some things in anger that I didnt mean and didnt want like asking for a divorce. After I learned that she was talking with someone, I ran back to my ex-wife. I guess I thought she moved on and tossed me to the side so I needed someone to lean on. At the time, she was treating me pretty indifferent and was not open to any type of reconciliation. I guess I thought I shouldnt be staying home alone in self-pity while she was out seeing someone.

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24 minutes ago, Twisted Fate said:

I asked for a divorce, but honestly I don't even think I wanted a divorce, I just wanted to be able to talk to her and her listen without it going sideways but it did and I asked. I went too far there. She said she was already checked out and had been for months, so when I asked she went with it

- Okay, so it seems she was pretty fed up with things.. and you were hurting - you two were really struggling...

 

26 minutes ago, Twisted Fate said:

I said some things in anger that I didnt mean and didnt want like asking for a divorce. After I learned that she was talking with someone, I ran back to my ex-wife. I guess I thought she moved on and tossed me to the side so I needed someone to lean on. At the time, she was treating me pretty indifferent and was not open to any type of reconciliation.

- So, you see now how you both reacted... ran off in different directions & none of this helped.

I am just not sure this trying to work things out will work on the long run - sorry 😞 .

It may be just too much damage...

I know, is especially hard for YOU to work on all that has occured over the past year.. But, obviously this all happened for reasons.

- I do hope YOU will come to realize ALL she has done over time- to where you got so frustrated ( asking for divorce- because it was that bad).

Then for her to go for it... then she left & carried on.. while you were so hurt & overwhelmed.. and on it went, more pains.

May just be too much damage done now .. that you may just have to realize, that your relationship is toxic.

You two may not be able to work through all of this mess..

Sadly, this stuff happens.. so, maybe what you can do in the meanwhile is find ways to 'vent'.  Get a journal going so you can 'release' all that is pent up in your head... make sure you aim at 'self care'... eat well, get your sleep, get out for some air.. hang with a buddy on occasion, etc.

Look up trauma bonding.. See if that is what you feel what may have happened while with her.  This really makes one suffer ( low self esteem etc- even when that partner is no good).

 

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