Don't panic. And don't beg.
There is nothing more anxiety provoking than a relationship ending and your guy walking out on you.
Sometimes it hits suddenly, without any notice. It's understandable to feel shocked, overwhelmed, sad, angry, and desperate to salvage your relationship. But it's hard to know where to start processing the potential of divorce, how to handle yourself, and what to do to help the situation, while most importantly avoiding making anything worse.
This is anxiety at its peak — so here are some crucial tips to keep in mind as you look to handle your anxiety effectively:
1. Avoid the trap of overreaction. You want to make sure your judgment isn't clouded and that you're thinking clearly, and you can't really think if you allow your fears to run away with you. One of the best things you can do right now is resist overreacting. Until you have an actual signed divorce agreement, remember you're still married and have an opportunity to reengage the relationship. Instead of focusing on what you might lose, focus on what you still have. Elevating the positive helps fuel gratitude — allowing you to make healthier choices for yourself, as well as, for the relationship.
2. Become a better wife by using your anxiety as a tool. Don't allow your fear to trick you into thinking it's time to give up — it's not. Recognize the upside of your anxiety — use it to stay strong and consistent. Your partner needs this and so do you.
Take an honest look at the relationship to determine what is wrong and what your role has been. Where have you neglected the relationship? Where have you too often prioritized other things? And, how have you ignored and contributed to the distance that has grown between you? Where you feel the most worry and guilt are likely the problem areas that need your immediate attention.
3. Let yourself grieve, but be careful not to cling. Managing your grief can feel really hard. So hard that you might find yourself looking to lean on your partner for support, or worse begging them to change their minds. But, tread carefully. Such desperation comes across as neediness, pressure, and (worse) selfishness.
Look instead for outside support to help maintain your resilience and coping (family, close friends, or a professional). Not only will this help you make healthier decisions, but it will show your partner glimpses of a better, stronger you — perhaps more like the person they originally fell in love with.
4. Aim for empathy and shared feelings, not pressure. Be ready to hear what your partner is saying and see things through their eyes. This will help show them that you can understand their experience and are willing to do what it takes to build a bridge between you. Your partner needs this empathy, and you need this different perspective.
While keeping in mind their perspective, share with your partner how you're feeling, what you understand about yourself, and what you want. But be careful to do this without pressure, panic, or pleading, as these tactics are off-putting and generally backfire. This is a bit tricky, but it's important.
5. Focus on the relationship, not the outcome. In these coming weeks, show yourself and your partner that you're willing to do your part to improve things and begin making the necessary changes. Resist the impulse to keep asking about the status of the relationship and refocus on making the most of what you have.
Focusing too much on securing commitment anew, can undermine the healing process and risks sending the message that your efforts are strategic rather than sustainable.
6. Don't lose hope, but recognize you can't do this alone. For most people, big decisions like whether to stay in or leave a relationship don't come easily and are fraught with confusion and mixed emotions. Even if your spouse says they've come to a decision to leave, recognize they still could change their mind.
Families, children, and lives built together are not easily severed. But with that said, it takes guts to repair a relationship, and not every partner is willing to do this even if you do everything right.
7. See this as a chance to reclaim yourself. Too often people lose themselves in relationships and this is part of what turns a partner off — whether it precedes or follows a split. Trying too hard to please your mate can stop you from being the unique YOU they fell in love with in the first place.
Whether the relationship ends or not, you need to focus on self-care and grounding back into who you are and what you want for yourself. This helps rebuild confidence which lets you get back to who you are inside and doing the things you love.
No matter how abruptly a relationship ends, it likely suffered a slow death of inattention, neglectful habits, and both of you believing over time that other priorities are more important than the relationship. Saving a dying relationship takes the opposite — consistent attention, new and healthier habits, and a renewed and ongoing appreciation for what you have in your partner that is worth fighting for.
While saving your marriage requires both of you, the only person you can control is you. Use this time and the energy of your feelings to show up and learn as much as possible about yourself, and your relationship habits; that way, you can make different decisions for the future — whether you're in this relationship or not.
This is what it takes to build new habits that can better nurture the fulfilling relationship you and your spouse, so desire. Remember, you can handle whatever happens, even if it's not what you want right now.
Saving a marriage is absolutely possible, but it takes hard work, dedication, and patience on both your parts. If you are looking for more support as you navigate these challenged, check out my website for more tools to help you strengthen your relationships, manage you anxiety, and find more balance.