Absorbing the Initial Shock of Temporary Separation
You need to confront the what-ifs and how-tos before the separation to lessen the worry.
The news is likely unexpected. Even if you saw it coming, it's nonetheless hard to take. Your spouse will be going away for a sizeable period of time, leaving you alone and vulnerable.
Chances are, your brain is a foggy nebulous of what if's and how to's. Long term, it's wise not to dwell on these things. But if you don't address them initially, you might find your worries becoming nagging, constant companions.
Separately, you and your spouse may want to put to paper all the reservations you're having. Brainstorm scenarios you fear, feelings you're experiencing and any other words or phrases that come to mind. Nothing is too silly or absurd to write down.
Not only is this process cleansing, but it serves as a great "talking points" list for the two of you to review together. (If you'd like, write this list in your journal. Review it after the separation is over to see how God met your needs and quelled your fears.)
Be sure to let your guard down before reviewing your spouse's list. Feelings are feelings; they're neither right nor wrong. Don't take anything on your spouse's list too personally. Instead, react with understanding and compassion. Bend over backwards to put your spouse's mind at ease.
The following questions might be at the forefront of your mind:
- What if we drift apart? Will she remember to call? Will she forget about me? Will only my bad qualities, and our tougher times, rise to the surface of her memory? These are normal first-reactions and emotions. Assure each other of your unconditional love and commitment, before, during and after the absence.
- What if something happens to my spouse? In many situations, this fear is extremely valid. Contract and missions work, as well as deployments, often place individuals in dangerous situations. Turning this fear over to God daily is your only option. Trust that your spouse is in His capable and loving hands. Pray for each other's safety.
- What if either of us is tempted? Temptation is a fact of life. To avoid being taken by surprise, you must anticipate it. Identify your areas of vulnerability, be they a craving for physical touch, a constant need for attention or a weakness for racy movies. Create a plan of action with your spouse and brainstorm a network of same-gender accountability partners. Don't forget to keep accountable to your spouse!
- How will I deal with situations I'm not used to handling? Murphy's Law seems to be the constant companion of separated spouses: The minute your other half becomes "out of pocket," something will break! Thankfully, you can ward off many disasters with good preparation.
Copyright © 2008, Focus on the Family.