Q: My wife and I separated about six months ago. We worked out a financial agreement and we have an arrangement so that each of us can spend a lot of time with our three children. We will likely get a formal divorce sometime within the next six to 12 months.
Despite all of that, I still feel lousy most of the time. I really miss my wife and I miss the whole idea of being married to her. What can I do to get out of this rut and get on with my life?
A: I want to commend you and your wife for settling your finances and child care. People often have not worked things out and rather than healing so that each one can get on with life, they spend a lot of time fighting, manipulating and hurting each other.
The feelings you are harbouring are normal and natural. They are part of what goes on when people are grieving. You have just had a huge loss. Not only have you lost contact with someone with whom you spent much time but you also lost the dream you had of being married and building a life and home together.
You can expect a full recovery from this to take at least a couple years.
It gets better and does so more quickly if you are gentle with yourself. Try not to waste time either feeling guilty that it was your fault that the marriage did not work out or getting angry because it was her fault.
Anything that either you or your friends suggest that might have caused the separation is pure speculation and is not likely to be helpful.
You can learn from this experience by writing down what you did in the marriage that was positive and nurtured your relationship and negative things that may have hurt the marriage. That list will likely get longer and more useful for you the longer you are out of the marriage.
From it, you can learn more about yourself and build a better foundation for your next intimate relationship.
When you feel bad, try finding someone you can talk to who does not judge you. A professional counsellor is your best bet but sometimes close family members or understanding friends can be equally helpful.
The more you talk to someone, the better are your chances of healing and feeling better.
You have only been out of your marriage six months. Getting well takes time so try not to hurry things. You do not need the pressure that impatience delivers to you. You just need time and support and if you have both of these, your moments of despair will gradually leave.
Jacklin Andrews is a family counsellor from Saskatchewan. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.