It is a tough haul when we call it quits. All of the days leading up to a break up of a marriage with your ex husband can be taxing, even miserable. Marriages don’t just simply come sliding to a stop. Just as there is a process you go through when you came to know each other and love each other, there is also a process both husband and wife must experience to determine if the marriage was a mistake.
It is not solely an intellectual process when you decide to separate or divorce, though a rationale and cooler mind must prevail in order for you to make sound judgments. The process of breaking it off with your ex husband is as much an emotional journey as well.
I describe this journey in greater detail in the post below that explains why breaking up is so hard and painful and some things you can do to turn it around.
Let’s try to get some perspective first before we dive into giving you some advice on how you can best cope with the conflicting feelings and challenges of getting over your ex husband.
Ok….so let’s just back up a bit first!
Getting Over Your Ex Husband is a Process
You will seldom completely get over your ex husband. I don’t say that to make you feel worse. Indeed, there are parts of the relationship you had with your ex husband that you will value forever. What I mean is that the memories and feelings you have toward your ex husband will never completely be erased. If you have kids together, then it is likely your ex will be part of your life as it relates to the development and care of the children.
With that said, let’s move forward because there are some things you can do to learn get over your ex husband. You will learn that if you approached the break up in a rational way, things will often turn out well.
I implore my clients who have been stricken emotionally ill from a bad marriage to save themselves. Don’t expect anyone to come to your rescue. Sure, it is very important to have support from family and friends, but the sooner you turn your focus to saving yourself from the horrible marriage experience you went through, the better.
I talk about the importance of this in this post….
If you truly spent time thinking about both the pros and cons of staying in the marriage versus ending the marriage, then you should trust that you made the right decision. That is all anyone could ask of themselves in these complicated life decisions.
So what is in your best interest going forward and what things can you do to promote your emotional health during this period?
Let’s start with one healthy way at looking at your situation. Accept that you are going to arrive at a place, emotionally, where you will accept that things have changed for good and that you will not need to be frightened of the future without your husband. It will happen, in time.
Right now, you might not feel that way. But that is normal. Just trust, that after you spend some time implementing some of my recommendations, your view of the future will be much brighter.
Ok, so now we are ready to look at the big picture!
Let’s first survey the journey you have been on up to this point. How did things get started? What can you learn about yourself and the journey of marriage you have experienced thus far.
Before getting married, you and your husband went through a courtship process that involved meeting, getting to know each other, dating, bonding and building a connection, falling in love, planning for marriage, and getting married.
Wow….you have been busy in the past! Do you think you are capable of doing all those things again? I bet your are.
Those Early Days of Marriage
For many, the courtship phase is like a whirlwind experience, full of excitement, promise, and high hopes for the future. Time flies by when the two lovers are together. I would imagine that at one time, you could hardly get enough time with your husband to be. Do you remember those times when you were away from each other? It bet it felt like time literally slowed down. During this phase, people count the seconds, minutes, and hours as they await to see their lover again.
These courtship experiences have a powerful emotional effect on your entire being and psyche. It is as if you are under a mysterious spell of some kind. We know now that the very chemistry of your brain is influenced….literally bathed in chemicals….as you draw closer to your lover.
Over and over again, you seek this feeling, like an addict seeks to get their next fix. Except in affairs of the heart, these chemical changes in the brain, stimulated by hormones, are very much a natural part of attraction and bonding.
Once married, husband and wife usually spends years together enjoying a multitude of experiences and challenges. All of that creates an even greater connection and more lasting memories. The effect this has on you (and everyone else who falls in love and gets married) is the feeling that the two of you are like a “union”. Each of you are imprinted on the other.
What is important to understand is that this kind of mental state you have in marriage does not just get erased because you and your husband eventually decide to break it off and get divorced or separate. Even if you both decide it is best to do. Even if you both spared each other the ugliness that many people experience with they separate or divorce. The fact is that couples who have been together for any appreciable time, are wired in ways that they do not even understand at the conscious level.
So the emotional cycle of experiences you shared with your ex are in many ways welded to the soul of who your are and what you are about. Hence, once the marriage ends and your spouse is now your ex husband; your feelings and emotional needs don’t just immediately reset and go back where they were before meeting your husband.
This largely explains why you may in one part of your “being” feel convinced that you must end things with your husband. This is the logical and rationale side of your mind guiding you.
But in another part of that which is “you”, the feeling of still being connected to you ex and not being able to totally let go can cause you to suffer, even question whether what is happening is the right thing for you.
But let’s say that you find yourself picking up the pieces and for a number of reasons, you are quite certain that your ex husband needs to stay that way….your “ex”. Let’ say you are ready to turn the page and put the marriage behind you and begin gaining some traction in your new life….a life without the pain and difficulty you experienced during those final months (or years) of marriage. Guess what? It will still be a bumpy road. I hope to make it less so.
Life and one’s navigation through marriage recovery is never a simple path. And hopefully, upon reading this, you have learned and now understand that the source of much of your uncertainty is tied largely to the right side of your brain (i.e. the emotional control center). Emotions can be a wonderful experience. But emotions also have a flip side and can cause you doubt and sadness.
It is not easy to invest so much of yourself in marriage, only later to discover that the decision to marry was flawed. It can be troubling and depressing to realize your ex husband was a mistake. But figuring out who we are most compatible with and gauging whether both parties in the marriage will be reasonably happy and fulfilled is no easy matter. We are an incredibly complicated species.
Understanding that on an intellectual level is one thing. But dealing with the ugly marriage aftermath and some of the confusing feelings and emotions that will invariably crop up is truly a most challenging experience for anyone to have to address, whether it be an ex wife or ex husband. To survive and thrive in such a predicament, you will need to adopt certain personal principles and strategies.
Making the Memory of Your Ex Husband Fade
So how do you get over your ex husband? The short answer is that you need to embrace a synergistic process involving your full commitment to blaze a new trail. What does that mean?
I promise I will get into that, but let’s start first with understanding more about what not to do. There are certain actions and behaviors that you can partake in that will make it harder for you to get over your ex husband.
One of the common mistakes a divorcee or an individual separated from their ex will make is second guessing whether their decision to end the marriage relationship was the correct one.
It is important to understand why this happens with such frequency. Remember, when you were married, your whole life and to a large degree, identity, was wrapped around your relationship with your husband (i.e. your current ex).
This includes financial, emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual connections. I think of it as the “Marriage Connection Effect”.
When you are with someone for so long, there will be all kinds of little and large experiences the two of you shared together. And if a lot of these experiences resonate positively in your marriage memory bank, then it strengthens the emotional tie you have with your ex husband.
Even if the marriage was largely dysfunctional, the Marriage Connection Effect can still gain traction. Such is the power of two people spending so much time together. If you later break up, the times you were together can resonate in a powerful way, whether you like it or not.
These feelings and emotions can operate and influence you, your behavior, and your moods as if it is an addictive drug. There are certain biochemical reasons why this the case, but I don’t want to get you too lost in that discussion. Feel free to explore my website to explore the biochemistry of why it is we sometimes behave the way we do.
So one of the things you will need to be on guard about is avoiding the temptation of questioning your decision to leave your husband. If you applied your left side brain (i.e. logical and rationale side) in making the decision to leave you husband, then be aware that the right side of your brain (i.e. emotional) will seek to question the wisdom of that decision.
Knowing this should empower you. Though, clearly, this is more easily said than done. But perhaps, just reading this and understanding how the mind gremlins can sometimes get inside your head and foster doubt….just knowing this will better prepare you for your emotional trials.
And yes, you will experience emotional trials because, as we have discussed, it is no easy thing to erase the memories of your ex husband. Let me correct that, technically what I would ask you is not to try and erase the memories, because after all, that is a futile exercise. But over time, new memories can be add to your life experience and those will push aside the older memories.
This is how life works. In those moments when you think that you can never get over losing your husband, your vision of the future will be clouded. The pain of your failed marriage will be so fresh and so compelling, you may feel “that’s it, it’s all over”. But then those thoughts could get replaced with mental paralysis as you question if you are making the right decision.
You will also think there is NO WAY you will ever get over the pain of marriage breakup. You might feel that there is a huge hole in your life and it will take “forever” to recover. But studies show that people get passed their heartache and the pain of a break up much faster than they think.
There is no magic wand I can wave to make your feeling of “loss”, go away. Except I can assure you it is natural to feel you will struggle to get over your ex husband. There is not a lot worthwhile we can attain in life without enduring some struggle. Remember, you are exceptionally more resilient and stronger than you think. What you will need to do is clear away the fog of uncertainty and paralysis, so you can move forward to a better place.
Getting “Lost in Neutral” is a pitfall you need to be aware of. So what does that mean with respect to breaking things off with your ex hubby?
Well, first of all, let me explain what usually happens in the very early days of recovery. First, you likely will be “Lost in Reverse”. You will be spending time thinking about the past. Memories of the good times and the bad times will flood your mind. You will likely play out all kinds of scenes in your mind which included you and your ex husband.
Some of these moving pictures of your mind will be starring both you and your ex as you explore the fulfilling moments of the past. Other scenes will play out that deal with the ugly and sad scenes of your marriage.
My advice is when that motion picture show of your mind start projecting all of those images and scenes of your failed marriage, pull the cord. It will be hard to do, so be prepared to pull the chord of these thoughts over and over again. One way of giving that “cord” a hard yank is to get engaged in life….keeping yourself busy….challenging yourself to learn new things and do new things.
So avoid getting stuck in the past…lost in reverse.
But what about my point of avoiding being Lost in Neutral?
In my view, while people can learn to extract themselves from the past, the bigger challenge is moving away from the status quo. You don’t want to keep up all of the same routines. In fact, many of your routines probably included your ex husband in some way.
Sometimes to move forward, we need to yank ourselves out of the past. When you are stuck in neutral, you are doing a lot of the things you did in the past. This could be things like the way you dress, the way you look (e.g. hairstyle), the foods you eat, and many other things. Too many of your routines of the past have linkage to your ex husband or memories of experiences with your ex-husband. So you need to re-program you psyche and take on some new routines of mind, spirit, and body.
Think about spending more time with your friends and exploring new and different experiences. Think about getting engaged in new, fulfilling hobbies that just not only occupy your mind, but gives you a sense of purpose. Re-introduce some fun in your life and make it something that requires some level of physical activity. Establish new routines and commit to participating in them regularly.
I am sure you have heard of the phrase that an “idle mind is a devil’s playground“.
Well, let’s do our best to keep those devilish thoughts of the past out of your life. Can you make them go away completely? No. We will always harbor some thoughts about things we truly should not dwell on at both the conscious and unconscious level. But, hey, that is OK. You can to a large extent control what runs through your mind at the conscious level if you stay engaged with new and interesting experiences.
Your mind, while it can sometimes betray you in the ways it can run amok, is exceptionally resilient. You will get through this time when you feel you can’t get over your ex husband. It happens for everyone and it will happen sooner for you if your get engaged in life and participate in new challenges, experiences, and routines.