Social Question

janbb's avatar

Spouse moving out - what were some of your coping strategies?

Asked by janbb (59210points) November 26th, 2011
78 responses
“Great Question” (15points)

Fairly self-explanatory. Being with friends, making plans to visit the kids and cocooning in my bedroom are some of mine. If you went through it, what helped you? Any words of comfort or shared personal experience would be welcome.

Observing members: 0
Composing members: 0


marinelife's avatar

I had a good friend (my best friend) come from out-of-town to stay with me for a while.

Pandora's avatar

Haven’t had that happen. But I have known friends who have reacted to it like a death. In a sense it is a death of the past and the death of dreams once shared. Like any death. You have to give yourself time to morn, and then prepare yourself for a day to say that you must move on because there is no other choice. I will say I noticed most of my friends seemed to have recovered in short of a year. The only ones that seemed to have a hard time are the ones who were hit hard financially or with little children.
When it came to boyfriends in the past, I use to go hang out with friends and socialize more and then move on quickly. But it was easier because I would be the one to leave. But I did have a guy cheat on me and I figured he wasn’t worth one tear and dated his enemy. It was fun to see his reaction. :)

jazmina88's avatar

I would pamper myself. shopping, hairdo, spa….walking
Take care.

SuperMouse's avatar

I threw myself head first into projects. I cleaned closets, completely emptied and boiled the pantry, knitted and crocheted, but mostly cleaned and organized and cleared out the clutter. It used to be that keeping busy was a distraction, now it turns into a very zen experience where I meditate and process things. <<hugs>>

WhiteWingDove's avatar

Since we divided up the furniture and household items, it was a great time to re-arrange the furniture I had. I also re-decorated the way I had wanted to but was not my ex’s preference (went from plaids and hunter green to more prints/floral and blue tones.)
I also practiced wellness: menu went to the fruits and vegetables and meals I liked, dug out old CDs of music I liked and played it loudly, bought myself a cheap bouquet of flowers when I could afford it, more scented candles, etc….learned to celebrate me. We had been together for 14 years and I hadn’t realized how many of my interests and preferences I had shelved.

chyna's avatar

I painted my whole house. I threw stuff out, organized my pantry, closets, and shoes.
I visited out of state friends a lot and they visited me.

filmfann's avatar

My most effective coping mechanism is studying the JFK assassination.
It is so complexed and baffling it can take my mind off my personal troubles.

zensky's avatar


laureth's avatar

Getting involved in a good, long, book, with plenty of plot and detail, helped me think about other things during a painful breakup. Maybe even a series, since those are longer. Something like Dune (if you like sci-fi), or the Mists of Avalon. The only thing about that is if, years later when you’re feeling much better, you go to read the book again, it sort of brings it all back.

janbb's avatar

@WhiteWingDove I have been recovering more and more of myself in recent years and am looking forward to doing more of it.

I have been making lots of plans with friends and will continue to do so. Traveling to visit people and having them come here is also in my future plans.

And thanks all for the hugs – I need them.

Earthgirl's avatar

Being with friends and family is great but when you cannot be, when you are alone, I think it’s nice to just get out and go for a walk, go to a museum, see a play, a dance performance, or just walk around town and be surrounded by people. I love to people watch and just feel a part of the great spectacle of life. Is that sounding too dramatic? I don’t think it is. To me it’s so comforting to feel like a part of things and I feel that even when I am alone in a crowd.

Surround yourself with beautiful things, good food, good books. Keep seeking out all the things that give you joy. {{{{{hugs}}}}}}

janbb's avatar

@Earthgirl Good advice! I do walk a lot and am very comfortable going to matinee movies by myself. I am trying to nurture myself as much as possible; my bath tub must think I moved in!

I also got a fancy Internet TV for my bedroom – which I never wanted before – and plan on some cozy Netflix watching evenings this winter.

I don’t seem to be falling apart yet which is good.

cookieman's avatar

I have no personal experience with this, but I’d like to offer a ((bear hug)).

Hang in there penguin.

janbb's avatar

@cprevite thanks – it sucks.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Don’t be alone. Did that once. It sucked. What you’re going through is bad enough.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I have no experience with this, but you know I’m not far and if you need anything, I am here for you.

Kayak8's avatar

@janbb I am sorry to hear you are going through what was, for me, a daunting experience. The things that helped me most were songs. I listened to some really happy ones (Dream Big by The Rubber Band is here This one always cheered me up—once you get through the crap before the real video starts).

The reminder that “Living Well is the Best Revenge” was my motto and kept me on the path of taking care of myself . . .

janbb's avatar

Thanks, thanks and thanks!

Ayesha's avatar

Take up a new hobby or resume a hobby that you dropped when you started living with your spouse – it won’t be easy, but you’ll need to push yourself on this one. Don’t lose interest in life. I also like @chyna‘s answer.
Feel better.

blueiiznh's avatar

Become engaged in things that you always wanted to do. Set some goals. Make a list of friends you wish to reconnect with. Find things that are new interests to keep your mind focused on those. Ones that are social in nature are helpful because isolation activities are not as helpful as ones where you are interacting with others.
Go to the gym, take college classes, cooking classes, volunteer for local needs.
Use the time for introspective learning about yourself. It is a time that will not be easy at all stages, but you will grow stronger from it if you allow it. Know that it will take time.
Take each day, one at a time. It is a very stressful time, so foremost keep yourself healthy.
Life is too short to not enjoy it to the fullest. Seize
the opportunity of this as new freedom and throw myself into a new life.

Prayers your way.

There is love in holding and there is love in letting go.
Elizabeth Berg

ram201pa's avatar

Been there; done that. All of the above is great advice. Also, walking (we’re talking fast walking…not strolling) at least a mile a day is fabulous therapy.


Coloma's avatar

It was my choice to divorce, but still extremly traumatizing at the time.
I went deeply into my cocoon and healing/recovery work. I went to a year of therapy which was incredibly validating and insightful and moved to a new house after 10 months.

Finding a new home was crucial for me and very liberating.
I rented a small cottage for almost 2 years while looking for another home.

I loved it!

It was an incredibly healing place and a stepping stone to finding the home I am in now and have been for the last 5 years.

Some people can stay in the family home, but I found that, for me, a whole new enviroment was extremely healing and joyful to claim as all my own.

Rest a lot! The emotional roller coaster of separation and divorce and processing everything that needs to be processed is exhausting.

I often went to bed at 7 or 8 o’ clock and listened to my bodies signals.

If I was tired I slept. This is a time to reevaluate all of your self governed ” rules”, Ideas, beliefs and a process of alchemy.

You WILL emerge better, stronger, and infinitly wiser than ever before!

augustlan's avatar

Count on your friends (including us), and, more importantly, yourself, to see you through. You’re a strong penguin woman, and we’ve got your back. Also, getting laid doesn’t hurt. Honestly.

john65pennington's avatar

Look in the mirror. What do you see? A person giving up on life or a person that is having a chance at a new life?

All of the above suggestions are great, but unless you feel good inside about yourself, none of the above will work.

You have been given a new chapter in your life, so tell yourself that its time to party, again.

I would doll myself up and head to the nearest casino and have a ton of fun. Getting your mind off the bad times, is what this is about and you just might win some money.

john65pennington's avatar

Augusian, loved your answer and the last sentence cannot hurt…..for real.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@janbb : I’m sorry to hear you’re going through this traumatic event. {{HUGS}}

In my case, I was the one who moved out. It was still a devastating event for me. It was hard not to look at it as a death. I’m not sure I dealt with it effectively at all. If I had to do it all again, I don’t think I’d have thrown myself into work. I’d have thrown myself into exercise, which has so many good side-effects like endorphins, etc.

I like the idea of cleaning things. Make your house yours. Erase him. Make every room just like you’ve always wanted it to be.

Most importantly, I’ve learned from many different experiences not to let emotions stay inside and rot. I feel them. I let some of them show to many people. Some I reserve for a few close friends. In the end, I let them pass.

I wish you the best of all possible outcomes.

Coloma's avatar

I’d just caution about rebound flings/sex. Almost everyone ends up having some sort of little tryst within the first year or so post separation, but, ultimately, you are NOT going to be even close to ready for another relationship for a few years, at least.

Be careful with the rebound flings, while they can serve a purpose they should handled with caution and especially the other person involved.

It’s not fair to someone else that may be looking for a more serious relationship.

I truly believe that one needs to take a LOT of space after leaving any LT situation be it a marriage or other relationship.

I have a hard rule these days about not dating anyone less than 2–3 years out of a LT relationship.

A person needs to learn to be alone and enjoy it, otherwise it is often a flight from ones own stuff and a sign of a needy and desperate person. Not a good thing.

Learning to be alone and liking it is very important.

It takes a lot of time and space to heal and recover from a broken relationship and getting involved again too soon is usually not a good idea.

janbb's avatar

@Coloma @augustlan said “getting laid” not getting involved but I take your point. LOL

SuperMouse's avatar

@Coloma I initiated the break up as well and could not agree more with the idea of finding a new home. It sounds (and in reality is) quite drastic, but even though I had completely divested myself of everything we had collected as a couple, I didn’t feel like the glom energy was totally gone until I was in a new home. @janbb having been married 21 years I know how daunting it can feel to get rid of the stuff collected during couplehood, but doing that – slowly but surely – was a very cathartic experience for me and was truly like clearing out the cobwebs. I know the idea of moving isn’t something to contemplate immediately, but down the road who knows…

@janbb as a library student to a mentor, there is really nothing more wonderful, interesting, and confidence building to me than putting energy into complicated, difficult research. Helping people find those perfect articles that are hidden in the less popular databases feels so good and the detective work it takes is good for the mind. Dang! I really sound like a library geek don’t I?!_

Coloma's avatar


Agreed 100%!
Yep, 22.5 years for me. Now, I can proudly say that there is not a trace of the old stuff in my house. Re-inventing your environment is so wonderful!

Coloma's avatar

@janbb Yes, I was aware of that, just a little side dish of wisdom from one who has been there.
You’ll get ” the point” when you’re ready for it. lol

bkcunningham's avatar

I don’t know the details of what happened in your marriage @janbb but I sincerely hope it was a mutual agreement for your sake. Even then it is one of the hardest things you and your children will ever experience plus it is happening during the holidays. That makes it suck even worse emotionally. Just know this, everything you are feeling is perfectly natural and it WILL GET BETTER. I promise.

Don’t dwell on unhappy thoughts. If you find yourself doing that, call a friend or family member and tell them you are having a bump in the road and just need to distract yourself. Sometimes it may feel good to talk about the relationship whether you want to bitch and moan or cry over the good times. Sometimes it feels good to be meloncholy about the good times. Just don’t get in a rut with any of those feelings and emotions for too long. Move. Move. Move. Even if it is just one little baby step. Move.

I know it isn’t the same thing, but when I lost my husband and children the thing that really saw me through the darkest moments were friends. There came a point when they physically helped me get dressed and get outside. Just to sit outside the house was therapy for me. I took baby steps and finally, one day, I was actually moving forward on my own again. It just took friends to hold me up. Don’t be afraid to make a phone call and just say, “Hey, I really need to hear someone’s voice for a few minutes. Can we talk?” Fluther is here for you too.

It will be better and better. Here’s a big awkward-warm wrap myself around you and kiss you on the neck while we rock back-and-forth and laugh and cry ((((HUG))).

harple's avatar

@janbb Huge hugs to you… You are such a strong woman, be proud of that… Do allow yourself to not be strong from time to time too – it’s not weakness, it’s allowing yourself to the emotions that come from the very real situation you are going through. Have some friends that are on a hot-line for you, but balance that need with some nice times with them when you’re feeling okay too…

Such great advice above from people… I would add that the time to prepare for is the times you are alone, or the times where previously your spouse would have been there with you… Have some plans in advance for what do to when you feel x-y-z… it might be friends, it might be a movie, it might be a soak in the bath, it might be that new hobby you’ve taken up, it might be fluther… but know in advance what you’re going to do to get you through the moments where it feels too much and there’s no friend at hand.

As @bkcunningham writes, this time will be behind you one day, and the days where you feel sad will go too. I feel so stupid though, I had no idea @bkcunningham is a lady – so sorry!

Jude's avatar

Big, big hugs coming your way, my friend.

Earthgirl's avatar

“Janbb” With your bathtub comment you just reminded me of Mr. Popper’s Penguins, lol
I wonder if Penguins get prune skin from soaking too long, nah, probably not

bkcunningham's avatar

@harple, no problem. :)

flutherother's avatar

In my case I moved out after 21 years of marriage. It was stressful but also a relief. I found my job to be great therapy, it really took my mind off my home troubles and it was an oasis of stability and normality and friendship. My brother and sister and my friends rallied round and I began to look forward to the future without forgetting the many happy days of married life that we had known. If it has to be it has to be but think of the good times, those passed and those still to come. ((hugs))

PS I saw this recently on the BBC’s Frozen Planet series. I think you might find it amusing.

linguaphile's avatar

It’s an extremely difficult process and from one to another, I send my support and hugs.

When my ex-spouse moved out, I started to replace, bit by bit, anything that made me think of him. Over the first 3 months, the first thing I did was sell the bed we shared- I bought a new frame, a new mattress, new sheets, pillows and a new comforter set. On Black Friday, I bought a new TV, a full set of new dishes and cookware, and the next thing on the list is a new sofa. In a few weeks, I’ll be moving into a tiny apartment with my kids. This is really cathartic and helped me think forward and not be reminded at every turn of the past, of things that happened, etc.

I’m still going through things—I took 15 boxes of things to Goodwill and more are on the way out. Cleaning out, when you’re ready, does help and for me, it made room in my life for new experiences.

Another thing I did was find as many ways to laugh again or enjoy the little things as much as possible. Hugs!!

Dutchess_III's avatar

My now-ex moved out in the spring. It was his idea and I was devastated. I didn’t take my marriage lightly, but apparently he did, as he thought he’d found someone new. I sat in a big chair in front of the door, with the door open and read a book I had gotten from Reader’s Digest called “Greatest Natural Disasters of the World.” I sat in that chair for a week and just…stayed quiet and felt empty. At the end of that week I realized that a huge weight had lifted off of my shoulders! For a week there had been no stress, no arguing, he wasn’t yelling at the kids…I realized then that I had been feeling like a bullet pocketed wall from constantly stepping in between him and his unfair treatment of the kids. I didn’t even realize I’d felt that way till the end of the week. I felt so light!
The irony of the title of the book didn’t even hit me until a couple of months later.

I’m so sorry it’s happening @janbb. I didn’t want my marriage to end. I begged him not to leave….but at the end of the week I realized I didn’t want him back. You can imagine his shock when, two weeks later he wanted to come home and I said “No.”

rooeytoo's avatar

One of life’s most important lessons is to be able to be by yourself. Most all of us are totally self sufficient but the “couple” oriented society in which we live undermines that ability. So learn to enjoy your own company, don’t allow yourself to believe that you “need” others. You can want companionship but don’t “need” it. Judging from what I know of you from fluther, you are a strong and capable individual and you will be fine. Grieve and feel your feelings for a bit and then get on with your life. I love my mate but I still think the best way to have a relationship is when you live in different houses! I know I would love him more if he lived up the street and I didn’t have to clean up after him!!!

faye's avatar

Work and work and more of it. My 3 kids were 8–13 so there was lots of school stuff. And Cher, she had a lot of songs about women being strong and so on. I’m really sorry this is happening to you. It is a kind of death and you make sure you take time to pamper yourself some. I read any chance I got- I can lose myself in a book.

Bellatrix's avatar

You know, I think I was a bit shellshocked at the time. I don’t remember too much specifically. I was just going through the motions for a while. We separated but lived in the same house for about six weeks. I remember being up and down and wondering if we were doing the right thing. As others have said, I buried myself in my study and in looking after my children. I think it was easier after my children and I moved out. It became very real.

I absolutely agree with @Coloma‘s point about time. Give yourself permission to grieve and allow yourself sufficient time to heal. It will hurt less.

OpryLeigh's avatar

About 6 years ago I went through a painful break up although we weren’t living together. I honestly felt like I couldn’t survive the pain. I spent a lot of time with my best friend. When I was alone and really struggling I would get in the car and drive as I find driving soothes me. I would also try to surround myself with the things I love. My dogs, favourite music and films etc

bkcunningham's avatar

Happy Sunday morning @janbb!! I had you on my mind and wanted to say I hope you have a wonderful day. ((((HUG)))) Today is going to be a good day!!

janbb's avatar

Thanks all.

Dutchess_III's avatar


faye's avatar

I also rearranged the bedroom and bought an antiquey bed frame. This frame came apart a lot so fixing it occupied my brain some for sure. I bought some pictures I loved for my first vision in the morning.

janbb's avatar

He’s moving out tomorrow. The last few days have been very rough for me.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@janbb Hang in there Lady. I really wish I had better words for you.

bkcunningham's avatar

I can only imagine what you are going through, @janbb. It must be tough as hell. If it feels better to pound the keyboard ranting and screaming through your words – pound on. (((hugs))) **kisses**

Coloma's avatar


Hang in there! Such stupid words really, haha

Just try to remember that it is not “personal”, he needs to do what he needs to do for himself and you for yourself. Easier said than done, I know, but, it is a truth.

As painful as it can be we should never hold someone back from their journey.

Peace to you. :-)

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Coloma : Do you know @janbb‘s husband???? How can you say it’s “not personal”? Pretty damned nervy of you. Geez I can’t imagine much that would feel more personal, but as I don’t know @janbb‘s husband, I certainly wouldn’t ascribe any motives to him whatsoever.

Coloma's avatar

In saying it is not “personal” I am simply stating a fact. I didn’t say it doesn’t FEEL personal, just that whenever someone makes a move like this it is about whatever it is that isn’t working for them. Their issues, their reality.
I think most readers get my sharing and know it is not intended to be dismissive of the reality of the life upheaval these situations create.

Nothing is ever “personal”, and one does not need to know another to say this.

When I chose to divorce my ex it was less about him and all the things with him that no longer worked for me, it was about what I needed to do for my growth and evolution.

It was less about “rejecting” him than it was about embracing myself.

Let this be a clarification of my words and intent with the understanding that you are free to interpret them as you wish.

augustlan's avatar

Hugs and love, @janbb.

bkcunningham's avatar

How’s your day going so far, @janbb?

janbb's avatar

Today has improved as I’ve gotten busy and talked to people. I had lunch with a few friends I haven’t seen in a while, saw my doctor and am about to walk with another friend. The nights and the mornings are the worst. Thanks for asking!

Jude's avatar

@janbb Walking helps. I would force myself out the door and go for a long walk.

janbb's avatar

@Jude I walk all the time; don’t worry I know that. Thanks.

Bellatrix's avatar

Sending you a hug @janbb. Walking is wonderful therapy and good for your arse!! Just thought I would throw that last bit in because it cannot be a bad thing to have a taut bum. I walked and walked too when I separated. It is really good you are meeting with friends too. I do remember I sort of isolated myself. I went into a bit of a cocoon. Your way is much healthier I think.

linguaphile's avatar

I went into a cocoon for over a year, too, and am not fully out yet.

Another thing I did was take short trips—I took a 5 day trip to Texas to reconnect with a bunch of my oldest friends. Talking to someone who know me pre-marriage was awesome because it helped me remember who I was as an individual. I also took another 3 day trip to Chicago to see my grandma and br-uncles. They were the best. Then last summer, took a 5 week trip to Montana to stay with my mom—it was extremely quiet but I got taken care of for 5 weeks and was ready to face reality when I came back.

Just a few more ideas for what might help. Sending more lurve…

janbb's avatar

@linguaphile Yes, I am planning several trips already to visit people. I will be spending Christmas with one son in San Francisco and New Year’s with the other in France.

chyna's avatar

@janbb I’m so glad you are visiting your sons for the holidays. It will help tremendously. {{{Hugs}}}

linguaphile's avatar

@janbb France!! Oooh… sample all the pastry and don’t worry about your bum. You can taut it later :D

bkcunningham's avatar

How long has it been since you’ve seen your sons, @janbb?

janbb's avatar

SF son was here for T’day. France son and family since early September.

bkcunningham's avatar

I would imagine your sons are pretty up-to-date with firsthand knowledge on what is going on in your life then, @janbb. I hope that makes your time with them transition into very relaxed and healing visits.

How are you doing right now? Are you doing okay?

SuperMouse's avatar

@janbb you are not only my library mentor, you are my hero. You my friend are handling this situation with grace and style! Lurve, respect, and lots of hugs are coming your way!

bkcunningham's avatar

Okay, @janbb, I’m checking in with you and hoping you had a good day today.

janbb's avatar

I’m a little reluctant to reveal any more specific news on this question but if people want to continue to share general thoughts here or PM me, I’ll be glad to respond as I have time and energy.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@janbb You are a true warrior.

janbb's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe And that makes me want to cry but thanks.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@janbb I’m reserving you some space on my chest for a great big hug. Redeemable at any time.

janbb's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I know that would be a cozy place; you are a good person even if you are from New York.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@janbb That cracked me up. NJ’s got to be an okay place too, just because they have you.

Coloma's avatar

Every woman and man has to put on their iron maiden form, or their iron jock strap at one time or another. Keep ‘em perky and snug. ;-)

Jack79's avatar

Went through this in 2006 but it was actually very easy because we’d been having trouble for some time. I never wanted it to end, because I doggedly insisted on making the marriage work, no matter what. I still believe marriage should be for life, and would have still stuck with her, making consessions and compromises, only to end up fighting about every single little thing.

Long story short, my life was automatically better the very next day. Despite other issues which have to do with our child, the actual living in the house without her was amazing. The first thing I did was pack up all of her remaining stuff and take it to her. She came over only once and told me what she wanted to take, I marked everything down in a notebook without disagreeing about anything, and then put it in bags and took it over, a bit at a time. It was one of the few things we agreed on, I didn’t try to fight her on any of the things she wanted, and to be honest she wasn’t all that greedy, taking a little over half (60–65% in value) and not the usual 99% most people want in these cases.

Once everything was gone (including a hairpin and some loose change I found in a drawer), I repainted the place, changed the master bedroom and bought a huge TV with the money I’d saved ever since she moved out, then stuck it in the middle of the living room and watched the World Cup which was starting the next day.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Jack79 since this is in social let me take this opportunity to say it is good to see you posting more regularly again.

Answer this question




to answer.

Mobile | Desktop

Send Feedback