When you are separated but desperately want to reconcile, you can look for any opportunity for hope. If your husband calls, asks to see you, or shows some level of commitment or interest, it may be cause for celebration, until it is. Because those little moments of victory can be fleeting. Maybe you will start to guess. Perhaps you mention your happiness to your friends or family and they tell you that you are getting too excited. In short, it feels good to be hopeful, but you are worried that you will feel really bad if your hopes are dashed.
And unfortunately, this often comes up on special occasions when you want to feel happy and festive. Common situations in which you see this happen are birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, etc. A wife might explain: “My husband and I have been separated for almost five months. During that time, I have not had much reason to hope that things are improving. Although I would be more than willing to try to reconcile, my husband does not seem to be willing to do this. He has seldom asked to see me, although we have been on the phone regularly. During our last conversation, he told me that he wanted to take me to a nice birthday. My first inclination was that he was doing this simply out of obligation. However, I never hesitated to say yes. I’d rather it wasn’t out of obligation, but I’ll take what I can get. I asked him where we were going and how I was supposed to dress. His answer was that I should ‘look beautiful because why shouldn’t a man take your wife out to a nice dinner to show your appreciation on her birthday? ‘ Maybe I’m reading too much about this, but he’s almost describing it in romantic terms. Now I find myself counting down the days and worrying about what I’m going to wear and what I’m going to say. I confided to my best friend about this and although seems to be happy for me, his response was ‘just be careful. I don’t want to see you read too much about this and then be disappointed after your birthday is over and everything is back to normal.’ I see your point. I’m scared of that too. But I want to feel some excitement for a change. How do I not read too much in this? How can I moderate my excitement? “
I know firsthand that it can be difficult to find a balance here. You would love to believe that this dinner is the first of many and that this could be your first step on the road to reconciliation. At the same time, because her husband hasn’t given her much reason to be hopeful so far, she doesn’t want to be unrealistic about it and hurt herself.
I understand. Our hearts can feel so fragile during our separation that it is human nature to want to protect them at all costs. Yet at the same time, you don’t want to be on your guard so much that you can’t enjoy dinner or give your husband a vibe that you don’t want to be there.
Likewise, you don’t want to give the impression that dinner means “absolutely everything” because then your husband might feel pressured, closed off, and worried about asking you to get back together in the near future.
From my own experience, I came to believe that the best way to approach this was to remind yourself that you should live in the moment. You have every right to want to have fun on your birthday. Nobody forced your husband to ask you. And frankly, if I really didn’t want to, I probably wouldn’t. So, he asked you in response of his own free will. Remember it.
And remember also that this is a day that you deserve (and should) enjoy. Tell yourself that you will be fully present during this dinner and enjoy every second. You will focus on the conversation and the environment at hand without allowing yourself to moderate the enjoyment of the present drifting into the future.
We don’t know what the future holds. Today is all we have. We shouldn’t interrupt our enjoyment by worrying about far off things. I know that is easier said than done. I know you may have to remind yourself of this over dinner and that’s fine.
But frankly, if you just have fun, you increase the chances that they will be future meetings and outings. Being asked is a good sign, no matter how you look at it. But if you overanalyze it so much that you freeze and screw things up, not only will you not enjoy it as much as you should, but it will make it less likely that there will be more to come.
Promise to have a good time and have fun, but let things unfold as they want. Take it one moment at a time and enjoy every second.