When you are separated but wanting desperately to reconcile, you can look for any opportunity to have hope. If your husband calls, asks to see you, or shows any level of commitment or interest, it can be cause for celebration – until it is not. Because those small moments of victory can be fleeting. Perhaps you start to second guess. Perhaps you mention your happiness to friends or family members and they tell you that you are getting way too excited. In short, it feels good to get your hopes up, but you worry that it will feel really bad if your hopes are dashed.
And unfortunately, this can commonly come up during special occasions when you want to feel happy and festive. Common situations where you see this happening are birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, etc. A wife might explain: “my husband and I have been separated for almost five months. During that time, I haven’t had much of a reason to hope that things are improving. Although I’d be more than willing to try to reconcile, my husband has not seemed to be willing to do this. He rarely has asked to see me, although we have been talking on the phone regularly. During our last conversation, he told me that he wanted to take me out to a nice birthday dinner. My first inclination was that he was doing this merely out of obligation. However, I never hesitated to say yes. I would prefer that it not be out of obligation, but I will take what I can get. I asked him where we were going and how I was supposed to dress. His response was that I should ‘look beautiful because why shouldn’t a man take his wife to a nice dinner to show his appreciation on her birthday?’ Maybe I am reading too much into this, but he is almost describing this in romantic terms. Now I find myself counting down the days and worrying about what I am going to wear and what I am going to say. I confided in my best friend about this and although she appears to be happy for me, her response was ‘just be careful. I don’t want to see you read too much into this and then be disappointed after your birthday is over and everything returns to normal.’ I see her point. I’m afraid of that also. But I want to feel some excitement for a change. How do I not read too much into this? How do I temper my excitement?”
I know firsthand that it can be hard to strike a balance here. You would love to believe that this dinner is the first of many and that this might be your first step on the way to a reconciliation. At the same time, because your husband hasn’t given you a lot of reason to be hopeful so far, you don’t want to be unrealistic about this and get hurt.
I understand. Our hearts can feel so fragile during our separation that it is human nature to want to protect them at all costs. At the same time though, you don’t want to be on your guard so much that you can not enjoy the dinner or you give your husband a vibe that you don’t want to be there.
Likewise, you don’t want to give off the vibe that the dinner means “absolutely everything” because then your husband might feel pressured, shut down, and worry about asking you to get together again in the near future.
From my own experience, I came to believe that the best way to approach this was to remind yourself to live in the moment. You have every right to want to enjoy yourself on your birthday. No one forced your husband to ask you. And frankly, if he truly didn’t want to, then he probably wouldn’t. So, he has asked you in response to his own free will. Remember that.
And also remember that this is a day that you deserve to (and should) enjoy. Tell yourself that you will be fully present during this dinner and enjoy every second. You will concentrate on the conversation and surroundings at hand without allowing yourself to temper the enjoyment of the present by drifting into the future.
We don’t know what the future holds. Today is all we have. We shouldn’t cut into our enjoyment of it by worrying about far-off things. I know that this is easier said than done. I know that you may have to remind yourself of this throughout the dinner and that is OK.
But frankly, if you just enjoy yourself, you increase the chances that they will be future meetings and outings. His asking you is a good sign, no matter how you slice it. But if you overanalyze it so much that you cripple yourself and put a damper on things, you not only won’t enjoy it as much as you should, you may make it less likely that there will be more to come.
Vow to have a good time and enjoy yourself, but let things unfold as they will. Take it one moment at a time and enjoy every second of it.