Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Separation: What's My Next Move?

Many times, a W and GOW will decide to take a break from the relationship to re-evaluate and re-focus, but mostly so that W can take necessary "alone time" to work on his grief without distraction. However, because the burden of grief recovery is all-consuming, a W may "disappear" from GOW's life altogtheer, shutting her out without even realizing it. It is during this time that GOWs tend to wonder, "What's my next move? Should I leave him alone...or should I contact him?"

No living thing will grow if it is cut off from even one of its basic survival needs, i.e., food, water, shelter, etc. The same is true for relationships, which cannot grow and thrive without the need for communication being met. Without regular contact (even if "regular" means once a month), we are left to our own conclusions and assumptions about what the other person is thinking, feeling, and/or doing without us...and 99 times out of 100, these will be negative and borderline paranoid assumptions and conclusions. Regular contact establishes a line of communication; a lifeline of sorts that keeps us hopeful and exposes us to W's truth, whatever that may be.

Logic tells us that that which is not connected is DISconnected. Without regular communication, a relationship is indeed disconnected and no longer based in any foundation, be it respect, love, or trust. Indeed, it becomes "uprooted", and like a flower that is not firmly grounded, it will begin to die a slow death.

The difficult part of this "limbo" is that W may not feel the need for contact as much as his GOW does. He has enough on his plate with trying to figure out the complexities of grief, and work through them. This takes all the focus he can muster, and because grief is so hard, a W sometimes subconsiously allows distractions into his life that would ease his pain...distractions that may interfere with his progress.

Surprisingly, most Ws KNOW this, and will put all their ducks in a row prior to grief of those "ducks" being "solitary confinement", wherein he opts to go into his man cave alone, without disruption by anything - or anyone - who may trifle with his focus, thus disconnecting from his GOW until such time as he either A.) feels his grief work has progressed enough to be less of a burden to the relationship and will thus REconnect with his GOW, or B.) decides that he needs more time and will remain DISconnected until further notice.

When a W asks for a break to further his grief agenda, he does not feel the severity of the separation as much as the GOW does. He has more than her on his mind - he has grief. GOW, on the other hand, only has W on which to focus all her energies, thoughts, and feelings....thus making the separation quite a bit more intense - and the need for reconnection and regular communication much stronger - than his.

Friendly, casual contact is a Band-Aid solution to a GOW's anxiety, and should never be taken as a "foot back in the door" of W's life. It is merely a way to ease her troubled, questioning mind and exposes the relationship to the POSSIBILITY of healing through communication; thus rooting the relationship in something more positively focused.

Make no mistake: just because a W goes into self-imposed exile (i.e, his man cave) does not mean he has forgotten his GOW. He has just decided that disconnecting from her is the healthiest way for him to deal with his issues. Most GOW/W relationships that had been firmly rooted in mutual respect and trust PRIOR to separating will weather a separation much better than a previously non-committed relationship. It is this kind of GOW/W couple that should work out regular contact schedule in order to keep the candle burning in the window of their hearts until the W is safely home again.


  1. I am printing this out for my mother to read, as I have a hard time explaining my W's disappearances to her. Thanks!

  2. O.M.G I am going through this right now (GOW). He has decided that we should cool it off while he takes time to sort out his grief issues. It's been two weeeks. I'm going crazy I miss him so much. Julie I am going through what you have just described exactly. about a week ago he started some form of communication like an occassional friendly email or sms. At least that makes me realise I reallly love him.

  3. Der Anonymous,

    During a break imposed by W, it is always best to let hiim lead. He has initiated contact once again - great! But do NOT for one second think that this is a foot in the door. He may be working through a very difficult time in his grief, and is looking for a distraction (you!). Don't fall for it! Answer him back, casually and friendly - and keep it short! - but do not interject any personal feelings. For more on this, come join the Official WOW/GOW Message Board at

  4. Julie, I'm dating a W and his wife of 5 years passed from Cancer But I am going through a lot of anguish because he tells me he loves me all the time he always wants to spend time with me but at the same time will not remove his wedding ring I'm not trying to sound mean or stubborn I understand but at the same time she would've never put up with the same things and putting up with. She would've never dated him until his ringi was off! She was also very mean and demanding and took a lot of things out on his kids The first time I met her she referred to his kids as little "a holes " With that being said I feel alone and heart broken more so than loved and cared about I love this man to pieces and just don't know what to do.