Help: Spouse Still Loves The Ex
Just because a marriage ends in divorce, the life and family created as a couple cannot be erased like a chalkboard. Unlike calling a mulligan, the memories and emotions connected to an ex remain, despite the do over.
Most of us have multiple relationships in our lives. The result is multiple life-buddies. Each one of these people witnessed and shared a portion of our lives, good or bad; such shared experiences make us who we are today. We can no sooner rid ourselves of these memories than we can cut out the part of the brain that is holding onto them. However, if your spouse’s feelings for an ex are interfering with your relationship today, it’s important to talk about it right away. Putting it off will not resolve the issue, and may take you to a point where you flip your lid. Neuroscience has proven that emotions are stronger than thoughts, and though your spouse cannot turn off these feelings, they can still choose to honor their commitment to you.
Here are some guidelines that may be helpful for starting such a sensitive conversation with your spouse:
First, you must put yourself in an open, neutral state of mind before broaching the subject. This is very important. That means you must approach the conversation in as unbiased a manner as possible and be receptive to hearing whatever information is being provided in the answers given to you. Remember, you cannot control how they feel; you can only listen and learn in hopes that open communication can build a stronger bond between you. Their feelings are not about you. It may impact you, but ultimately it is your partner’s journey. When you have fully heard your spouse (remember to listen in an open, neutral way), ask if they would be willing to do the same for you and if they agree, talk about how you are emotionally impacted by their feelings for their ex and why.
Creating better communication patterns between you and your spouse will build a strong foundation for learning how to discuss sticky and sore subjects in a way that allow you both to grow in a positive way. Shame-based patterns built on judgment, guilt, or demands will drive the behavior and feelings underground and create an even bigger divide in your relationship, leading to even greater distress. You may find yourselves revisiting this exact issue in the future and most likely will deal with it in the same manner. The pattern is destined to repeat itself until something finally breaks that cannot be mended.
If you can achieve open and neutral communication, your partnership will be happier and healthier for it. You two will feel united with the knowledge that even though you are individuals, you have chosen to share a difficult journey, the good and the bad, in an honest way.