We are all interested in having the most wonderful and fulfilling of marriages. Our relationships bring us closer to the reason why we even exist. Without contact and interaction with other people we love, then our very soul gets whittled away. So what is this idea of advocating No Contact with the person you love? Why would we want to pull away from our spouse? It is difficult enough to tackle the world out there, so why would we want to do it alone? Well sometimes, to draw closer, you have to step back to gain some perspective and reconnect.
Can your marriage be saved strictly by using the No Contact Rule? No it can’t. But if implemented properly, under certain circumstances, you and your husband or wife can benefit from going through a no contact period. So what is this No Contact Rule? How does it work? When should you use it? What are its benefits and drawbacks?
Really, must you ask so many questions! Well, I am glad that you are because learning how to implement the No Contact Rule properly and consistently could be huge. On the other hand, if you do not understand how this process works and put it into play where it is not appropriate or execute this relationship strategy improperly, you could suffer a serious setback in your marriage.
No one wants to experience a headwinds in their marriage. And that is why I decided to write this lengthy post. I want you to be able to explore all the possible angles and applications of possibly using this principle.
I also want to encourage you to ask me any questions or offer your comments and observations at the very end of this post. You can leave me a comment and I usually get back within 48 hours. Also, check out the comment section at end of this article for further insights.
What is the Marital No Contact Rule?
Have you ever noticed that relationship experts like to talk about fanciful topics and put their own spin on it. I guess it is normal for people to grab a hold of a concept and put it out there for masses to digest. There are tons of married folks and couples who are seeking help with getting their relationship back on track. And when they hear about a technique or strategy that can help them, they will in most cases latch on to it and ride it as far as it may work in their personal situation.
I try to offer to my readers a ton of content that can help them lift their marriage to the next rung. Along with learning about how No Contact can work within your marriage scenario, be sure to dive into my post about all aspects of have to save a marriage in trouble.
Now, since you most likely have arrived at this page partly because you wanted to learn more about the No Contact Rule and how it works and what it could do to help you with the problems you are presently experiencing; I am going to try to straighten out some of the misinformation on what it is, how it works, and most importantly, how it can help you.
First, let’s say we get out of this pattern of following the crowd. Relationship gurus and marriage counselors and many others like to just throw around these phrases, sometimes, quite frankly, seeking to rope you in so you will buy their product. Always be careful with what you read and choose to implement, particularly when it comes to something as important as the No Contact Rule. Despite what they may say, no marriage expert knows exactly what is in your best interest. Nor do I. But I will admit it and then I will give you a big picture view of the benefits and potential disadvantages. With this information, you are smart enough to sort through the best potential choices.
So, in keeping with my lack of interest in following the crowd of copycats, let’s do this. We are going to rename the No Contact Rule principle. First of all, the phrase starts with a negative…..the word “No”. As you have probably realized by now, I don’t like to lead first with negatives. Indeed, the most successful of marriages revolve around the Principle of “Positivity” which I discuss in great detail on my home page. Why not highlight the positive? The idea behind this strategy is that you are to stop all communications with your your Ex, so that is why it took on the name of “no contact”. But one of the greater benefits derived from implementing such as strategy is to allow YOU to get in contact with yourself. It allows you to get in touch with your own feelings and begin the self healing process. And bear in mind, the self healing process can take weeks to take root.
So we will change the name of the concept to the “YES CONTACT RULE”. I want you to say “yes” to getting back in touch with yourself. I want you to say “yes” to healing yourself and potentially your marriage. If you are ever in a position where you need to invoke this (Yes) Contact Rule, then you are going to be experiencing one of the roughest period of time in your life. Your emotions will be all over the place. You will have this unbearable pain in the very core of your body, mind, and spirit. Yes, you will be needing a huge dose of a recovery and that path is found in becoming “one” with yourself. You will need to get yourself together, before you have a chance of pulling your marriage back together.
But, let’s not stop there. I don’t really like the word “rule”. It is much too confining. When it comes to relationship advice, one should be very careful about proposing strict “rules”, particularly when we are dealing with the degree of communication you will or will not have with your husband or wife. Human beings and their relationships are incredibly complicated. When we ask ourselves whether we should stop communicating, in all forms, with our spouse we are dealing with a very critical aspect of the marriage.
After all, that is what this “Contact” business is about. It is mostly about whether you should communicate with with your spouse under certain special situations that might unfold in your marriage. We will get into this with greater detail later. But let’s first get our vocabulary in order!
What I propose is that instead of calling this principle the “No Contact Rule”, let’s think of it as the “YES CONTACT PRINCIPLE”. That sounds a lot more pleasant and is actually quite descriptive of one of its key outcomes…specifically “becoming the best version of yourself”.
Are You Breaking Up or Separating?
When break ups occur, many relationship experts advise their clients to institute a period of time where they do not communicate with their husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend for a specific period of time. We will talk about the time period later because there is a lot of disagreement about how long or short it should be. This period of time where you are to avoid communicating with your significant other in any way…..and that includes all forms of communication such as verbal, written, text, email, person to person, and phone calls….is not intended as a game or designed to punish or “stick it to” your spouse.
The two of you are married because you fell in love and loving somebody is not about teaching them a cruel lesson. The intent behind this strategy is to create a meaningful change. Sometimes, something profound needs to happen to break the old, negative habits that have broken the bond.
I do not recommend you utilize this strategy of shutting down communications with your husband or wife (boyfriend or girlfriend), unless the relationship has deteriorated to the point where the two of your have separated. What does that mean, exactly?
Well first of all, when it comes to relationships, hardly anything is exact or can be described with precise meaning. Such are the vagaries of communication. But I will give you my take on what separation might look like for you and your lover. It is usually a situation that has evolved over many months or even years. The two of you have been pulling further away. The bond of love, which always had been a most wonderful attractive force that pulled the two of you together, is now fractured. You and your spouse are fighting more. Perhaps there has been an affair. Perhaps you have gone to marriage counseling, but it has not helped. Or maybe instead of couples therapy, you and your wife or husband have had long discussions about your future together and the outcome looks bleak. Eventually one or both you decide that it’s time to break up and someone moves out either temporarily or semipermanently. It could a trial separation where one or both of you conclude that you need to sever the relationship or it could be a legal separation in which the attorneys draw up an agreement of understanding.
The period of separation can be days, weeks or months. In effect, a form of no or limited contact is already in place.
For a couple that is married, this type of arrangement is usually the last resort, short of outright divorce. It is only under these circumstances that it makes sense to adopt a Yes Contact Principle (i.e. No Contact Rule). If you were to totally shut down all communications with your spouse, while the two of your are actively working on your relationship and living under the same roof, you most likely will cause more harm than good.
Now, there are some situations where limited contact and communications can awaken the husband or wife to realizing something is terribly wrong with the relationship. We will touch on that later. But to be clear, I would not advocate initiating a No Contact Rule while the marriage is still operating under the same roof.
The Dysfunctional Marriage
The growing dysfunction of a marriage can eventually lead to the realization that something very significant needs to occur to allow for both parties to gain greater perspective and begin the healing process. Unfortunately, in most cases, couples do not take take any meaningful action, but rather just get caught up in the flow of time. One day runs into another as their level of satisfaction and fulfillment in their marriage decreases over time.
You have heard of the saying, “We are growing apart” or “I love him (her), but am not in love anymore”. It can be really tough to explain in words what we are feeling and even more difficult to understand exactly why we are feeling the things we do. We need to remember that words are just “constructs” of the mind. They are not even real. We conjure up certain feelings and thoughts in our brain and then we try to explain using words. But most of the time, the words we chose are woefully inadequate and can be confusing.
We may even ask ourselves, “how did it come to this”? Why don’t I feel the same way? What happened in our marriage such that we do not feel that intensity of love and connection any more? You may think, “before I could never find anything wrong with my husband (or wife).” Now, you may possibly find an assortment of things that you dislike….things that cause friction and agitation.. That magic the two of you had is gone. Resentments have grown to fill a larger part of how you think about your spouse.
As the many months and years go by, all these things can get worse. Then before you can make sense of it all, you are sitting there thinking, “What happened to us?” You might be able to piece together part of the puzzle of how your relationship came to be what it is now. But more often than not, you will be confused as to how things unraveled and what is to become of your marriage in the future. For many couples facing dysfunction in their married lives, they reach a point of where everything they try seems futile and a cycle of rinse and repeat becomes exhausting.
This is often why people break it off. Often, it is not that their love has disappeared. A bond once made, is very difficult to break entirely. It’s just happens that couples will sometimes arrive at a place where they are exceptionally unhappy and have little hope. So they separate. At that point, both will become engulfed with confusing feelings such as sadness, relief, anger, resentment, depression, and many others.
Understanding the Value of Your Relationship “Bank”
It is important you understand the science behind the early stages of love. As mentioned above, I am sure you still remember with fondness those many early months of the relationship where both of you felt you were floating on a cloud of romantic delight. Neither of you could do wrong. Every moment with your lover was magical. Everything within and outside of your relationship was amazing. But those feelings powering your love for each other was getting a big assist from the chemical cocktail dancing in your minds.
When we are in those early stages of falling in love with someone, our brain chemistry changes as dopamine and a host of other chemicals are released. As time goes by, that natural love potion gives way to a steady state of brain chemistry, more or less. This is where marriages are made in my opinion. And like deposits you make into your bank, the welfare of your marriage will be largely dependent on all of the little and large deposits you make into your marriage.
What I am talking about here are the acts of kindness, praise and love you contribute to the “union” you have with your husband or wife. When your acts of love far outweigh the “withdrawals” (negative acts such as fighting, criticism, lack of support) then your relationship is healthy.
But when things take a turn for the sour and you and your spouse are spending far too much of your time withdrawing love from your relationship “bank”, you can go bankrupt and the pain of that process can be unbearably. You must “individually” learn to recover before you can rebuild and improve the marriage you once had.
You are going to need some perspective to gain insight into what is happening and to recover from the pain of your marriage struggles. This is one of the key benefits of the no contact period. It is to allow for both of you to recover and gain some perspective.
So, the “Yes Contact Principle” (i.e. No Contact Rule) is mostly about giving each person in the marriage an opportunity to get “right” in the mind and to begin their own healing process. Right now, both people are swimming in a sea of emotional turbulence and neither is in a position to make good decisions. It will certainly be very difficult for the two of you to “jointly” try to pick up all the pieces at this stage. There needs to be an intervention….a meaningful change.. If it’s not some form of marriage counseling or therapy, then going through a No Contact Period could be exceptionally helpful.
Getting in “Contact” With the Big Picture
There was a movie that came out some time ago called, “Contact”. It starred Jodi Foster and was about a woman in search of extraterrestrial life. The movie has some very interesting themes running through it that actually is instructive for relationships.
The character in the movie experienced her own personal journey by traveling far away. But it is the way the movie started that I find to be useful in this discussion about “PERSPECTIVE”. It starts on earth, then the camera pans further away and outward. The earth becomes slightly smaller as the “eye” of the camera pan outward as we travel beyond the moon, the planets of our solar system, and even further out.
Now, if you are in the midst of a relationship that has gone terribly wrong and your problems and pain are so great, that you can barely function, then clearly you are in a very bad place emotionally. You lack the love you deserve and most assuredly, you will lack perspective. The adverse effects of this suffering will also likely have a very
negative impact on your physical health. If you have just broken up or you and your spouse have just separated, then you will be emotionally compromised and blind to what is probably in your best interest. You may find yourself obsessing over the state of the marriage and what you should do. Your behavior may become compulsive. You may feel desperate to repair that relationship connection that is now broken or severed. Most people in this emotional state are extremely vulnerable. They can become prisoners of their own emotions and say and do things that contribute to the relationship worsening. What is one to do?
I say, let’s take a journey to the stars. Remember that movie, “Contact” I was talking about just a bit earlier? Well let’s take a ride and see where it takes us. Now, if you are “game” and follow along really closely, you might just discover this little journey you are about to undertake will be somewhat hypnotic. So, you may be thinking, “Really, you believe you can hypnotize me right NOW, just by me reading this stuff you are writing on the page?”
It is really up to you and that is the truth!
Maybe I can, but in a way that separates myth from reality. After all, hypnosis is nothing more than a highly relaxed and focused state of mind. Can you really relax, and then focus?
If one provides certain stimuli (suggestions), these notions can get lodged into the mind of a person and can positively affect this person’s behavior. Watching a movie or reading a book are forms of a mild self hypnotic state of mind. You are relaxed in a dark movie theater, maybe wearing those funky 3D glasses. You are very focused and eventually become engulfed in the story that is unfolding on the movie screen. Before you know it, you are so caught up with what you see and hear on the screen, you suspend reality, and actually begin caring a great deal about the characters in the movie. You laugh and you cry and experience a wide range of emotions. And you can learn things….make important connections, only because the movie enabled you to do so. Right? Actually, not entirely. Those important connections you made when watching the movie occurred because YOU chose to relax and open up your mind and be receptive.
Should we call that a form of hypnosis? That is up to you. Call it what you will, be let’s take a little journey together and I want you to go some place really quiet and read the following passage very slowly. I want you to visualize the meaning of the words. Allow the words to form images in your mind. And remember, it not really me that allows you to enter this heightened state of relaxation….it is all YOU.
You are in the middle of a forest. As you look around, all you can see and think about are those things immediately affecting you. Just as the tree cannot see the forest, your view is confined. You are in the middle of a forest.
Now imagine you are on the moon. Your view of earth has expanded such that the entire globe is now in focus. You see continents and the grand scale of the oceans. You are amazed at the scope of that which you see. You are on the moon.
Now imagine you are on the edge of the Milky Way Galaxy. The earth is now a tiny blue dot, far,far away in the distance. Suddenly you realize that all of your worries and concerns are very small in the scheme of things. The gravity of your problems start to shrink away. You look upon the universe in awe and are delighted to be part of it.
Ok! You are released from your self induced state of relaxation. With that kind of perspective, I hope you realize that problems that seem to mushroom into gigantic proportions in your mind, are occupying far too much space in your life.
A Time To Reap
Now I want you to think about it another way. Think about the time you have remaining in life. We are all mere specks of dust in a universe that is 13.3 billion years old and more vast and expansive that words can describe. Our life span is measured in the smallest of fractions as compared to the age of the universe. With perspective, we should realize that our time is the most precious thing we have. What a shame it is for us allow ourselves to get muddled into a state of constant negativity, sadness, or depression. While we cannot always control what happens in our lives, we have considerable control over the attitude we elect to have in our life.
The power of the “Yes Contact Principle” (i.e. No Contact Rule) is to allow you to get in touch with your feelings, put things back into proper perspective, and begin healing from the wounds you have suffered within your relationship. Only then will you be best equipped to make sound decisions about whether reconciliation with your your wife or husband is something you want to strive for.
What is the Limited Contact Principle in a Marriage or Relationship
We spent some time talking about the No Contact Rule which we went on to rename as the “Yes Contact Principle”. So now let’s turn our attention to the Limited Contact Principle. We will keep the name because it actually is descriptive of what you might choose to implement if the situation is appropriate.
In almost every situation in marriage, balanced and quality communications is something you want to strive to achieve each day. But what happens if the marriage is on the rocks and neither of you are making any progress getting it back on track? Should one utilize some form of the limited contact rule?
First, let’s make sure we are all on the same page. I would define the limited contact principle as a self imposed cooling off period. If your marital relationship has eroded to such a point where communications are often negative and triggering fights and conflict, then something needs to happen to break that trend. Limited contact with your spouse could accomplish that. Communications would be limited to just the most pertinent information you need to convey to your husband or wife. Otherwise, you will want to avoid initiating conversation. And when your spouse tries to raise a topic for discussion or ask a general question, your response is very brief, neutral in tone, but respectful. If necessary, you quietly, with measured control, remove yourself from the immediate environment so as to avoid further attempts at communication or any hostility.
With this approach, you are trying to accomplish two things. One, you want to break the negative, vicious cycle of the type of communications that has harmed your marriage.
It takes two to tango (in most cases), so why tango if it is hurting the relationship?
Have you ever head of the concept of “less is more”. Well, this is what you are trying to achieve. Less communications should lead to more perspective, serenity, and hopefully a greater appreciation from your spouse that something in their behavior is terribly wrong, otherwise you would not be shutting down. And that is the second thing you want to accomplish through this strategy. You want to create an awareness in your husband or wife so they understand something very important is broken.
It is like hitting the reset button on the computer when the operating system is all fouled up. Before it reboots, it goes through a period in which it audits all of the internal systems. When it finds a problem, it attempts to fix it, but not before it goes through a quiet reboot period.
With a relationship that is off the tracks, sometimes you need to go through a quiet period to properly assess things. Unlike a No Contact Period, where all communications come to an end, the limited contact principle allows you to coexist with your spouse, while at the same time try to slow things down. Once implemented for a few hours or a few days, it will become abundantly clear to your lover that the relationship is off the tracks and something meaningful needs to happen to address the problems.
Consider it a wake up call for your spouse, except you are doing all of your talking through your actions. Less is more. So will it work? Sometimes it does. The husband or wife gets the message and takes advantage of an opportunity to reevaluate his or her role in the conflict. You want to create an environment where the hostilities have ended and rational thinking has returned. In this environment, your lover will be more inclined to act in a more positive, pragmatic fashion; which lends itself to solutions.
Now, on the other hand, your efforts to limit conversation and interaction with your spouse could have the opposite effect of what you desire. A lot depends on the nature of the people involved and the strength of the marriage union. Some people react very well to the limited contact and seize the opportunity to make things right. After all, if you have a reasonably solid marriage, it is in both people’s interest to bring an end to the bickering.
But in some cases, I have seen this approach backfire. No matter how civil and respectful you are in carrying out the limited contact principle, some people will get very angry and resentful. Chances are that such individuals are very controlling, possibly very selfish, and your failure to engage in lengthy debate causes them to dig in their heels even more.
My thinking is that even when you encounter resistance as you apply the limited contact principle, give it time. It is very difficult for most everyone to have a one way arguement. If they persist for many hours with a poor reaction and the situation becomes even more volatile, it is likely that this person will never come around to having a peaceful and constructive dialogue. In such cases, you should consider leaving for several hours….possibly overnight; but convey you are willing to have a constructive and peaceful discussion when your spouse is ready.
How Long Should a Marriage Partner Utilize the No Contact Rule?
When you find it necessary to implement a No Contact Period (or as you know I like to call it the “Yes Contact Principle”) you should realize there is no magic number of days that is guaranteed to be optimal. Remember, the primary reason you utilize the No Contact Principle is to allow you to focus on your own emotional needs and personal growth goals.
I have advocated that you utilize this principle only if you have broken up with your lover and it’s the “real deal”. Not a temporary fit of anger, where either of you stormed out. If you are married, that would include separation. Unlike divorce, with a separation, both parties usually are of the mind that they need to put distance between themselves so they can figure out what is best.
This period of “no contact” with your spouse can range anywhere from 14 days to 60 days. Let me give you a little advice based on the thousands of people I hear from on this topic. Forget about those relationship experts that tell you that you must set a specific period of time, like 60 days, and come hell or high water, you have to stick with it. I just don’t think it is a smart thing to be too specific on the time period and I certainly am not a fan of telling folks that they should never make an exception. That is not how the real world of relationships operate. There are many variables, occurrences, and complexities associated with relationships…and so “breaking” the No Contact Period may be necessary. I will get into this more a bit later.
If you are entering into a No Contact Period for all of the “right” reasons, then I would recommend it range from 21 to 30 days immediately following the breakup or separation. Based on my experience with actual people who have utilized this principle, this period of time works more often than not. I would reinforce that there are different time periods for different couples, given their individual situations. Once you establish your time period, stick with it, unless certain situations unfold that call for an exception. As promised, I will touch on that topic later.
I would also recommend, particularly if your are married (i.e. separated), that you respectfully inform your spouse of your intentions. This helps on two levels. First, your marriage union, no matter what shape it is in, is something to be treated with the utmost respect. Shutting down all contact and communications with your husband or wife is a very significant event, even if you have previously given each other notice you wanted to pursue a “separation” of some kind. I emphasize “some kind” because couples can get pretty creative when they decide to break it off. It need not be a legal separation. It could actually start of as an informal understanding between the two of you to just “coolit” for awhile. It could have been left open ended. Even those relationship arrangements are clear signs of dysfunction.
But whatever the case, when you decide to institute the No Contact Period, convey to your spouse (or boyfriend or girlfriend) what your mindset is. It need not be complicated and avoid being too wordy. I recommend you convey your intentions verbally on the phone or by email. Meeting in person to discuss such a matter usually leads to complications. Here is an example of what you can say:
“I wanted to let you know that I really need time to think about things and start my process of healing. Please respect my privacy over this period as I will not be responsive to any efforts to contact me or meet with me. Thank you for your support”
As I described, use this time to heal. And if you are genuinely open to reconnecting with your spouse, you will have benefited from utilizing this approach. In a future post, I will discuss in greater detail what tactics you should use to reconnect. Remember, this process is not about punishing your spouse. Nor is it to cause him or her to come running back to you after a few days once they realize you are completely off the radar. It’s is for you to gain perspective and become the best version of yourself.
Elsewhere on this website and on my other websites, I will discuss in great detail how the No Contact Period can be a springboard to reconnecting with your husband or wife. Also, feel free to explore my other websites for more information if you wish to learn more about how to reunite with your Ex.
Why is Implementing the No Contact Rule So Hard?
So why is it so hard to actually implement? I mean, after all, the whole idea is that this is suppose to be YOUR time. It is intended to be time for you get back in touch with your feelings. It is suppose to be an opportunity for you to be extremely honest with yourself and look at the things you can do differently to be a better relationship partner. It is intended to gain perspective and heal. So why do so many people report that going through the No Contact Period is one of the most agonizing things they have ever done?
Well, if you are presently experiencing significant difficulties in your marriage, you already have a good idea of the amount of emotional baggage that is accumulating.
You have an up close and personal experience with the hardships of trying to pick up the pieces of your relationship. And if you have entered into a No Contact Period, you know that hollow feeling you have as it begins. You feel empty and shell shocked. So from an emotional perspective, you come into the process already suffering.
Then we have the physical duress and stress you have suffered, possibly for months or years. The impact on your emotional and physical health can be profound. None of those things just simply go away once you start the no contact period. Our minds and body do not operate that way. The lingering effects can last days, weeks, even months. And now you are embarking on different experience. It is meant to allow you to heal, but still the process will be new and you will have uncertainties as to what to expect from yourself and your spouse. Your routines will be somewhat different and you will miss certain things, a lot. If you have children, then multiple the effects of what we have discussed by a factor of 2.
To complicate things further, irrespective of the problems you encountered with your spouse, you might miss him or her terribly. There is something happening deep in your brain. But clearly, most people feel there is some part of them that is missing.
When a breakup has occurred, it has an incalculable effect on you. Everyone responds and experiences things somewhat differently. But if you are one of those individuals who feel that your are “fractured”, suffering from the pain of missing your husband or wife…..just know that these feelings will in time subside. Experts tell us that withdrawing from the relationship, particularly if it is sudden, is akin to coming off of an addictive drug. Studies reveal that the withdrawal symptoms are uncanningly identical and this is because the brain’s chemicals are responding in a very similar way.
So what can you do about all of this pain and suffering? In a moment we are going to discuss that, but let’s first return to the question of what situations might unfold in which the No Contact Principle can be suspended or even ended.
What are the Situations Where the No Contact Rule Can be Broken?
Once implemented, the “Yes Contact Principle” (i.e. No Contact Rule) can be a foundation for self healing and even an avenue to resurrect your marriage. The idea is to focus on your needs….your recovery….your healing. It also provides an opportunity for your spouse to do the same. This means you will end all communications and contact with your spouse. So once you commit, I want you to think very carefully about breaking it off. Stick to your plan.
But there are some situations where it may be beneficial to you and your relationship to momentarily break your commitment. These include:
● Children: There will be times when you will need to interface with your husband or wife regarding some matter related to your children. Keep your communications civil and respectful and short.
● Financial: Same as above. Sometimes financial matters were one of the triggers of conflict. If that is the case, then communicating by email might help with avoiding uncomfortable and potentially negative conversations.
● Work: If you work together, you can employ “limited contact” at work and “no contact” outside of work. Again, keep conversations at work only about business. If your spouse tries to bring up personal matters, just state you are not ready to engage in those discussions.
● House: Invariably, there will be some household issue that will occur that may require your spouse’s input or intervention. If you are separated and your spouse needs to come to the home for some matter, arrange to have a friend present and keep the conversation with your spouse limited to just the issue at hand.
● A Genuine Fig Leaf: In some cases, your husband or wife may make genuine and sincere efforts to reconcile. They may have sent you several text messages or left phone messages or sent you emails….all with the same friendly, respectful tone. This usually does not happen in the first several days, but if you have had an adequate period of time to experience self healing and if you believe your wife or husband is really open to talking and repairing the relationship, then set up a meet up. I recommend it be some neutral, public place at first so you can explore your spouse’s intentions and level of commitment to working through the problems. This is a time to take small steps. Take things slow.
The Many Faces of the No Contact Period
As we have already discussed, the “Yes Contact Principle” (i.e. No Contact Rule) affords you an opportunity to settle down your emotions, get in touch with confusing feelings and become the best version of yourself (i.e. discussed at length on the home page of this website). It is also an opportunity for you to protect your marriage from further harm. It also helps your spouse to benefit from the same “effect”. They too need to figure out what they want and what they are willing to do to accomplish that.
Ironically, another benefit of ceasing or limiting contact with your marriage partner is that it can in the longer run bring you closer together. Dysfunctional marriages do not repair themselves. There needs to be an intervention and that is what this process is about.
I want to touch on some things you can do to help with mastering your emotions. First of all, you should realize that “time” is a great healer in of itself. You already know the importance of having “Perspective”. But, as time progresses, it helps you with doing things that bring more “positive” into your life. Time can be your friend.
In my best selling books, “The Texting Bible” and the “Ex Recovery Pro Series”, I talk about the value of the “Holy Trinity” for individuals recovering from relationships. I talk about taking the time to find peace and serenity. Whether that involves activities such as Yoga, meditation, or reading a great book….what matters is you fall into the slip stream phenomenon we call time. I also discuss the importance of using the No Contact Period to focus on your health, wealth, and other relationships in your life. With time, these things can improve if you focus on them.
Getting Anchored With Your Feelings
But there are a few other things you can do from a psychological perspective that can help immensely. One technique is called, “anchoring”. They way it works is that we naturally make associations (i.e. anchors) between experiences we feel, hear, smell or see and we connect these experiences to our emotional state at that time.. For example, when I smell certain flavors of bubble gum, it takes me back to the days I played Little League baseball. When I see a hot air balloon, I immediately think of the amazing time my wife and I had on a hot air balloon ride.
Here is the cool part. You can call upon “anchors” to paint your mind’s “attitude”.
So “anchors” can be deliberately created or resurrected and that can help you achieve a more desirable emotional state. It is simple to do. The idea is you focus on the positive mental imagery you have stored within your mind and take a joy ride. Do it often enough, you can transform a negative and depressive state of mind to one that is positive. I would recommend immersing yourself with all your senses that are anchored in positive memories and emotions. “Choose your attitude” is what some people say. I would add to that….. “Practice your attitude” and it will become your reality. Check out the link I provide below to learn more about anchoring and other neurolinguistic techniques you can use.
Alternatives to Using the No Contact Rule if You are Married
The last thing you really want to do when you are married is to separate. And you really want to avoid using the No Contact Rule. Sometimes it is a necessary and useful. Sometimes your relationship just slowly erodes and now you find yourself separated emotionally, spiritually, and physically. It is not necessarily the end of your marriage. If you use the time you are separated in a healthy way, it can lead to many good things for you and your spouse. But not always. There is heightened risk that neither you or your marriage partner will get through your problems. So what are some stop gap measure you can employ to avoid the dreaded “Separation” event?
As you know, I am a fan of sports. And in all sporting events, teams can utilize what is called a “timeout”. It provides them an opportunity to rest, work through conflicts, draw out a game plan, and then get back into the game. Sound familiar!
I think the use of a timeout in a relationship can be beneficial. Sometimes it is as simple as agreeing to a “cooling off” period if a fight has been dragging on too long. We all know that no matter how strong your marriage, fights will happen. But that does not mean we can’t put some rules around them. And one of them should be calling a timeout if the fight has lasted more than, let’s say 10 minutes. My feeling about fighting is that as soon as you both engage in conflict, you both lose. So if you start fussing a bit too long, then just call a timeout and then try to resolve the problem. Look for a win win.
So You “Want to Take a Break”?
Have you ever heard of someone taking a “break” from their marriage. It sorta sounds irresponsible to me. “Lets just take a break from each other” someone might say. Well, what I would say is throw out that language. No matter how you dress it up, this kind of vocabulary will get you in trouble. It has far too many negative connotations. What you think and what your intentions are, matters a great deal and in the long run wins out.
But what you say and how you say it can be easily misunderstood and ramp up the conflict. So get rid of the phrase, “let’s take a break from each other” as it sounds like somebody may want to breakup for good.
Married Couples Seeking Therapy
Marriage therapy or counseling can prove fruitful for some couples. There is some evidence that it can help. A great deal of the potential for success depends on the quality of the therapist, the therapeutic model they are using, and the readiness and commitment level of the couple. Don’t expect that everything will just get all worked out in a few sessions. It seldom does. Unfortunately, some couples will start in earnest, but one of the married partners will lose motivation or lack belief in the approach being utilized by the counselor. Sometimes one of the married individuals will have no interest in participating. Another downside is that the cost of therapy can be too expensive for many.
Another alternative is to do what you are doing now which educating yourself on how to improve your marriage. A well written Marriage Recovery and Fitness System can be both cost effective and beneficial, even if only one person of the marriage is utilizing the knowledge. I have seen considerable evidence of the other marriage partner being open to taking the key learnings and work with their spouse to improve their marriage.
What Would Yoda Say About Marriage?
The way I think about the union of marriage is that it is imperfect. It is something married couples should always be working on to improve. That is primarily why I came up with the 5 Synergistic Principles for a Successful Marriage. All of us have an opportunity to make deposits each day into our marriage bank. What would Yoda say? You know…. that little Star Wars fellow that has a penchant of reversing his sentences, but speaks eloquently.