Let’s take an imaginary journey of a marriage gone sour. Pretend it is yours or a friend you know for the sake of this discussion.
In the beginning of your marriage, you spent your time forming this very special bond and attachment with your Ex husband. He was your everything. You found yourself missing him terribly when he was gone for more than a day.
You could not wait to get those reassuring hugs and kisses throughout the day. You loved just being beside him and how everything felt so “right”.
Now suddenly things have changed. Sure, it could be said that it was not a complete surprise. You were noticing little behavioral changes in your husband.
But now a bomb has just exploded in your life and it has been rough going on the marital front for a good spell.
The last few months of your marriage has been a transformation experience. You discovered that he had resumed a romance with an ex girlfriend. Only time will tell whether this huge event will ultimately break the marriage.
You are still processing just how you feel about your husband’s betrayal. All you can think of is “he cheated on me“.
You are filled with fleeting thoughts like, “am I not enough for him“….”is this other women prettier or better in bed“…..”could I have done something wrong“.
But to be fair, those are probably not the only rush of thoughts that fly through your mind. You may also be thinking, “what a disgusting and dishonorable thing to do to me“……”
Everything in your life feels like it has exploded.
After discovering his infidelity, you had insisted he leave the home the two of you had grown to think of as your getaway.
Now everything around you feels like a lie. And to think you once actually believed he and you were forming the perfect love nest. The very notion that your husband would no longer be part of your life seemed like a cruel joke.
But you still can’t stop your self from reflecting back on those early, exciting, even exhilarating days. Indeed, in the beginning it was unfathomable to consider a life without your husband.
In those early days you did everything together.
Love colored every single day.
As one of my clients (Peggy) described, the early days of their marriage was the happiest of her life.
We played together all the time. We made promises to always tell the truth. My husband was attentive and caring and whenever we got into a disagreement, it was always my husband that came to me to say he was sorry. And more often than not, we would usually end the day in each others arms. The make up sex was good. Sometimes just fighting with my husband didn’t seem all that wrong. Yet here I am feeling like I am living in some kind of alternative universe. My husband can’t seem to go a month without chasing after another woman. He says it is just for the sex….like that is supposed to make me feel better. I told him I am through with him and his cheating ways. But honestly, I can’t get him out of my mind. Why do I still miss him so? How is it that in one moment I want to rip him apart, then in almost an instant I start missing him in the most terrible way. I hate feeling like I am a prisoner to my emotions. I feel like I am losing it.
I get it. I really do.
But the problem is that clients, like Peggy, when they are at the mercy of the breakup blues and undergoing a relationship shakeup, can be very vulnerable to a whole set of conflicting feelings and thoughts.
And if you are in a similar situation, you need to be careful not to do anything rash or impulsive. Otherwise, you will have a lot of angry and emotional “inside voices” telling you to consider all kinds of possibilities, some of which may lead you to poor relationship decisions.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that your breakup with your ex husband will cause you to become possessed and start hearing strange voices.
I am just saying that when you enter into what I call the “breakup zone” which is that period (usually 1-3 months) immediately following end of the relationship, you will likely be in an emotional and vulnerable state.
Not always. But there will be days where you may feel like you are becoming unglued.
And when you think about it, it can be a pretty wild ride. One day all is well, love is in the air.
Then you suddenly learn about your husband’s affair (such as Peggy did) and you are filled with a confusing web of feelings. Anger leads to rage which leads to frustration and confusion and back to rage, eventually settling in with some depression.
It is like a cyclone of emotions that spin you in all directions. And when you can’t stand to even think of your ex husband and all of his lies and deceit, you later find yourself in the midst of a personal crisis wondering, “why do I still miss my ex husband”.
I think of it as breakup or marriage whiplash. That is how quickly events can move and shift, causing the very foundation of your marriage to erode and come under fire.
It can be confusing when these feelings of “longing to be with him” seem to slip into your stream of thoughts.
I mean after all he put you through (assuming you have a similar story as Peggy), why are you flooded with these feelings of wanting to see the very guy that just made your life “hell” and possibly “ruined” any chance of rebuilding trust.
Of course, it doesn’t happen exactly this way for everyone. We all have our own unique situations and circumstances, so our love stories and dramas can play out differently. The feelings you may experience will invariable unfold in their own unique way.
Three Things That Can Cause You to Miss Your Ex
The way I see it, there are three components that can explain why you may be missing your ex husband or boyfriend in the most terrible way. These involve emotional, biological, and psychological factors.
So let’s break this down so we all understand.
First up, emotions.
When you have invested so many years in a marriage, you end up having hundreds upon thousands of small to large moments and experiences with your husband.
When he become your ex, those moments are not simply washed away in your conscious memory and subconscious mind. They live on and irrespective of what you ex husband has done to mess up the relationship with either his casual philandering or an outright adulterous, serious affair, these moments and memories are attached to you in ways you may never fully understand.
By the way, the same pull or tug from these emotions live inside your ex husband’s mind as well.
It seems our memories have their own way of surfacing when we can least expect.
Indeed, they have a way of bubbling up at the worst of times, particularly the heartwarming and fulfilling experiences you had in the past. So it is not unusual to feel the pull of these emotions. They can tug at your heart and desires when you are most vulnerable.
Just knowing this will empower you to manage your feelings in a better more constructive manner.
Certain feelings of missing your husband can come over you like waves. It is entirely possible to be in one frame of mind where you want nothing to do with your ex. Maybe you may swell up with anger and resentment at how your ex husband treated you.
Then in a matter of minutes, the pull and tug of memories past can cause you to feel nostalgic. You may have fleeting thoughts of meeting with him just so that you can relive that happy moments of the past.
It is one thing to separate or divorce your ex husband, but it is an entirely different challenge to be rid of all of the past memories and familiar routines.
You May Hunger With Desire for Your Ex Husband
There is a biological connection that governs your experience with your ex husband. It is more than the familiarity of his touch or the synchronicity of your heartbeats when you are in each other’s presence.
Yes, that does really happen.
Studies have been performed which reveal that couples often share many things in common, including the rhythm of their heart rates and the rate of breathing.
After a married couple spends a good amount of time together, they begin to lock in at a biological level.
This phenomenon was revealed in a pair of studies published in a journal called “Emotion“. Researchers from the University of California and the University of Arizona demonstrated that even when lovers were many feet apart, their heart and breathing rates chimed in unison.
Interestingly, it was the women in the study that made the most profound changes in their heart rates and breathing to regulate as needed to adjust to their husband.
Feel free to check out the details below.
But the biological connection I really want to talk about is the persistence and influence of your neurotransmitters. I am talking about the chemistry of mood and emotional elevators such as dopamine, oxytocin, and vasopressin.
They come into being when you are around your lover. Take the husband or lover out of the equation, then stress hormones can build. To compound matters you can find yourself in a deficit of dopamine and other feel good chemicals the brain produced when you were in each other’s company.
It’s like you are addicted and need your fix, but your lover is nowhere to be found. Naturally, that longing to be with your ex husband will arise as you seek to quench your body’s need for those feel good neurotransmitters.
Don’t you just hate relationship biology sometimes!
Your Attachment Style May Contribute to Your Desire To Be With Your Husband
A third component that plays on you at more of a psychological level is your attachment style.
We all have an attachment style when it comes relationships.
Some individuals are very well-adjusted and can adapt quite well, rebounding from their broken heart. Other individuals will have an attachment style that is driven by their underlying anxieties. They are not prepared to separate from their husband or boyfriend and fear and worry a bit too much about what will become of them.
Even after the husband has done something horrible, such as cheating on them, the individual can eventually find themselves wrestling with their internal drives which push them to want to cling to a relationship that they otherwise might really need to let go.
Now bear in mind, I have over simplified this discussion for the sake of brevity.
Understanding how we deal with broken marriages, affairs, and other serious problems that might befall a relationship is far more complex.
When you throw in the element such as an unhealthy “attachment style” or other types of physiological factors, the whole discussion can get rather lengthy and confusing.
It suffices to say that men and women often find themselves (at some point) missing their spouse in the most surprising and unexpected ways.
This whole topic of dealing with the wild emotions that can run rampant in a person’s mind is something I have dealt with in several posts. Take a moment later to review this post if you are struggling within the breakup zone.
How Do You Move Past Missing Your Ex Husband?
The most important question is how do you get past these feelings and if you really want your husband back in your life.
If you do want your husband back, what can you do to maximize that possibility?
Let’s explore that. You might be surprised at where it leads you.
After a marriage break up, for the sake of your personal recovery and also to optimize your chances to reunite with your ex husband, you will need to detach from your Ex.
For some, that is a scary proposition.
“I mean really”, you might be thinking, “what does that mean…detaching from my Ex”?
If you miss your ex husband and think you want them back, you are probably thinking, “how will removing him from my life, help me?”
Think of it this way. You are carrying a burden. It is hole deep inside you. Whether you realize or not, if you and your husband are separated you may actually be in just the right place. Even if you think you want him back.
If you split up because your husband broke the mother of all vows and cheated on you, yet you are not ready to give him up, it just might help to do exactly that.
Give him up, so you can be in a better place to take him back assuming that is in the cards.
Sometimes, to move forward, you have to let go. The burden has to be lifted and carried away. And that is difficult to do if you are still chasing after a dysfunctional marriage.
Learn to Stand Alone to Fully Recover
You should operate under the assumption that you Ex husband won’t be there to help you. You cannot count on him. He has already disappointed you profoundly.
It’s time to look for new horizons. Trust me, you will benefit immensely when you seek to renew your life and spirit.
He may very well do it again, particularly if adultery was involved in the breakup.
I am not saying these things to make you feel worse. Nor do I necessarily think that your husband will “act poorly” are do things to further exasperate the situation.
But I believe in being pragmatic and also preparing oneself for worst case scenarios, should they unfold.
So sometimes it is best to fully detach from your Ex husband.
That does not mean that you will never be able to “re-attach” to him in the future. It does not mean that you and your husband won’t (some day) be able to undergo healing and forgiveness and make the marriage work again.
It just means that for your own personal recovery to be fully realized, you have to proceed under the assumption that your Ex husband may not be part of your life.
I know that sounds hard and maybe even impersonal. But you cannot move forward if you are banking on the notion that your husband of old will be part of your life in the future.
Maybe he will…maybe he won’t.
You will be made stronger if you operate under the premise that you life is moving forward and good things will happen. Just adopt the mindset that your Ex husband may not be part of the equation. That is the mindset you should embrace!
So “How do I detach?”, you might ask?
A Practical Strategy is to ATTACH to Other People.
There is this whole wide world out there with dozens and dozens of possible paths for you to explore.
You can learn more about yourself and challenge yourself to do a great many new things. You can meet and learn life lessons from other people. So get engaged with life and interact with other people.
Not so much “things”, but other people.
We all need that people connection in our lives and it is easy to get lost inside yourself and start shutting out the world when we feel down and out. I don’t wish for you to explore that path. It usually leads to a dark place.
Just to be clear, I am not necessarily talking about attaching to another love interest or going out and having a one night stand.
What I mean is you should attach to people you know that you already love and care about. And also new people. Go to places and meet new people. Help people. Volunteer to do things with people or for people.
There is great therapy in getting engaged physically, spiritually and socially in life.
Spend more time with your friends and family.
Go out and travel.
Attach to nature.
What?….you don’t care for nature!
Well, hopefully that is not the case! Because to get grounded, sometimes you need to get away from all of the concrete, sidewalks, buildings, and all the other man-made objects.
Go out and feel the wind in your face. Take a walk in a park. Do it often. These things help create positive emotions and can trigger the release of positive neurotransmitters.
What you want to do is to get back to attaching yourself to the right things in life.
Put distance between yourself and the negative memories and routines that may have revolved around your ex husband or boyfriend.
Try attaching to your love of participating in sports and leisure activities.
Attaching to physical exercise is also a good idea as it fills up your time. It also offers many physical and emotional benefits.
Your world is made up of much, much more than your Ex husband.
And if you free yourself up from the emotional clutches of your Ex, you will feel much more independent and confident.
Besides, detaching from your Ex is also a great way to enhance your personal attraction.
Your Absence Will Make Your Ex Husband Miss You
Time is on your side.
There is a principle in psychology called “reactance”.
Essentially, all of us have freedoms. When you were married your husband had freedom to be with you and enjoy your company.
But take that away from your husband, his reaction is to eventually pursue that which was taken away. It is a natural physiological response. We want that which we are told we can’t have.
Remember, your ex is dealing with a plethora of conflicted feelings, emotions, and deficits of the feel good chemicals our brains produce.
Since you detached from your ex husband, he in time will start to miss you. In effect, the tables are turned. You may have spent a great deal of time missing your ex husband.
But in time, after you have re-established your independence and sought to become the best version of “you”, it is your husband that will eventually come to miss you and desire you.
Attraction usually builds during this time of your absence.
Eventually Explore Your Relationship Options
As you experience some healing and learn to be happy with yourself, your confidence will grow.
There will come a time in which you may be ready to return to the dating scene.
I am not advocating you do this right away, but eventually going out on a few casual dates, may help you get closer to your own feelings, never mind help you with potentially meeting some people you may end up liking a lot.
Oh, and I am sure you have not lost sight of the effect casual dating can have on creating “jealousy” in the mind of your ex husband if you ever wish to re-explore that prospect.