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How Can My Ex Be So Cold & Uncaring After 28 Years of Marriage?

I recently asked my social media audience to share some of the biggest challenges they’re having when it comes to divorce. Here’s a poignant response I received:

My biggest challenge has been understanding how my Ex can be so cold and uncaring after 28 years of marriage. Since our separation, he’s never once reached out to ask how I’m doing. It boggles the mind. Our divorce was final in January, and he just announced he’s getting married in October already. Not surprisingly, he’d been cheating with her for the last few years of our marriage. But I still can’t wrap my brain around, “OK, done with you . . . don’t care what you’ve got going on . . . on to the next.”

I hear the hurt and bewilderment in her message. It’s not just about the divorce. It’s about being completely cast aside as if she doesn’t matter to him anymore. It’s impossible to know what this man is thinking, but one thing’s for sure; he’s probably not going to get an attack of conscience and reach out to her anytime soon.

Checking in on her wellbeing would necessitate him addressing his act of betrayal. This is a level of empathy and self-awareness most people never reach. Acknowledging that his actions have deeply hurt her requires a hefty dose of courage and compassion on his part.

It sounds like he’s not there . . . and he may never get there.

Is it fair? No. Does it happen all the time? Yes. If you’re reeling from the shock of getting canceled by your Ex, your anger is justified. But, your focus on them not “showing up” for you can keep you stuck and unable to fully move on. Here are five considerations to support you in getting over it:

You’re Right, You Deserve Better: Of course, you do. Sadly, wanting your Ex to acknowledge your pain (not to mention your decades of marriage) is a wish with little or no hope of being fulfilled. Would it be wonderful if the person who betrayed you would own up to it and express concern for you? It would. But you can’t make someone do something for you even if they really should.

Shift the Focus: When the need for some sort of acknowledgment from your Ex impacts your ability to move on, you’ve given your power away. Thankfully, you can get it back and move on regardless of what your Ex does or doesn’t do. It’s OK to fully feel and express your anger, shock, and bafflement at your Ex’s behavior . . . for a while. Then you must begin to shift the focus from your Ex to yourself and get busy processing your loss and embracing your new reality.

You’re Still Healing, and That’s OK: Left-over emotional attachment to your Ex is what’s underneath your desire for him (or her) to care enough to reach out. That’s OK. It just means you’re still healing and recovering. Set your intention to relinquish your emotional attachment to your Ex. Be gentle with yourself and know this: When your Ex’s actions, or inactions, don’t matter to you anymore, you’ll be free.

Finding Your Gratitude Will Help: Even if you get let down at the end, a long marriage is a significant life experience that has given both partners many gifts and blessings. There are happy memories, life experiences, and relationships with children, in-laws, and friends you wouldn’t have had without that marriage. It’s worth reflecting on what you gained from being married to this person. It’s also important to take the time to identify what you’ve discovered about yourself through your marriage and divorce experiences.

This in no way diminishes or devalues your pain and suffering. Rather it opens you to both sides of the big picture—the bitter and the sweet—which contributes to your healing and recovery.

It’s Time to Show Up for Yourself: Your Ex’s disregard will start to matter less to you in direct proportion to your progress in rebuilding your life. It’s time to get excited about starting over with a clean slate and much more wisdom and experience. It’s time to focus on you and what you want out of life! What have you always wanted to do and never done? Where have you always wanted to go? You’re no longer tied to your Ex’s expectations of who you are. You can do anything or be anyone you want to.

It’s your turn! Please share your biggest challenge with me by replying to this email. I would love to consider writing about it in a future email.

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  1. My husband asked for a divorce. So after 10 months, my lawyer sent him the final papers to be looked over and signed. We normally talk 4-5 times a week. Now he is being hot and cold. He wanted this, so why is he acting like this?

    1. It’s hard to know what’s going through his mind. The best thing you can do for yourself is to try to shift your focus from him and how he’s acting to taking steps toward your divorce recovery. Coaching, therapy, support groups, books, and other resources can help. You’re not alone!