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Detachment....what does it mean?

Betrayal Trauma~Hope Restored Blog


In Betrayal Trauma~Hope Restored we have been learning about the importance of detachment in our self-care trauma recovery.  Detaching emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically from your spouse, especially in the initial stages of recovery, is vitally important if you want a strong sense of self, clarity, and Spirit- control.  Albeit, I know detachment may seem antithetical to loving your spouse and building your bond if you desire your marriage to recover…but it is an absolutely necessary step to your recovery.

You see, God created us with a wonderful plan for a connected and secure marriage. In fact, he instructed men to cleave to (be tightly, firmly bonded to) their wives, the two becoming one flesh (Genesis 2:24; Mark 10:8-9). And in Ephesians 5: 21-33, Paul speaks about ultimate mutual submission between a man and woman, becoming one another’s indispensable help in the marital bond.  When there is infidelity (virtual or real), the marital bond (cleaving) is broken, making it impossible to have the kind of oneness that God intended. The good news is that there is a path and a process to recovering from brokenness and to even building your bond, anew.  But a bond can only be created by two becoming one. That means it takes the willingness of both in order to (re)build their bond. That is why detachment is so necessary. Until both are willing to recover emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically from the severing of the bond, restoration and bonding become impossible. Since God’s plan was for us to be one in marriage, you can rest assured, He will do His part to help you both along that path -  if you both so choose.  So, what exactly is detachment? Detachment is NOT negative. It is NOT reactive or punishing. It is NOT withdrawing and isolating. It is NOT devoid of deep emotion or caring.  Rather, detachment is a deliberate choice to put an emotional, mental, spiritual and physical buffer between you and your spouse in order for you (and your spouse -  if he so chooses) to heal and grow.  It is accepting that the bond you had (or thought you had) is broken. It is choosing to step emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically away from your God-given desire for a bond with your spouse - at least for a time - until you are both healthy enough to build a new bond -If you both so choose.  Here are two important steps in detachment: 1. Accept that you are solely responsible for your own well-being.   Accept that you are NOT helpless, powerless, incompetent or the reason for your spouses’ sexual integrity issues.  Accept that you are solely responsible for assessing and addressing your own beliefs, attitudes, choices and behaviours. Learn to catch yourself when you begin to think or utter “if only, woulda, shoulda, coulda” statements. Catch yourself if you find yourself expecting your spouse to feel or heal your pain.   Catch yourself before you become react abusively or in other unhealthy ways. Refuse to be emotionally hooked by your spouse’s abusive behaviours, or by triggers, self-pity, or fear. Commit to learning how to calm your chaotic emotions so that you can respond with clarity, dignity and integral strength. Get to know who you are and your God-given destiny…your gifts, your strengths, your power. 2. Accept that you are powerless to control or heal your partner’s distorted beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours. Accept that you can’t fix, change or rescue your spouse. This does not mean that you have to accept your spouse’s behaviour but that they are the only ones that can make the choice to become healthy and (re)build a bond with you. Don’t expect that your spouse’s repentant tears, hypersensitivities or I’m sorry’s will guarantee a (re)building of the bond.  The only thing that will truly elicit lasting change is true humility - a willingness to look at their beliefs, attitudes, choices and behaviours and a desire to walk their own journey to healing and wholeness. I love how Marsha Means (Journey to Healing & Joy p. 44-45) likens detachment to a journey on a railroad  Envision yourself standing on a train track in flat, hill-less country.   If you look down the tracks just a few feet ahead, the tracks are  separate, held together only by railroad ties.  But if you look way  ahead to the horizon, you will see the tracks appear to become one. Learning to detach is like learning to walk your own rail.  Detachment  is intentionally putting space between you and your partner, so you,  for a time, can concentrate on your own individual recovery.  Yes,  things feel different when you detach, but just like a set of train tracks, you’re still close enough to touch (if you both choose).  And you’re still headed in the same direction (albeit sometimes at different speeds).   But you’re allowing space and time for change, growth and healing  If one partner crosses off their track, derailment will occur, so it’s important to stay on your own track and trust the process.  



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