Let me start out by saying that it is unlikely you will have the opportunity for very many Direct Interactions with a Distant Contacter—especially not with a Vanisher. That does not mean there will be zero opportunities, but they will be few. Paving the Way through Direct Interactions requires communication and Vanishers, by definition, do not have direct communication with you and those who are Off-And-Ons have little more.
Direct Interactions are the things you can do in direct communication and action with your MLCer to reconcile to whatever level of relationship you choose—be it marital reconciliation, co-parenting, friendship, or simply the ability to remain cordial for future interactions—birthdays, graduations, weddings, funerals…
Who Should Pave?
If he wants to come back, he needs to pave his own way and he will need an excavator for that.
Good point. Why should you Pave his Way? Shouldn’t your MLCer pave their own way? Of course they should! The path you are paving is the path to or for you; the path they need to pave is the path to and for them. The challenge for LBSs is that your MLCer is unlikely to pave their way while you are paving yours and their way will likely still be unpaved if they begin to turn towards you. Let me be clear; they need to do their own paving, but that is not likely to happen when you think it should. MLCers don’t pave until they are out or almost out of MLC—former MLCers pave. Often those who come home, do so broken and some return suddenly. In the beginning of the return phases, an MLCer’s paving stones are those from your history—afterall, would you be here were it not for that?
Not every homecoming is a return—not yet. Some MLCers may come and go again, others may move home and become At-Home MLCers, continuing and hopefully coming through their crisis while now living at home with their LBS. The positive side of some back-and-forth situations is the growth that can occur in the tidbits of time at home. An MLCer can pave sporadically and leave again and then come home and pave again, but with better and better paving stones.
If a marriage is to be restored to a healthy, stable union, that MLCer will certainly need to Pave their Own Way—they will need to apologize, make amends, heal and help in healing… Standing for your marriage takes one person, but reconciliation takes two. Direct Interactions help you to practice rebuild positive shared experiences together—a new (or strengthened) foundation for your relationship.
Guidance from Complaints
As part of my early studies I read Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages and easily identified Chucks’ Love Language as quality time—for him this was in the form of shared activities. This was a major area where I had been neglectful and it was thus one of his major complaints at Bomb Drop. His complaint was valid. That complaint gave me an area of our relationship and myself to target for change.
Sifting through an MLCer’s complaints might be confusing—so many are invalid or irrational, but there are gems amidst the rubble. Were you controlling, not a good listener, too busy/neglectful, impatient, self-absorbed…? What can you do now to change and how can you show those changes?
Given the circumstances of MLC, the typical things you might do to make these changes may not be available to you—either because your MLCer is unwilling or unavailable or because the actions for practicing and showing changes may not be recommended actions at this time in the MLC. We are advised to give our MLCers space; how was I supposed to stop neglecting and participate in shared activities? I was going against some of the basic advice. Some were cheering me on, others were critical and perhaps most were waiting and watching for it to crash and burn when my actions did not realize quick results and improvements. I certainly had fantasy wishes of a quick resolution, but I had read what was written about MLC and believed the literature. I knew the resolution would not be quick and that things would eventually get worse. I felt it was important to increase my influence, practice and show my changes and re-establish a connection before things got worse.
In the beginning we are often amazed at the similarities in our stories—down to exact phrases shared by our MLCers. Don’t be fooled, each situation is still unique. I gave Chuck space, but I was also attentive according to his direction—as a Clinging Boomerang he was very communicative. Had I simply given space even when he reached toward me, I would have been giving him more of the same neglect, validating his decision to leave. Listen to the advice and apply it in the context of your situation.