How To Behave When Your Husband Wants A Separation And You Don’t

By: Leslie Cane:  I often hear from wives who are devastated to learn that their husband wants a separation.  And, they often know that how they behave and react right now might have an impact on whether their marriage will survive the separation.  So, many are looking for advice on the right way to behave or to act when he’s pushing for the separation that the wife doesn’t want.

I heard from a wife who said: “my husband told me two weeks ago that he wants a separation.  I have tried to do everything in my power to talk him out of it.  But nothing has worked.  At this point, it appears to me that the separation is actually going to happen. So I need to know the best way to react and to behave.  I want to set it up so that we actually make it through this and remain married.  But I’m torn.  Part of me feels that perhaps I should play hard ball with him and pretend like I’m actually looking forward to the separation.  And part of me is tempted to play the guilt card to see if I can make him feel so guilty that he won’t leave.  What is the best way to play this?” I have a definite opinion on this, which I will discuss below.

Don’t Try To Force Negative Emotions Like Guilt Or Fear:  I know that trying to make him feel guilty may feel  like a no brainer.  After all, he should feel guilty.  But, as easy and as just as this strategy might be, it so often fails.  And the reason that it fails is that people have a tendency to want to escape negative emotions.  They also want to escape the people who cause the negative emotions.  So yes, maybe you could make him feel so guilty that he would hesitate to go.  But this likely would only be a temporary reprieve.  Eventually, he’s going to start thinking about how you didn’t allow him to get what you wanted and how, yet again, you’ve held him back in some way.

The same is true of fear.  It’s normal to consider trying to make him feel jealous or to hint that perhaps you will see other people during the separation.  But, again jealousy and fear are negative emotions that often eventually work against you.  Because he will ultimately associate these negative emotions with you or the marriage.  And he will want to escape them that much more.

Why Making Him Believe That You Want To Help Him Is Often The Best Strategy:  I know that the last thing that you might feel toward your husband right now is helpful.  I understand that the last thing you want to do is to cooperate with him.  But think about it this way.  What you really want is for him to come back and for you to be able to save your marriage. In order to do this, he’s going to have to think of you and the marriage favorably. And he’s going to have to eventually believe that he is better off with you than without you.  This isn’t likely to happen if you fight him every step of the way.

However, it is likely to happen if he believes that you are the person who is going to try to help him to get what he wants.  He needs to believe that you are on his side, even if you don’t like his actions or his methods right now. Don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not asking you to pretend that you actually want the separation or are happy about it.  Your husband isn’t likely to buy this anyway.  What I’m asking you to do is to consider if that if you can make him believe that you love him enough to support his doing what he needs to do to be happy in his life, then he is going to see you as his ally.  And that is more important than I can possibly stress.

Make Sure That You Are A Positive Influence In His Life And That You Elevate Him When You’re Together:  Here is a very common thing that goes wrong during a separation.  The husband feels guilty and the wife is angry. The husband is afraid that interactions will be unpleasant so he wants to avoid this. As a result, he doesn’t come around much. The wife assumes that he’s not coming around because he never wants to come back to her.  And the situation deteriorates from there.

That’s why it’s vital that he knows being around you is going to be a pleasurable experience.  That way, he has no reason to avoid you and will actually want to seek you out. And this is the way that you begin to rebuild your marriage during the separation.  People often tell me that they think it’s impossible to strengthen or rebuild your marriage while you are separated but I’m living proof that it’s not.  So to answer the question posed, I believe from my own experience that your behavior should be cooperative, upbeat, and helpful when he wants a separation and you don’t.  It’s vital that he sees you as his ally right now.

I know that it may seem as if I’m asking a lot.  But I know from my own experience that this strategy can work.  If it helps, you can read about how I carried this strategy out on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

Will Giving My Husband Space Make Things Worse?

By: Leslie Cane: “Giving a husband space” is a regular topic in the emails that I receive.  Many wives are on the receiving end of such a request from a husband who says he needs to “work out his feelings” or “time to sort things out.”  And I would have to say that many of the wives who hear this request have an overwhelmingly negative response.  Very few feel that this is a great idea or something that they want to do.  Most see “giving him space” as one of the more risky and painful options possible because there’s a real fear that the space is just the first step toward a divorce or break up.  And many worry that if they give him a taste of his freedom, he may decide that he really likes it and doesn’t want to come back.  So, in that way, the space would have actually made things worse.

I recently heard from a wife on my “save my marriage” blog who said, in part: ” my husband of five years told me last night that he’s not sure if he wants to be married anymore.  He said he wants some ‘space and time apart’ to decide what he wants to do.  But I know what he’s going to do when I give him this ‘space.’  He’s going to go out with his drunken friends, think that single life is so much fun, and want to leave me or get a divorce without a second glance.   My mother says I should give him the space because if I don’t, he’s probably going to divorce me anyway.  But I think that the second one of us moves out, the marriage is going to be over because he’s going to have an opportunity to experience single life and he’s going to like it.  I just keep thinking that giving him space is going to make things worse because it’s going to speed up the process.  Who is right?”

There’s no definitive answer here because any answer is really just a guess.  Without letting the scenario play out, there was really no way to know what the husband was going to think or do once the wife made a decision that set things into motion.  So, while I could not see into the future, I have gone through “giving space” in my own marriage and I’ve dialogued with many men and women over this very topic.  In the following article, I’ll offer some things to consider if your marriage is entering the “giving a husband space” phase and you’re afraid that it might make things worse.

A Husband’s Request For Space Doesn’t Always Mean He Will Eventually Pursue A Separation Or Divorce: It’s very understandable that this is going to be a wife’s greatest fear. After all, not many people would see a husband wanted to live or be away from his wife for a while as a good sign regarding the health or outcome of the marriage.  But, while this can and certainly often does mean that the marriage is having some struggles, it certainly doesn’t mean that it’s going to end.

I’ve seen countless couples (including myself) turn the situation around after one spouse wanted (and was given) space.  And I also firmly believe that not all men have divorce or splitting up on their mind when they do ask for space.  But, of those that do, some end up realizing that they miss their wife or that the single life or the loneliness that space brought about was not as great as they thought.  Sure, this doesn’t happen in every case.  And yes, sometimes you will have to encourage the process to play out exactly as you want it to, but it can be a real mistake to just assume that a husband who wants space really wants (and eventually is going to seek) a separation or divorce.  This just isn’t always the case.  And, even if it was, many wives are able to use this situation to their advantage to turn the marriage around.

Refusing To Give A Husband Space Can Be Just As Risky As Allowing It: I asked the wife in this situation how she intended to refuse her husband’s request.  She said she was just going to tell him that his idea was an awful one and that she refused the participate.  I didn’t know her husband personally, but I suspected that her husband wasn’t going to like that response all that much.  At least in my experience, very few men just accept this with a shrug of their shoulders.

Most will be very frustrated and may even feel as if you’re trying to thwart their happiness or the most basic of their wishes.  And, some will even associate this frustration with you.  Some husbands will think that in order to remove the frustration from their lives, they have to remove you also.  So what happens is the very thing that you’ve been trying to avoid all along – your husband pursues a separation or divorce in order to force the space that he’s requested.  Only this time, things are not so open ended anymore.

How To Avoid Making Things Worse When Your Husband Asks You To Give Him Space: I do understand the wife’s reluctance to agree to the time apart.  There’s always a risk involved either way.  I felt that risk in my own situation. No one who wants to save their marriage wants to willingly walk away.  But, I would argue that you don’t necessarily have to walk away.

Your first course of action could be trying to push for a compromise.  Perhaps you could give him a lot more leeway (at least for a little while) without him needing to move out.)  Or maybe you could be the one to leave since you could easily control when you came back.  Alternatively, you could push for an agreement as to when he might come back or when you might check in with and see one another.  In my experience, the worst thing that you can do is to leave things open ended.  You want to have as clear of an understanding as possible as to how things are going to work.  And, you want to make regular interaction a priority.

Finally, once (and if) your husband is taking his space, you can play it correctly so that you look more attractive rather than less attractive.  You don’t want to appear clingy, desperate, or needy.  Although it should be clear that you value your marriage and ultimately want to save it, there’s nothing wrong with taking full advantage of the space on your end.   Even if it’s not actually the case, you want for your husband to think that you are busy, that you are interacting with friends and family, and that you are handling things in a positive way because you’re confident that he will eventually learn what you already know – that you belong together and that you can work things out.

I absolutely understand where you are right now. A couple of years ago, my husband told me he wanted space.  It eventually became very obvious that I either had to give him that space or give him a divorce.  Unfortunately, I acted very badly during that time and my actions make our situation worse.  Eventually, it dawned on me that the tactics I was using to get him to want and love me again were not working. Luckily, I was able to change course and return the intimacy and affection. If it helps, you can read more about that on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com/.

My Husband Moved Out And Now He Won’t Talk To Me

By: Leslie Cane: Everyone who has even dealt with a martial separation knows that it is very challenging. And this is true even when communication is open and frequent. This is also true even when you knew that the separation was coming. But, when there was very little warning that a separation was approaching and your spouse won’t communicate after it occurs, this can make an already hard situation that much more difficult.

To demonstrate, I might hear from a wife who says: “I am not going to tell you that I had the perfect marriage because I didn’t. We definitely had our problems. We always argued about money. My husband expected me to live like a pauper, so much so that any time that I spent money, I’d had to do it on the sly. And when he caught me, he would act as if I did something awful, even if I only bought a dvd or pair or shorts or something. That is our main issue. We also argue about his meddling mother, but the money issue is by far our biggest problem. So we got our bank statement last Wednesday. I stayed late at work because I knew that I was going to come home to an argument. Instead of coming home to an argument, I came home to an empty house. There wasn’t any note, but there were clothes scattered across the bed and his suitcase was gone along with many of his clothing and personal possessions. I suspected that he was at his brother’s so I called over there. His brother confirmed that he was there but informed me that my husband didn’t want to talk to me. I gave it a couple of days and then I called again. I got the same response. I was told that my husband had nothing to say to me. So I started texting and emailing. No response. I know exactly why my husband is so mad at me. He thinks that I spent money that we don’t have. But I’m stunned that he seems to be intent on doing this whole separation without speaking. I know that I can’t really force him to talk to me, but what happens if we just continue not speaking? Is there anything that I can do to make him talk to me so that we can work through this?”

I know that this hurts and that this is very frustrating. But I have to expect that at some point, you will have to speak. Because although he might chose to remain silent for the short term, one would think that eventually, he is going to have to decide on a course of action and communicate the same with you. I have no way of knowing whether he was serious enough about this that he would take is so far as to initiate a divorce. But it is hard to believe that, if he was, he would do all of this without speaking to you.

What May Be Happening: I think that the more likely scenario is two fold. First, he probably needs and wants some time to calm down. Perhaps he is afraid of saying something that he will regret. Or, he isn’t yet sure where he’s going to go from here and he doesn’t see the point in having a discussion until he has some clarity. Also, he may want to keep quiet to drive the point home as to how upset he is. Regardless, any of these scenarios eventually come to a natural end where there will come a time where it is appropriate to talk.

What You Can Do Right Now: In the meantime, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with reaching out to him and letting him know that when he is ready to have a conversation, then you are more than willing to do so. But I think that this wife was right to have patience and to not attempt to force the conversation. Because when you force this onto a reluctant spouse, what you will often get is an argument rather than the productive conversation that you really want.

My suggestion would be to try to just leave a quick note or email saying something like: “I do understand why you angry right now and that you don’t want to talk. I respect your need for time and space, but I will also be ready and willing to talk with you when you are ready to do so. There are some things that I’d like to say, but I would also like to listen. I don’t want for you storming out and then refusing to talk to me to be the last memory that we have together. I know that emotions are high right now. But that won’t last forever. So when things calm down, I hope that we can sit down and begin to work through this. I’m more than willing to change some of my habits and to work with you to overcome this. But as I said, I respect your need for silence right now and I will wait to hear from you.”

Believe it or not, sometimes just showing him this respect and your willingness to give him time will bring about the conversation a little earlier. But this wife was right not to push. Because if you push, you will likely argue and make this worse. And that isn’t really what you want. Getting a reaction isn’t worth it if the cost is a worsening situation. Instead, you want to have patience and calm so that you are able to make the situation better.

I know that it may not seem like it, but you do have one advantage.  You know what the core issue is.  This isn’t always true.  And, knowing the details of the issue gives you ammunition to fix it.  When he does begin to talk to you, make sure that you make it clear that you’re willing to not only work on this issue, but remove it altogether.  Ignoring the core issue while you are separated is the worst thing that you can do.  If it helps, you’re welcome to read about how I handled my separation  on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

During A Separation, What Makes Your Marriage Savable?

By: Leslie Cane: I sometimes hear from wives who worry that saving their marriage in the midst of a martial separation is going to be nearly impossible. If it were up to the wives themselves, a reconciliation would happen tomorrow. But the wives are dealing with reluctant husbands who just do not seem drawn back to the marriage in any way. Because of this, the wife wonders just what type of miracle it is going to take to save her marriage. She might say: “I am at a loss as to how I am going to turn things around in regards to my marriage. I know that many couples stick it out because they have kids. I wish we had children, but we do not. I also know that many couples stick together because they have a strong sense of commitment. Well, I have this. But my husband does not. At the first sign of trouble, he left me and pursued a separation. I have tried many different things to make him come back, but so far I have not had any luck. I look at many of my friends who reconciled and I’m discouraged because I don’t have the things that made their marriage savable. I don’t have kids. Or a husband who is desperate to get back together with me. What makes a marriage savable during a separation when there aren’t kids or people who are super committed?”

I understand why you feel that your situation is a challenge, but I’d like to offer you a little bit of encouragement. I most definitely did not have a husband who was desperate to get back together with me, either. Nor did I have a houseful of kids. In fact, I had a husband who would barely speak to me. Or acknowledge me. And who was pretty much avoiding me. And yet, I eventually was able to reconcile with him. Why?  Perhaps because of a huge amount of stubbornness on my part. Perhaps because of dumb luck. Or because of a plan that finally worked. Below, I’ll list some things that are helpful in saving a marriage during a separation. However, I’d preface this with saying that I’ve seen marriages saved when none of these were initially present. Things do change. People can start off hating one another and then change their minds during the course of the separation.

One Person Who Doesn’t Give Up: As I alluded to, I don’t think that you always need two people who are equally on board to save the marriage. My husband was not interested at all initially. I had to pretty much just hold on all by myself. It was extremely lonely and disheartening at times. But if I had given up, where would be today? That said, some people initially aren’t interested in their marriage, but change their minds later. Eventually, you need for one person to maintain an interest so that both people don’t give up.

The Right Attitude At The Right Time: I have come to accept that if I had continued to pressure my husband and if I had acted as desperate as I did in the beginning, we likely never would have reconciled. At the same time, if I had been very laid back at the beginning of my separation, this may not have worked, either. I had to observe my husband’s reactions and behaviors in order to determine what was working for me and what wasn’t. This took a little while. Once I was able to see a pattern, I was able to come up with a plan and formulate behaviors that were most likely to get the desired reaction out of my husband. I know that this might sound entirely too strategic when you’re talking about your marriage. Unfortunately, in my experience, there is sometimes strategy involved. That is just the unfortunate truth. Of course, you want to be as honest and as forthcoming as you can. But you also have to act in the way most likely to save your marriage. And frankly, if I had acted 100 percent honest all of the time, I would have come off as very desperate. I had to dial it back for the sake of my marriage.

A Willingness To Do Something New: No matter how willing you are to save your marriage, you have to face that you separated for a reason. You are going to have to be willing to fix whatever was broken in order to ensure that your reconciliation lasts and that your marriage endures. It’s so tempting to skip this step because your marriage can feel quite vulnerable. (And I agree that you shouldn’t rush this step. You shouldn’t pick your marriage apart when you’ve only recently saved it.) But you do need to always be on the look out for ways that you can improve things and for ways to keep your marriage from faltering again. Because you don’t want to have to ever deal with another separation. You want to save your marriage ONCE and never again.

Learning the right combination of behaviors was not easy.  And there was definitely a time when I thought my marriage was never going to be savable.  But luckily, I’m very stubborn.  You can read more about how I managed a reconciliation (when all seemed lost) on my blog at at http://isavedmymarriage.com

How To Change Your Husband’s Mind About Divorcing You

By: Leslie Cane: One of the most common questions that I get on my blog is “how can I make my husband change his mind about divorcing me?” This is a loaded question, of course. The answer is going to be different depending upon what is causing your husband to want to divorce you in the first place. However, I do find that there are some common strategies among wives who are successful in getting their husband to change his mind about saving their marriage. So in the following article, I’m going to discuss what I believe are some of the right and wrong ways to try to accomplish this.

What You Don’t Want To Do When You’re Trying To Get Your Husband To Decide He Doesn’t Want To Divorce You After All: Before I tell you what I think are some of the best strategies in getting him to change his mind, I want to cover what I almost never see work so that you will hopefully avoid these things.

First and most importantly, you don’t want to rely upon negativity in any form. What this means is that if you try to make him feel negative emotions like pity, guilt, fear, or shame, you are less likely to have long term success. So you don’t want to tell your husband that he is an awful and selfish person to leave his family. You don’t want to threaten to take half of every financial asset that he has. You don’t want to tell him that no one else will love and understand him in the way that you do. Don’t insinuate that you will refuse to give him a divorce or fight him every step of the way.

I know that sometimes these strategies might feel like all you have left. So it’s tempting to think that anything is worth a try if it means getting him back. But these tactics will often only make him want to divorce you with more intensity and speed. He will want to get away from you more quickly because you’re making him feel negatively about himself or his situation. The real key in making him change his mind about the divorce is to get him to feel better (not worse) about you, your marriage, and your situation, which leads me to the next point.

Understand What It Really Takes To Get Your Husband To Change His Mind About The Divorce: Instead of trying truly desperate measures to get him to change his mind, you need to understand what it really takes. He has to come to realize that he was wrong about his perceptions regarding your marriage and you. Or, he needs to come to believe that those true things that he believed have now changed somehow. It’s up to decide to decide which strategy is the most realistic for you and easiest to accomplish.

For example, let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that you cheated on him but are now beyond sorry. There is really no way to flip this to make him realize that his perceptions about the cheating were wrong or inaccurate. The facts are right in front of him and they are undeniable. So you really can’t change his perceptions about your cheating. But you may have a chance of successfully convincing him of something else.

Perhaps you can show him changes and improvements that you have made to yourself so that he can feel more comfortable changing his belief that your marriage can not be saved after the infidelity. Do you see the difference? You’re not trying to change his mind about the infidelity because you can’t really argue that point. But, you’re trying to change his mind about the future of your marriage. And the easiest way to do that is to show him real and profound changes in you so that he thinks more favorably about being married to the new and improved you.

Here’s another example. Sometimes, husbands will want a divorce because they think the love and the spark are gone. However, you may know this is not entirely true. You may look at your marriage and have your own theories. Perhaps you think that the stress your husband is under is clouding his perceptions of you, your marriage, and his life. Or maybe you think that some of his friends and family members are unduly influencing him. In this scenario, you are probably better off trying to change his perceptions about the circumstances that surround your marriage.

In a situation like this, your job is to take a step back and figure out the best way to make him see that he’s just wrong. Perhaps the best way to do this is to stop focusing on what is wrong and to start focusing on what is right. Maybe you need to show him rather than tell him that you absolutely can still connect on a physical level. Whatever it is that is clouding his perceptions about you and the marriage needs to be removed in the most genuine way possible

Make Sure That Whatever Strategy You Chose Comes Off As Natural And Not As A Desperate, Last Effort Move That Is In Your Best Interest Rather Than His: When you decide on your strategy, it’s important to also think very carefully about how you are going to carry it out. The worst thing that you can do is to make it very obvious that you are only trying to manipulate your husband for your own gain.

Don’t attempt any strategy that you can not pull off as genuine. This is so important. If you skip this step and your husband thinks you’re only play acting or thinking of your own objectives, then you might actually make things worse. Always navigate toward acting in a way that is healthy and beneficial for both of you. At the end of the day, you want to be happily married in a very mutual and healthy relationship.

So, don’t do anything that might jeopardize this. Remember that if your husband understands that you really do want for him to be happy with his life, he is much more likely to respond favorably to you than if he suspects that you’re only thinking about yourself and your desire to change his mind about the divorce.

Needless to say, when I was attempting to change my husband’s mind about divorcing me, I did many of the things that I’m telling you not to do. But, I ended up saving my marriage by eventually catching on and deciding to try the strategies I’m suggesting you use instead. If it helps, you can read the very emotional story of how I accomplished this on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

How Can I Stop Being Pushy So That I Can Reconcile With My Spouse?

By: Leslie Cane:  It’s an unfair irony: Sometimes it seems like the more motivated you are to reconcile with your separated spouse, the less motivated he is to reconcile with you.  You try to push, he pulls away.  You ask to see him more, he makes a point to see you less.  When you finally get frustrated and demand to know why he was avoiding you, he may proclaim that you are coming on too strong.  This can be a hard truth.  On the one hand, you may have a natural inclination to panic and to feel that you need to keep reminding him of your marriage and of yourself.  On the other hand, when you do this, he clearly gets annoyed and pushes you away.  You may know that you have to try another tactic, but you don’t quite know how.

A wife might say: “I am really struggling right now. I am so afraid to lose my marriage.  My husband moved out six weeks ago. With every week, I get more and more afraid.  He started out promising that he would see me often.  This lasted for about a week and the visits got less and less.  At this point, I have to pester him in order to be able to see him.  If we are going to talk on the phone, I am the one who is going to call.  But he’s clearly not thrilled to be talking to me.  The more he brushes me off, the more desperate I am to get his attention.  So I start asking to see him more.  Yesterday, he told me that we needed to limit contact for a few days because he just needed some space.  I asked him why he needs space because we are married.  Then he blurted out: ‘this is most of the problem right now.  You are so pushy. I don’t get a moment’s peace and you will not take a hint.  Maybe if you gave me some peace, you’d get more of my time.’  So now it’s obvious that he doesn’t want to interact with me as much. And I admit that I am pushy sometimes.  But only because I have to be in order to get a reaction out of him.  I don’t know how to be not pushy.  How can I just sit back passively when I’m going to lose my marriage? Am I just supposed to watch as everything that I love slips away? I’m not supposed to try to save it?”

This truth regarding this issue can be really harsh to understand.  I had a very hard time getting it through my head during my own separation.  But when your husband is resistant to your attempts, often the best thing that you can do is to stop whatever unsuccessful strategy that you’re using. I know that this is counterintuitive.  Because what you really want to do is to try harder.  He doesn’t pick up your calls?  Well, you’ll keep calling over and over again.  He doesn’t hear you?  Well, you’ll talk louder or more forcefully.  But what you don’t realize at the time is that you are digging a larger hole for yourself.  The more he pulls away, the harder it can be to direct him back.

I know that it’s very hard to back away.  I know that it’s very hard to put the phone back in the cradle when you very badly want to use it to call once again.  But in my own experience,  being able to do this saved my marriage. If I had not backed off, I do not believe that I would still be married today.  My husband was literally avoiding me like I had a communicable disease. The more I tried to get his attention, the less attention he would give me.

I know that it’s hard to back away when you feel so desperate.  And sometimes, you literally have to take it day by day or hour by hour.  You have to consciously get yourself out of the house, you have to go out with your friends, and you have to remove the temptations to revert back to old ways.  Basically you have to make it very hard for you to carrying out the pushiness.  In my own case, I went to a different town to visit because I knew that this would mean that I wouldn’t drive by and that I would be too embarrassed to repeatedly call with other people around.  And thankfully, he responded and he called me.  He reached out to me, which hadn’t happened before.  This was probably one of the biggest reasons that I was able to keep going.  I saw that it was working.  I saw that it was the right thing.

After that, I had to balance things.  When things would turn positive and my husband was receptive, I would get all excited and I would over step again.  I had to constantly check myself.  But I learned to look at it like this:  We were separated and if there was a behavior (like overspending) that I absolutely knew drove my husband crazy and was a big reason for the distance between us, I would stop.  In truth, my pushing was that behavior – just like overspending might be for someone else.  So even though the pushing was understandable, to my husband, it was a very undesirable behavior and a potential deal breaker.  So I knew that I had to stop.  It was not easy, but it made all of the difference. I honestly think that it is why we are still together today.  There’s more on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

Should I Tell My Separated Spouse That I Miss Him?

By: Leslie Cane: I sometimes hear from people who aren’t sure how they should be acting while they are separated from their spouse. They have often read that you shouldn’t seem desperate or appear that you are just waiting for your spouse to call or attempt to see you. In other words, to the extent that you can, you want to make sure that you are not the only one initiating the contact or doing to pursuing.

I heard from a wife who said: “we’ve been separated for about six weeks. I miss my husband terribly. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about how wrong it is that he is no longer living at home. Sometimes, when we talk on the phone, the words ‘I miss you’ are right on the tip of my tongue. But I don’t say them because I don’t want to appear overly eager. Most of the time, my husband and I get along reasonably well when we interact during the separation, so I don’t think that my missing him would upset him or make him recoil. I’m just not sure if I should tell him how very much I miss him and how desperate I truly am for him to come home. What do you think?”

It’s not hard from me to put myself in this wife’s shoes. I went through a separation just like this. And in the beginning of it, I never passed up an opportunity to let my husband know how much I missed him. And as this wife suspected, it backfired on me because all it did was make my husband feel so guilty that he wanted to avoid me. Later, I learned to not be so forthcoming with how badly I was feeling and this actually did help things between us. However, I think that sometimes people take this strategy too far.

He Probably Already Knows That Despite The Circumstances, You Both Miss Each Other: Our husbands can often read us better than we think. And I’m pretty sure that both people strongly suspect that the other one is missing their lives together. It would be difficult to be married to and live with someone for as long as they had and to not feel some longing once you were living apart. So I doubt that the husband would be all that shocked if the wife stated the obvious – that she missed him.

However, I think that the real distinction can be whether you tell him that you miss him if he asks or if you continuously blurt it out when no one has even brought it up. I mean, I used to bring up the topic myself and then proceed to tell my husband I didn’t know if I could be without him for one more day. This is entirely different than confessing you are missing your spouse if they are the one who brings it up or if they ask you directly about this.

Understand That Missing Your Spouse Doesn’t Change The Issues That Lead To The Separation: One thing that never occurred to me when I was constantly telling my husband how much I missed him was how little this mattered when you looked at the big picture. And I am not trying to sound insensitive when I say this. But, my missing him didn’t change the fact that neither of us had done anything to address the issues that lead to the separation in the first place.

One day when I was going on and on about how unhappy the separation was making me, my husband said “yes, but tell me something new. Tell me what has changed.” I thought he was just trying to shut me up. It took me a while to realize what he meant. What he was trying to tell me is that me missing him didn’t do a single thing to fix our marital problems. And until those issues were resolved, nothing was going to change for him regardless of how much I missed him.

So sometimes you really have to look at the big picture and ask yourself where you are in the process. For example if you and your husband have made huge strides and have worked through your problems so well that you are beginning to date one another and become intimate again, then telling him that you miss him might actually change things because the situation would be such that it would make sense to act on this.  However, if like my case, nothing had changed, then telling him that you miss him is sort of stating the obvious and it’s likely to frustrate you both because regardless of how you both are feeling, nothing has really changed in regards to your marriage.

So to answer the question posed, it’s my opinion that if your husband asks you directly, there’s no reason to lie and claim that you don’t miss him. But if you’re going to bring up the topic yourself, make sure that you have laid some groundwork on fixing your marriage so that your words matter. It doesn’t make sense to stress how much you miss him when neither of you have addressed the outstanding issues so that you can both do something about them.

As I alluded to, I certainly wasn’t shy about telling my husband how desperately I missed him during our separation.  But it actually made things worse.  Because it only highlighted how stuck we truly were.  It wasn’t until I placed my focus on taking action rather than relying on words that things changed in our marriage and we were able to save it.  If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

Why Won’t My Husband Give Me A Second Chance At Our Marriage?

By: Leslie Cane: I often hear from people who feel that if their spouse would just give them one more chance, they could successfully save their marriage.  They have often begged, pleaded, made promises, and generally just tried to find a way back into their spouse’s heart with no success.  They often don’t understand what harm it would do to just allow that one last try before you concede that the marriage is over for good.

I heard from a wife who said: “I will admit that I have made a lot of mistakes in my marriage.  I have taken my husband for granted.  I haven’t always been the most responsible spouse.  I have been immature and selfish.  And although I never technically cheated, I have flirted with other people just to get attention.  However, when I saw that these things were hurting my marriage to the point where I might lose my husband, I immediately took notice and promised big changes.  At first, my husband agreed to this but warned me that I had hurt him badly and that he was losing his patience.  I acknowledged this.  But, a week later he told me that he had reconsidered and that he thinks it would just be easier and would make more sense if we would just end our marriage.  He said that he now has trust issues with me and that he doubts that I will really ever change who I am.  He says he pictures himself growing old in a marriage that doesn’t take as much work as ours and that he wants to start over before he becomes angry and bitter.  I begged him to give me one more chance.  I promised him that he wouldn’t regret it.  But no matter what I do or say now, he only looks at me sadly, shakes his head.  He calmly tells me that it is too late.  I have asked him why he is doing this to us and he only will say that it’s just too little too late.  I don’t understand.  How would it hurt him to give me one more chance?  If we fail, then at least we know we tried.  But if we just walk away now, we’ll never really know what might have been.  Why doesn’t he understand this?”

I know firsthand how frustrating this situation is. It is so hurtful to feel as if your marriage is slipping through your fingers and yet you are dependent on another non receptive person to stop this.  Plus, you often feel as if somehow your wires must be crossed because he doesn’t seem to be hearing what you are saying or he doesn’t believe you, even when you are being completely sincere.  Unfortunately, there are many reasons that he will resist giving you another chance. I will go over some of the reasons below because I think that you should be aware of them.  I realize that this may be hard to hear, but if you know what you’re facing, you have a better chance of successfully overcoming it.

Common Reasons That People Are Afraid To Give Their Spouse Another Chance: The first reason is fear. He may be scared to trust in you again because there is the risk that he will be hurt again, which would make his vulnerability a waste of time.  Additionally, he is probably telling the truth when he says that at this time, he believes that it’s too little too late.   He may feel as if your marriage has been damaged too much to recover.  (That doesn’t mean that his belief is true, but this might be what he thinks.)

Finally, he may just feel that he needs a change in his life.  He may have reached a point where he feels that he may have some relief from the drama and the uncertainty if he just starts again, regardless of how hard and painful this might be.

Again, I know that this may be a hard to process.  But nothing is impossible.  And if what you have tried in the past hasn’t worked, nothing says that you can’t start fresh with a new strategy, which leads me to my next point.

If Words Aren’t Working, Talk With Your Actions Instead:  There’s one thing that most husbands in this situation share, and that is skepticism when it comes to your words.  They have listened to your promises and they are still unconvinced.

And yet, you keep coming at him saying what he has already heard before. I understand why you are doing this.  It probably seems to you as if he just isn’t listening or, if he is, he isn’t understanding you.

So perhaps you have to rephrase it or say it again with more intensity.  This makes sense at the time, but it’s the wrong strategy in most instances. He’s usually already reached the point where he has tuned you out.

So you ratched up what you are saying, trying in vain to get him to understand.  And this is when he starts to think that perhaps your marriage really a lost cause.  I don’t say this to hurt you.  I’m saying this so you know what you are up against and that you see that it’s in your best interest to stop attempting to deliver the same message that he has already tuned out.

In my experience, when words no longer work, it’s time to try an action based strategy.  And when I say this, I don’t mean acting irrationally or pouring on the affection so that it’s obvious what you end goal is.  What I mean is to consciously stop what isn’t working, to calm down, to act with integrity, and to let your actions speak for you.

Sometimes, this means that you back off from your original stance so that he no longer feels the need to be defensive.  It can also mean that you need to show him with your actions and not your words that real change is possible.  In this particular case, it would mean showing the husband true respect rather than just trying to get him to agree with the wife’s wishes.  It would mean making him feel genuinely heard without an end goal in mind.  It would mean showing much more maturity by having patience and staying the course.

Because you can’t expect him to believe your new actions immediately.  But when they happen over a period of time, they become more genuine to him and this is the most effective way that I know to overcome his reservations.

Unfortunately, I know this from experience. I tried begging, bartering and promising, but nothing worked.  So I had to let my actions do the talking.  And this shift in thinking saved my marriage.  If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

I Think That My Husband Is Having An Identity Crisis And This Is Why He Doesn’t Want To Be With Me Anymore

By: Leslie Cane:  Lately, I’ve been noticing wives describing husbands who are suddenly questioning their life as someone who is having an “identity crisis.”  This process used to be called a “midlife crisis,” but since it is happening to people who are younger (and since it is now not always men or husbands who are experiencing it,) the phenomenon  is increasingly called an “identity crisis” or some variation on this phrase.  No matter what you call it, though, it can be very troubling when you have a spouse going through it.  And if things get really bad or go on for too long without a resolution, it can sometimes jeopardize your marriage.

Someone might describe a situation like this one, or something similar: “my husband is only twenty five years old, which is about two decades too early for a midlife crisis.  Nonetheless, this appears to be what is happening.  When I mention this, he tells me that identity crisis is more the correct term.  He says he feels as if he has the life that he never wanted.  Suddenly he chose the wrong major in college, now has the wrong job, and thinks that perhaps he might want a separation.  He says that he feels as if he is just chasing things that don’t really matter.  He also feels that he isn’t adding value to the world.  Now he’s talking about selling everything that he owns and living in a third world country so that he can ‘be of service.’ He’s even mentioned separating because he now thinks that we got married too young. Frankly, I would think that this were admirable if he did not have responsibilities at home.  What about me and his aging mother?  What about his student loans and the home for which we have just signed a lease?  I actually love my job and don’t want to just pack up and go to some strange place with no job and no plan. And frankly, I’m not sure if this is even an option since he started talking about a separation.  Is this going to blow over?  What if it doesn’t?  Because it sounds as if my husband is getting ready to just leave his entire life behind due to this ‘identity crisis.'”

Our Changing World: I hear more and more about situations like this all of the time.  I also have people tell me that they think that their spouse is selfish or immature to think in this way. Many will say that they never saw their dad or grandfather ask these types of petty questions. People often wonder why this “identity” or “midlife” issue is becoming so prevalent.  I think that part of it is that we have more choices today.  Our fathers and grandfathers lived in economic times where they were just trying to get food on the table or to keep a job.  Some had to fight in wars where survival wasn’t a given. They might not have had the luxury to question things in the way that many of us do today.  They were just happy to have a paying job or some sort of stability and safety.  They did not have the luxury of asking whether or not that job was what they were meant to do or if contributed to the world.

Looking At Alternatives To A Total Life Change Or A Separation: None of this is to say that your husband concerns are selfish or aren’t valid.  It’s not his fault that he has more options than previous generations.  The real question is how he chooses to act on these options.  For some men, this does pass over.  They eventually find more job satisfaction or they learn to “make a difference” in local ways that work with their current schedule.  For example, they can keep their job and work with local charities.  Or do humanitarian efforts on their vacations.  Many find this to be very fulfilling and, even better, this does not require them just to uproot their lives (or yours.)

Using Caution In Your Approach: I know that it might be tempting to tell him that he’s being selfish or to insist that he just be a grown up.  But, that’s only likely to make him defensive and more dissatisfied.  I learned the hard way that the best bet is often to show support and then to try to gently suggest some of the alternative options that I mentioned above.

You might try something like: “I think that it’s wonderful that you want to be of service.  Your giving heart is one of the things that I love most about you. It’s very admirable that you want to make a difference.  But I’d suggest doing things in stages since there are other issues – like your mother – to think about.  Perhaps we could start by finding ways to be of service here.  Then we could research ways that we could reach out to other areas.  That would allow us to help almost immediately without needing to make any huge changes all at once.”

Honestly, if you can get him engaged and feeling like he has made a difference, he may stop talking about dissatisfaction with your marriage. Its very common for people having this sort of crisis to suddenly turn on their marriage, when it isn’t actually the problem.  With that said, if he THINKS that the marriage is the problem, (or even a contributing factor,) then you have to tread lightly.  And you have to be honest about any changes that might be beneficial to your marriage for right now. Make your marriage as strong as you can possibly make it and be supportive, while trying to guide him to causes closer to home.  Hopefully, he will soon find his place and his restlessness will ease.  And because you were supportive and understanding, you will not have made matters worse and will have positioned yourself as the spouse who was supportive and who didn’t tell him that he was being selfish or silly (since no one wants to hear that.)

I honestly think that my husband’s restlessness greatly contributed to our separation. I wish that I’d been more supportive and had offered alternatives rather than just panicking.  It might have changed the fact that we separated for a while.  Luckily, I found a way to reconcile, but not without a lot of pain first.  You can read more on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

We’re Separated But I Can’t Stop Loving My Husband. What Can I Do?

By: Leslie Cane: A good deal of the correspondence that I get comes from wives who are going through a separation with their husbands. Many are struggling a great deal. Most tell me that they still love their husbands, no matter what the state of their marriage is or how their husband is acting at the time.

I recently heard from a wife who was struggling with her feelings when many people told her that she was setting herself up for more pain and disappointment. She said, in part: “my husband and I have been separated for about three weeks. The separation was his choice. I didn’t want it but he insisted that it was something he felt that we had to try.  He’s been pretty distant and hasn’t given me a lot of encouragement.  He told a mutual friend of ours that he wants to see other people.  Even so, I can’t stop loving him.  I love my husband as much today even though we are separated as I did when we were first married.  My friends tell me that I’m crazy and that I’m just asking for more disappointment.  But I can’t seem to help it.  Am I just supposed to turn off my love at will?  Because I can’t do it.  Part of me realizes that I’m fighting a losing battle but another part of me thinks that we are not divorced yet and he hasn’t told me to back off or that he doesn’t love me. As long as there’s a chance, I’m going to keep right on loving him because my feelings are my own.  It might be ill advised or silly, but I’m just not ready to let him go.”

I understood how this wife felt on so many levels.  Some of her story mirrored my own story when I was trying to save my own marriage.  And although I’m sure that her friends meant well, they probably weren’t telling the wife what she already didn’t know and what she needed was their support rather than them pointing out her vulnerabilities.  And actually, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with loving your husband while you are separated, even if things don’t always look that promising.  I’ll tell you why in the following article.

Sometimes, There’s A Reason That You Are Separated And Not Divorced.  And He Is Still Your Husband.  Why Wouldn’t You Love Him?: From the wife’s descriptions, it seemed as if her friends had pretty much written off her marriage.  They were giving her the impression that she should just give up.  But, this marriage was the wife’s and the wife’s alone.  I’m sure that her friends believed that they were helping her.   But a separation doesn’t necessarily mean that your marriage is over.  If both spouses chose a separation over a divorce, this truly says something, at least in my opinion.  Usually when the marriage is over, that means a final divorce that never recovers.  And that wasn’t the case yet.

I would also defend anyone’s right to love the person of his or her own choosing.  Is loving someone always in your best interest?  Maybe not.  But love isn’t something that you just decide to stop participating in because of logic or circumstances.  Your feelings and your heart make that decision.  Your brain does not.  Always using logical thinking when love and your marriage is concerned isn’t always easy or even advisable.

I know couples who still openly admit they still  love each other even when they are divorced.  There’s nothing wrong with that, in my opinion.  It’s not up to anyone to tell you who you should or should not love.  I know that I may sound defensive, but it bothers me when people tell others how they should feel.   Love, affection, and marital feelings are  deeply personal, and concern only the two people involved.

Tips For When You’re Separated, Still Love Your Spouse, But Want To Proceed In The Most Healthy Way That Is Possible: With all of the above said, there’s no doubt in my mind that this wife’s friends and family really did want to help her.  I am certain their hearts were in the right place.   They were likely reacting to seeing her hurting and they went into protective mode, which is certainly understandable.

I’m not denying that it’s a good idea to try to respond to your feelings in the most healthy way possible.  Although it was unrealistic (and a bit unfair) to expect the wife to just turn off her feelings or proclaim that she was going to try to not love her husband as much during the separation, it was understandable for them to want to handle it in a healthy way.  Her love for him didn’t mean that she shouldn’t focus on herself or to try to keep herself busy, positive, and active during the separation.

Because when we love someone that we are separated from (or when our relationship is struggling) it’s very easy to make that (and the pain that we feel as the result) our sole focus.  And this is where things can turn unhealthy.  When I was separated from my husband, I initially distanced myself from my support system and became quite depressed.  I withdrew from things that I enjoyed.  As a result,  I wasn’t all that pleasant to be around.  Needless to say, none of this made me more attractive to my husband.

It wasn’t until I forced myself to place my attention on other things, to try to focus on the positive,  and to live the best life that was possible for me at the time that things changed.  My outlook improved, my ability to cope was enhanced, and eventually, my husband started showing more interest in me.  Some time later, we reconciled.  I don’t want to claim that changing your focus means that things will always work out or that you can always save your marriage during a separation with your attitude alone.  Situations and marriages vary.  But I do think that there’s no reason to put your life completely on hold while you are separated.  And this is true whether you still love your spouse or not.

I completely understood and supported this wife’s love for her husband even during her separation.  But I hoped that she wouldn’t allow this love (and her complete focus on it) to allow her to feel pain or to put her life on hold.  In fact, I felt if she tried to do the opposite, her outlook (and possibly her situation and her marriage) might improve.

I certainly never stopped loving my husband during our separation.  But I think my husband had his doubts that he still loved me.  He had seemingly moved on and wanted me to do the same. I knew that, at least from my end, it was not yet time to call it quits. Thankfully, even though I had doubts, I lucked into trying one last thing and this eventually worked. If it helps, you can read more of that personal story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com/