My Husband Is Ignorning My Calls During Our Separation. How Should I Handle This?

By Leslie Cane:   I often hear from women who are struggling while they are in a martial separation.  Sometimes, things aren’t going as they had hoped and, since they are separated and don’t have unlimited access to their husband, they aren’t sure about how to handle these issues.  One very common issue is that of phone calls or communication.  Reaching out while you are separated can be hard enough.  But when your husband doesn’t respond as you had expected (or doesn’t respond at all) this can leave you wondering about your next step.

I recently heard from a wife who felt like her husband was ignoring her phone calls during a martial separation.  She said, in part: “for the first couple of days after we were separated, we talked on the phone regularly.  He even called me a couple of times.  But for the last few weeks, my husband has completely ignored my phone calls.  I leave messages.  I call during times that I know that he should be home.  But no matter when I call or what I say, he won’t pick up.  How am I supposed to respond to this? Does this mean that things have changed and that he’s distancing himself from me?  I was very worried that this was going to happen.  When my husband first asked for a separation, I was very reluctant because I suspected that his plan all along was to divorce me because he wasn’t really interested in saving the marriage.  His behavior and his ignoring my calls seems to be confirming that.  How can I find out why he’s ignoring me?  What’s the best way to handle this?”

There are many tricky issues such as this one that can come up during your separation.  Contact is a very common one.  Many wives in this situation intuitively know that how they handle this may well affect the outcome of the separation.  You can have some tough choices to make when you don’t want to keep calling and coming on too strongly, but you don’t want to just let your husband go.  And if you wait on him to call you, then you can really worry that the call is never going to come.  In the following article, I’ll offer some suggestions and considerations on how to handle it when your husband is ignoring your calls while you’re separated.

There Are Various Reasons That Husbands Ignore Your Calls During The Separation. Not All Of These Reasons Are Negative: Many wives will assume that their husband ignoring their phone calls mean that he doesn’t want to hear from them, that he’s sending a negative message, or that this is the first step of him completely distancing himself from his wife and from his marriage.  Sometimes, these assumptions may be at least somewhat accurate.  But, every husband who doesn’t immediately call his wife back during the separation has negative motivations.

Sometimes, the husband is just trying to take some time for himself and he wants some distance in order to be able to fully explore his feelings and thoughts.  (In fact, this is one reason that many husbands will give you for wanting a separation.) And often, when they feel that they aren’t getting this, they will do things to assert themselves or to make it more likely that they will get what they have asked for.  So, this is just one of many possibilities.

It can be a mistake to assume the worst or to allow your mind to immediately jump to the worst case scenario.  And usually when this happens, there’s a real risk that you will over reach, keep calling, and make things even worse.  I’ve had husbands in this situation tell me that that their wife’s insistence that he finally pay attention to her rose to an alarming level.  (I’ve even heard the word stalking used a time or two. This happened to me in my own situation when I was trying to save my marriage.)

This is an easy trap to fall into, but I’d recommend making every effort to avoid this if it’s at all possible.  I’ll discuss how right now.

How To Handle It When You’re Husband Is Ignoring Your Calls During The Separation: As I see it (and from my own experience,) you have two options.  You can continue to reach out in the hopes that he will eventually respond(at a risk, of course.)  Or, you can back off a little bit as a strategic decision.  It’s my experience that although backing off can feel just wrong, risky, and vulnerable, it actually has a much higher success rate.

The reason for this is that often backing off will give him more of that time and space that he was after. And it will create some mystery and suspense, which should place you in a more favorable light.  (In contrast, often continuing on with a strategy that hasn’t worked and continuing to call will put you in a more negative light.)

I know that even thinking about backing off can be difficult, but try to focus on the long term objective instead of the short term one.  The wife in this situation wanted to make one more call.  I got her to agree to this so long as in the next call, she alluded to the fact that she was going to be taking some time for herself and wouldn’t be in touch so much.  As such, she’d just wait to hear from him.

Many wives are very uncomfortable with backing off.  They feel that they need to know why their husband is avoiding them and ignoring their calls.  So many will ratchet up their calls, follow him, or arrange to demand answers face to face.  But I have to tell you that rarely do I see these methods work.  Instead, it usually makes the husband want to retreat even more.

Many wives tell me that, although they understand why I’m asking them to back off, they just aren’t sure that they can do it.  It goes against every instinct that they have because they worry that they can feel him slipping away.  If this rings true for you, see if taking some time away would help.  In my own case, I forced myself to leave town and this helped tremendously.  Or, if that’s not an option ask yourself what is the least that you can do and still feel like you’re in touch.  For example, maybe you can send only one quick text or email instead of continuing to call.  Maybe you will promise yourself  that you’ll give it one more day.  Whatever you can do to keep yourself from coming on too strong or panicking will usually give you a better result, at least in my opinion.

How do I know this?  Because I lived it.  I had to use this same strategy when I was separated from my own husband.  And looking back, I have to tell you that this was probably the only thing that would have worked.  If it helps, you can read more of that story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

Is It Wrong To Be Dating My Husband While Separated?

By: Leslie Cane: Believe it or not, there aren’t any hard and fast rules of etiquette when you are separated. I don’t know of any guide or rule book. Most people sort of just feel their way and hopefully, try to approach the situation with humility, grace, and kindness. I sometimes get asked if specific situations or behaviors during a separation are “right” or “wrong.” One such example is dating your spouse while you are technically separated. People often wonder if this crosses some sort of imaginary line, is cruel, or is just confusing and hurtful to all involved.

Here’s a conversation you might hear: “I am the one who pulled the trigger on my separation, but that is mainly because I got so tired of hearing my husband always complain about how unhappy he was. I tried to make adjustments so that he wouldn’t be so miserable, but nothing worked. He kept right on complaining and so I called his bluff. And told him, fine, let’s separate then. He actually moved out, which surprised me. But in the end, I went along with it because I was curious to see what our experiences might be like. I wanted to see if we would miss one another or if one or both of us would be happier alone. I don’t think that I want a divorce, but I’m not entirely sure about that. Because I don’t want to continue on with the marriage that I have. It brings me down all of the time. But I have found that I miss my husband. So we have met for dinner several times. In fact, at this point it is just a given that we are going to eat together on Wednesday and Friday nights and maybe more. We still have sex sometimes. My friends say it is like we are dating again and some of them are skeptical about this. One of my friends says that she thinks it’s wrong to date when you are separated. She says that it might give my husband false hope – which is cruel. And she says that the whole point of a separation is to stay away from each other. Is she right? Is what I am doing wrong?”

I don’t think that it is wrong. I think that as long as both people are clear about what is happening and you are honest about any motivations or hesitations, I find it to be fine. My husband and I dated toward the end of our separation. Without this, we probably would have ended up divorced. Yes, there was sometimes misunderstandings and awkwardness as we tried to find our way. But this was preferable to avoiding and hurting one another.  My husband was very clear that the ‘dating’ didn’t necessarily mean that we would reconcile and I had to be okay with that, so it was a risk.  But we were two consenting adults.

This is only my opinion, but I believe that people get separated INSTEAD of divorced for a reason. Most of the time, it is because the couple is not sure that they are ready to end their marriage. They are hoping that somewhere in the future, things will be more clear and perhaps there might be some hope for their marriage. What better way to see this through than to continue to see your spouse?

Sure, if issues come up or if the dating becomes confusing or painful, then of course you want to be honest and address those issues. You want to treat your spouse with respect and be forthcoming.  You want to try to be clear about your own feelings, intentions, and motivations. But if you were to steer clear of one another and never interact, I’d suspect that your relationship would eventually weaken because of this.

No, you don’t need to date in order to stay in contact with your spouse. You can certainly communicate without it being romantic. But if both you and your spouse are interested in exploring whether the marriage and the romance can be saved, then I do not see the harm. I am certainly not a counselor. But in the end, resuming communications was the start of our reconciliation. Beginning to see one another helped even more. And the dating came at the very last stage – before true reconciliation took place. We certainly didn’t rush this (because my husband was not sure about what he wanted initially.) But I don’t feel that it harmed things in any way – although this will be different for each couple.

I’m certainly no expert, but I say if both people want to date, if it feels right, and if it’s having a benefit rather than harm, I think that it can be a good way to begin to inch your way back toward one another. That said, you’ll want to make sure that the dating doesn’t cause you to gloss over your problems. But sometimes, you need a break from your problems. And you need to focus on what is still right about your relationship, rather than on always what is wrong.

I can’t pretend that I didn’t have reservations about dating during our separation.  I was afraid of being hurt, but in the end, I do think that it is one of the things that saved us. The rest of the story is on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

If My Husband Won’t Talk About His Feelings During Our Separation, Does This Mean Our Marriage Is Over?

By: Leslie Cane:  I sometimes hear from people who are worried about their spouse’s lack of transparency during their trial separation. Often, they were really hoping to get some insights into how their spouse might be feeling and whether these same feelings are good or bad for the future of their marriage.

I heard from a wife who said: “my husband and I separated about eight and a half weeks ago. When he came to me and told me that he wanted to separate, he represented it as something that wasn’t that big of a deal. He made it sound like he just wanted some time to sort out himself in mid life and he indicated that he would be in close contact the whole time. He even made it sound somewhat romantic, like we could date one another once again. So I assumed that he was going to be up front and open with me the whole time. This isn’t what has happened. At first, we saw each other regularly, but that too has tapered off. We only see each other sporadically and when we do, we talk about everything but our marriage. I am very open and honest about the fact that I miss my husband. I am more than willing to talk about my feelings. But he doesn’t share this sentiment. He seems to want to keep everything very private. I will ask him what he is feeling or thinking and he says that he really doesn’t have anything to share right now. I’m afraid that this is a very bad sign. If he won’t share what he is thinking and feeling, how are we going to save our marriage? If he is reluctant to talk about his feelings, does this mean that our marriage is over?” I will try to address this concern in the following article.

Why I Don’t Think That A Separated Husband’s Reluctance To Discuss His Feelings Means That Your Marriage Is Over: In a perfect world, both spouses would be equally willing to share their feelings and to do whatever was necessary to make quick progress so that they could end the separation and save their marriage. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case in real life.  unfortunately, most people do not feel the same things or have the same thoughts or wishes at the same time. So as frustrating as it is, you may be working on a different schedule or time line. You may be ahead of him in some realizations and you may have easier access to your feelings or be more open about them. This is very common. Men tend to be more closed off with their feelings and are therefore less likely to discuss them.

He May Have Valid Reasons For Not Being Very Open Right Now: There are several legitimate reasons that he may not be sharing his feelings right now. It is possible that he is feeling very conflicted and he has not yet had time to sort this out. He may not have anything definitive to share with you. Or, he may be feeling things that might be confusing to him or troubling to you but he knows that his feelings might change so he doesn’t want to be premature and upset you if it’s unnecessary.

Another possibility is that he may not have a decent handle on his feelings. It’s very normal to feel conflicting feelings, especially in the beginning. This can make you feel confused and give you the sense that you don’t know what you’re feeling. So, instead of sharing this confusion or bringing someone else into the mix, sometimes your husband thinks that it’s better to just wait until he has something meaningful and definite to share. Besides, he usually knows that you are going to analyze everything that he tells you and he may not want for you to read too much into feelings that just aren’t clear.

Sometimes, You Just Have To Put All Feelings Aside, At Least Initially: I know that it is probably your initial inclination to think that the focus should be on both of your feelings right now. After all, you figure, if you both love one another and want the marriage enough, then things should automatically fall into place. But sometimes, when you are separated, the feelings are not as important as the actions. But sometimes when you are separated, this thinking is backward. Sometimes, you have to put aside the emotions and focus on the results. Because the truth is, this is a volatile time when your emotions might be all over the place. You may feel differently when the situation isn’t quite so painful or when cooler heads prevail. So it can help to just set everything aside except for where you want to go from here.

The wife wanted to save her marriage. That was her primary goal. Yes, it would have been wonderful if her husband had cooperated and was open about whatever he was feeling. But that wasn’t the reality. And assuming the worst or pressuring him to spill his feelings when he’s shown reluctance isn’t really in alignment with this goal.

I know that you want him to tell you that he’s feeling very favorable feelings. You want and need this reassurance and I don’t blame you because I know how this feels. But if he’s not willing or ready to share, it’s my experience that it is best not to press. He will probably share his feelings in his own time. And believe it or not, this isn’t necessary to your saving your marriage. You can continue to try to make small improvements as the situation allows. The two of you don’t need to share your deepest, darkest feelings in order to start interacting more positively. And sometimes, you have to settle for the small victories. So to answer the question posed, I don’t think a separated husband’s reluctance to share his feelings means that your marriage is over.

My husband didn’t share much with me early on in our separation and of course this upset me. But our marriage certainly wasn’t over, although it felt that way sometimes. I’m glad I didn’t stop trying to improve things when my husband wasn’t really cooperating in the way that I wanted him to.  Sometimes, you just have to keep going so that you don’t give up hope.  If it helps, you can read more of my story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

My Husband Cares More About His Family Than Me And This Puts Our Marriage At Risk

By: Leslie Cane: In a perfect world and in a semi-perfect marriage, our spouse would value and prioritize us before anyone else. After all, didn’t we vow to forsake all others? However, it’s not at all unusual for me to hear from people who feel that their spouse cares about another group of people more than their spouse. It’s very common for this complaint to involve extended family – with parents and siblings being the most common.

Someone might complain about a situation like this one: “it became clear to me very quickly that I was not the most important person in my husband’s life. This happened only a couple of months after our marriage. When his sister started a new business, he gave her the money we had saved for a home. When his parents moved to live in a retirement community, we actually moved and followed them. It is like my husband can not bear for it to be just us. We eat dinner with them every Sunday. We go to the movies with them once a week. When I complain, my husband acts like I’m just being petty. He will get all indignant and say ‘but they are my family.’ And I will tell him that I am his family, too. If there is something that I want to do, it is not going to happen unless he does not have an obligation with his family. Sometimes, I get the vibe that his mother doesn’t like me and that she is really possessive of her son. She’s very smug about this, as if I will never win if I make my husband choose between the two of us. I wish we could all coexist happily, but I feel like second best all of the time. The last time I complained, my husband said that maybe his is not the family for me. He said that maybe I would be happier if we were separated or divorced so that I did not have to deal with his family. Having him draw the line like this was not my intention, but every once in a while, I would like to feel that I am most important to him – at least some of the time.”

I understand what you are saying and feeling. Everyone wants to feel as if they are deeply valued and that their feelings are considered. But when you feel as if your feelings come dead last, it’s normal to feel hurt and frustrated. At the same time, I can tell that you already suspect that drawing a line in the sand is a recipe for disaster (and your husband has basically told you as much by hinting about a separation.) If you are not really close to your family, it may be hard for you to imagine someone asking you to choose between them and your family. But if you can, try to imagine it. Your husband has known his family and been very close to them for all of his life. Asking him to change that or (even to begin to cut that off) isn’t likely to be well received.

Ideally, you want him to feel close to his family WHILE he is also close to you. This isn’t likely to happen if you demand that he cut off his family time or obligations. You have to be careful here, because it is likely that he feels protective of and defensive about his family.  Plus, he’s indicated that your marriage might be on a bit of shaky ground. The ideal is to reach a happy compromise where you feel prioritized and he feels like a good son.

Think about what bothers you the most. Is it the time obligations? The weekly get togthers? Is it that you feel like he cares about their feelings and expectations more than yours? It’s important that you define what really bothers you the most. Because you only want to ask for very specific requests designed to address EXACTLY what is bothering you.  You don’t want to just throw out a bunch of complaints because he will get defensive and tune you out. From your description, it seems that the biggest issue is that you feel that the extended family are impeding on the closeness between your husband and yourself. You want to feel that when you are together, that he is yours and yours alone – at least for some of that time. And that’s completely fair.

You might try something like this: “Honey, I know that your family is very important to you and I promise you that I am not going to try to change that. Your caring about other people’s feeling is one of the traits that makes you a very good person. What I want to address right now is that sometimes, I feel like second best. I feel like you care about their feelings more than mine. It’s not my intention to demand that we never see them or that you don’t care about them. I would never ask that. What I am asking is that we make an effort to make our time together special when it is just the two of us. We have standing times to spend with your family and I understand that. But can we also have standing times when it is just us, when it is just our time? Married couples need to love their extended families, but they also need to be families all unto themselves. Can you work with me on this?”

I think that when you make it clear that you aren’t asking him to choose, he will not have the need to get defensive. You’re also not asking him to shut his parents down. You’re just asking him to also make YOU a priority. This is not an unrealistic request. You’re simply asking for balance. Once he understands that, he might be more willing to make compromises that can make everyone happy.

I think that it would be best to address this sooner rather than later.  Ideally, you want to settle this before he starts talking about moving out or a separation.  It is harder to reconcile your marriage when you aren’t living under the same roof, although it can be done.  I know this because it is what I had to do. If it helps, you can read about how I did it on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

How Should I React When My Husband Says He’s Moving Out?

By: Leslie Cane: I sometimes hear from wives who are so upset or shocked by their husband announcing that he’s moving.  Because of their overwhelming emotions, they often aren’t sure how to formulate an appropriate response. Many have conflicting feelings. They are angry or sad, but they want to react in a way that is going to help preserve their marriage or prevent a divorce.

I heard from a wife who said: “I knew that our marriage wasn’t what it should be. But I sincerely thought that we could work it out and I never expected for my husband to take the drastic action of moving out. This morning, there was a note from my husband by the coffee maker announcing that once he returned home from work tonight, he was packing his bags and moving out. He said he was telling me this so that I could arrange to stay away to avoid an awkward or painful situation. He didn’t mention if he was going to pursue a divorce. I am so furious about this. You would think that after years of marriage, I would deserve more than a short note. You would think that he could have the decency to at least look me in the eye. Now, I’m in a situation where I don’t know how to respond. I am very tempted to pack his bags myself, change the lock, and leave his belongings on the front porch. But I know that doing this would hurt my chances for saving my marriage. Still, I would feel like a fraud if I pretended that I am not furious about this. What is the best way to react?”

This is a tough question to answer. Because the appropriate response and reaction will often depend upon the husband’s reasons for leaving and the personalities of both people involved. However, when you want to save your marriage, you have to think a little more carefully and treat a little more lightly. I will discuss this more in the following article.

Ask Yourself About The Real Reason He Wants To Move Out: Some men will threaten to move out just to get a reaction out of their wives. Sometimes, they only intend to be gone for a short period of time in order to scare their wife into some sort of change. Others are trying to put themselves in a position where their wife begs him to come back. But some husbands are very serious about breaking away or taking some time for their own.

So it can help to examine what your husband’s motivations might be so that you can formulate the appropriate response. In this case, the wife felt that husband was unhappy with their marriage and genuinely wanted some time away. She felt that it was possible that he might eventually pursue a divorce if things didn’t dramatically improve in their marriage.

So for her, the best response was going to be the the one which made it the most likely that she could see her husband regularly during the separation. She needed to set it up so that they had positive interactions that would eventually contribute to improving their relationship and, hopefully,  saving their marriage.

A Suggested Response: If you think that your husband is really serious about moving out and isn’t just posturing or trying to scare you, then you want to take this seriously and you want to face this head on with sincerity and respect.

The wife wasn’t sure if she wanted to be in the house when he moved out because she was afraid that a huge fight would break out once the emotions started to bubble over. If this was the case, you could always leave a note. But, if you can swing it, verbal words are likely to have more impact as long as you can remain calm.  However, whether you speak the words or write them, an appropriate response might be something like: “I’m sure it won’t surprise you to know that I’m hurt and sad.  I’m also really disappointed that you didn’t tell me this face to face.  And I wish that you would reconsider. I would be more than happy to allow you some time alone without your needing to move out. I could stay with friends for a while if they would make you more comfortable. But, no matter what you decide, I hope that we can improve things between us eventually. No matter what happens to our marriage for the short term, I don’t want to completely lose my relationship with you. It is simply too important to me. So if you need some time then I respect that. If that is what it takes to improve things between us, I’m all for it. But I would hope that you wouldn’t need to move out in order to do this. And, if you do, I hope that we can stay in touch regularly so that things don’t get worse between us.”

I know that it’s very tempting to tell him that if this is what he wants than he shouldn’t let the door hit him on his way out. But, as good as this might feel in the short term, it thwarts your most important long term goal which is to save your marriage.

And although any response that you decide on should sound genuine and be in line with your personality, try to make sure that it is calm and designed to maintain a cordial relationship with your husband on which you can build.

Unfortunately, my opinion on this is based on my own experience.  I reacted quite badly when my own husband moved out.  And I had to work very hard to reestablish my relationship with him.  I did eventually save my marriage, but not without making a lot of avoidable mistakes first.  If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

What Is My Husband Thinking While We’re Separated?

By: Leslie Cane:  I often hear from wives who wish that they could read their husband’s mind during a marital separation.   Often, he’s not being very transparent about his thought process and this is very frustrating for wives.

Common comments are something like: “my husband and I have been separated for a couple of months, but he’s not very forthcoming about what he’s thinking and how he’s feeling.   Some days, he is receptive to me and some days, he’s not.  So I can’t tell if he’s feeling particularly loving toward me or if he’s feeling like he might want to move back in and try to save our marriage.  When I ask him what he’s feeling or experiencing, he tells me that he thinks different things at different times and that, when he comes to a decision, he will share it with me.  This is breaking my heart.  I have no problem telling him how I feel.  Why can’t he do the same?  What do husbands think about while they are separated from their wives?”  I’ll try to answer these questions as best as I can in the following article.

Many Men Have Very Varied And Conflicted Thoughts During The Separation (Especially In The Beginning.) Obviously, I’m not a man who is going through a separation.  But I do dialog with many of them on my blog.   And many share a good deal of varied and conflicting feeling.  On day, they may miss their wife and wonder if maybe they should return home and put everything into saving their marriage.  And then the next day, they might actually enjoy feeling single or feel overwhelmed by all of your marital problems.    So, some of them are telling you the truth when they admit their they feelings can swing from one extreme to the other.

To be honest, these swinging feelings are sometimes nothing new.  In fact, many men want the separation as a way to sort out these fluctuating feelings.  The hope is that once they have some distance from their wife and their marriage, it will be easier for them to tell which feelings are the most sincere and frequent.  This doesn’t always become evident in the beginning of the process.  Many men feel a good deal of guilt about leaving and many find that they miss their wives more than they suspected that they would.

On the flip side of the coin, some men do find that they like the single life.  This can particularly be true if your marriage was a volatile one in which there was always a lot of conflict or fighting.  Sometimes, once they have a little peace and quiet, they find that they like it and they begin to lean toward making the separation more permanent or they consider pursuing a divorce.  Also, some husbands meet someone else during the separation and some of them can feel that it’s easier to just start over with someone new than to revive a marriage that might be damaged beyond repair.

Of course, I have no way of knowing what your own husband is thinking right now.   He may fall into either of these categories or neither one.  He may even be somewhere in the middle. Sometimes, he will give you little hints along the way. And other times, he might contradict himself, which I’ll discuss right now.

Tips For Deciphering Your Husband’s Hints As To What He Might Be Thinking During The Separation: As I alluded to, it’s important to understand that your husband might be experiencing a lot of different types of feelings.  That’s why you might be getting some mixed signals.  In general though, if he is receptive to seeing you on regular basis and things are going well when you are together, then you can reasonably sure that his thoughts about you or the marriage are positive.  But if he’s putting off spending time with you or always seems to be making excuses to avoid you, then the chances are good that there are some negative thoughts or doubts going through his mind.  And, if you’re seeing a combination of the two (which isn’t at all uncommon) then he’s probably experiencing those fluctuating feelings we’re been talking about.

Insights For Trying To Make Sure His Feelings Are As Positive As Possible During Your Separation: You can’t control your husband’s thoughts and feelings.  But you can attempt to set it up so that you have the best chance of him thinking positively of you.  Every time that you speak to one another or are together, try to be as cheerful as you possibly can.  Try to make sure that the time you spend together is pleasurable for both of you.  And, this might include not leaning on him about his feelings.  If he wants to share them, that’s great.  But if he’s reluctant to do so, don’t push too hard because if you do, then he might hesitate to spend time with you as often.   By being approachable and agreeable,  you decrease the odds that his feelings are negative ones and increase the chances that they are positive.

So to answer the question posed, men have varying feelings while they are separated from you.  But it is to your benefit to try to set up the circumstances that encourage positive thoughts and experiences.  It’s in your best interest to worry more about setting up positive circumstances and interactions instead of continuing to pressure him or question him about feelings about which he may changing anyway.

I do understand where you are because I constantly bugged my own husband about his feelings when we were separated.  I just could not help myself.   I needed to know if my marriage even stood a chance.  Unfortunately, my pestering him too much made him want to avoid me.  And so I had a much harder time saving our marriage in the end.  It wasn’t until I realized my mistake that I began to turn things around.  If it helps, you can read about the strategies that actually worked on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

 

A Last Ditch Effort To Save Your Marriage: What Should It Include?

by: Leslie Cane:  I often hear from wives who are at the point where they’re willing to do just about anything to prevent a divorce or separation.  And many have already tried numerous and various things which haven’t worked so far.  So, sometimes they come to a point where they intuitively know that it’s now or never as far as their marriage is concerned and they’re struggling to come up with some last ditch effort that is actually going to work.

I recently heard from a wife who said, in part: “nothing that I’ve done to try to save my marriage has worked.  I’ve promised my husband I would change.  I’ve tried to figure out what he really wants and then attempted to give that to him.  I’ve begged him to go to counseling but he won’t.  I’ve tried to make him see that neither of us are going to be any happier apart.  But everything that I do or say is either ignored or discounted.  I’m getting pretty desperate at this point.  I’m trying to put together a last ditch effort to save my marriage but so far, he’s been resistant to everything.  What can or should I do at this point?”

I can remember feeling exactly this way when I was trying to save my own marriage. And I also know that when you’re in this very scary and desperate place, this is when you will often make the most unfortunate decisions.  You often aren’t thinking clearly and you suspect that you might have to do something very dramatic or over the top to finally either get some results or some relief.  I’ve had wives admit to me that they’ve considered any number of things that were very embarrassing and unfortunate as they look back on them now.  Many have admitted to behaviors like making threats, promising that he will be sorry, out and out begging, or even alluding to the fact that the wife can’t (or won’t) be live without him.  Unfortunately, these sort of strategies are so obviously so desperate that most husbands see right through this and respond in the exact opposite way that you’d hoped.  Instead of suddenly seeing you as desirable, they can see you as unstable. So below, I’ll discuss what I think a last ditch effort to save your marriage should include.

Look At What Has Or Hasn’t Worked In The Very Recent Past: It’s an unfortunate truth that much of the time, wives who feel like they’re at the point where a last ditch effort to save their marriage is necessary will usually continue with what they have been doing all along, but in a more dramatic way.  They sometimes feel so much frustration at not being heard that they will just try to deliver the message louder, with more intensity, or in a way that they hope means that he can’t possible ignore them any longer.

But, if you’re trying things that haven’t worked in the past, you’re likely to get not only the same result, but a result with a stronger negative result from your husband.  It’s not likely that what hasn’t worked in the past is suddenly going to start working simply because you’re laying it on a little more thickly.   Instead, you’ll often do a little better if you can rationally look back and determine which efforts resulted in something positive and which were a disaster.  Can you see any situation when he responded at least somewhat positively?  Because if you can, this is a vital clue as to the strategy that you should be using right now.

For example, many wives should notice (but sometimes don’t) that coming on very strongly will often result in their husband being less receptive, while approaching him in a calm and cooperative manner will often results in him being more receptive.  I can’t say that this is always true, but usually it is true more often than not.  People have a tendency to recoil away from things that inspire negative reactions or inspire them to be defensive, while they tend to welcome or be receptive to the things that make them feel more positively and less conflicted.

Men will often reject dramatic behaviors because they just don’t feel comfortable invoking those types of negative emotions.  They would rather see a smile on your face and be approached in a positive way.  Now, I know this may not make any sense to you.  Many wives will tell me how silly it seems to approach things from a positive place when their marriage may be on it’s last legs.  But, sometimes you have to place your focus more on the results that you want and vow to do whatever it takes to get you there.  So, if you’ve seen negative results from making promises or debating or trying to bring on the guilt, then it makes sense to stop that.  If your husband has shown a little more compassion or been more receptive when you’ve backed off some, then that’s the strategy you should focus on right now.

Frankly, Your Behaviors And Your Actions Shouldn’t Make It Obvious That This Is Your Last Ditch Effort To Save Your Marriage: Here’s something else that I can not stress enough.  Whatever strategy you are using should not be so obviously desperate or “last ditch” that your husband is going to be tempted to discount it’s sincerity because he thinks you’re just doing whatever you can to get your way.

And it’s for this reason that I suggest you get the whole “last ditch” idea out of your mind.  Because when you are afraid that you only have one chance left, then there’s a real risk to take on a mind set that forces you to act the unstable way that scares men.  And you lose the confidence that is often necessary to pull this off. So, you are often going to be better off just telling yourself that you’re going to approach this in a way that you both can be comfortable with and know that if you keep at it and you are meant to be together, it will eventually work out.

I have seen so much more success (and had more success in my own situation) when the wife approaches this in a calm and confident way.  Rather than “fighting for” your marriage and taking a combative stance, approach it in a different, more cooperative way.  Partner with your husband to work together.  Show him a woman that he can feel comfortable working side by side with because he isn’t going to met with drama or conflict every time he’s in a room with you.  Say what you truly mean and don’t make over the top declarations or promises.  Speak from your heart and be calm but sincere.  Don’t try to save your marriage overnight because this just isn’t believable or realistic.  Instead, just focus on making small improvements and concessions that ring true and make your husband want to see and interact with you more.

No, this isn’t a last ditch effort.  This is a more gradual plan that has a much higher success rate in my own experience. As I’ve alluded to, my “last ditch effort” to save my own marriage failed because my husband saw my behaviors as unstable and over the top.  It wasn’t until I calmed down and approached it calmly and methodically that I got the results I wanted and saved my marriage.  If it helps, you can read more of that very personal story (and a somewhat embarrassing one too) by visiting http://isavedmymarriage.com/

Tips For Surviving The Trial Separation

By: Leslie Cane:  I often hear from people who are getting ready to start a trial separation. Most of the people who contact me never wanted the separation in the first place. Usually, they are just trying to comply with their spouse’s wishes. Sometimes, their spouse has made it clear that a separation is going to happen whether they like it or not, but rather than getting a divorce, it’s usually suggested that a trial separation might be the better route. And while a trial separation does allow you to continue to hold onto your marriage and still a chance to save it, living through a trial separation can be really difficult.

I recently heard from a wife who said: “my husband had been pushing for a trial separation for several months. Finally, he pretty much told me that if I wouldn’t agree to the separation, he was going to go ahead and file for a divorce. So I felt as if I really had no choice but to comply. But the separation has been just awful. I miss my husband so much. And I had hoped that being away from me would make him miss and appreciate me, but it hasn’t appeared to work that way. He’s just as distant and cold as he has been all along. When I ask him how he’s feeling and what he’s thinking, he doesn’t want to talk about it. Apparently, I’m just supposed to go along with the trial separation and not ask any questions or make any demands. It’s as if I’m just supposed to take what he gives me. I don’t know how I’m going to survive this. Every day is a huge challenge and I just feel more and more hopeless all of the time. How am I going to get through this?”

I know from my own experiences that you are going through a very difficult time, but you can and will get through this. In the following article, I will offer some tips for successfully surviving and getting through the trial separation in a way that hopefully leaves your sanity and your marriage in tact.

Define And Understand The Goals And The Boundaries Before The Awkwardness Sets In: It can be very beneficial if you can set it up so that you both have an understanding as to how the trial separation is going to work. How often are you going to contact and see each other? Who is going to take the initiative to contact who? What are you trying to evaluate or decide while separated? What needs to happen or occur for the marriage to be saved? Of course, it may not possible to answer all of these questions. And your spouse may not even be willing to define everything. But, it is always better to try to reach an understanding early in the process before things get awkward or misunderstandings or hurt feelings occur.

Try To Make The Time Apart Help The Situation Rather Than Making It Worse: I know that if you are reading this article, you likely miss your spouse very much and this separation is almost like a form of torture for you. But, if your spouse has asked for a separation or space, then this is very indicative that some time apart might actually be an opportunity for your marriage rather than a curse. Because if your spouse felt strongly enough about the situation to ask for a break, then it’s pretty likely that he felt that things were bad enough and unlikely enough to change that he felt that action was necessary.

The separation can be the break that can give you both the perspective that you need to save the marriage. Many spouses end up missing each other and realizing that they really do want to salvage the marriage. But this is less likely if you work against the process rather than with it. Resist the urge to call, text, or demand too much from your spouse. Give them the time and space that they’ve asked for and there’s a chance that this will work to your advantage.

If It’s Hard For You To Accept The Distance, Consider Doing Something To Make Over Reaching Very Difficult For You: During my separation, it was nearly impossible for me to give my husband the space he wanted and apparently needed. I always wanted to call, go by, or reach out to him. But every time I tried to do this, it was obvious that he was not receptive and was getting frustrated with me always being around. I understood that I needed to back off but I just couldn’t seem to.

I knew that I needed support from family and friends and I also knew that if I was in vicinity of my husband, I could not resist making a pest of myself. So I went back home to see my extended family (which was hundreds of miles away.) This was hard at first but it forced me to back off a little bit and it meant that I was with and supported by people who loved and supported me. This eventually improved my attitude and outlook and little by little, this helped to improve things with my husband, who became interested again when I wasn’t so accessible.

I know that the trial separation is difficult. But try very hard to allow it to make him miss and want you rather than making him think that he must divorce you to finally get the space he wants. Even if you don’t feel confident, try to project confidence and a belief that the separation won’t last forever and when it is over, it will reveal two people who still love and are committed to one another.

The time period when I was separated from my husband was among the most challenging in my life. But the tighter I clung, the more difficult it was. It wasn’t until I forced myself to back up that things improved. If it helps you can read the very personal story of how I saved my marriage on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

How To Make Your Husband Want To Come Back To You: The Right And Wrong Ways

By: Leslie Cane: I often hear for wives who are looking for the strategy or plan that is going to make their husband want to come back to them. Sometimes, the husband has abruptly left after a fight. Others have left after long struggles within the marriage and the departure doesn’t come as huge surprise. Others leave as part of a trial separation. Whatever the reason that he’s left, these wives want him back as soon as possible. They often don’t much care what they need to do in order to accomplish this. They are just tired of being without him.

I heard from a wife who said: “my husband left me about four months ago. I’ve tried everything that I know to do in order to get him to come back. I’ve tried to appeal to his sense of obligation. I have tried to make him feel guilty. I have tried to make him jealous. I’ve tried to seduce him. I’ve tried to pretend that I just don’t care. But nothing works. Nothing makes him interested. He seems to tolerate me. He’s polite. He never declines to see or talk to me. But he never takes the initiative either. He seems to be perfectly happy to be apart from me for now. What can I do to make him want me back? Because I’m starting to give up hope.”

I know first hand that it’s very hard to maintain hope when he’s given you absolutely no encouragement. But, sometimes, you have to force yourself to hold out hope if you’re still intent on getting him back or on saving your marriage. Because as long as there’s hope, there’s a chance. I used to tell my friends that if I gave up, I would certainly fail because I was conceding defeat and I wasn’t about to do this. This is an individual decision, of course. And I didn’t know all of the details. But I do believe that before you give up, there are some things that you can try to do to encourage your husband to want you back. Notice that I said encourage. Because I don’t think you can “make” or “get” someone to do something genuine, nor should you want to. I’ll discuss this more below.

Give Him Enough Respect To Not Play Obvious Games: When the wife said that she’d tried everything to get her husband to want her back, I got a sinking feeling. Because often, when wives try multiple strategies, it gives off a vibe of desperation that husbands can sniff out almost effortlessly. As a result, he stops taking you seriously and you most definitely have a less than captive audience for your strategies.

Often, when you get to the point where you both know you’re playing every card you have, it’s time to just stop and be straightforward and stop playing games. Because he knows what you are doing. He’s expecting for you to continue on and he’s stopped paying attention. So how do you get his attention? By changing things up. By completely doing an about face. And by no longer trying to do things just to get a reaction so that he can actually take this process seriously.

Allow Him To Remember Your Relationship When It Was Effortless: When you get to the point where you feel rejected and he feels frustrated, it’s very easy for the spouse who left to see your relationship as problematic and getting worse. It can become difficult to remember when things were new, fresh, exciting, and easy. It can get to a point where your relationship feels like so much work, that he starts to wonder if this is all even worth it. He’ll start to wonder if people who are really meant to be together or who are really in love have to work this hard to keep it together.

So, it’s vital that you show him that his perceived difficulty can change. You want to remind him of the two people who use to seamlessly fit together and who can again one day.

Now, as you might expect, this might mean that you have to back off on the pressure that you’ve been applying. You might have to lower your expectations at first and have some patience. It’s so important to understand that the more you try to pressure and manipulate your husband, the more he is going to pull away from and discount you.

Honestly, one of the best things that you can do is to make yourself approachable and agreeable. You don’t want him to feel as if he has to be guarded to communicate with or interact with you. Nor do you want him to feel that he needs to brace himself for guilt, jealousy, or shame when he’s in your presence. If you remember nothing else from this article, remember that you want to elicit positive emotions rather than negative ones.

So to answer the question posed, instead of trying to “get” or “make” your husband want to come back to you, encourage him to want to come back by not playing games or attempting to manipulate him and by being patient as you show him how effortless and pleasurable your relationship can be. This may take time, but that is OK.

And, I’m not saying that you can’t flirt, be playful, and do what you know gets a response. But this shouldn’t be your only strategy meant only to get a quick response. It’s fine to allow a little flirting  to get your foot in the door. But once inside, you want to build something that is truly lasting so that you don’t have to deal with this issue again.

Unfortunately, I didn’t always do what I’ve just suggested to you.  And I made a huge mess of my marriage.  Not only did my husband not want to come back, but he was beginning to lose his patience with my strategies.  It wasn’t until I did a complete about face and tried a more straightforward strategy that I saw very positive results.  If it helps, you can read that story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

Once The Chemistry Is Gone In Your Marriage, Can You Get It Back?

by: Leslie Cane: I often hear from people who are quite upset that the spark, passion, or chemistry is gone from their marriage.  Many of them want to maintain or save the marriage, but they aren’t sure if this is going to be possible.  I often hear comments like this one: “I finally have to admit that the chemistry is gone from my marriage.  It seems like there’s no longer a spark or passion between us.  It isn’t as if we’re fighting or having serious issues.  It’s just that the electricity isn’t there anymore.  When we do have sex, it’s like we’re only mechanically going through the motions.  Things are starting to happen that have never happened before – like my having dreams about an ex or me actually looking appreciatively at other men.  A year ago, this would have never been possible.   We’ve never had any issues with chemistry.   We need to get it back because we have two kids and I would never want to put them through a divorce or separation.  Besides, I truly love my husband.  I want my marriage to work, but lately, I just don’t feel any chemistry at all.  While my brain and heart seem to love him, my body does not.  What can I do about this? Once the chemistry is gone, is there any way to get it back?”

I know that some will disagree with me, but I know from my own experience (and that of many others) that you can get the chemistry back in your marriage.  It often won’t happen just because you want it to or if you either ignore it and hope for the best or push so hard that things become even more awkward.  You usually have to find that happy middle between taking action and not overreacting so much that you make things worse.  I will discuss how to do that in the following article.

Determine Which Emotional Or Other Factors Lead Up To The Loss Of Chemistry: Again, I know that I might meet some resistance when I say this, but I know it to be true.  Most of the time, what happens with our bodies and its reaction begins in our brains.  If things aren’t right with our marriage on an emotional level, then things aren’t going to be right on a physical level.  Sometimes when I explain this though,  I’m met with confusion or even doubt.  I will sometimes hear comments like: “but my husband is a wonderful person.  I love him.  It’s really not that there’s anything wrong with my marriage.  He’s kind and treats me with respect and there’s no huge or central issues.  It’s just that the chemistry is gone.”

I would argue that it often isn’t quite as simple as that.  While I agree that you can see a loss of chemistry even in good and very solid marriages, I would also say that by definition, this same loss of chemistry could most definitely be defined as an issue or problem – even if no one is at fault and even when no one has done anything wrong or hurtful to the other.

Instead, it’s often a symptom of a shift of thought process or priorities in the marriage.  One or both people begin to get comfortable.  One or both people place their focus on their children, their jobs, or other issues that need and demand their attention.  And, there is nothing wrong with this.  It’s often required of us, but not adjusting or compensating where our marriage is concerned can lead to the a loss of intimacy and a cooling off of that chemistry, especially over time.

This certainly doesn’t mean that you no longer love your spouse.  It doesn’t even mean a loss of attraction or a physical bond, although it can most certainly feel that way.  What it means is that you haven’t kept the flames fanned and so, you are naturally feeling the result of cooling off.  Many people will mistakenly think that this cooling off means that they’ve “fallen out of love with” their spouse or that they married the wrong person because the chemistry eventually faded.  None of these things have to be true.

Instead, what has happened is that you are going through a phase that many married couples go through.  Complacency disguised as necessity has damaged the emotional connection in your marriage which in turn has affected the physical aspect of it.  I’m not saying that you’re no longer emotionally connected to your spouse or that you don’t feel emotions or love toward them.  You can feel all of these things and yet still lack chemistry because of complacency or neglect.  So, can this be fixed?  And if so, how?

How To Get The Chemistry Back In Your Marriage: As I’ve alluded to, I know that it’s possible to do this, but I also have to disclose that it usually takes a good deal of effort and a good deal of time.  Many couples try to rush the process by trying to force it.  And when this doesn’t work, they take that as a sign that the chemistry is gone for good and sometimes they turn their attention on how to escape the marriage instead of how to fix it.  This is definitely not what you usually want.

Before you make any attempts to address the physical aspects of your marriage that make up the chemistry, address the emotional aspects first, as well as the time that you are putting into it.  So many couples will try to spice things up in the bedroom or force a long trip together without first setting it up so that they are just spending more low pressure time together.   This can add a lot of awkwardness to an already difficult situation.  You often have much better results if you ease your way by first trying to improve your emotional connection.

This is as simple as spending more uninterrupted, low pressure time together really talking and listening to one another and connecting without worrying about chemistry or physical interactions in the beginning.  Just focus on talking, listening, laughing,  and interacting in the way that you used to.  Hold hands.  Casually touch.  But don’t do anything that feels fake or forced.

Once you feel that you are emotionally connected again, then you can focus on the physical aspects of your relationship.  It’s true that you get better at something the more time you spend on it.  So, if you want the physical aspect of your relationship to be better, then you have to spend more time on it.  I’m not asking you to do anything that makes you uncomfortable or that feels in genuine.  You don’t have to swing from the chandeliers or force yourself to engage in something that feels foreign.  But, I am suggesting that you take what is already working and build upon that.

Couples often find that if they just spend more time being physical with one another in a very genuine and non forced way (since they’ve been focusing on emotions as well) this alone will provide a good deal of relief in the chemistry department.  So that over time, a lack of chemistry will no longer be an issue for you.

A lack of chemistry as one thing that my husband cited when he told me he wanted a separation.  I didn’t feel that anything was wrong in that department, but I eventually learned that both people need to feel chemistry in order for the marriage to be satisfying to both.  At first, I tried to force this, but it actually made things worse.  Eventually, I learned that virtuously every aspect of your marriage can affect how you feel physically.   And this was the beginning of my turning things around.  Chemistry is no longer a problem for us and our marriage is back on solid ground.  If it helps, you can read more about that process on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com