How Am I Supposed To Act Around My Husband While We’re Separated?

by: leslie cane: I often hear from wives who are in the middle of a marital separation that they want to end as soon as possible. To that end, many want to make sure that they are acting in a way meant to get their husband back home and committed to the marriage. And many worry about how they are being perceived during the separation. They don’t want to say or do anything (or act in such a way) that is going to make a reconciliation less likely.

I recently heard from a wife who was confused as to the best way to act around her husband while they were separated.  Being apart and not knowing what was going to happen to her marriage had made her quite depressed and frightened, but she intuitively knew that allowing him to see the full extent of this might not be the best idea.  She said, in part: “I’m not sure how to act around my husband while we’re separated.   The truth is, I’m scared, angry, depressed, and unsure of this whole process, but my friends tell me that I should act like the opposite is true.  They tell me that I should pretty much pretend like I don’t care all that much and just try to act as if I’m trusting the process the whole time.  Part of me understands focusing on the positive, but another part of me feels like this is just dishonest and playing games.  My husband knows me very well.  He knows I didn’t want the separation and he probably has a pretty good idea of just how devastated I am.  Acting differently than this just feels wrong to me.  But, I’m willing to try anything to get him to end the separation.  I’ll act or say anything necessary to save my marriage.  What is the best way to act around a husband while you’re separated?”  I’ll try to address these concerns in the following article.

You Don’t Want To Abandon Your True Self While You’re Separated Anymore Than You Want To Act In Any Way That’s Not Believable: Many people who contact me mirror this wife’s concerns.  They’ve read or heard that you should act uncaring while ignoring your spouse.  In other words, many people will try to use reverse psychology or play hard to get in the hopes that this will make their spouse want them more.

So they will try on another persona or they will say or do things that feel completely foreign to them (and are quite hard for them to pull off convincingly.)  In my opinion and experience, this can be as a big of a mistake as focusing on your depression and fear.  No one wants to feel manipulated or lied to.  But this is how your spouse is likely to feel in the very likely event they realize what you are doing.  And, if you’re trying on a different personality that is so far away from who you truly are, your spouse is very likely to see exactly what you are doing and not respond very positively.  When this happens, you’ve just made your job much more difficult because now they approach every thing that you do or say (and every claim you make) with suspicion and doubt.

While I do agree that there’s a right and wrong way to act around your husband while you’re separated, you never want to take this so far that you’re trying to act like someone you are not or you’re being downright dishonest.  I believe it’s perfectly fine to focus on the positive and to spin reality to your best advantage, but many take this much too far so that it actually has the opposite effect of what they were after the whole time.

Allowing Your Husband To See A Strong, Coping, And Vibrant Version Or Yourself Is Different Than Denying The Truth,  Pretending That You Just Don’t Care About Him, Or Want A Separation That You Don’t Support: When I say that many people take this much too far, what I mean by that is that many wives will attempt to make their husband’s believe that they just don’t care about the separation or that they actually completely support it or think that it’s a fabulous idea.  First, this is a dangerous game to play if there’s a chance you can’t pull it off.  Second, it’s my belief and observation that this can sometimes backfire in a big way when you take it too far.

I believe that you are better off focusing on more polished and positive version of the truth.  There’s no need to pretend you support the separation if in truth it is your worst case scenario (although you shouldn’t always dwell on this either.)  It’s potentially damaging to your relationship if you pretend that you don’t care enough about your spouse to be hurt or frightened by the separation (and this probably wouldn’t ring true for your spouse anyway.)

At the same time, you don’t want to focus on your sadness and your fears so much that it becomes a negative experience for your spouse every time they attempt to interact with you. Because this will sometimes make a reconciliation much less likely.  People generally don’t want to spend large amounts of time with someone else that constantly brings them down. To the extent that you can, you want to choose positive topics on which to place your focus when you are around your spouse. It’s expected that your spouse knows you didn’t want the separation and aren’t exactly embracing now.  But there’s a big difference between the truth being out there and dwelling on it so much that it is always the elephant in the room that puts an abrupt halt to any progress that you might have otherwise made.

When you’re separated, you don’t want or need your husband’s pity.  The goal isn’t for him to come home because you’ve made it clear that you can’t or don’t want to live without him.  (This lays a very shaky foundation that is likely to crumble as soon is you hit another rough patch.)  Instead, you want him to come home and end the separation because it’s what he truly wants since you’ve shown him that the two of you can and did relate in a positive, genuine, and healthy way during the separation.

Showing Your Husband The Positive, But Genuine Version Of Yourself That You Know He Will Respond To During The Separation: I know that focusing on the positive so that your husband responds in kind is easier said that done.  I know it’s tough to appear that you’re coping and remaining as upbeat as you can while your heart is breaking.  But you have to keep asking yourself whether, if the roles were reversed, you yourself would respond positively to the person who you are putting on display.

I always suggest steering clear of topics that are going to be difficult to navigate convincingly, at least at first.  It’s also very important to keep yourself busy so that when you are together, it’s clear that you weren’t just sitting home crumbling and waiting for the next encounter.  You have to ask yourself who your husband is best going to respond to right now.  The answer is probably some part of yourself that he loves deeply but hasn’t seen all that much lately.

In order to do this convincingly, you usually have to surround yourself with the experiences, people, and things that support you, bring a smile to your face, and allow you to project this to others. Doing this can seem selfish or even indulgent when your marriage hangs in the balance, but reality is often just the opposite.  Because this is what is going to allow you to GENUINELY project the positive and coping persona that is most likely to get your husband to respond correctly and allow you to cope in the most genuine way possible.  I know that it’s tempting to sit at home and sulk or focus on your fears and what you don’t have.  But I promise you will usually get better results if you put yourself out there and focus on the positive things that you do have.

When my husband left, I made many of the mistakes I described in this article. I sulked, tried to pretend I didn’t care, and acted in a way that was obviously quite manufactured and not what I really felt.  I stalked,  begged, threatened, and acted very badly. These things back fired. Thankfully, I finally was able to change course, forced myself to focus on the positive, and eventually saved the marriage. You can read more of that very personal story on my blog at

How To Answer Questions From Other People During Your Separation

By: Leslie Cane:  When you are separated, it’s just unavoidable that you will have to attend some functions alone.  People may see you out and about without your spouse more than once.  Understandably, people can be curious and this curiosity can drive them to ask you personal questions about your separation.  It can be difficult to know how to answer this, especially if you’re worried that your answer might get back to other people, or worse, to your husband.

Someone might explain: “my husband and I try to create a united front during our separation.  He tries to still attend our children’s events.  And when he does, we typically sit together.  However, I have had to attend work functions without him.  I’ve gone out with friends and coworkers without him.  People notice this.  And they have started asking questions. My husband and I were joined at the hip before. I was never without him.  So I understand the curiosity.  But I kind of resent it and I’m not sure how to answer people’s questions.  I know that people ask out of concern and because they care about me.  But I don’t know how to answer them.  Things are up with down with my marriage during the separation. One day my husband acts as if he might be willing to reconcile eventually and the next day he avoids me and acts like I annoy him.  So I have no idea how to answer questions.  The other day, a wife of one of my husband’s coworkers cornered me at the grocery store and started to pry.  I tried very hard to just answer her with vague responses.  At the end she said ‘well, I hope you guys are getting back together.’  I didn’t know how to respond so I said ‘we’ll see.’  And then she proceeded to say that I didn’t sound very enthusiastic and now I’m afraid that she will go back and tell her husband (who will then tell my husband.)  What should I say when people ask these types of noisy questions?”

I understand your frustration and I really wish that people would use more common sense and have a little more empathy. Your marriage and the state of it can be a very private and sensitive topic.  It’s no one else’s business.  I would never feel comfortable asking another person about the state of their marriage, but that didn’t stop people from asking me about mine when I was separated. Like you, I initially fell into the trap of trying to give vague but honest answers.  And still people would sometimes push. Granted, I do believe that most people are just concerned.  But their prying does nothing to help you.

I found that often, it was not enough to be vague.  I’d have to literally change the subject or let them know that I just didn’t wish to go there.   I tried to keep things lighthearted, but I learned to redirect.  So when someone would ask me about my marriage or separation, I eventually realized that I had to say something like: “for right now, we’re not living together.  We’re taking some time to sort things out and we’re hoping for the best.  I hope you understand that I’m going to change the subject now because I’d just like to talk about something different.”  If the person still persisted, I’d just laugh and say “moving on” and then I’d literally change the subject.  For people who were extremely hard headed, I’d literally pretend I had a text on my phone and I’d excuse myself.

I figured if people were that dense, then I didn’t need to worry about allowing myself to exit that situation. I always tried to be as polite as possible, but I wasn’t going to allow someone to grill me about something that truly wasn’t their business when I knew that some of them were just looking to get their excitement for the day or to spread gossip.  Granted, some people really do ask out of concern, but even so, an honest “we’re trying to sort things out” really should be all that is needed.  They don’t need to know your innermost feelings and motivations.  They are likely simply looking for reassurance that you’re coping and are okay, which is why it’s fine to tell them that you’re “hoping for the best.” And then it’s also fine to politely redirect them down after that.

Most people don’t want their private life to be the subject of public scrutiny.  You certainly have the right to privacy.  Another concern is that there are a subset of people who will tell you their unsolicited opinion.  They might say something like: “I always sensed that things were tense between you two,” or “your husband seemed very unhappy to me.”  Again, you don’t have to engage with that.  You can simply say: “that’s an interesting observation.  Moving on, now” and then just change the subject.

You are under no obligation to sit there and have a conversation that you don’t wish to have.  If the person is truly a good friend and is truly concerned about you, then it should be obvious that you want to avoid the topic.  And a good friend who is truly concerned will be more than willing to respect your wishes.

I hope that helps some.  If you’d like to read about some more of my coping mechanisms during my separation (which thankfully ended in a reconciliation) you can check out my blog at

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

I Want My Husband To Feel And Express Real Emotions For Me Again. I Fear That We Are On The Verge Of Separation

By: Leslie Cane: There are people who have told me that even though their spouse hasn’t yet mentioned a separation or divorce, they know that it is coming. Because they can feel it. They notice a subtle shift in their spouse. He appears to be losing interest. He’s restless. And you can almost see the wheels spinning in his head, looking for a way out. You often aren’t exactly sure what to do about this, but you suspect that if you could just get him to feel something positive for you again, you might find a way out of this marital funk.

A wife might say: “I honestly don’t think that my husband feels much for me anymore. He’s polite to me. But he is polite to everyone. My husband is simply a nice guy, so he would never be mean to me. He would just sort of be indifferent, in the way that he is right now. If something upsetting happens to me at work, he will listen because he is courteous in that way, but he doesn’t attempt to comfort me. He doesn’t go out of his way to ask after me or to see if I am okay. He doesn’t go out of his way to spend one on one time with me. It’s as if we coexist, being polite to one another but not really engaged in our married life. Frankly, I can’t even get him to get mad at me. The other day, I was frustrated with him just treating me as if I were furniture in the room and I lashed out at him, trying to pick a fight. I wanted to get some type of feeling from him. But he basically just said that he was going to go out with friends instead of fighting with me and he left. He came back home after I was asleep. The other day, I asked him if he still loved me and he said that he wasn’t sure what he felt. Honestly, he doesn’t seem to feel anything at all. And that’s what is hurting me the most. I want him to feel genuine feelings for me again. He hasn’t said anything about moving out or separating. But I don’t see how we can’t be headed that way. We don’t interact in the way that a husband and wife should. He doesn’t seem to feel intimately toward me anymore. And I want to get that back. But I worry that it’s too late and the feelings are too far gone.”

Why You Should Never Concede It Being “Too Late” Until You Have To: I am not sure that it’s in your best interest to concede it being too late. I know of MANY marriages (including my own) where a separation or divorce was in the works because both people felt that it was too late. And yet, I am still married. If I had just given in and declared it “too late,” I’d surely be divorced by now. And I’m very glad that I’m not. Like your husband, mine had seemed to lose all interest in me. We even separated. I did many different things to try to get the feelings back and it only seemed to make things worse. Looking back now, I was acting out of desperation and this was obvious and unattractive. It wasn’t until I stopped trying so hard and allowed for things to happen somewhat naturally that the feelings started to return. If you can do this BEFORE your husband actually moves out, I would highly recommend this. You certainly can get the feelings back and save your marriage after a spouse has left, but it’s going to be more challenging, at least in my experience.

Reallocating Time And Attention:  So how do you begin? You ask yourself why the feelings left. In many cases, it is simply a matter of time and real life having their toll. After we are married for some time, we put our priority in other places. This is understandable as we have a job, a house to run, children to raise, and parents to care for. However, when we give our time and attention to these things, we can take it away from our spouse. As a result, our marriage can not help but suffer. And as we begin to take time and effort away, the feelings can begin to fall away also.

The remedy is to replace the time and attention, but this isn’t always as straightforward as it seems. Sometimes, when you attempt to do this, it feels awkward and forced. Or your spouse will wonder what you are up to and then resist. Sometimes, you have to move more gradually so that it feels more natural and can unfold on its own (which was definitely the case for me.) However, even small efforts can pay dividends. Start small and maybe just take a walk after dinner.  Just listen instead of talking.  (Of course, if you know of any issue in your marriage that is causing problems, you want to remove that issue.) But if the distance is simply a matter of growing apart, often time and attention will begin to bridge that gap. Your spouse may resist you at first because it may feel like you shouldn’t have to make a big effort in your marriage. But I would argue that things are always so great in the beginning of courtship for exactly that reason – you are making an effort. And if your marriage isn’t worth the effort, then I don’t know what is. Saving my marriage WAS a huge effort, but it has also had the greatest reward.  Divorce was the last thing I wanted.  You can read more at at

Should You Ignore Your Spouse During A Separation If You Want Them Back?

By: Leslie Cane: I often hear from people who are trying to come up with the best strategies for dealing with their spouse during a marital separation.  The goal is to make their spouse want to come back to them and to be willing to save the marriage.  To that end, one suggestion that is often given is to “ignore your spouse” or to use “reverse psychology” to make them more than willing to come back.

And I can see why this strategy seems attractive.  Basically, if it works, you don’t have to do much of anything (but a good acting job) and they will enthusiastically and willingly do exactly what you hoped all along.  But it’s my experience that this strategy doesn’t always work out this way.  I’ll discuss some of the risks to this strategy (and tell you one I think works better) in the following article.

Why I Think That Ignoring Your Spouse During The Separation Isn’t Always The Best Idea:  First of all, I don’t know many people who can completely pull this off.  Unless you are an award winning actor or actress, it can be very hard to make this convincing.  (And if your spouse sees through this, they will quickly loose respect for you.) The truth is, your spouse likely knows you better (and can read you more accurately) than anyone else.  It’s highly unlikely that they won’t see through this.

And even if they buy your act, do you really want for your spouse to think that you care so little for them and your marriage that your response is to just ignore them?  I am all for using some strategy to get your spouse back during a separation, but posturing to portray something that is the complete opposite of what you really feel (and what you really want) is in my opinion not only risky, but not the best call.

There are also a lot of risks associated with this strategy.  If you chose to ignore your spouse, you are hoping that they won’t be so hurt or put off by this that they will actually pursue you.  Depending on the personality and motivations of your spouse, this may or may not work.  But, your spouse might be hurt or frustrated and respond by trying to move on or see other people.  And, even if it does work, your spouse may eventually harbor some resentment for being manipulated.

I Agree That Sometimes Strategic Planning Is Needed During A Separation.  Here’s A Strategy That I Think Is Better Than Ignoring Your Spouse:  One of the main ideas behind ignoring your spouse is that by not being there constantly or by not making yourself completely available to them, you will seem more attractive (and they will want you more) as a result.  I completely agree with the strategy of creating mystery and it actually ended up working for me.  But, there’s a big difference between creating mystery and completely ignoring the person you are trying to get back.

I think there’s actually a delicate dance between staying in touch and showing that you care while not being constantly available or completely transparent.  I advocate communicating and interacting with your spouse on a regular basis while you are separated.  With that said, I believe you should be very deliberate and conscious of what cards you are playing while you are doing this.

What I mean by this is that you always want for your spouse to know that you care deeply about them and the marriage.  I think it’s even sometimes OK for them to know that you’d like to save the marriage.  But, at the same time, you also want it to be clear that you care enough about yourself to remain busy and vibrant and that you are not be hanging on your spouse’s every word or whim.

It can actually help your cause if your spouse wonders where you are or why you occasionally don’t answer their call on the first ring.  Does this mean that you are ignoring them?  Absolutely not.  You’re simply giving the impression that you’re also living your own life during the separation.  This will usually make you seem more attractive than someone who is anxiously awaiting your spouse’s call or text.

I think it’s perfectly fine to limit or time your availability just to make it appear that you are handling yourself  just fine.  However, you don’t want to take this to extremes.  It shows a lack of respect toward your spouse and it’s dishonest in a way that (at least in my opinion) posturing is not.  To me, there’s a difference between a strategy that places you in the best light and a strategy that is dishonest and downright risky.

During my separation, my leaving town and getting away for a while was a turning point that actually improved things.  But I didn’t do this in an attempt to ignore my husband.  I did this because I wanted and needed the support of my family and friends.  My husband knew where I was and I checked in with him from time to time.  But the mystery and distance this created did help.

So, while I think there is some validity to backing off slightly and being very deliberate with your interactions during your separation, I don’t advocate making yourself completely unavailable unless you just don’t want to interact with your spouse at all or you don’t care how they perceive or react to this.

I understand that this strategy is likely one of many that has been suggested to you.  And you’ll have to take your marriage and your spouse into account when you decide how you want to play this.  But it’s my opinion that you always want to remain true to your heart and not go to extremes or take huge risks that might actually backfire if what you really want is to get your spouse back rather than alienate them.

As I alluded to, I did use strategy to save my marriage during my separation, but I didn’t take it to extremes and I didn’t completely ignore my husband.  If it helps, you can read more on my blog here.

I Don’t Want My Marriage To Be Over But My Husband Has Moved Out

By: Leslie Cane: I sometimes hear from wives who believe that their worst case scenario has now happened because their husband has finally got angry or frustrated enough to move out.  They are often struggling with living alone for the first time in a long time.  And they are often worrying about what is going to happen with their marriage.  It’s very normal to assume that your marriage is practically over when your husband moves out, but I strongly believe that this doesn’t have to be the case.

I heard from a wife who said “my husband left and moved out last weekend. He had mentioned it before, but I honestly thought that I had talked him out of it. I guess I was wrong about that. More than anything, I want for our marriage to work. But obviously, I’m worried that this can’t happen if he moves out. I can’t believe it’s come to this. I’m so depressed over this.  I know that I have to pull it together, but I am having a hard time doing that.  When my friend’s husband moved out, I told her that they could eventually work things out, but they were never able to do that.  So I know that I can try to put on a happy face, but part of me knows that I’m kidding myself.  I don’t want to let my marriage go.  But part of me feels that I am going to be denying the inevitable and playing mind games with myself.  Is it better to just try to force myself to try to let my marriage go?”

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of information about the circumstances or problems that lead to the husband moving out or what he said when he did, but it’s my belief that just because one spouse moves out, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the marriage is over or that you have to just let go immediately. I will discuss this more below.w

Why I Don’t Think That One Person Moving Out Means That You Need To Immediately Give Up On Your Marriage:  I know that you probably feel incredibly panicked and vulnerable right now.  Suddenly, the bed that you are sleeping alone on feels so very big and you start to hear every little noise because of the silence that wasn’t there when you lived with your husband. And perhaps you have some friends who are insinuating that it is time for you to say good riddance or to start living your life as a newly single woman.

Often, people just do not understand how foreign and wrong this all sounds to you, especially since this is all so new and painful.  And often, what people don’t really understand is that immediately letting go or giving up lessens your chances of saving a marriage that might have been saved.  Sure, there may come a time when it’s clear that it’s time to move on.  But that time generally doesn’t come immediately after a spouse moves out.  It’s my opinion that you owe it to yourself to at least try to a few different things before you just give up, which leads me to my next point.

There Are Times When A Spouse Moving Out Can Actually Help:  It’s generally a pretty fair bet that by the time your souse actually moves out, your marriage has been struggling for more than a short amount of time. There’s generally a problem or issue that has become so bad that the spouse who leaves has distanced himself from you or now believes that the feelings between you aren’t just enough to overcome or compensate for the problems.  However, sometimes when you spouse moves out and is no longer faced with those same problems on a daily basis, the problems no longer seem quite so insurmountable.

And sometimes, his feelings for you no longer feel so distant.  There are times when he begins to miss you and he begins to realize that it might be worthwhile to once again try to address the issues that he thought were insurmountable before.  And the reason that he can see this when he couldn’t see it before is that he now sees that life isn’t as wonderful as he assumed.  He may not have come to this conclusion on his own if he weren’t alone and suddenly full of introspection.

Of course, I can’t tell you that this always happens.  But it’s my belief and experience that you can tip the odds in your favor by not panicking and by trying to remain upbeat and positive, especially when you are interacting with your husband.

Waiting To See What Happens Is Not The Same As Putting Your Life On Hold:  Sometimes, when I encourage people to hang in there for at least a little while, they mistake this to mean that they should hang on their husband’s every word or to just stay home and await his call. This isn’t what I mean.  If you put your life completely on hold, you tend to become more impatient and this can come off as desperation, which, let’s face it, isn’t all that attractive.

There is nothing wrong with continuing to live your life.  In fact, time and experience has told me that this is precisely what you should do. I certainly don’t mean that you should see other people or do anything that is going to jeopardize your marriage.  But I do mean that you should see supportive friends who put a smile on your face instead of staying home, listening to sad songs, looking at old photos, and allowing yourself to become more and more upset.

I can paint this scenario because I myself have experienced it.  I used to play the same depressing songs in the same order for night after night until I just got sick of feeling so bad and depressed.  It’s very important that you don’t allow yourself to get too down right now.  Him moving out doesn’t necessarily mean that your marriage is over, but it’s very important that you remain upbeat so that you can attract him with a positive attitude rather than deflecting him with a negative one.

And in my opinion and experience, it’s worth it to give it some time and some effort before you just decide to give up.  I am glad that I didn’t give up and accept that my marriage was over.  It wasn’t over, but it took me awhile to convince my husband of this.  It became easier once I understand a few basic truths about human behavior.  If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at

What Does It Mean When Your Husband Wants A Separation?

By: Leslie Cane: I often hear from wives whose husband has recently asked for a separation.   Many of the wives aren’t sure how the separation is going to play out or what it really means for them or their marriages.

I often hear comments like: “what does it really mean when a husband asks for a separation?  Does it mean he doesn’t love you anymore?  Does it mean that he’s trying to ease you into a divorce?  Does it mean that he’s tired of you, wants his freedom, or needs some space?  Can it mean that there’s someone else that he would rather be with?  Or that your marriage is over?  Because I’m not sure what to think about this.  I’m trying to have a good attitude and handle this is a positive way.  But I’m not how you’re expected to respond when essentially, your husband is saying that he doesn’t know if he wants to be with you anymore.”

Why your husband wants a separation (and what this means for you and your marriage) varies as much as the couple themselves as well as the issues in the marriage.  His wanting a separation could mean some of the things that the wife mentioned above, but it doesn’t have to.

In the following article, I’ll tell you some of the reasons that men give me for wanting a separation in the hopes that it helps you decide what this means for you or your own marriage.

Common Reasons Men Want A Separation And What This Means For You And Your Marriage:  I’m not a man who has asked for a separation.  In fact, I’m a woman who has been on the other side of this issue.  But I do have men in this exact situation visit my blog.  And many tell me that the separation is a way to sort out their feelings and think about things without their wife’s constant feedback and questions.

Very few of them tell me that they are asking for a separation because they eventually intend to file for divorce.  In fact, the opposite is often true.  Frankly if they had really wanted a divorce, many insist that they would have just filed for one in the beginning and saved themselves the trouble of a two step process.

Many have a specific reason for wanting a separation rather than a divorce.  Many still believe (or hope) that things can be worked out.  But, they don’t think that working things out is likely if they stay and continue to argue or face the same old issues without any change. So many see the separation as a way to calm things down so that both people can think, get some perspective, and hopefully be inspired to make the changes that are going to save the marriage or change it for the better.

Having said this, are there some men who just want out and see the separation as a quick way to accomplish this or use the separation as the first step to divorce?  I’m sure there are.  But these aren’t the men that I hear from.  And frankly, a divorce is much more straight forward and less emotionally complicated.  It’s my view that many men who ask for a separation do so because they think that there’s a chance that the marriage can be saved, but they know that drastic action is required to do so.  And they’re often very tired of having the same old arguments or not being able to work though the same old issues so they think that the best thing to do would be to take a break and see if things look differently because of it.

Do You Really Need To Know Exactly What Your Husband’s Need For A Separation Means?  Or Can You Just Trust In The Process And Know That It Means You Need To Work On (And Hopefully Improve) Your Marriage?:  I understand your need for answers.  And I know that you are probably thinking that if you figure out exactly why he wants a separation (and what this means to you) then your course of action or your best response will be so much more clear.

But, I have to tell you that often men aren’t able to give you these sorts of specific answers.  Many of us hope that they’ll give us some sort of specific list that we can check off as we address or remove the problems. But this isn’t likely to happen and continuing to approach and question your husband about this will usually make him defensive or tired of the process before it’s even begun.

When you are separated and you want to save your marriage, one of the most important things that you can do is to watch the perceptions that you are creating.  This is so important because one day your husband will need to make a decision as to whether the separation is going to end and he’s going to come home.  Or, he may decide that he’s going to stay away and continue the separation or go ahead and file for divorce.

When he makes this decision, you don’t want for him to have the mental picture of you engaging him, debating with him, and insisting on answers that he may not be able to give you.  I understand your need for answers, but sometimes it’s better to just accept the obvious, which is that he’s trying to determine if the marriage can be saved and he’s wanting to see if some time apart will improve things.

So your focus should be on exactly that.  The goal should be to allow the time to improve things so that he sees that the marriage can be saved because he still loves and can work with you.  You can’t do this if you are harping on things that are unclear to him also.  Don’t worry so much about the undefined things that lead up to this.  Focus now on the specific action that is going to get you out of this.

Handling Your Husband Wanting A Separation: I believe that the most important thing to do right now is to not let your emotions take over.  I know that this is a scary process, but keep reminding yourself that no one has filed for divorce and, if you handle the separation correctly, it can actually improve your marriage and help you save it.

As difficult as it can be to focus on the positive and to trust the process, that’s exactly what I would suggest that you do.  You have to portray the person who has the best chance of changing your husband’s mind and inspiring him to return home.  This person needs to make him feel optimistic and hopeful rather than guilty and hopeless.

So, to the extent that you can, focus on just improving the relationship and his perceptions about it.  Now, when I say improve the relationship, I don’t mean to tear it apart and dissect it to build it back up.  I mean focusing on restoring the connection of the people within it .  Because if you can do this, even when you are technically apart, everything else becomes a lot easier. And it’s not as difficult as you might think.  One positive thing that sometimes happens during a separation is that people see how much they really do miss and care about one another.  This really is what you need to remember and focus on.

It was my husband, not me, who wanted space and the separation. Unfortunately, I drew on negative emotions rather than positive ones. This seriously backfired. Thankfully, I realized my tactics were not working and changed course. Eventually, I was able to not only restore my husband’s love, get him home, and save the marriage. You can read my very personal story on my blog at

I Don’t Know What To Do With Myself During My Marital Separation

By: Leslie Cane: When many of us have been in a relationship as important as our marriage, we can begin to define ourselves by it, at least in part. We come to identify ourselves as a wife, or as part of a family. So when that coupling is questioned or is paused, it can literally feel as if we have lost a part of ourselves. And frankly, when we’ve always had our spouse around to be a part of our daily lives, we can feel the void very deeply when we are separated and now have to do everything on our own. Frankly, we can feel downright lost and unsure of how to fill our days in a productive way.

Here is the thought process that someone might have: “my husband and I are going through a trial separation. It was more his idea than mine, but even I have to admit that things were very tense and probably not great for either of us. The problem is that we have been married for eight years and I have placed most of my focus on my family. I have good friends, but obviously my family came first. My husband and I try to split time with our kids equally during this separation. So when he has the kids, I honestly do not know what to do with myself. I feel so lost. I feel worthless because I don’t have any other way to fill my time. Normally, when the kids were away, I’d spend time with or talk to my husband. I can’t do that now. I’ve gone out with friends, but it’s awkward. Mostly, I just watch TV or read a book, but it makes me feel like a total loser. I almost want to reconcile with my husband just so I don’t have to face such horrible loneliness anymore. How do you figure out what to do with yourself during your separation?”

Why It’s So Important Not To Become Isolated: I struggled with this also. I felt very lost. And in the early days of my separation, I found myself becoming very isolated and depressed. Luckily, I had people who cared about me and who tried to drag me out of my house and out of my funk, but I resisted this. They kept at it, though.  Most of the time, I’d go with them very reluctantly, but I always felt somewhat better afterward. Eventually, I made it a point to get myself out there. It was better for me and it was ultimately better for my marriage. I told myself that I might as well take advantage of this time and to rediscover myself again. I honestly think that this was a blessing and made me a more interesting and complete person, although it didn’t feel that way at the time.

I had a girlfriend go through something similar when her child left for school. She’d been a stay-at-home mom, and she struggled. Her self esteem took a huge hit, because she’d always identified as a mom and suddenly felt like she wasn’t herself anymore. She had to start identifying as an individual who was still a mom, but who had to craft her days in a different way. She volunteered, she worked out, she learned new skills. She took on a hobby that eventually became her career. She’s very happy when her son comes home, but she’s not dependent on him for her happiness anymore.  Isolation is dangerous because it feeds on itself and makes you dwell on what you do not have – not on what you do have and on the future possibilities.

Finding Opportunity In New Circumstances:  I think that finding balance and making the best of the situation is always what you’re going for. Of course you want your marriage to work out, but you also want to take this opportunity to work on yourself and to try to make the best of what lies in front of you. If you’re not happy with how things are right now, get out, see friends, volunteer, see extended family, or do whatever will make the days go by faster and will feel more productive. I always found it beneficial to help others. Even when I felt a little down and didn’t want to see anyone, I would make crafts for charity. This was soothing and I was still being productive and helping someone else, rather than wallowing in what I didn’t have. I was focusing on what I DID have and on how I could help someone else.

I know that things are difficult right now, but there are so many things you still have – your health, your strength, your extended family. You may as well use this time to your advantage so that if you do reconcile with your spouse, you will be a stronger, and better, version of yourself. And if you don’t, well, at least you will be in a better position to handle that.

I also think that you have to take things one day at a time. I spent many a night in front of the TV. I’m not altogether proud of that now, but sometimes, we need a few nights to lick our wounds so that in time we can come back stronger. Don’t beat yourself up too badly for reading a book or watching a show. Just don’t make a habit of isolation so that you never venture out. In my experience, the more isolated I was, the easier it was to be sad and to dwell on the separation. The busier I was, the more quickly time passed and the more quickly the reconciliation became possible. I honestly believe that the reconciliation was possible in part because of the changes I made to myself during it.  You can read more at at

Do Husbands Regret Leaving Their Wives?

By Leslie Cane: I often hear from wives who hope that one day, their husband is going to regret leaving them.  Often, these same wives will tell their husbands that leaving is a mistake that he will one day regret.  And often either the husband doesn’t buy this for a second, or any doubts that he might have override his need to leave and just see what happens.

I recently heard from a wife who said, in part: “my husband has decided that he will be happier as a single man without the day to day responsibilities of a wife and family.  I think he has this romanticized version of a weekend dad in his head.  I have repeatedly told him that he is making a huge mistake that he will one day regret but he doesn’t listen to me at all.  A mutual friend of ours thinks that I might be wrong.  She says that he might think that he’s enjoying the best of both worlds – the weekends with his kids but freedom and peace and quiet during the week.  I disagree because I can’t imagine just turning your back on your family and then being happy with yourself afterward.  So, who is right?  Do men regret leaving their wives?  Or do they walk away and never look back with any regret at all?”

The answer to these questions depend upon many variables.  But yes, some men do end up regretting leaving their wives once they’ve had some time apart and the opportunity to reflect.  Whether they feel any regret or not (and how deeply they feel it) often depends upon why they left in the first place, what happens after they left, and what type of person they are in the first place.  I will discuss this more in the following article.

The Reasons A Man Has For Leaving In The First Place Will Often Influence Whether He Eventually Regrets Having Left: Men who leave their wives for other women often end up feeling regret once they figure out that the other woman or the relationship turned out to be an eye opening disappointment.  The whole process and sense of discovery can take some time, but it’s very common that eventual regret sets in.

Many men feel regret after they figure out that they left a woman whom they misjudged.  Or, they might later decide that they acted too swiftly.  Sometimes, they later look back with some honesty and decide that they were immature and made their own mistakes and therefore it wasn’t fair for them to place the blame onto you.

I’ve even had men tell with (with a great deal of regret) that they made the biggest mistake of their lives by leaving the one person who loved them unconditionally and who understood them like no one else.  And sometimes, it is too late to fix this because that wonderful woman chose not to wait around forever and some other man was able to see very clearly what the husband missed all along.

Of course, while some husbands feel varying degrees of regret, some men do not.   Some men will tell you that escaping their marital prison was the best thing that they ever did.  They’ll tell you that they were dying inside every day that they were desperately unhappy within their marriage or living for someone else.  So, what is the difference between the husband who is filled with regret and the guy who feels none it all?  Some of it is the personality and make up of the husband combined with the circumstance of future events that unfold.  And you can’t control this.  But a good deal of it is also made up of his future interactions with and perceptions of you, which you most certainly can control.

How To Act When You’re Trying To Make Your Husband Regret Leaving You: I often hear from wives who are hoping to make their husband feel some regret.  The first thing that you’ll need to understand is that you’ll often have better success with this process if you understand that it’s just going to take some time.  Feeling genuine regret often requires perspective.  And time is needed for genuine perspective.  There is just no way around that.

The next thing that you need to understand is that regret that is fueled by pity or guilt is often not all that genuine.  It’s often the kind of regret that makes him want to stay away rather than the kind that makes him want to come back.  So, while it may not be that difficult for you to make him feel guilt or pity, and then in turn feel some regret, this type isn’t the type that you want because it’s more likely to make him want to stay away, which is not your goal.

What you want instead is genuine regret that is born out of a realization that he was wrong.  He needs to believe that his doubts about you or the relationship were either misguided at the time or no longer exist today.   So how do you inspire this type of change?  You show him a self respecting woman who is loving but self sufficient.  You show him the genuine side of yourself who is easy to get a long and collaborate with.  In other words, you don’t want him to see the married woman with whom he always fought or just couldn’t make it work with.

Instead, you want him to see the woman he  courted and never wanted to be without.  I would understand if you had some doubt about this process.  After all, none of us have the ability to turn back the clock and pretend that our mistakes and misunderstandings never happened.  But, today is a new day.  You can either just accept those same mistakes and your new set of circumstances and start fresh, or you can try to pick up the pieces or rewrite the history of the past.  It’s my experience that you’ll often get better results by focusing on the present day positive because this allows your husband to willingly want to spend more time with you without worrying that you’re going to try to dredge up the past or point out his misgivings.  People just naturally are drawn to others who make them feel better about themselves and their own situations.

So while you don’t have to pretend that you are happy about the fact that he left you, acting on this unhappiness by trying to elicit negative feelings that fuel the regret will often just reinforce his decision to leave.  Instead, you want to give him positive memories and experiences which make him question his decision to leave.

There was a time when my husband seemed to feel no regret at all over leaving me.  I tried to inspire this regret by making him feel sorry for me, but I honestly think that my behavior made him feel relief instead.  I eventually, I decided to try a completely different approach, which worked.  If it helps, you can read more about the tactics that actually worked on my blog at



What Must I Do To Make My Husband Come Back Home?

By: Leslie Cane:  I sometimes hear from wives who are so frustrated that they are not being successful in getting their separated husband to come back home.  Often, they think that they have tried everything and, so far, nothing has enticed him to come back.

I heard from a wife who said: “my husband left our home four months ago.  We had been fighting about my career.  I’ve had to do a lot of traveling lately and this left him watching the kids which stresses him out.  It took a huge toll on my marriage.   Rather than discussing it with me or trying to work out our problems, my husband got to a point where he couldn’t take it anymore and abruptly told me that he couldn’t continue to live this way so he left.    Since that time, I have offered up many compromises. I told him that I would prioritize our marriage and that I would find another job.   I found a counselor for us.  In short, I’ve been willing to make all of the compromises and my husband still says he’s not sure that he’s ready to come home.  I try very hard to be patient but I’m getting very frustrated.  My kids miss their dad.  I’ve offered to change everything about our marriage that he doesn’t like.  So why won’t he come back home?  What do I have to do to get him to pack his bags and come back to us?”

Obviously I had no way to know what this particular husband was thinking.  But I do hear from a lot of separated husbands and I believe that I have some insights into what many of them are thinking.  I also believe that I have a good handle on what it takes for many of them to decide to come home.  I will share this with you in the following article.

Often, Husbands Want To Believe That There Is Significant And Lasting Change Because  They Do Not Want To Have To Move Out Twice:   Many husband hesitate to move back in because they aren’t sure if things have really changed.  Many of them suspect that their wife is only saying that change has taken place in order to lure him back home.  The fear is that once he comes home, you will eventually revert back to your old ways.

Another possibility in the above scenario is that the wife might have misunderstood what the major problems truly were.  She assumed that her husband had left because of her job.  However, even after she offered to leave that same job, he was reluctant to come back home.  This could be an indication that there were other issues that were bothering the husband more than the job issue.   I would suspect that as the result of the wife’s travel, the husband felt neglected, taken advantage of, and disrespected.   The wife hadn’t done much to address these things.  And until the husband felt like he was an equal partner in the marriage and that he was valued and appreciated, he might still have doubts about coming back home.

It’s not always clear what all of the underlying issues truly are. Often, the wife thinks that she’s addressing the issues when there may be others that she is not aware of.  Often, there are underlying issues of intimacy, trust, respect, and chemistry that might be important to the husband but aren’t fully explored by the wife.

That’s why it’s so very important that you try to uncover every issue that your husband might be grappling with.  If you don’t have a good handle on this, you can attempt to ask your husband what might be contributing to his reluctance to come home.  A suggested conversation might sound something like: “I want you to come home when you are comfortable doing so because I want us to be successful once you do return to us.  Clearly, you’re not comfortable yet and I respect that.  Could you share with me the concerns that you have right now so that I can try to address them?  My goal is for us to address all the problems or issues that stand between us so that we are both happy and fulfilled.  We both deserve that and so do our children.  I promise to listen and not argue.  I truly want to know and understand how you feel.”

Hopefully a dialogue like this will get him to open up to you and will help to shed some light on what might be contributing to his hesitation to come home, which leads me to one more point.

He Must Believe That He Will Be Happier If He Comes Back Home Than If He Stays Put: The bottom line is this.  One thing that you must do to make your husband come back home is to make him believe that he will happier if he does so.  When he hesitates, it’s usually because he has some serious and nagging doubts about this.  And frankly, the harder you lean on or push him, the worse this can get.  Sometimes, it is better to back up and just focus on maintaining positive interactions between you. If you make your goal to just be happy together whenever you can make this happen, you will usually find that he will come to learn that he is happier when he is with you than when he is not.  And once this happens, he will often logically want to come home because he wants to be where he is the most content.

The first step in making this happen is to make it so that he is happy when he is around you so that he wants to be around you often.  Then, you want to make sure that you’ve identified and addressed all of the doubts or concerns he has about coming back home.  Once you do these things, he will feel more comfortable in coming home because his mind and his heart are no longer dealing with any doubts.

When my husband left me, his mind was made up. He was going forward with moving out and, I believe that he truly wanted a divorce. Thankfully, I realized my tactics were not working and changed course. Eventually, I was able to not only restore my husband’s love, but to get him home in order to save our marriage. You can read a very personal story on my blog at