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 http://isavedmymarriage.com/

My Husband Has Always Been The One. And He Is Leaving Me

By: Leslie Cane:  Most of us marry our husbands thinking that he is “the one.”  Very few of us get married with any back up plan in mind.  We simply assume that our marriage is going to be a happy one and, therefore, will be our last.  We assume that if we are lucky, we will remain happily married for the rest of our lives so that we do not have to make any contingencies – at least as far as our personal life goes.

But of course, we all know that life does not always turn out how we planned. Sometimes, our husband tells us that he is not as happy as we are and that he wants to change the face of our marriage.  Sometimes this includes a separation or break in the marriage.  To say that this shakes your life to its core is a drastic understatement.  Not to sound overly dramatic, but a marital separation can make you question your life and your place in the world.  Nothing seems the same after this reality hits you.

Someone might explain it this way: “I am so lost since my husband told me that he is leaving.  I had to kiss a whole lot of frogs before I got to my prince.  Before I met my husband, I was in a relationship with a noncommittal man for five years.  I thought this man was the one, but I had no idea how destructive that relationship was until I met my husband.  I had never been in a healthy relationship before and it was like a breath of fresh air.  I had no idea what it was like to truly be with ‘the one’ before I met my husband.  We’ve had several wonderful years.  We have been happy.  But then we had some back luck strike us and we were challenged like never before.  This taxed our marriage and I don’t think we ever recovered.  I just tried to have faith in our love, but apparently, this is not enough.  Last night, my husband informed me that he’s going to stay away for a while because he thinks that we need a break.  He did not specify where he would be or for how long he would be gone.  I am so despondent over this.  I feel like I am going to lose the love of my life and I am not sure how I will handle that.  I was so relieved that I finally got a chance at true love.  But now I have lost it.  I feel like I’ve done something wrong, but I’m not sure what.”

Your feelings are completely normal.  After my husband left me, I most definitely went through a grieving process.  I felt like life as I knew it was over.  And for a while, it sort of was.  But after a while, you realize that the sun still rises and sets and that the world outside of your window keeps spinning and so you have to go on.

Plus, a husband leaving doesn’t necessarily mean a divorce. I know that it seems that way at the time.  But many times, the husband eventually changes his mind or the couple are able to work it out.  I don’t think that you have to automatically assume that just because he has asked for a break, it means that he is going to be gone forever.  I know that it FEELS that way, but it doesn’t have to be the reality.

Sometimes, the time apart actually does work for you.  Or, even if it doesn’t, you are able to work through the issues so that you are able to eventually salvage your marriage.  In this case, your husband may well be reacting to the stress that has plagued your lives and your marriage for some time.  In many cases, stressors have a way of eventually being worked out.  If that is the case, there is every chance that your marriage can recover.

This is not the time to give up or to assume that you have lost the man who you know is “the one” at the first sign of trouble.  Believe me, I know how difficult this situation is and how easy it is to be discouraged.  I am generally a positive person, but after my husband left and during my separation, I did feel very depressed at times.  I had to be very mindful about putting one foot in front of the other and to keep up with other things that were important to me.  I got very down some of the time.  And I was tempted to give up at times, especially since my husband did not seem invested in our marriage anymore.

But today, I’m very glad I stuck it out because like you, I knew that my husband was the one.  By no means am I saying that every marriage that has to endure a separation can be saved.  Not all can.  But many can.  And there is no reason to assume that your marriage won’t be one of these.  Yes, you may have to have patience.  And you may have to work hard to save your marriage or get some counseling or self help.  But all of these things are doable. None of them are impossible.  If he is the one, isn’t he worth fighting for?

I never regretted fighting for my husband and for my marriage.  It was not easy, but it was the right call. You can read more on my blog at  http://isavedmymarriage.com

My Husband Wants Me To Leave Him Alone During Our Separation

By: Leslie Cane: I sometimes hear from wives who feel very lonely, isolated, and vulnerable during their trial or marital separation. Often, the husband had assured the wife that the separation was going to work one way, but the wife is finding that it is now working in an entirely different way.

I heard from a wife who said: “my husband and I separated about five weeks ago. He gave me the excuse that he felt he needed some time to himself. He assured me that he would let me know where he was and that he would check in from time to time. He asked me to respect his need for space and I said that I would. After he had been gone for a couple of days, I called him and I could tell that he wasn’t happy to hear from me. He said that he was busy and that he would call me back. He never did. So the next day I came by. Every time I want to talk or see my husband, I have to be the one to initiate it. The other day, I came by his apartment and he had people over. He was obviously angry to see me. He finally blurted out that he just wants me to leave him alone for a while. I was so upset I turned and ran away and we haven’t been in contact since. I am so hurt by this. He’s made it clear that he wants for me to leave him alone. But I don’t know if I can. I miss him. He’s my husband. I want to save my marriage and I don’t know if I can do that if we don’t even talk or communicate.”

I know first hand how painful this is. And I also understand that the more he pulls away, the more you are overtaken by fear and the more you might feel that you have to hold on even tighter. But it’s my opinion and experience that you often reach the point where continuing to push even harder is only going to damage your marriage that much more.

I remember thinking that if only I could see my husband and make him understand, then I could change his mind. But what I didn’t get at the time is that the more I followed him around trying to get him to listen, the more he thought I was unstable and a pest and the more he wanted to get away from me. This made him less likely to objectively listen to anything that I had to say.

I am not saying that this marriage had reached that point. I honestly didn’t know if it had. But I do know that often continuing on with something that is no longer working will sometimes make things even worse. That’s why I think that it’s sometimes worth it to try another strategy which I’ll discuss now.

Understand That For Right Now, He Isn’t Asking You To Leave Him Alone Forever: Often when a woman hears her husband ask to be alone, her mind goes to the worst place possible. She can begin to fear that he may want to be alone forever. This isn’t necessarily true. Sometimes, he really does just need some time. And there are also times  when you do give him that time that he has asked for, and he finds that it is lonely rather than freeing.

Sometimes what we don’t realize is that we haven’t yet allowed this process to work for us. He hasn’t had time to miss us because there hasn’t yet been any real separation. I know that letting him out of your sight is hard. I know that when you don’t hear from him you wonder if he’s forgetting about you or seeing someone else. These fears are hard to overcome. But it becomes easier to do this if you realize that not doing it is only making him want more freedom from you.

So sometimes, you have to turn the tables a little bit. You have to give him precisely what he asked for – his own time – and then allow him to see that it isn’t what he assumed.

This won’t always happen immediately. And it’s certainly not always easy. But when you consider that the alternative is to continue to push him when he’s made it clear that he isn’t receptive to that, then the choice becomes a little easier to make.

How To Begin To Give Him More Space While Remaining Hopeful: Some wives ask me if they should make an announcement that they are now going to back off or if they should just let their silence do the talking. This is really up to you and it often depends upon the state of your relationship at the time. In my case, I did tell my husband because I chose to go out of town for a while and I didn’t want him to wonder where I’d gone.

So I just told him that I was going home to visit family and friends and that he wouldn’t hear from me for a while because I too was taking some time for myself. I am sure that at first he thought something like “good riddance.” But eventually, the space actually worked for me instead of against me. And he actually took the initiative the next time when he reached out to me.

I know it hurts to hear him tell you to leave him alone for a while. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be forever and if you don’t willingly do it, then he may take his space by force, meaning he will start to limit your access to him. And this is probably not what you want.

As I alluded to, when my husband and I separated, I made a huge pest out of myself and eventually, he pushed me away just to get a reprieve.  However, once I gave him the space and told him that I was taking my own, things dramatically changed and he reached out to me. If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

Will Ignoring My Husband Change His Behavior?

By: Leslie Cane:  I sometimes hear from wives who hate the conflict that has cropped up in their marriage.  Sometimes, this conflict comes because their husband is exhibiting repeat, troublesome behaviors that cause problems.  Perhaps they have tried confronting him about these behaviors.  Perhaps they have tried to convince him that he needs to change without any success.  Whatever the reason, the wives have been unsuccessful.  So, they try a new strategy. They figure that perhaps if they just ignore him, he will get the hint and eventually change his behavior.

Someone might ask a question like this one: “my husband is becoming a worse and worse spouse with every passing year.  He went from being merely inattentive to sometimes being very cold.  He dismisses me a lot of the time.  At first, he would just forget things that were important to me.  I chalked it up to him being stressed or just forgetful.  But then he started being dismissive.  And then sarcastic and mean. I’ve tried to call him on this, but he gets angry, defensive, and he starts an argument.  This may sound odd, but I had some behavioral issues with my child.  I took him to a behavioral specialist.  The doctor told me that I should just ignore the most troublesome behavior.  Specially, my son would throw tantrums and act out.  The specialist told me to just act as if my son wasn’t doing what I didn’t want him to do and only address good behavior (assuming that the behavior wasn’t truly dangerous or serious.)  I thought that this was crazy at first.  And I thought that I was wasting my money on this guy. Well, honestly, the ignoring strategy worked.  My son eventually tapered down on the bad behavior. And now I am wondering if I should try the same strategy with my husband.  If I just ignore his slights and his somewhat insensitive behavior toward me, will he stop?  Would this be a good idea?”

Ask Yourself If You Have Already Used This Strategy: Before I answer that, I would question whether you haven’t used some form of this strategy already.  Frankly, most of us do this without even knowing it.  We see the writing on the wall, but we don’t want to accept it.  So we pretend that it doesn’t exist for a while, or we think that perhaps we are mistaken in our perceptions, or that we are asking too much.  What I mean by this is that, if you are typical of many wives, you have already used the ignore strategy, even if you didn’t mean to or didn’t realize that you were doing it.

The Difference Between Undesirable Behavior In Children And Adults: If you truly haven’t already done this, you can certainly try it out for a couple of weeks.  But in my opinion and experience, if you don’t address it, then it may reinforce in your husband that his behavior is acceptable.  This is different for children because they have not been alive long enough to understand acceptable behavior and what is expected.  They are naturally going to push the boundaries because they are hardwired to do so.  It is a natural part of growing up.

That’s not to say that adults do not push boundaries.  Adults most certainly do attempt to see what they can get away with.  That is part of human nature, too.  But adults are well aware of what is optimal behavior and what is not.  Behavior isn’t part of their development, which is why I’m not sure that ignoring the problem will work here.

That said, as you have already seen, when you dwell on the behavior or react in a negative way, your husband is going to respond with his own brand of negativity.  So you have to be careful about how you approach it.  I have always found that if you can address something positively (and with positive reinforcement) you will get better results.  This is true of both children and adults.  In this sense, you aren’t ignoring the behavior, but you are approaching it in another way.

A New Approach:  Here’s an example, if he forgets your anniversary, rather than getting very angry and lashing out, you might simply ask if he can believe that the two of you have been married this long and give him a hug.  Why would you do this? Because this strategy is much more likely to get you the reaction that you really want.  If you approach it in this way, it’s more likely that he is going to apologize profusely and follow this up by being more nice.

Sometimes, you have to hesitate with your actions and then ask yourself what you really want.  Most of us don’t want for anger to be matched with anger.  It’s natural for you to be angry and hurt.  But if you allow this to cloud how you approach him, you are likely to get anger and hurt mirrored right back at you, which truly doesn’t solve anything.

There is a difference between simply ignoring a behavior and trying to find a way to use a positive angle to address it.  In short, you want to make your husband WANT to do better.  You don’t want to guilt or force him into doing better simply because he’s trying to avoid an argument.  If the wish to do better comes from him, then he is much more likely to keep it up and it is much more likely to come from a genuine place.

Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way.  I tried the negativity strategy with my husband and I ended up separated because of it.  Then, I tried to guilt and shame him into reconciling.  That didn’t work, either.  Using the more positive approach takes enthusiasm and finesse, but it often works much better.  And it is the reason that I was finally able to save my marriage. You can read more on my blog at  http://isavedmymarriage.com

What Does It Mean When Your Husband Needs Time To Think?

By: Leslie Cane: I often hear from wives whose husbands have been asking for “time to think.” Sometimes, the husband is content to continue to live in the same home while the wife backs off a little bit and gives him some time on his own. But other times, the husband feels that he either needs to leave for a couple of days or separate and live apart while he is taking his thinking time.

I heard from a wife who said: “about three weeks ago, my husband came home and told me that he was moving out for a little while because he “needs time to think.” I asked him why he couldn’t think at our home. I told him that I would leave him alone and give him his space. Apparently, my offer wasn’t good enough because he still says that he needs to move out. I don’t even know what he is trying to accomplish. I wonder if this separation is just a precursor to him filing for divorce. My mom says he might just need some time to clear his head so he can come back home focused and ready to move on toward saving our marriage, but I don’t buy it. What does it mean when a husband asks for time to think? Does it mean he wants a divorce or he is never coming back? Because if that’s the case, I’m not letting him out the door.”

Sometimes a husbands wanting time to think is a request for just that. He only wants time on his own to evaluate some things and he doesn’t find this possible when you are together. Other times, a request for time may encompass something else entirely. I will discuss this more in the following article.

Sometimes A Request For Time To Think Doesn’t Have Any Hidden Meaning: Occasionally, a man is being completely honest with you when he asks for a short amount of time away to think. Some men take off on their own and others meet up with good friends to blow off some steam. This often happens at a time in their life where they are at a cross roads and are evaluating how they want to live their life from today forward. Sometimes, things other than your marriage brought this on. Maybe things have become challenging at work. Maybe they are dealing with a personal crisis.

Or, perhaps, your marriage has been struggling. No matter what has happened though, he’s often asking you for some time to evaluate his life. This doesn’t have to be a negative thing for you. Sometimes, once he’s alone and has some perspective, he realizes that you are not the problem. In fact, sometimes he realizes that you are what is right with his life and that you are the one who makes his other problems bearable. Of course, not every husband comes to this conclusion. Some report back that they either need more time or they want to separate or divorce, which leads me to my next point.

When A Husband’s Asking For Time Away Means That He Might Want A Permanent Change In Plans: As you might suspect, some men will tell you that they only want time to think, when they know full well that they have no intentions of coming back any time soon. They are wondering if they want to remain married and sometimes, they are trying to get a taste of freedom to determine if perhaps that want the separation to be a more permanent solution.

Wives often wonder why these husbands aren’t honest and won’t just admit that they what they are asking for isn’t really a little time, they are asking to live separate lives for a while because they are seriously thinking about taking a break, splitting up, or asking for a separation or divorce. The reasons that they aren’t honest vary, but most often, they know that you are going to try to talk them out of it and they want the time to think without your trying to influence or change their decision.

How To Handle It When Your Husband Asks For Time To Think: The wife in this situation was considering challenging her husband’s request. She suspected that he wasn’t being completely honest and she was scared to let him leave because she feared that he would never come back.

These are valid and real concerns. That’s why I always advocate trying to convince him to take his time away without leaving your home. Now, when you approach him about this, you must remain positive and make this sound like an attractive compromise. He mustn’t think that you are trying to deny him what he wants or that you are trying to control his wishes.

If you think he might resist, offer to stay with friends so that he can see that you sincere in giving him his time. Be upbeat and positive. Don’t overreact and act as if you know that your marriage might be in real trouble or over because this just validates his suspicions. Set it up so that he will think of you favorably (and then miss you) while he is taking his thinking time. Because if you can successfully do this, you drastically increase your chances that once you return home, he will be ready to work with you on saving your marriage since his time to think has inspired him to realize that you are not the real problem in his life and that he wants to save and improve what his right – which is his marriage with you.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t know how to handle my husband’s request for time to think and eventually this lead to our separation.  I was able to save our marriage, but not without a lot of wasted time and torment.  If it helps, you can read about how I finally got it together on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

How To Act When Your Husband Says The Marriage Is Over When You Don’t Want It To End?

I often hear from wives whose husbands have recently told them that the marriage is over.  Many are still reeling from this conversation and are sort of walking around in a state of shock.   And many most certainly do not agree with this assessment because the marriage is certainly not anywhere near being over for them.  Many aren’t sure what to say or how to act.

I often hear comments like “my husband is saying our marriage is over.  Hearing these words is a huge blow and hurts me so much.  I have no idea how to respond or how am I supposed to act.  It’s not over for me, but I’m not sure if I should be telling him that.   How should you act when he’s saying it’s over when it’s not over for you? What if you can’t bear to see your marriage end?”

This is a subject that is near to my own heart and situation.  My husband told me that we were over on countless occasions.  I handled this in a variety of different ways and only one of the ways actually worked.  So in the following article, I’ll go over how I believe you should act when your husband says it’s over.   By no means am I an expert but this is what worked for me and others.

Don’t Act Like It’s The End Of Your World When He Says It’s Over:  I know it’s tempting to crumble, cry, and then go on a campaign to convince him that he’s wrong or isn’t sure what he really wants.  You can very desperately want to change his mind or to talk him out of this.

But if you do fall apart and act as if you are and have nothing without him, then this truly can change the way that he sees you for the worst.  Right now, it’s so important that your husband comes to think highly of and about you.  So don’t give him any reason to think that you’re anything other than a strong, capable and loving person.

Focusing on the negative isn’t likely to change his mind.  And his feeling sorry for you is really not to your benefit either.  So as tempting as it to play that card, I would suggest that you resist.

Don’t Insist That It Isn’t Over For You And Never Will Be: This used to be my very favorite refrain.  When my husband would tell me it was over, I’d replay “well, it isn’t over for me,” as though this was a defense or was enough to change his mind.

He would sort of say that he was sorry to hear that and then he’d set out to avoid me.  This only made things worse.  Your husband probably already knows that it’s not over for you.  But it hasn’t changed things.  So perhaps it’s time to begin to sing a different tune?

Stress That You Don’t Want For The RELATIONSHIP To Be Over:  To me, this is one of the most important elements in any plan to save your marriage. Because in order to begin to change your husband’s beliefs and opinions, you’re going to need an “in.”  You’re going to need access to him.

One way to do this is to stress that you don’t want the relationship to be over.  And you don’t necessarily mean a romantic relationship.  You mean that your husband is so important to you that you just want to maintain a friendship or some sort of relationship.

You want this because you care about his own happiness and well being as much as your own.  So because of your love and respect for him, you’re willing to accept these changes if they will ultimately mean that he’s happy and gets what he wants – and hopefully you will as well.

OK, now let’s be real now.  I fully understand that right now, you’re probably thinking “hey, that’s great that he gets what he wants, but what about me?  I’m just supposed to accept friendship with my husband?”

Well yes and no.  This is only the first step.  You’re doing this because it’s more likely to make him receptive to you.  And, your plan is to slowly build upon that friendship until it’s back to a romantic level and eventually back to a strong marriage.

And frankly, often when you take this tactic, your husband will step back because this is not what he was expecting to hear.  Usually, he’s all geared up for the tears and the debate and when there’s none – well, he’ll usually reflect for awhile but then he’ll be much more receptive to you.

This is what you need so that you can gain some ground and eventually save your marriage.  I know it’s so very tempting to want instant gratification and try to convince, strong arm, or debate your husband why it’s not over.

But the thing is, he THINKS it’s over for him – at least right now.  Your words alone aren’t likely to change that.  But your actions over a gradual and measured amount of time certainly can.  I am proof of this.

My husband must have told me our marriage was over countless times.  I must have said it wasn’t just as many times.  This never worked.  But something finally did.  If you want to read about this process in action, you can read my very personal story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

My Husband Is Leaving Me. Why Don’t I Care?

By: Leslie Cane:  Early in your marriage, you often believe that this relationship is the most important thing in your life.  You safeguard it like the jewel that it is.  As time goes by, though, sometimes we begin to take our marriage for granted or it can begin to suffer.  Over time, there may be talk of a separation or of one spouse moving out.   Initially, we may not panic about this, especially when the talk amounts to nothing.

And a long amount of time may go by where nothing really changes. The marriage is still struggling and yet both spouses stay put – until one day one of the spouses announces that he is leaving.  And the other spouse may not have the reaction that she expected.  In fact, she may not feel anything at all.  She might explain: “for the last year and a half, my marriage has been somewhat awful.  I believe that my husband has been having a midlife crisis. Nothing I do is enough anymore.  He believes that being married limits him in some way.  For a while, he just complained about this while blowing a lot of hot air, but did nothing.  So we continued to fight and generally be unhappy. Then last night, he announced, with great dramatic flair, that he was leaving me.  He said that he had found an apartment and that he couldn’t take it anymore.  Well, maybe I can’t take it anymore either because much to my surprise, I do not even feel that upset about it and I really do not understand why.  I almost feel like I don’t care, but that can’t be right.  I know that I still love my husband.  I know that, ideally, I would like for it to work out.  But I don’t even know where to start.  Things have been bad for so long that I don’t know that there is any hope.  Why are my feelings so shut down like this?  I used to think that if my husband ever pursued a separation or divorce, I would be so terribly upset.  But I don’t appear to be.  Why?”

Well, there are a couple of possibilities. First, sometimes, it is hard to believe that this is actually happening.  You’ve stayed with the status quo for so long that you may be taking a sort of “I’ll believe it when I see it” stance, which would certainly be understandable.  This sort of reality can be very hard to wrap your brain around, until it actually happens.

Another possibility is that, like many people, you suspect that a break will be a relief.  When things deteriorate so much that there is really nothing but tension and fighting, then taking a break can definitely feel like a release of breath.  You may just want a pause in all of the drama.

Finally, the reality of it may not have hit you yet.  This is a big change and adjustment and, speaking from experience, you can’t really anticipate how it is going to feel until it actually happens.

I definitely learned that your feelings and perceptions change with the process.  One day, you may actually prefer being separated and think that you’ve actually improved your situation and the next day you might find that you miss your husband desperately and don’t want to be separated for even one more day.

Both perspectives are completely normal.  It is expected to have emotions that swing wildly.  I would doubt that you would go through the entire process not caring at all.  But you won’t know that until you take things one day at a time.

Since he hasn’t moved out quite yet, it’s very hard to predict how you are actually going to feel once he does.  But since he is still present, you may want to take advantage of that proximity in order to iron out some things.  I think that it can be vital to agree about how often (and by what means) you will communicate and see one another.  Of course, this needs to be a flexible agreement as issues come up.  But the reason that I suggest this is because it’s very common for couples to sort of drift during the separation.  And before you know it, you realize that you haven’t spoken to your spouse in a couple of weeks. And then one of both of your start to suspect that perhaps your spouse likes the single life or is seeing someone else.

It’s better to avoid these misunderstandings.  The more you can agree on now, the better.  What you are feeling is perfectly normal and it doesn’t necessarily need to mean that you’re headed toward divorce or are no longer invested in your marriage.  It may just mean that you need a break or don’t yet believe that this is happening.  From my own experience, your feelings may well change once he actually moves out or once you’ve been on your own for a little while.

Once the reality hit me that my husband was actually gone, I found that I cared very much.  In fact, I could think about very little else and I ended up making a pest of myself.   This made things much worse, so sometimes a little distance can be helpful.  It’s just important that you not become so distant that you never communicate.  I had a very big challenge getting my husband back once he left, but I was eventually successful.  You can read more on my blog at  http://isavedmymarriage.com

Should I Tell My Separated Spouse That I Miss Him?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re Separated Because Of My Husband’s Midlife Crisis. Am I Stupid For Waiting?

By: Leslie Cane:  When you are dealing with a martial separation and it is taking longer than you had hoped, you really only have two choices.  You can wait and can continue to live with uncertainty for a while.  Or you can decide that you are tired of waiting and can move toward making the separation more of a permanent situation, thinking that at least this would be a resolution that would allow you to move on with your life.  I think that most people can see the validity of both decisions.  It truly is up to the individual to decide what is best for them.

However, some people worry about what others think if they decide to stick it out and wait – especially if it is the actions of the other person that brought about the separation.  Others worry that they are stupid or naive for waiting. Someone might ask: “my husband is in the midst of a midlife crisis.  This has been going on for almost a year.  So I am worried that this is no longer just a passing phase.  I am worried that these changes in my husband’s personality are going to be permanent. Frankly, ever since he started with this midlife crisis, he has acted as if our marriage brought him down.  Things got so bad that he moved out and initiated a separation.  It has been several months and things have not gotten any better.  People keep asking me when I’m filing for divorce.  The thing is, I do not want to file for divorce.  Somewhere within me, I can’t help remembering my husband and my marriage before all of this happened.  We were happy.  He was a great person.  He has mentioned perhaps getting counseling, although he has not acted upon it.  I keep thinking that if he would just do this, maybe then he would snap out of his funk and we could eventually get our marriage back on track.  Some of my friends are offering me some ‘tough love’ and are telling me that they can’t sit back silently and watch me throw my life away for a man that hasn’t reciprocated my concern.  They say that it doesn’t appear that my husband plans to break away from his midlife crisis any time soon.  And that I am a fool for just waiting around?  They say that I am still young and could still attract another husband.  But that if I wait, my best years are going to pass me by.  Are they right? Am I absolutely stupid for waiting?

You are NOT stupid.  No one is stupid for wanting their marriage to work out.  Committed and patient, yes.  Stupid, absolutely not.  I was separated for far longer than I wanted to be (because my husband was unsure of his feelings.)  And I had plenty of people telling me that I should not wait and should cut my losses.  This hurt me more than I can express.  Because I knew that everyone was acting out of love for me.  And yet, their kindness and concern actually made me feel worse about myself and about my situation.  People seem to think that you can just move on and replace your husband with another one, like a pair of worn out socks.  But for many of us, it’s not that easy, or even that possible.  I did not want a new husband.  I wanted my old one.

I finally firmly and gently told people that while I appreciated their concern, sticking it out was my decision and that I wanted to talk about other things. Basically, I took the topic of my marriage (and separation) off the table. That meant that I didn’t share my marriage with others, but I did talk to professionals and journal to release my feelings, which is very important.

I suppose it’s sort of easy for me to conclude that I wasn’t stupid to wait for my husband because now we are reconciled. However, I think that even if we had ended up divorced, I would still feel that it wasn’t stupid.  I believe in commitment.  I believe in giving things time.  If my husband had eventually divorced me, I still would not have thought I was stupid or that I was wasting my time because I would have known that I did everything that I could to save my marriage.  And that is important to me.  I don’t want to think of myself of someone who just walks away.

Granted, waiting doesn’t ensure that you will be able to save your marriage.  But if you are not ready to move on, whose business is that but yours? That said, it’s not healthy to get in a situation where you’ve put your life on hold and are not truly living because you are doing nothing other than waiting.  That is not healthy, either.

I think that you can do both.  I think that you can wait to see what is going to happen with your husband and your marriage while pursing your own best life, considering the circumstances.  I pursued hobbies and outside interests and went out with friends during my separation.  I worked on myself.  I did not put my life on hold (except for in the beginning, when I really struggled, which you can read about here.)

If you are living your life and are engaged with things that are important to you, then it should not be detrimental for you to wait for a while.  I think that what your friends are most concerned about is your putting yourself – and your own contentment – on hold while you’re just idly waiting for your husband.  But if you can show them that you have no plans to be idle, perhaps this will help them to show a little more patience and compassion.  Because you deserve nothing less.

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