How Do I Know If My Husband Has Changed Enough During Our Marital Separation?

By: Leslie Cane: I often hear from wives who doubt their husband’s claims that he has changed while they were going through a trial or marital separation. Often, the wife truly does have at least some desire to work things out. But often, the husband’s promises to change are nothing new and the wife has her doubts.

I heard from a wife who said: “I asked my husband for a separation 4 months ago. I still loved him but I felt that he really needed to make some changes in his life before I could really commit to saving our marriage. For the past several years, my husband has been very immature. He still would go out with his friends and spend money that we didn’t have. He would leave good jobs because of personality conflicts. When he should have been worrying about bettering himself to support our family, he was just worried about having a good time. Sometimes he would go out with his friends rather than to our kids’ school or sporting events. Much of the time, he acted like he was still in college when in fact he is a man with a family who has long been out of college. I just want him to grow up and be a good husband. But he still acts like a child who wishes he had no responsibilities. I got tired of carrying the load all by myself. Last month, my husband got a good job and seems to be doing well there. He’s been attending the kids’ activities more. And now he’s telling me that because of these things, he’s changed. I really want to believe this. But he’s told me this before – only to resort back to his old ways. Of course, he wants to come home. He says he misses the kids and he wants our marriage back. Part of me wants this too. But another part of me wonders if he has really changed enough to save our marriage and for him to truly be a good husband to me. How can I tell?

This is a tough question, but there are some signs that this wife could look for. And, there were some steps that she could take to ensure that she wasn’t moving too quickly, which I will discuss below.

Although Only Time Can Tell For Sure If He Has Changed, Look For These Signs: It’s normal to be skeptical of a man who hasn’t really changed much in the past. But sometimes, the threat of losing his family will force a man to make some important decisions about his life.

Of course, time is the best indicator of whether his changes are going to be temporary, lasting, or even enough. But until then, this wife had to decide if she was even willing to give the husband the time to prove himself to her. This is a decision that only she could make.

In the meantime, the wife might be hopeful but also very observant. One suggestion that I always give in this situation is to make it a point to observe your husband when he doesn’t know he’s being watched. Of course he’s going to make himself look like a dedicated father of the year when the family is together because he has an image that he wants to sell to his wife. But, nothing said the wife couldn’t go to his old stomping grounds at a time when she knew that he was most likely to hang out there and then observe his behavior.

In other words, hit his favorite bars on Friday nights and weekends. Go by his job at various times. Send him to the park alone with the kids and then drive by when he doesn’t know he’s being observed.  Then, make sure he is still being the attentive father he claims to be when no one is watching. Or, tell him that you can’t make the next school or sporting event and ask if he can take the kids solo. It might be very telling to observe his response when he knows he won’t have an audience at the event. Once you do enough of this type of surveillance and observation, you can usually get a sense of how often he is being completely honest and sincere. If you’re seeing that he is just putting on a show, then you know he has more work to do. But if he is always where he says he will be and is a good father even when you’re not around, then this says a lot about his sincerity.

Nothing Says You Have To Make A Permanent Commitment To End The Separation Until You Are Ready To Do So: It was obvious that this husband really wanted to return home to his family. And the wife felt very pressured to make a decision. She felt guilty about keeping him from living with his children. But this is a huge decision which shouldn’t be rushed. If the wife still had doubts, there was nothing wrong with moving slowly until she felt more sure or secure. She might say something like: “I know that you are telling me that you’ve changed and I really like what I am seeing. But I want to continue to take it slowly. I really want for our marriage to work when you come home. So in order for us to have the best chance of success, I think that we should avoid rushing things. You can see the kids whenever you like. I want us to spend time together as a family. I enjoy the man that you have become. But let’s just continue to take it slow for a little while so that we are both secure that it’s actually going to work when you come back home.”

Frankly, if your husband has really changed, he should understand this. He may not like it and it may not be the response that he was hoping for. But if he has truly changed and become more mature, then he should understand that you just want for his changes to be lasting so that your marriage truly will not only survive, but thrive once he comes home.

It was me who was trying to convince my husband that I had changed during our separation.  When he was skeptical and wanted to take things slow, I was so frustrated.  But later, it become evident that he was right.   We saved our marriage in part by moving slowly and deliberately and in part because I learned how to market myself during our reconciliation.  If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at

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