How Do You Communicate During What Will Hopefully Be A Temporary Separation?

Many people are understandably confused about how they should communicate with their separated spouse, especially when they are hoping that the break is going to be only temporary. Some have people advising them that it’s better to speak only sparingly, while their heart might be telling them that they want to keep in constant communication.

Someone might ask, “how are you supposed to keep in touch with a separated spouse? I’m hopeful that we will not be separated for very long, but I don’t know that for sure. My husband did make a point of getting a week to week place rather than signing a lease, so that does offer me a bit of encouragement. Still, things are not really all that great between us. We don’t fight horribly or anything, but we just seem to misunderstand one another all of the time, so things are tense and chilly. I am used to talking to my husband multiple times per day, but I don’t know how to proceed now. Some of my friends tell me that I need to follow the ‘no contact’ rule, but I don’t like the sound of that. I want to know that my husband is okay and I’d hope that he’d feel the same about me. Still, it would feel awkward calling and having him not sound like he is happy to hear from me. So I am not sure how I should be communicating and how often. What do most couples do about this?”

It truly does depend on the couple and on the state of the marriage. In my experience, it greatly helps to try to agree on the communication type and schedule ahead of time. That helps to cut out some of the confusion and awkwardness. For example, if you can agree that you’ll talk on certain nights and see one another at regular times, this is ideal. It allows you to check in regularly. Plus, literally seeing one another allows you to still be invested in each other’s lives.

I know that this might seem like overkill, but too many couples leave this to chance and then some time goes by and then it’s suddenly awkward and weird to call. People also tend to assume the worst of each other when they aren’t in regular communication.  So if your spouse is receptive to regular communication, I’ve found that this is best.

With this said, sometimes one of the spouses doesn’t want excessive contact initially, especially when things are volatile. In this instance, texting can be better than nothing. That allows you to check in and let your spouse know that you are thinking of him, while it’s not as intrusive as calling so that he has to pick up.

To be honest, I see “no contact” going wrong more than I see it being helpful. Often, with “no contact” the couple just drifts further and further away and assumes the worst of one another. The only time that I’ve seen “no contact” work is when one spouse is blatantly rejecting the other so much that communication is only possible when the rejected spouse is doing all of the heavy lifting. I had to do a variation on this, but I wouldn’t call what I did “no contact.” My husband got very tired of me always asking how he felt and what he wanted. When he wouldn’t answer me, I’d just keep calling and texting. He eventually sort of shut down. It got to where I really had no choice but to back off. I went out of town. I told him that I was going and that I was available if he wanted to talk. I checked in every once in while. So this wasn’t traditional “no contact,” where I completely went silent. I just toned down the communication on my end because it had become too much. But I made it clear that he could reach out to me at any time. And he eventually did. So it was to my benefit to tone down what my husband perceived as overbearing behavior. However, I would never have given my husband the perception that I didn’t want to talk to him and wasn’t available.

Ideally, it’s best to have open and regular communication in a way that feels comfortable to both spouses. You may prefer phone conversations. Your husband might prefer texting. You might want to actually see each other in regular intervals. Whatever works for you is okay. But in my experience, it’s best to remain in contact if you can make that work. It’s so easy to not check in and then before long you’ll find that things have deteriorated even further. You’ll worry that your spouse is seeing other people or avoiding you. These things are avoidable if you communicate, but I realize that not everyone has that luxury. Sometimes, a text might be all that you get. But at least you know that your spouse is okay and is checking in. I tried to tell myself that my goal for each communication was to make it so that my husband was open and receptive the next time that we communicated. When you leave things on a positive note, then it’s more likely to be pleasant the next time. When you look at it this way, you are more likely to be in regular communication, which in my experience is the ideal way to go.

Your husband’s receptiveness may change from one day to the next.  Try to remain positive and calm.  I used to have to adjust from one day to the next.  It can be a juggling game to back away when he cools down, while still remaining in contact.  But when you can pull it off, regular communication is best.  I honestly think that if my husband and I had stopped communicating for any long period of time, we would be divorced.  Thankfully, we were able to save our marriage. You can read more about this on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

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