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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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