By: Leslie Cane: I often hear from wives who are devastated to learn that their husband wants a separation. And, they often know that how they behave and react right now might have an impact on whether their marriage will survive the separation. So, many are looking for advice on the right way to behave or to act when he’s pushing for the separation that the wife doesn’t want.
I heard from a wife who said: “my husband told me two weeks ago that he wants a separation. I have tried to do everything in my power to talk him out of it. But nothing has worked. At this point, it appears to me that the separation is actually going to happen. So I need to know the best way to react and to behave. I want to set it up so that we actually make it through this and remain married. But I’m torn. Part of me feels that perhaps I should play hard ball with him and pretend like I’m actually looking forward to the separation. And part of me is tempted to play the guilt card to see if I can make him feel so guilty that he won’t leave. What is the best way to play this?” I have a definite opinion on this, which I will discuss below.
Don’t Try To Force Negative Emotions Like Guilt Or Fear: I know that trying to make him feel guilty may feel like a no brainer. After all, he should feel guilty. But, as easy and as just as this strategy might be, it so often fails. And the reason that it fails is that people have a tendency to want to escape negative emotions. They also want to escape the people who cause the negative emotions. So yes, maybe you could make him feel so guilty that he would hesitate to go. But this likely would only be a temporary reprieve. Eventually, he’s going to start thinking about how you didn’t allow him to get what you wanted and how, yet again, you’ve held him back in some way.
The same is true of fear. It’s normal to consider trying to make him feel jealous or to hint that perhaps you will see other people during the separation. But, again jealousy and fear are negative emotions that often eventually work against you. Because he will ultimately associate these negative emotions with you or the marriage. And he will want to escape them that much more.
Why Making Him Believe That You Want To Help Him Is Often The Best Strategy: I know that the last thing that you might feel toward your husband right now is helpful. I understand that the last thing you want to do is to cooperate with him. But think about it this way. What you really want is for him to come back and for you to be able to save your marriage. In order to do this, he’s going to have to think of you and the marriage favorably. And he’s going to have to eventually believe that he is better off with you than without you. This isn’t likely to happen if you fight him every step of the way.
However, it is likely to happen if he believes that you are the person who is going to try to help him to get what he wants. He needs to believe that you are on his side, even if you don’t like his actions or his methods right now. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not asking you to pretend that you actually want the separation or are happy about it. Your husband isn’t likely to buy this anyway. What I’m asking you to do is to consider if that if you can make him believe that you love him enough to support his doing what he needs to do to be happy in his life, then he is going to see you as his ally. And that is more important than I can possibly stress.
Make Sure That You Are A Positive Influence In His Life And That You Elevate Him When You’re Together: Here is a very common thing that goes wrong during a separation. The husband feels guilty and the wife is angry. The husband is afraid that interactions will be unpleasant so he wants to avoid this. As a result, he doesn’t come around much. The wife assumes that he’s not coming around because he never wants to come back to her. And the situation deteriorates from there.
That’s why it’s vital that he knows being around you is going to be a pleasurable experience. That way, he has no reason to avoid you and will actually want to seek you out. And this is the way that you begin to rebuild your marriage during the separation. People often tell me that they think it’s impossible to strengthen or rebuild your marriage while you are separated but I’m living proof that it’s not. So to answer the question posed, I believe from my own experience that your behavior should be cooperative, upbeat, and helpful when he wants a separation and you don’t. It’s vital that he sees you as his ally right now.
I know that it may seem as if I’m asking a lot. But I know from my own experience that this strategy can work. If it helps, you can read about how I carried this strategy out on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com
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