If My Husband Wants To Separate, Should I Let Him Go?

By: Leslie Cane: Unfortunately, here is a reality that many of us face: Our husband abruptly announces that he wants a separation. We are very clear on the fact that we DO NOT want that same separation. And yet, our husband seems just as firm about his feelings as we are about ours. Most of us have an initial inclination to try to talk him out of this by any means necessary. But then we sometimes pause and ask ourselves if this would be the right thing to do. Many of us intuitively know that how we react right now could have a huge impact on whether or not we’re able to reconcile later.

Here is a peek into that though process. A wife might say: “my husband wants to separate and he has talked about moving out. To say that I don’t want this is an understatement. The fact of the matter is that I would do anything at all to stay together. However, my husband seems so determined that this is what he wants that I’m afraid of how to approach him in order to change his mind. Our neighbors recently separated and the wife would constantly drive by the house because she wanted to save the marriage when the husband did not. Sometimes, we would all be talking outside, and I admit that we laughed at that wife when she drove by because she seemed so desperate. I regret that now, but I do have to admit that her husband seemed to respect her less for being so openly desperate to save her marriage. I don’t want to be a laughing stock, either. And I’ve gotten conflicting advice about this. One friend says that I should swallow my pride and tell my husband the truth of how I feel. But my mother says that my husband won’t respect me if I beg him to stay or act like I’m not strong. I don’t know what to do at this point, but the thought of just letting him go and allowing him to actually leave gives me a lot of anxiety and dread. At the same time, if letting him go increases my chances of getting him back, then I’d do that too. What should I do?”

I understand your dilemma. Although I certainly can’t tell you what you should do, I can share my own experience with you in the hopes that it will help some. When I was in your situation, I chose to pull out all of the stops to get my husband to stay. I begged and pleaded. I tried to guilt him. I tried to threaten him. I tried to make him feel pity for me. I now realize that all of these things probably only served to make me appear less attractive and, in the end, he left anyway.

Unfortunately, this only increased my urgency and sense of desperation and I kept right on at it even after he moved out. Eventually, he stopped answering as much when I called and be began to very obviously and blatantly avoid me.  This made things much worse and deteriorated my chances for a reconciliation. In fact, it wasn’t until I backed away for some time that he became remotely receptive to me again. And after that, I had to work very slowly. I was always afraid that he would retreat again.

With all of the above said, I believe that our actual reconciliation process took longer (and was more difficult) because we lived apart. Yes, we eventually succeeded and are still together today. But, it was a challenge and I always felt worried and paranoid about what he was doing or what he was feeling. So I don’t think that it would be a horrible idea to CALMLY tell him what you are feeling and then see what kind of response you get.

That would look like something like this: “I know that you really want to separate. I have heard what you’ve said and I know that this decision is going to be yours to make. With that said, it’s a very serious decision that might greatly impact our lives and I’d like to suggest that you could still have space or take a break without one of us actually having to leave our home. I will move out of the bedroom and give you space. I am willing to do whatever is necessary. I just wanted to throw that out there and offer this as a suggestion. I will respect whatever decision that you make, but I just feel that this is too serious a decision to not explore every option.”

You may be surprised and he may agree to try just taking space at home. Or, he may be set on moving out. In that case, I think that your best bet is to not become unhinged and unstable in the way that I was. I think that at that point, you have to do damage control and make it your first priority to maintain a positive relationship during the separation so that you maintain as much access to him as is possible. In some cases, this means letting him go TEMPORARILY because some husbands just believe that they need to try actually leaving. So you lose a battle in order to win the war. You retreat so that you have access. You reassess. And you make your move later. I think that this strategy is better than becoming like the wife on the street who everyone was laughing at. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to play the long game rather than the short one.

It never hurts to try to get him to stay.  But if it becomes obvious that he still wants to go and he insists on leaving, then move on to your long game.  Try to have open access and try to maintain a good relationship.  That makes it much more likely that he will be open to you – and eventually, open to a reconciliation.  I learned this far too late.  But thankfully, I was able to turn things around eventually. There’s more of that on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

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