My Husband Insisted On A Separation. Now He Says He Misses Me And Wants To Come Home. Should I Teach Him A Lesson?

By: Leslie Cane:  There can be some resentment when you begged your husband not to pursue a separation and, in the end, you turned out to be right.  I will admit that many reluctantly separated wives fantasize about their husband crawling back and admitting that it was a mistake to separate in the first place.  Very few of us actually have this fantasy come true.  But those that do can wonder how to handle it.  Because it can be tempting to want to teach your husband a lesson.  After all, you told him that separating was a mistake, but he refused to listen to you and pushed for it anyway.  Now you’ve upended your family and gone through an avoidable and painful experience.  Shouldn’t he be made aware of this?  And just how should you respond when your separated husband comes crawling back?

A wife might say: “I begged my husband not to move out.  I honestly spent weeks trying to convince him that separating was a mistake.  My husband is the type of person who tends to think that the grass is always greener somewhere else.  I knew that he was romanticizing being separated.  And I knew that the reality of it was not going to be what he wanted.   I also knew that he was largely exaggerating our problems.  Yes, things have changed between us, but it seemed very premature to just separate before we’d tried working things out. I presented all of these facts to him over and over again, stressing that I was still invested in our marriage.  And yet, none of this seemed to matter to him.  He moved out anyway.  And then, about four weeks later, he called me up and confessed that I was right and that it was a mistake to separate.  He basically said that he’s made his point, that he sees that he’s not happier without me, and that now he’s ready to come home.  My initial reaction is to either be relieved or to gloat. I can’t forget how much I begged him to stay and how he all but ignored me.  I’ve considered telling him that I am not ready for him to come home simply to teach him a lesson.  He needs to take decisions more seriously – especially when they affect people other than just himself.  Some of my friends say that I should just give him a pass for the sake of my marriage, but I hate that idea.  It’s like he just gets to decide our fate on a whim and then change his mind, while I just have to roll with the tide.  His decision broke my heart, and I want him to realize it.  I want him to learn his lesson.”

I completely get where you’re coming from.  I too felt some resentment about my husband’s decision to move out and separate from me.  Unfortunately, I never had the luxury of him begging me to come back, so I can’t say how I might have handled it. Because it looked like we might divorce, I probably would have taken him back in any way that I could get him.  I was desperate to save my marriage. And for a while, it looked like this just would not be possible.

I found that while it’s very tempting to keep score, doing so really doesn’t serve you or your marriage.  It just reinforces the wounds and hurt feelings, while damaging a marriage that is already fragile.  There’s nothing that says you can’t share your frustration at the wasted time, but I would not rub salt in the wound or risk your reconciliation just to make a point.  You want to think about the long term implications of anything that you are doing.  You also want to make sure that your husband isn’t just rushing into a decision because of emotions.

That’s why I would suggest responding with something like this: “I’m relieved that you’ve found that the grass wasn’t greener outside of our marriage.  But I also know that you were so unhappy before that I couldn’t convince you to stay.  That’s why I think that it would be better for us to ease into your returning back home.  Why don’t we start by having you stay here on weekends? That way, we can see how things are going and we don’t make another abrupt decision.”

This response does many things for you.  It means that your husband will see what it feels like to abide by someone else’s decision.  He’s not getting to come home immediately, as he’s requested.  But better than that, it means that you aren’t rushing into anything.  And should your husband come home and you find the old issues popping up again, you’ll have time to make some adjustments, since he’s moving back in gradually.  The last thing you want is for him to abruptly move back in and then find himself unhappy again.  That’s why it’s better for you both that you ease back into it.  This way, he might think twice the next time he wants to make a rash decision.  He will most definitely learn a lesson.  And you won’t be jeopardizing your reconciliation.

My separation was painful, and I did not want to prolong it.  But I used the gradual method of having my husband start with weekends before moving back in full time and it worked very well.  I honestly think that moving slowly very likely contributed to the fact that our reconciliation worked and we are still together today.  There’s more about our separation on my blog at

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