By: Leslie Cane: I sometimes hear from wives who are crushed that their husband will not agree to a reconciliation. Sometimes, they are separated. And other times, they are just living separate lives within the same house. Often, the wives aren’t sure how to best address this, especially when the two seem so far apart, with no middle ground in sight.
I heard from a wife who said: “my husband and I are technically separated but we are still living together because we can’t afford for either of us to get our own place. We had been fighting constantly over stress from my ill mother. I am pretty much her primary caregiver. Since we’ve been separated, my husband has been staying in a guest bedroom. We have been getting along OK. In fact, sometimes we go out and end up kissing or cuddling. Then I get my hopes up. I feel like we continue to get closer and that our marriage continues to improve. But when I tell my husband this, he interrupts me and says, very directly, that he is not ready to reconcile. Every time this happens, it feels like a slap in the face. And I start to worry that maybe he will never want to reconcile with me and that he’s only still living with me because of finances. How am I supposed to handle this? What is the best way to react when I ultimately want to find a way to stay married?” I will try to address these concerns in the following article.
I understand where this wife was coming from. I know how it feels to want nothing more than for him to take you in his arms and ask to start again. But I also know that sometimes, the harder you obviously push him, the harder he will resist you. And your goal drifts further and further away while you feel helpless. After experiencing and watching this process for some time, I’ve come to believe that there is a right way and a wrong way to handle this. That’s not to say that you will never have success with the wrong way and will always have success with the right way. But I believe that one way has a much higher chance of success, which I’ll outline below.
Place Your Focus On Continued Improvement Rather Than Demanding A Decision That Might Change Anyway:
Here is what you have to remember. Just because he does not want to reconcile today doesn’t mean that he will never want to. And just because he’s reluctant today, this doesn’t mean that if you keep on making improvements, he will not change his mind.
Always remember that things can and do change. Because there is a real risk in getting discouraged and then putting more and more pressure on your husband. I know that it’s very tempting to ask questions like: “well, when will you be ready to reconcile then? I need a time frame.” Or “well, what’s holding you back because you’re being unreasonable.” You may even be somewhat justified in asking these questions.
But pressuring him will often cause him to retreat. He will sometimes back off of the relationship. And all of that dating and cuddling you have been doing might come to an end. Aren’t you better off just appreciating the progress that you are seeing? Isn’t it better to have confidence that you can build on this enough so that you will eventually reconcile? Experience tells me that the answer is yes. And I also feel that there is much less risk and downside to this positive strategy.
The Optimal Reaction When He Isn’t Ready To Reconcile:
As I alluded to before, I don’t think that you should repeatedly ask him when he’s going to be ready to pick up where you left off. However, if you have this conversation again (or you chose to bring it up,) then you might want to say something like: “well, I’m sure that you know that I’m disappointed. I very much want to reconcile because I still love you and I think that our marriage can be improved enough that we are both happy. With that said, I’m very encouraged and happy about how we’ve been getting along and, for now, that’s enough for me. I just want for us to keep improving and to keep getting closer. I’m confident that one day, the time will be right for us, but until then, I want to just continue having fun with you.”
Notice that this speech attempted to keep things hopeful while still being honest. No pressure was applied. Instead, the whole theme was to set the stage for the future. Because the truth is, there were a lot of reasons to be hopeful here. Things were improving a little bit each day. There were having fun together and that had been lacking in their marriage. So while the wife was certainly disappointed that her husband didn’t want to reconcile right this second, I felt strongly that she should place her focus on continuing to improve the situation and not dwell on pressuring for a reconciliation. Because frankly, if things kept improving, the reconciliation might just take care of itself.
Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way. I pushed so hard for a reconciliation that I pushed my husband further and further away from me. This almost cost me my marriage. It wasn’t until I drastically pulled back that I began to gain some ground and we eventually saved our marriage. If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com
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