My Separated Husband Runs Hot And Cold. Why? How Do I Deal With This?

It can be both exhilarating and frustrating when your separated spouse runs hot and cold. It can feel like bliss (and like you are finally making progress) when he runs hot. But it can feel like a rejection and like you are being used when he runs cold. You can also wonder what you’ve done wrong, even when he assures you that you haven’t done anything.

A wife might say, “my separated husband’s attitude toward me can completely change from one week to the next and it’s very confusing. For example, last week, my husband stayed at our home for two days and we acted like a couple. We had dinner together, had sex, and woke up in each other arms. This week, I asked my husband over for dinner, thinking that we could have a repeat of last week. Not only did he refuse, he gave no reason for this and told me that he was busy. When I asked him what he was busy with, he said that this is his business and not mine. He was almost snippy with me. As far as I know, I haven’t done anything to make him act this way. I haven’t even seen him for days. He has been hot and cold throughout our separation and I do not understand it. Why is he acting this way? And how can I get him to stop?”

There are various reasons that you might see this type of behavior. Like yours, his feelings can fluctuate from one day to the next. Many people miss their separated spouse. They miss the closeness of that relationship. So it can be only natural to still be affectionate with one another when you are together. (There is where you get the “blowing hot” behavior from.) Still, often times, not enough time has passed and not enough work has be done for your husband to let go of all of his reservations and concerns that lead up to the separation in the first place. So, when he thinks about these issues or problems, he can begin to pull away and that is when you see or feel him blowing cold.

This is not an easy situation and it’s understandably confusing. So what can you do about it? Well, I’d start with trying to make sure that you haven’t done anything or contributed to his coldness. This probably isn’t the case, but it’s worth it to try to clear the air. I’d try something like, “last week, we had such a great time together and now things feel completely different between us. Did I do anything to offend or upset you? I’m confused as to why your behavior toward me has changed.” Do not say this with an accusatory tone to your voice. Instead, try to sound patient and sincerely concerned.

If your spouse insists that you did nothing wrong, the next step would be to try to erase those things that concerned your spouse before the separation (and likely contribute to your being apart now.) Because those things might be the issues that are causing doubt in your spouse. Once you erase these concerns, he should regain confidence in your relationship and its ability to heal, so he will hopefully be less likely to pull away.

Finally, sometimes you have to accept that some fluctuations during the separation can be normal. Emotions are running high. Not everyone is going to feel the exact same emotions every single day. There is some uncertainty to be expected. In my experience, the best thing that you can do is to ensure that you’re doing everything that you can to get your marriage back on track and to make the most of your time together. Beyond that, you sometimes have to be patient during the times that he pulls away. I know that this is hard, but I found that continuing to ask my husband what was wrong and continuing to pressure him to come closer to me only meant that he pulled away more often. I had more success when I tried not to take the down periods or lulls personally and I kept myself busy with other things (like working on myself.) When I was able to successfully do this, I almost always found that if I waited for a bit, my husband would come back more enthusiastically, which allowed for us to make progress on our marriage. This required a lot of restraint and patience, but I decided that it was better to hold onto the progress that I was making instead of having to constantly step back because I was trying to rush and apply pressure too often.

Of course, if these fluctuations make you feel used or taken advantage of, then you have every right to address this.  You need to make sure that you’re a willing participant in the dynamic between you.  In my own case, I was willing to handle the fluctuations because it meant that my marriage was still on the table.  But that is going to be individual for each person.  This ended up working for me because eventually, I did save my marriage.  You can read more on my blog at

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