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I sometimes hear from wives who feel very lonely, isolated, and vulnerable during their trial or marital separation. Often, the husband had assured the wife that the separation was going to work one way, but the wife is finding that it is now working in an entirely different way.
I heard from a wife who said: “my husband and I separated about five weeks ago. He gave me the excuse that he felt he needed some time to himself. He assured me that he would let me know where he was and that he would check in from time to time. He asked me to respect his need for space and I said that I would. After he had been gone for a couple of days, I called him and I could tell that he wasn’t happy to hear from me. He said that he was busy and that he would call me back. He never did. So the next day I came by. Every time I want to talk or see my husband, I have to be the one to initiate it. The other day, I came by his apartment and he had people over. He was obviously angry to see me. He finally blurted out that he just wants me to leave him alone for a while. I was so upset I turned and ran away and we haven’t been in contact since. I am so hurt by this. He’s made it clear that he wants for me to leave him alone. But I don’t know if I can. I miss him. He’s my husband. I want to save my marriage and I don’t know if I can do that if we don’t even talk or communicate.”
I know first hand how painful this is. And I also understand that the more he pulls away, the more you are overtaken by fear and the more you might feel that you have to hold on even tighter. But it’s my opinion and experience that you often reach the point where continuing to push even harder is only going to damage your marriage that much more.
I remember thinking that if only I could see my husband and make him understand, then I could change his mind. But what I didn’t get at the time is that the more I followed him around trying to get him to listen, the more he thought I was unstable and a pest and the more he wanted to get away from me. This made him less likely to objectively listen to anything that I had to say.
I am not saying that this marriage had reached that point. I honestly didn’t know if it had. But I do know that often continuing on with something that is no longer working will sometimes make things even worse. That’s why I think that it’s sometimes worth it to try another strategy which I’ll discuss now.
Understand That For Right Now, He Isn’t Asking You To Leave Him Alone Forever: Often when a woman hears her husband ask to be alone, her mind goes to the worst place possible. She can begin to fear that he may want to be alone forever. This isn’t necessarily true. Sometimes, he really does just need some time. And there are also times when you do give him that time that he has asked for, and he finds that it is lonely rather than freeing.
Sometimes what we don’t realize is that we haven’t yet allowed this process to work for us. He hasn’t had time to miss us because there hasn’t yet been any real separation. I know that letting him out of your sight is hard. I know that when you don’t hear from him you wonder if he’s forgetting about you or seeing someone else. These fears are hard to overcome. But it becomes easier to do this if you realize that not doing it is only making him want more freedom from you.
So sometimes, you have to turn the tables a little bit. You have to give him precisely what he asked for – his own time – and then allow him to see that it isn’t what he assumed.
This won’t always happen immediately. And it’s certainly not always easy. But when you consider that the alternative is to continue to push him when he’s made it clear that he isn’t receptive to that, then the choice becomes a little easier to make.
How To Begin To Give Him More Space While Remaining Hopeful: Some wives ask me if they should make an announcement that they are now going to back off or if they should just let their silence do the talking. This is really up to you and it often depends upon the state of your relationship at the time. In my case, I did tell my husband because I chose to go out of town for a while and I didn’t want him to wonder where I’d gone.
So I just told him that I was going home to visit family and friends and that he wouldn’t hear from me for a while because I too was taking some time for myself. I am sure that at first he thought something like “good riddance.” But eventually, the space actually worked for me instead of against me. And he actually took the initiative the next time when he reached out to me.
I know it hurts to hear him tell you to leave him alone for a while. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be forever and if you don’t willingly do it, then he may take his space by force, meaning he will start to limit your access to him. And this is probably not what you want.
write by Grainne