I got an email yesterday from someone explaining that for the past several months, her husband was becoming distant and closing her off. When she asked for an explanation, the husband at first reassured her that he was just dealing with stress and that everything was otherwise fine, but nothing changed and the distance just kept growing.
Eventually, the husband finally started to admit that he was “no longer feeling it,” and “needed his space,” but he still wanted to stay together and take the time to work on himself. Of course, the wife agreed, figuring this was better than letting him walk out the door or separating. But, even though she tried reasoning with him, showing him more attention and affection, and being as reassuring as possible, the situation still deteriorated.
Finally, one day he came home and said he wanted to separate, but he wanted her to know that he still loved her. Of course, she is utterly confused and at a loss. Aren’t these two conflicting things? How can he love her and not want to be with her at the same time?
A Confusing, Conflicting Message
Obviously, there is no way for me to get inside of her husband’s head, or grab him, shake him by the shoulders and demand a true answer. I can tell you that men ask for these “breaks” or “trial separations” for a variety of reasons. What makes this really confusing is that they will often send you mixed signals or say conflicting things. They may say “I just don’t feel it anymore,” or “I just want a break right now,” or “I’m just not happy,” or still yet “It’s me, not you,” while still holding and reassuring you, and professing their love and sometimes wanting to be intimate as though nothing has happened.
Understanding What Your Husband Is Really Saying And How He Really Wants You To Respond
One thing that you need to remember when you are going through this is that you likely know your husband more than anyone else in this world (other than himself.)
Watch his nonverbal cues when he is communicating these issues. Pay close attention to what is being left unsaid. Keep an eye on his lips, posture, eyes, and how he is holding his arms. Are his lips pursed? Are his fist clenched?
All of these things will pinpoint to you if he’s angry, if he’s confused, if he doubts what he is saying, or if he is sad or torn. Are his word spoken with conviction, force or doubt?
It’s very important that you get a good grip on this, because his true feelings very much matter in how you approach him and try to work this out.
You should calmly ask your husband if he will share the events or feelings that lead up to his wanting to separate. (He’ll probably continue to be evasive.) You can ask a few follow up questions if you like but don’t badger him or keep on going if he is resistant. Let your husband know that you are very much available if and when he wants to talk about it and leave it at that.
He may reject you or act negatively, but at least you’ve opened the door to healthy conversation and he will remember this later.
Hopefully, you’ve been able to read his clues, unspoken words, and body language to gauge where your husband’s head is right now. This is important because the stance you take and the responses you should give will greatly depend upon this.
For example, if your husband shows defiance, hostility, coldness, or aggression, then you would approach the situation from a place of calming these emotions.
The method would be different if your husband is exhibiting sadness, fear, or severe anxiety. In this case, you would approach him coming from a place of reassurance.
What Your Husband Really Means Versus What He Is Saying (Reading Between The Mixed Signals)
It can very hard to believe your husband’s words and take him seriously when he’s asking for his distance while holding or reassuring you or sending you mixed signals.
In the end though, most men who say they want a break or separation are trying to verbalize that they’ve lost a feeling or intimacy and closeness and they don’t know how to (or they don’t currently want to) get it back.
They feel that they need a break to evaluate these feelings. Now you may not believe this, but sometimes this works to your advantage.
What To Do When Your Husband Ask For A Separation Even Though He Says He Still Loves You
There are usually two phases to consider here. Typically, you have the phase where the husband first starts to mention the separation. This is the phase where they are the least sure about what they really want and this is where you have an in.
Honestly, you probably already know what your husband really wants. You’ve acted in such a way before so that he’s fallen deeply in love with you. (So much so that he married you.) You know the attributes that he was most attracted to (probably attentiveness, sense of humor, easy going personality, etc.) Now is your chance to again present these attributes to your husband on a regular basis without being too obvious about it.
So without being a doormat or handing your power over, just begin to show your husband more of what drew him to you in the first place. (Important – you have to play this in the right, convincing way.)
The second phase is when the husband is absolutely sure he wants the separation and has talked about it for a while or has one foot out the door. This may sound risky, but please bear with me. The best thing to do here is to look him right in the eye and tell him that he is right. Tell him that you agree the relationship needs work and that you are really looking forward to working on yourself.
Then, go out, see friends and do those things that make you happy. This is likely going to peak your husband’s interest and when it does, you are going to then display those characteristics that he first fell in love with. And, allowing him the time to think will often give him time to miss you and realize how much he has probably jumped the gun.
Many times, after a brief separation the husband realizes that the grass is not really greener on the other side of the fence and comes home, apologies flowing, and ready to work things out. When he does, meet him with an open heart, but a renewed conviction to continue working on yourself and doing what will make you (and in turn both of you) happy.