Facing a martial separation can be hard enough. But feeling as if you have to perform or to meet some criteria during that separation can be doubly upsetting. This is especially true if your husband announces that he wants to see if he will ‘miss you’ during the separation. Because this implies that you have to pass some sort of test in order to keep your marriage. And this can leave you not sure about how to achieve that goal.
A wife might say: “my husband has been muttering about a separation for about six months. I will admit that I mostly ignored him because he just seemed to repeat himself without ever doing anything. About four weeks ago, my mother had a health scare and I had to travel to another state to care for her. Honestly, I was almost glad to be leaving because my husband and I had been fighting and I wanted the break. I was only gone for five days, but when I got home, my husband admitted that he hadn’t missed me all that much and that the end to the fighting was a relief. He announced that he suspected that I felt the same way. Honestly, I did miss him. At least a little. But he claims not to have missed me and now says that we need to be apart for a longer period of time in order for him to ascertain whether or not he would miss me during a real separation. I am not quite sure how to take this. I hate that we have been fighting lately, but I do not want to lose my marriage. I do not want a separation, but he seems determined about this. So I asked him to get an apartment very close by so that we can see one another all of the time. He rejected that and said that he ‘wanted the time and space to see if he misses me.’ Well, if we have very limited contact, what if that just makes our marriage worse? What if that makes him want to end our marriage even sooner? How do I make him miss me if he’s distancing himself already?”
Be Careful About Overdoing It When You Experience Paranoia Or Doubt: I completely understand how you feel because I had very similar thoughts during my own separation. In fact, I can look back now and see that I was very paranoid. I was sure that my husband would enjoy his freedom so much that he would scarcely have time to miss me. So I made sure that I kept in touch. All of the time. This was too much. He tried to be polite about it in the beginning. And tolerated my “touching base” constantly. But eventually, he began to distance himself. And because I’m sure he found me to be a bit of a pest, he probably was not missing me all that much.
This is a very difficult situation to handle because you’re already feeling paranoid. So when he starts pulling away, your inclination can be to pull him even closer and to initiate even MORE contact. That’s exactly what I did, but this made things even worse and he pulled back even further – going so far as to tell me that I needed to let him initiate the contact. And you know what? Eventually I felt that I just had to do this even though it went against every thing that I was feeling at the time.
When What You Dread The Most Doesn’t Actually Happen: I was sure that when things went silent between us, my husband would celebrate his freedom and feel even more distant from me. I felt like my releasing my grip was really going to be the beginning of the end. But I did it because it was the only hope that I had of keeping at least some portion of the relationship alive.
And then a funny thing happened. After some very hard days of complete silence, he did what I never expected him to do. He started reaching out to me. He initiated the contact. He started doing the calling. Listen, it was so hard not to pick right back up where I’d left off. My relief made it very hard not to get over-excited. But I tried to look at it logically because listening to my emotions hadn’t worked. I could not deny that backing away a little bit had absolutely worked. So I tempered my excitement and continued to allow him to initiate half of the contact.
And eventually, he actually did miss me and we did reconcile. But I am not sure if this would have happened if I had continued with holding on so tightly. I think that it is possible that he may have initiated a divorce or a no-contact separation just to have some peace. I know that it’s hard to step back and just hope that he misses you. And I don’t advocate no-contact for long periods of time. But in my experience, it can help to give things a few days between contact so that he does have the time and space to wonder what you are doing and how you are. Because when that process happens – many times, that is when he does start to miss you.