I often hear from panicked wives whose husbands have just or recently told them that he wants a separation.  For many wives, the "s word" is often akin to proclaiming that the marriage is most definitely over, at least in her eyes.  Many people associate a separation with an eventual divorce and assume that when a husband asks for a separation, he is taking the first small step toward ending the marriage.  Many wives assume that once a husband has decided that he wants to separate from you, then essentially his mind and his heart are now closed off to you and the marriage and, because of this, any attempts to save it are going to fail because the husband is just unwilling to allow this to happen.

I recently heard from a wife who said, in part: "last week, my husband told me that he wants a separation.  He said that this weekend, he was going to move out for a while to clear his head and think about what is ultimately best for us and our marriage.   My mother says I might as well go ahead and kiss him goodbye because she says that once a man moves out due to separation, your marriage is pretty much over.  She said if he was interested in saving our marriage, he would have agreed to counseling and he would not be so quick to leave and move out.  She is probably right, but I just can't help but think that he stressed that he would be thinking out the outcome of our marriage, almost as if he'd not yet reached a decision.  Because of this and other reasons, I'm not ready to just give up on my marriage - even if he wants a separation. So who is right? Can a marriage be saved if the husband wants a separation?  Or is this just the beginning of the end?"

In my opinion, this wife is right. My husband I had separated and he had moved out, and yet I was able to save my marriage and I know many others who have done this also.   I've even known couples who actually divorced and eventually saved their marriage after the fact.  So, while saving your marriage when your husband wants a separation isn't always easy or immediate, it most certainly can happen.  I'll go into more detail about what is necessary to accomplish this in the following article.

Even Though Troubled Marriages Are Saved Every Day, You'll Often Need To Overcome Some Obstacles In Order For This To Happen: I absolutely know that marriages can be saved even during, after, or before the separation ever takes place.  However, with that said, I also know that many wives will just sort of wait and hope that their husband magically changes his mind about them, their marriage, or the separation.   And, sometimes, when this doesn't work, they become afraid or desperate, and they take things to extremes.

They might follow him around, call or text him way too much, or indulge in behavior that borders on stalking, and I will fully admit to this behavior in my own situation although I am certainly not proud of this today.  All I can say is that, at that time, my mind wasn't thinking very rationally and I felt that I had to do something very soon and very dramatic if I was going to save my marriage.  I felt constantly frustrated and afraid and unfortunately, these negative emotions clouded my actions.

Of course, at the time that I was carrying this out, I didn't realize that I was actually making things worse and ensuring that my husband was even less receptive to me every time he witnessed my bad behavior and, as a result, only wanted the marriage to end even more quickly.  So I'm trying to save you both time and heartache when I suggest that you avoid these traps and understand what really needs to happen in order to save your marriage when your husband wants a separation.

You'll need to allow him to see that the perceptions or beliefs that lead him to want the separation were either too hasty or just out and out wrong.  For example, if he wants to separate because he thinks that the spark is not there, then you'll need to show him some chemistry.  If he wants to separate because all you do is fight, then you'll need to show him a person with whom it's relatively easy to get along.

Of course, often, it's a combination of reasons that he wants to separate other than just one.  And sometimes, his reasons for wanting a "break" or separation aren't completely clear to you.  But, this doesn't mean that you should give up or just wait for things to magically happen.  You can still put yourself in a position to change his perceptions.  While it's true that you may be in a situation where he's resisting being with you, not wanting counseling, or just seeking some time on his own, none of this means that you can't make every interaction count or that you can't conduct yourself with grace and integrity so that he sees that he just might have been wrong about you and about your marriage. (It took me way too long to learn this, but once I did, things definitely improved. (That story is here.)

Changing Your Husband's Mind About The Separation When He's Not Exactly A Willing Participant: Probably the most difficult obstacle that you're going to need to overcome is that you won't always have a receptive and willing participant.  Your husband may resist being with you or may be very guarded when he is.  I know that this can be tough to overcome.  But, I've always found that the best thing to do in this situation is to use this to your advantage.  Because he'll often resist changing his stance, especially at first.  And, because the strategy that many of us are tempted to take (engaging, debating, begging, and acting negatively) so rarely works, we are often so much better off just appearing to accept this and then to flip things around and use them to our advantage.

Believe it or not, sometimes when you back off, remain positive, create some mystery, and allow for the time and space that he's asked for, the silence will suddenly feel odd and lonely to him and he will attempt to fill it by actually seeking you out or initiating the contact.  Sometimes, if you allow him to miss you, he actually will.  And when this happens, you're suddenly in a much better situation and you have much more room to actually gain some ground in saving your marriage.  Yes, this does take some time and some doing.  But I know without any doubt that it can be done, especially when you don't focus on the negative and don't attempt to force the process.

As I've already alluded to, it was my husband, not me, who wanted the separation. Unfortunately, when trying to save our marriage, I drew on desperation and fear. This seriously backfired. Thankfully, I realized my tactics were not working and changed course. You can read that story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com/.

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