I recently received an email from a wife who had just begun a separation from her husband.  This was a very difficult time for her and she wasn't sure how she should proceed or act in the days ahead.  She missed her husband and wanted to retain regular contact with him.  It was unbearable for her not to know what he was doing or if he was OK. However, she'd been advised to keep her distance and to give him the time to miss her so that he would eventually come back home.  She wanted to know if this advice was correct because she was afraid if she backed off, she might lose him.  I will share with you what I told her in the following article.

The Whole Purpose Of A Separation: Most people would agree that the whole idea of a marital separation is to give both people the time and distance to reflect on the relationship and whether it can be saved. This is why people separate rather than just move forward with a divorce. Theoretically, there is hope that the time apart will affirm their affection for and commitment to each other.  This happens because, since they are not together constantly, some of the tension and problems will lessen and come into perspective.

However, if you insist on being together or at least being "in touch" constantly, then the separation is not working and progressing as it is supposed to.  So, the lessening tension and perspective is not as likely to happen.  In fact, you might well hurt your cause rather than help it.  Rather than moving back toward you, he may feel compelled to move further away from you in an attempt to get the time and distance that he had originally hoped to get.  I know that keeping your distance can be heart-wrenching when there is so much up in the air and so much uncertainty, but it will be worth it in the end.

Keeping Yourself From Hovering When You Are Separated:  You may well know intellectually that you should keep your distance and back off, but try explaining this to your heart.  That's a whole different story, isn't it? You feel a pull toward him and you panic thinking about what he's doing and how he perceives the relationship right now. But, I promise, overreaching and overstepping, although both can feel right at the time, is almost never the right call.  It makes him feel suffocated.  It makes him feel as though you aren't respecting his request. It makes him feel as though he might want to take the next step to get the distance that you aren't willing to give him.

So, do whatever is necessary to keep yourself in check.  Take a trip away so that you aren't in close enough proximity to hover.

(This is what I did. More on that here.) 

Go out with friends. Take a class.  Dive into a hobby.  Do whatever it takes to give yourself some distance as well.  I know that it may feel wrong at first.  I know that you will not enjoy it as much as you should.  But, it really is for the greater good and it is necessary.

Creating A Sense Of Scarcity: Always keep in mind that something that seems scarce and not as readily available is much, much more attractive to a man. A busy woman who is moving forward and can take care of herself will seem to be a much better deal than one who is clinging onto him and being dragged along because he can't shake her.  Always ask yourself how you appear and how you are being perceived.

The Difference Between Backing Off And Pretending: That doesn't mean that you should pretend that you don't care.  That doesn't mean that you posture so much that you ignore your spouse. You both know that you care very much and there is no real need to deny or hide this fact.  But, he's asked for some time apart, so that is precisely what you should give him.  If you must contact him, send a quick text to just tell him that you are thinking about him and then let that be enough.  You want to give him the space to wonder, with some longing, exactly what you are up to.

That's not to say that you can't display the best sides of yourself that he has perhaps not seen in some time.  But, show him glimpses rather than full scenes and allow him to be the pursuer when you can.  This is so much more effective than always being the one initiating the contact.  Because when you do, even if he does comply, you'll both know that he wasn't driving the car and that his heart is really not yet in it.

It was my husband, not me, who wanted space and the separation. Unfortunately, I drew on negative emotions rather than positive ones. This seriously backfired.

Thankfully, I realized that I did need to back off

And this eventually worked - eventually.  You can read that story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com/

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