I'm often contacted by panicked wives who tell me that their husband is pushing for a trial separation and they want to know how to change his mind before he walks out the door.  Their thinking is that, once their husband has actually left, it's going to be harder to get him to come back than it is going to be to convince him to stay. I understand this, especially since you probably don't want the trial separation to eventually lead to a divorce.  However, you mustn't panic here and act in such a way that is going to push your husband further away or only reinforce the fact that a break may in fact be a very good idea. This article will give you strategies and tips on how to handle the separation (should it happen) and how to prevent it in the first place.

Don't React In Such A Way That Will Make The Trial Separation More Likely: I understand that this separating talk is going to scare you.  This is a major life decision that can have real and severe implications. However, you must maintain your sense of control and not allow your fear to propel you to act in destructive ways that will hurt your marriage even more. If your husband wants to separate, then it's highly likely the thought of your marriage elicits negative feelings in him (at least right now).  So, you don't want to do anything that is going to fuel this fire even more.

Many wives will react very negatively and very strongly here. They will demand answers and hurl rapid-fire statements in a tone that it almost sounds and feels like an attack.  (Examples are "why are you doing this to us," "how could you break up our family," and "if you leave, just don't come back." (I know these phrases because I said them myself, with catastrophic consequences.) Of course, the husband is going to retreat or put up a wall or barrier.  Because he's feeling more negative feelings (from which he's trying to escape with the separation.)

By trying to change his mind or strong-arm him into staying, you can make him feel like you are saying or representing that he is wrong and that his feelings aren't valid. It's better to try to approach your husband from a standpoint that you want him to be happy and you want to help him get his needs met. This will validate him and make him much more receptive to you.  Tell him that you would like to commit to working in a happier situation together.  He may balk at this or flat out say no, but at least you've put it out there in a positive way so he'll know that if he changes his mind, the offer stands.

Focus On The Feelings, Not On The Separation: Many times when wives have a trial separation hanging over their heads, they shut down and give up.  They raise the white surrender flag and assume that all is lost.  They allow negative feelings to poison every interaction with their husbands.

What they don't realize is that sometimes, talks of a trial separation can actually be a positive thing if you play it correctly.  Now that talks of taking definitive action is on the table, this can relieve some of the tension. Both you and your husband should then focus on creating positive feelings.

Consider that, whether you ultimately divorce or not, don't you want your relationship with this person with whom you've spent so much time and shared so much to be a positive one? If you ultimately have to walk away, don't you want to do so with positive feelings so that you can be proud of how you both handled it? Of course, the answer is yes.  Communicate this to your husband.  Look him right in the eye, tell him that you understand and respect what he is saying, and that, no matter what ultimately happens, you'd like to focus on the positive things between you so that you are both free of guilt and negative feelings.

Talk With Your Actions: Now, he probably won't believe you at first. He will think that you are trying to manipulate him to change his mind.  And, from past experience, he's probably come to believe that things will never really change - no matter what you both say.  Your job then is to show him that this just isn't true.  How? You show him with your actions.

You act in a way that you can be proud of.  Always remember the qualities that drew your husband to you in the first place.  Did he fall in love with the fact that you were laid back, had an open heart, made him laugh, or were a good listener? How often do you allow him to enjoy these qualities today? Now is the time to reintroduce this person to him.

I don't mean that you should appear fake or insincere.  Often, the way to avoid this is that you take a step back and take care of yourself.  Go out and have some fun.  Pick up those things you've really missed but haven't had time for.  This may seem the exact opposite of what you feel you should be doing, but it isn't.

Prioritize Yourself: Remember that I told you that you need to present yourself as the loving, open, and fun person your husband first fell in love with? Well, how can you do this if you're not taking care of yourself and meeting your own needs?  Truthfully, you can't.

Taking a step back from the situation may help to make it better. It will show both you and your husband that you love and respect yourself enough not to allow this negative situation to sap other valuable positive things from your life.  No matter what happens, if you focus on the positive, in the end, you will be better off for it. And often your husband will ultimately follow your lead and realize that he has greatly missed, and wants to stay with, the positive, loving woman in front of him right now.

My husband insisted on a trial separation, but ultimately, (by playing my cards very carefully) I was able to save the marriage. You can read that story by clicking here or visiting my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

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