On the day of your marriage, you envision growing old with that man standing at the altar with you. The idea is that the two of you will navigate life's good days and bad days together. On this day, virtually none of us envision that this ideal is not actually going to happen.

That's why it can be very shocking when your spouse seeks a separation or refuses to reconcile after one - while telling you that he's not sure that he envisions a "happily ever after" future with you after all. Or, he announces that he's not sure that he wants to grow old with you.

Someone might speak of a scenario like this one: "for the past six months, my husband has been moping around the house, generally speaking about how unhappy I make him. Two months ago, he moved out. The separation honestly wasn't as bad as I feared it would be, because we saw one another a good deal and had some wonderful talks.  We also came to some understandings during that time. So I honestly thought that we might eventually reconcile. But when I mentioned this to my husband, he said 'I don't want you to take this the wrong way. I do love you. But I honestly don't know if I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I'm still a relatively young man with a lot of time left and I don't know if it's right to spend it with someone who is so different from me and with whom I often have conflict.' I did not know how to answer this. Yes, we sometimes clash because of our different personalities. But this used to create a spark. I can't envision my life without my husband. I don't want to grow old without him. What can I do?"

These Words May Just Be An Extension Of His Initial Unhappiness: I don't think that you need to press him for a final answer right now. His words were unfortunate, but they are likely just born out of the same confusion, frustration, and unhappiness that brought about the separation in the first place. Him not being able to picture a future with you this very second doesn't mean that he won't ever be able to picture a future with you.

Read The Clues That He Is Giving You:  I know that it might not seem like an advantage right now, but your husband has given you some clues about where his reservations lie. That is very important. You know that he feels that the two of you do not effectively work around the conflict that happens because of your different personalities. This is something that has already been identified. And because of that, it can also be addressed and fixed.

If this is the only problem (and only you would know whether this is true or not) then removing this obstacle might make him see his future with you as much more positive, enjoyable, and possible.

Building On What You've Already Established: You've said that the two of you have been making progress during the separation and have been having productive talks. By all means continue on with this. I can't overstate the importance of building a new foundation and showing your husband new behaviors. I think that it would be a very good idea to get some assistance in conflict resolution. Sometimes, this comes through counseling or self help. Regardless of how you do it, I think that it's important to find something that is very effective, to stick with it, and to let your husband know that you have taken the initiative to do this.

Then, when the two of you are together, you can make sure he sees that new part of you. He needs to see that your personality differences do not always mean conflict. He needs to see that you can navigate your differences without huge problems or stress. Once he does, it will likely be much easier for him to envision a future with you.

Know That This Is Somewhat Typical: I know that his words are extremely hurtful and can make you worry about the future of your marriage. But honestly, many separated husbands say these types of things in the beginning. Perceptions can change as progress begins. Doubts begin to diminish. The loving feelings can begin to overshadow the standing issues. When these things happen, his image of the future can just naturally improve. At that point, he may no longer have those reservations and doubts.

Yes, this can take time, finesse, and patience. But change happens all of the time. I know that it might be tempting to just feel that your situation is hopeless. But that really isn't to your benefit. The better play would be to build on the progress that you have already made and then add some new skills and changes to this. Doing so would likely decrease your husband's doubts and increase his comfort level in thoughts of your future.

One phrase muttered at the beginning of a separation does not need to dictate your marital future. Things often change. And quite quickly, sometimes. So you may not want to give up hope just yet, although you are the only one who can make that decision.  There were most definitely times during my own separation that I was pretty sure that there would be no future with my husband.  And he definitely acted as if he didn't WANT a future with me.  But as we made progress, and as I stopped clinging and pressuring, this changed.  We DID have a future and we are living it now.  You can read more about the twists and turns that lead to our reconciliation at http://isavedmymarriage.com

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