I often hear from people who are facing a separation and who don't necessarily agree with the reasoning that their spouse is offering up. And even if they do see some validity to their reasoning, they often just don't how to change who or what they already are.

Here's just one example. I might hear from a wife who says: "after the holidays, my husband told me that he had something to tell me which he knew was going to upset me. He said that he has held off on saying anything because he didn't want to ruin my holidays. Anyway, he said that he has been planning to leave me for a while. But he hesitated to say anything because he knows that I am not able to change my personality. He is basically telling me that I am not any fun whatsoever and that he has been taking a very honest look at his life and what he wants for his life to look like. He says that he just can not continue to live his life without making fun and pleasure a priority and he does not think that he can do this being married to me. He stresses that he doesn't want to hurt my feelings, but his assessment of me is that I am not any fun at all. He says that I am always overly serious, don't know how to make or take a joke, and just generally bring him down. Honestly, it was very painful for me to hear this. I admit that I am a serious person. But I always felt that this is why my husband and I were such a wonderful match. My husband is a jokester and very jovial. I love being around him because he makes me laugh. I never realized that he expected for me to make him laugh. He never complained. And I certainly would not call myself a negative person. I am not a pessimist. I'm just not naturally someone who makes fun my top priority. I love that my husband brings this lighter side into my life. And I'm devastated that it is starting to sound like I might not have it in my life anymore. I don't know how to ward this off. I could try to be more fun-loving and to cultivate my sense of humor. But I'm not sure that I could pull it off. He knows that I am never going to be the life of the party. I don't know if my husband is really willing to separate or divorce me because I don't know how to have fun. This scares me horribly. And it hurts."

Evaluating The True Problem: I can certainly understand why this conversation would hurt. And this situation is especially tough because it's mostly outside of your control and it is benign. He's not saying that you are a bad person or that you have done anything wrong. He's basically telling you that he doesn't think that your personality fits with his. This can make things feel quite personal and it can make you feel a little helpless because you're not sure how you can even begin to change this. How do you change the core of who you are, especially if it is not the true problem.

I think that a good first step might be to ask yourself if this has always been a problem. I suppose there might be a situation where a man would have married a woman who he thought never had any fun, but I would think it would rare. I would think that the most likely scenario is that it wasn't a huge problem when the couple was first dating. Typically, when people are deeply in love and firmly connected, their differences are actually seen as assets rather than major problems. It's typically only when problems begin to erode the marriage that the differences in personality become real issues.

Of course, I can't possibly know your husband's thought process, nor can I predict how serious he may be about separating, but if it were me, I would prioritize taking a very honest look at your marriage and asking yourself if there is more going on than just your personality differences. Because I'd suspect that there are.  If he hasn't been telling you all along that you are no fun, then I'd suspect there are larger problems at hand. (My husband began to criticize me about similar, but new things right before our separation. You can read that entire story by clicking here.)Taking The First Steps: It makes sense to try to bring a larger sense of play and fun into your marriage if you have that opportunity. If your husband doesn't leave immediately, then you have a chance to show him some real changes, but I wouldn't go overboard here. You can't expect to suddenly become a comedian and have him believe that this is genuine. But you can make an honest effort and have him appreciate the same.

And better still, if you are able to restore some of the intimacy and the connection, then I would be willing to bet that both of you might find that the lack of fun wasn't really the problem - the lack of connection was. When a couple is firing on all cylinders, a sense of play is almost automatic. They flirt and joke with one another because this is just a natural extension of their feelings. You don't really have to work at it when your relationship is close and fresh. The point that I am trying to make is that if you are able to restore the intimacy, you might find that the "not having any fun" issue will take care of itself.

But nothing says that you can't participate in light-hearted play with which you would be comfortable.  The key is finding activities that are GENUINELY fun and pleasurable for both of you.  It's not always about the activity.  It is about having fun together.

Before my husband and I separated, he had some criticisms about my personality.  I tried to change the core of who I was.  And it didn't really work.  It didn't ring true.  I had to back up and make only genuine changes that I could maintain.  And I had to focus only on the things that were true to me. If it helps, you can read about the process of evaluating myself, making only genuine changes, and then saving my marriage on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

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