When your spouse starts talking about a trial separation, it is perfectly natural, (and understandable,) to want as many details as you can possibly get.  After all, it is pretty obvious that your life is going to change dramatically.  Because of that, you want specific details, so that you can prepare yourself and your kids if you have them.  It's not unreasonable to want to know what your life is going to look like while you are separated.

However, not all husbands are willingly transparent with this information.  In fact, not only are some evasive, but they become angry or short with their wives when they are asked.  A wife might say: "about two months ago, my husband announced that he wanted a trial separation.  But he did not do anything about it right away. It was obvious that he was still unhappy, but I did not know much about his motivations because he didn't really do or say anything.  Well, last week, he announced that he has gotten an apartment and will be moving out in a couple of days.  Of course, this made me panic.  I don't have a mental picture as to how this is going to work.  How often will I talk to him? Or see him?  Will he still mow the grass?  Pay the bills?  Am I still supposed to show him affection?  Are we meant to tell our family and friends about this?  I honestly have a million and one questions. But when I try to ask him any of them, he gets frustrated with me.  He says that there is no such thing as a 'separation user's manual,' and that we will just have to make it up as we go along.  I don't think that this is acceptable.  Our marriage is not something that you can simply navigate as you go along.  I don't understand why he would be unwilling to clarify things for me.  Why does he get so angry when I question him?  And what can I do to get answers?"

Why Separated Men Aren't Forthcoming With Specifics: First of all, I will tell you my theories as to why men don't always wish to discuss specifics going into the separation.  Of course, this is just one person's theory.  I base it on the behavior of my own husband during my separation, (that entire story is here.) from the dialog I get from others, and from correspondence I get.

I believe that many men seek a separation in order to get some "space" and some relief from their perceived pressures and dramas at home.  So in their minds, when you ask these clarifying questions, you want to nail them down so that you can hold them to something.  But as someone who wants a little space, these demands can feel to them as if you are trying to tie them down at a time when that is the last thing that they want.

By no means am I saying that their perception is correct.  I am merely saying that this is how they see things - particularly early on.  Often, as time passes, they become more open to discussion.  But in the early days, everyone is a little overwhelmed and not sure how things are going to unfold.

Getting Your Information While Not Pressuring A Reluctant Husband: From my own experience, I know that none of this is going to make you feel any better.  I didn't like this situation one bit when I went through it.  But I also found that the more I tried to pin my husband down, the more he pulled away and didn't want ANY contact.

So sometimes, you have to be somewhat strategic about this and you have to take baby steps.  You might ask for small clarifications at first and then ease forward as you can.  That might look something like this: "I hear that you want to take things as they come, but I'd like it if we could agree to a few basics beforehand. Can we agree to meet for dinner and discuss this more next Friday?  Can you lay out how am I supposed to proceed with some basic finances?  I don't want to be late on any payments.  I understand that you may be only telling me enough to get us started, but I think it's important that a few things are clear."

When I began to make progress with my own separation, I did so by taking it one step at a time.  My goal was always to make the most of the interaction at the time and then set up the next interaction.  By asking to have dinner next Friday, you are giving him some space, but you are also not leaving things completely open-ended.  There is a risk in letting a lot of time go by without communicating.  So, even if we're only talking about quick phone calls or having coffee, having these encounters can help you to create a foundation.

When you are able to talk or meet, try to keep things enjoyable.  Yes, you want to try to get a little more information.  But don't push too much.  This is what I mean by baby steps.  Sometimes, you have to settle for small amounts of information UNTIL you meet the next time.  In this way, you are sort of ensuring future meetings AND you are moving at the slow pace that your husband seems to require right now.

Believe me, I know that it's frustrating.  But I found that, in my own case, and many cases that I've followed, your pushing him for more information and your peppering him with more questions will often make him retreat even more.  So sometimes, your strategy has to be to take what you can, to regroup, and to come back at him later - in a light-hearted way.  At least this is what had to happen for me.  Ultimately, my husband relaxed his stance in time and we were able to make progress.  Once that happened, I was very grateful that I went for a gradual pace rather than pushing. You can read more about that gradual process at http://isavedmymarriage.com

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