I sometimes hear from wives who are extremely worried because their husband has made it very clear that he isn't sure that he's completely happy with the marriage.  Often, the husband will begin to hint that he needs time to think or to sort out his feelings. As often, the wife will hover or worry as he's going through this process.  Understandably, she will often check in regularly to see if he has come to any conclusion.  But often, he either has trouble coming to a decision or he is reluctant to share it when he does.

I heard from a wife who said; "my husband told me about three months ago that he felt our marriage was deteriorating.  He said that he didn't feel a spark or a connection with me anymore and that he felt that the only real reason that we were still together is because of children and IRA's.  He said that we both know that it would be inconvenient and painful to split our family and our assets so we have been pretending that everything is fine when it is not.  I asked him what he wanted me to do about this and he said that he didn't expect for me to do anything.  He said that he was going to spend some time thinking about what course of action he wanted to take.  That was about three weeks ago.  Last night, I asked him if he had come to a decision and his answer was that he was 'evaluating' our marriage.  I had to ask him to repeat himself to make sure that I heard him correctly.  Evaluating our marriage, like it's a used car that needs to be tested thoroughly?  What in the world is this supposed to mean? Now all of a sudden I feel like I've been given a pop quiz in high school.  How am I supposed to react to this?  And what in the world does he even mean?"

This situation can be maddening. Because it can feel like he has put you in a position where you almost have to impress your own husband or convince him to see your marriage through a more positive lens.  And since you can't feel what he is feeling or force him to feel any differently, this leaves you guessing as to what is the best course of action while your pride is hurt and you are possibly stewing. But sometimes what he actually means isn't nearly as bad as you might have suspected.  I'll discuss some of the possibilities below.

Sometimes What He Means Is That He Needs More Time Or He Doesn't Want To Feel Pressure:  Sometimes you hear these vague claims of not yet coming to a decision because he wants for you to give him more time.  He hasn't come to a firm decision or he is not yet sure about or comfortable with the decision that he is leaning toward.  This doesn't always mean that he is thinking that he doesn't want the marriage.

But if this rings a bell for you or is possible, it's best not to pressure him.  Because often, his vague responses are meant to get you to lay off on the pressure.  And when you apply it, he can become frustrated and give you the answer that neither of you want. (This is what happened in my case and we separated. We eventually reconciled but it would have been to avoid it entirely. That entire story is available here.)

You Shouldn't Treat This As A Test:  Many wives in this situation say that they feel as if they are being tested or watched under a microscope.  And understandably, they either greatly resent this or they try to overcompensate by displaying something that they don't actually feel (or at least they tend to exaggerate.)  It's my experience that you should try to resist this urge.  Because if your husband feels that you aren't being genuine, he will wonder what you are trying to hide or he will think that you are playing games because you know that your marriage is flawed.

I think that the better play is to be genuine and to be honest.   I think that you are better off having a conversation about it than to pretend that things are just fine when you both know that they are not.

A Conversation To Set A New Tone: The next time you are tempted to bring up the "evaluation" and you have the urge to pressure him, instead you might say something like: "well, there's really not any hurry.  This is our marriage that we are talking about and I don't want either of us to make a rushed decision.   I think that we both know that things are never perfect in anyone's marriage.  But I do know that I still love you and that I'm committed to our marriage.  At the end of the day, I hope that is foundation enough and that we can continue to build upon the rest.  But I am fine with you taking the time that you need.  And I could certainly use the time to evaluate on my end."

This conversation does a couple of things.  You've made it clear that you aren't going to pressure him.  You've also made it clear that he is not the sole decision-maker.  And you've stressed that the commitment is still there on your end and that you are willing to work with him to make any necessary changes.

So to answer the question posed, I don't think that you need to panic or apply any pressure if you get general, evasive answers that indicate he's "evaluating" your marriage.  You just want to conduct yourself positively and honestly so that when he does think about you and the marriage, he has positive aspects to consider.

I will admit that I took things a little too far when I knew that my husband was coming to a decision about our marriage.   I placed way too much pressure on him and this caused him to pull away.  I had a lot of ground to make up in order to save our marriage, but I was successful eventually. If it helps, you can read more on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

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