I often hear from wives who are dealing with a husband who is expressing his unhappiness with their marriage. Sometimes, he even takes this a step further and begins to speak of a separation or divorce. At that point, the wife will ask questions to determine why he might be doing this. One common question is doesn't he love her? He will often tell her that he does love her, but will come up with a bunch of issues that negates that love.

Here's an example of the type of comments that I get: "Last week my husband asked me to get a sitter for the kids so that he could take me out to dinner. This was unusual but I didn't really worry about it because I thought that he was just trying to be sweet. Well, I should have been worried because he told me that he wasn't happy in our marriage and that he was going to be leaving for a while. I was stunned about this. I knew that our marriage had been a little tense lately. We have dealt with a lot of stress within the last six months. I got demoted at my job and therefore we have struggled to pay the bills. My husband's sister got cancer and although she's hanging in there, her condition looked grave for a while. So I believe that these things are making him unhappy, not our marriage. So I asked my husband if he still loves me. And he said that he loved me but he was unhappy. He loved me but he needed space. He loved me, but love alone isn't going to make him happy. Every time we had this exchange, he would admit that he loves me, but then he would negate it with phrases that indicated he feels like my roommate and that the spark is gone and he needs to be on his own for a while. What do I make of this?"

Don't Assume Him Wanting Time For Himself Means He's Falling Out Of Love With You. But Take This Seriously: I can't tell you how incredibly common this is. People often assume that when one spouse asks for a separation, that same spouse no longer loves the other. This isn't always the case. Many of these spouses fully admit that they still love their spouse very much. They aren't even trying to deny that. But they're also very clear on the fact that just merely feeling love for their spouse isn't making them feel happy. Despite that love, there is still a feeling of discontent. There are feelings of emptiness that are making him feel like he needs to make a change in his life. Many wives will cling very tightly to those feelings of love and hope that this means that they don't have anything to worry about. And while it can help that the love is still there, I'd caution you to not feel complacent because of it. Plenty of couples who still love one another get a divorce because their separation didn't go well or because they just can't seem to sort out their problems. (My husband claimed to still love me, but we separated. More on that here.)

Don't Try To Argue With Or Counterpoint What He Is Saying. Accept His Version Of The Truth And Don't Waste Time: Understandably, many wives want to end this stalemate in the quickest way possible. So, they will often attempt to poke holes in his argument or to show him where he's wrong. In short, they turn his feelings into something that is up for debate. I have to tell you that this strategy has a high failure rate. Much of the time, the more you debate this, the more he will cling tightly to his convictions. He'll repeat his arguments and, in his mind, this will only strengthen them. He'll want to leave that much faster.

Make Him See That You Are On His Side And Not Trying To Block Him. Let Him Know You Support His Happiness: I believe that you are better off agreeing to disagree. Even if you don't agree with what he is saying, he believes it. Thus, it is his version of the truth so it doesn't matter if you think it's accurate or not.  Your disagreeing with him makes him think that you are someone who doesn't want him to get what he wants because you are motivated by what you want instead. This whole process can be a waste of time and can actually push him further away from you.

In my opinion, you're better off accepting his version of the truth and then addressing it. Don't try to tell yourself that he's only making excuses and therefore it's not going to matter what you do. It does matter. That's why your next step should be to present yourself as someone who is supportive and who wants to help him get what he wants and needs. Because once you become his ally, you bring him closer to you.

So you might respond with something like: "It's reassuring to hear that you still love me because I also still love you and I think it is this love that is going to be a foundation on which we can rebuild. I have no problem with your taking some time. If you want to do that at home, I can either make myself scarce or stay with friends. I know that the last several months have been difficult for both of us. I'd like for us to pick up the pieces together and move forward. Let me know what I can do to help you with this process."

At that point, you've set the stage for him to tell you what he wants and needs from you. Try very hard not to see this whole process as a rejection. He has told you that he still loves you and that matters. Because not all wives have this. Many husbands seeking a separation have no problem telling their wives that they don't love them anymore. But your husband does. This is vitally important because it lets you know that you still have a foundation that you can use as a starting point.

I always suspected that my husband still harbored some love for me.  But, when we were separated, that love didn't seem to matter to him.  Instead, he wanted to see some real changes before he was receptive to me again. If it helps, you are more than welcome to read the whole story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

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