One thing that frustrates many wives who are newly separated or taking a husband initiated "break" from their marriage is the husband's lack of clarity about how things are going to work.  The wife often wishes that he could be specific about how things are going to unfold in the days and weeks to come.  Often, what she'd like is for him to define the relationship and to specify how often they are going to see each other, how intimate they're going to be, and ultimately, how things are going to end up with their relationship and their marriage.

Usually, though, the exact opposite happens. The husband wants to leave things more open-ended because he isn't sure what he wants.  I recently heard from a wife who said: "I am so frustrated right now.  My marriage has been struggling for a while, but rather than agreeing to get counseling, my husband announced that he's moving out and he wants to separate.  He said he wants to see either other regularly and he doesn't intend to file for a divorce anytime soon.  But, he's adamant that he just  wants to just be friends for a while and "see where our relationship leads."  What in the world does he mean by this?  We're married and now he wants to back up to a friendly relationship and see if that friendship eventually turns into a romance?  Isn't that backward?  How am I supposed to respond to this?"

Questions like these are very common and the wife is often quite reluctant to play along because she's worried that the husband wants to have his cake and eat it too. The wives often think that this whole "let's be friends" business is just a way to get the wife to agree to separate without putting up too much of a fight.  And meanwhile, the husband is free to explore life living on his own while technically still having a friendly wife at home to fall back on.

I understand these concerns because I felt them myself.  And it's very tempting to want to tell your husband that you aren't buying any of this and don't want any part of his plan.  But often, pushing him into making a more permanent decision could backfire.  Very often when wives play this card, the husband will simply reply that if you'd rather have less contact, a formal separation, or a divorce, then he will understand.  So sometimes, it becomes obvious that if you want regular access to him (which you are going to need if you want to save your marriage) it's best to realize that two can play this game and that you can play it every bit as well as he can. ( I had to learn this the hard way to save my marriage. That story is here.)

What A Husband Generally Means When He Says He Wants To "See Where Your Relationship Leads": I know that this is a very vague phrase which can make it sound as if your husband is talking in riddles.  But I have dialogued with some men in this situation and I can tell you that often when they go with the whole "let's just see where our relationship leads" stance what they're trying to tell you is that they aren't sure about your marriage but they aren't prepared to lose you or walk away from you at this time.

They often feel like things are falling apart in your marriage and they need some time to clear their head to determine where to go from here.  With that said, they are not willing to walk away or they would have already done so.  So while the "let's start by being friends" stance can mean that they're enjoying the best of both worlds (no longer living with you but still having access to the relationship,) it can also mean that, at least for now, they haven't closed the door.

How To Play It When You're Waiting "To See Where The Relationship Leads:" I know that this can be a very difficult situation to navigate.  You're caught between wanting to give him the space he obviously needs and wanting to feel some reassurance.  So it can be very tempting to push for more than he wants to give, especially at first.  It's scary to back off and let him come to his own conclusions.

But much of the time, that's exactly what you need to do because if you push too hard, he may come to believe that giving you this much access to him just isn't working.  He might think that he feels more pressure rather than feeling less, and so to get relief from this, he may be tempted to draw a line in the sand and cut his ties more quickly.  If you're trying to save your marriage, you can't afford for this to happen.

So often the best thing to do is to make it appear as if you're playing along.  Sure, you'll be his friend, but you won't be at his beck and call either.  The thing that most women in this situation do not realize is that you can often flip this around and use it to your advantage.  Sure, you don't have complete access to him, but on the flip side, this means that he doesn't have full access to you either, which allows you to create a little mystery and scarcity.  Things which aren't immediately available are often perceived as more valuable.  This is just human nature. (I had my doubts that this was true during my own separation, but it was. More on that here.)

So I'd caution you on making it too obvious that you're hanging on his every decision.  He wants and is going to take his space and that's unfortunate.  But, this gives you an opportunity to do your own thinking and soul-searching.  It will often put you in a better position if you keep a positive attitude and remain confident that this new arrangement is going to lead him right back to you.   And this means that you don't have to experience the inner turmoil that leads you to do desperate things or to appear needy and unsure.  Because both of these things will make you seem less attractive to him.

So as hard as it is (and I do know that it's hard,)  I believe that the best thing to do in this situation is put a smile on your face and tell him that he can take whatever time he needs and that you will do the same.  In the meantime, make the most of those friendly times you're spending together.  But don't move too quickly.  Allow for things to unfold at their own pace and allow him to take the lead sometimes.

When my husband took the "let's be friends and see what happens" stance, I panicked and I reacted very badly.  Of course, this made a divorce more likely and I had to do some serious catching up and backtracking.  Once I understand that playing along was in my best interest, things changed and shifted dramatically and eventually he was the one pursuing me.  If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at

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