I sometimes hear from wives who are disappointed in their husband’s behavior during the separation. It’s not that their husband is or being rude or disrespectful. He is often being relatively polite. But his attitude often feels staged and forced. And, it doesn’t feel as if there are any loving feelings behind it.
I heard from a wife who said; “we have been separated for about five weeks. This happened at my husband’s urging. He knows that I want to save our marriage. He knows that I would like to get counseling. He knows that I want for us to date or get together regularly. But he seems to be keeping his distance from me. Sure, he is cordial. I do have to admit that. He is always polite and never says or does mean things. His distance is more of a vibe that I get. And he’s not even slightly loving toward me. He is cordial to me like a client or an acquaintance, but he’s not loving to me like I’m his wife. But I don’t know how to get him to act the way that I want him to act. It’s not as if I can complain about how he’s treating me because he is almost overly polite. What can I do?”
This is a tricky situation because often, if you begin to question a separated husband’s behaviors or you ask more of him, then he will become defensive or he will withdrawal. As a result, you might see a lot less of him or find that your liberal access to him is now denied. And if you want to save your marriage, this is a scenario that you really can not afford.
But, you are right that the intimacy with him needs to improve if you want to move forward with your marriage. This is certainly not impossible, but you need to go about it in a positive way that doesn’t feel like you’re pushing or nagging. I will discuss how to do this below.
If You Want To Move Past Him Only Being Cordial, It’s Best That You Take The Initiative Rather Than Sounding Critical Or Demanding: Many of the wives in this situation have a hard time not calling their husband on his behavior. Understandably, they want it to stop and they figure the quickest way to do this is to bring his attention to it and ask him to do better.
Common comments are things like: “why are you being so formal? I’m not your acquaintance, I’m your wife. You act as if I’m almost a stranger that you’re trying to keep at arm’s distance.” Although this statement might feel accurate (and make you feel a little relief after saying these words,) It’s usually only going to make your husband defensive or distant.
So, in my opinion and experience, you are better off trying to pull him closer to you by trying to improve the relationship and then eventually breaking through his defensive walls as you can.
Understand That Him Being Polite Is Better Than Him Being Rude. You Can Work With Polite: I know that you may feel a little let down right now. But, you have to keep this in perspective. I hear from so many wives whose husbands are being very nasty to them during the separation or are giving them no access whatsoever.
Even if your husband is being somewhat distant, he is still being polite. And this is a slight advantage. Because as long as this cooperation continues, you can build upon it slowly until it improves. Going from polite to loving and intimate is not all that huge of a leap. But going from rude and distant to loving most certainly is. So, try to see this as the advantage that it is.
If You Want Him To Act Differently Toward You, Try To Show Him The Behaviors You Want To See From Him: Rather than point out what he is doing wrong and how his behavior is disappointing you, know that you’re often better off if you can display the behaviors that you want to see from him. Begin to act toward him how you would like for him to act toward you. Sometimes, he will mirror you and you will have made progress without nagging. Or, if you see him doing a little better, make sure you offer a lot of positive reinforcement and tell him that it makes you feel good when the two of you relate to one another on positive but less formal terms.
Above all, take this slowly. It is so important that it doesn’t appear that you are verbalizing your disappointment or criticizing him. Because if you do, you may find that he is less than polite the next time and this makes saving your marriage that much more difficult. But if you move slowly and accept smaller gains, he will be much more likely to allow more and more access, which makes this process much easier.