I often hear from people who have only agreed to a trial separation because it’s what their spouse either wanted or insisted upon. They don’t have any intention of making the separation permanent or of allowing things to deteriorate so badly that the separation eventually leads to a divorce. But, they know that their wishes won’t just automatically become reality unless they take control and make it happen. To that end, they often want to know how they should act during the separation in order to have the best chance for a reconciliation.
I heard from a wife who said: “my husband has been wanting a divorce for the last seven months. After a lot of discussion and pleading, I finally talked him into a trial separation instead. My greatest wish is to save my marriage because I still love this man and I know that having an intact family is the best thing for my children. But, since he’s left, things have gotten even worse between us. He says that he feels like I pressure him too much and that I try to keep tabs on him. Of course I want to communicate with him regularly because I’m fighting to keep him. But my friends say that my strategy is all wrong. They say that I need to give him space and not be so suffocating. Are they right? How do I need to act in order to have the best chance of getting him back?”
I understood the wife’s actions. Her descriptions reminded me so much of how I acted during my own separation. You want to hold onto your husband so badly. You want to know that he misses you as much as you miss him. And you feel as if stepping back even slightly would allow him to slip straight through your fingers. But, this wife’s friends did have a valid point. Often, the more you cling to your separated husband, the less he wants to allow you access to him because he feels pressured. And very often, he envisioned having some space during the separation. And when he doesn’t get this, he can blame you and take his space by force by distancing himself from you. This isn’t what you want. So below, I’ll offer some tips on what I think is the best way to act during a separation when your primary goal is to get him back.
Don’t Act As If You’ve Already Lost Him: When separated wives tell me that they want to get their husbands back, I often remind them that he is still their husband. He hasn’t yet left the marriage because there has been no divorce. Yes, being separated is scary and it certainly doesn’t imply that you are blissfully married without any problems. But it doesn’t mean that a divorce is imminent either. Many separated couples do reconcile and avoid divorce.
It’s very common for wives to panic in this situation and act as if they have already lost their husband. This contributes to clinging which can make an already difficult situation even worse. So ask yourself if you’re acting like you’ve already lost him. If you are, now is the time to change that and to portray some confidence even if you have to force yourself to do so. Often, your husband is going to follow your lead, even if neither of you realize that he is doing so.
If you give off the vibe that things are just dreadful and you are just weeks away from one of you filing for a divorce, then whether you intend to or not, you make this more likely. But if appear to be confident that it will all work out because you are determined to make it so and you know that the two of you really do love one another, then you make a reconciliation more likely.
Don’t Look At It As Acting: When wives ask me how they are supposed to “act” in order to make something happen, I have to remind them not to see any part of this process as acting. The last thing that you want to do is to allow your husband to think that you are manipulating him. Any actions that you take and any feelings that you display must appear to be absolutely genuine.
If you think of this as acting, you may be sabotaging yourself. You want to show your husband your true, authentic self when that self is at it’s very best. If you feel as if you are acting, then take a step back and reevaluate what you are trying to portray. You always want to make sure that who he sees is you and not a role that you are playing. Because if he even suspects that you are not being genuine, then he will not be even remotely receptive to your words or actions.
Don’t Create Additional Drama. Be As Approachable As Possible: I understand that there is a lot of uncertainty and fear right now. So, I do completely get that it’s hard to be upbeat and approachable. And yet, that’s exactly what I am suggesting. Because if every time you and your husband are together you debate tough issues or try to make him come home, he’s just going to start to avoid you. You’ll start to hear excuses as to why he’s busy or can’t communicate with you. And the face to face meetings may become rare.
In order to save your marriage, you need to gain some ground. And in order to do that, you must spend quality and enjoyable time with your husband. To make that happen, you are going to need to be approachable and agreeable. This goes back to being the best version of yourself. Always try to be positive and upbeat so that he enjoys your time together. If you do this correctly, he will naturally want to continue interacting with you and this should naturally lead to an improvement in your marriage.
So to answer the question posed, you shouldn’t see this in terms of “acting” in a certain way. But you should take a very positive and open approach that should make your interactions feel effortless instead of forced.