I often hear from wives who are facing a separation or a divorce that they don't want. Some wives panic over this and take it very seriously. Others aren't sure quite how they should react. I recently heard from a wife whose husband was assuring her that the separation would only be temporary. He told his wife that he felt "pretty sure" that he was going to come back and he just needed a small amount of time apart to clear his head.
This wife said, in part: "my husband is asking for a separation but he's been assuring me that it will only be temporary and that he will come back soon. He insists that he doesn't want a divorce and that he still loves me. But I just have this nagging feeling that there's something he's not telling me or that there's something he's not saying. I'm just wondering how seriously I should take all of this separation talk. Should I caution my children and start preparing them for a divorce? Should I start paying attention to my own assets? I'm just not sure what a separation really means for us. I know what my husband is telling me, but I also have a lot of divorced friends informing me that their husbands said the same things. And now they're divorced. So how seriously should I take his wanting a separation?"
This was not a question that I could directly answer for this wife. But, I could give her some insights on what possibly goes through a husband's mind when he asks for a separation. I've formed these insights from my own experience and from people who comment or contact me on my "how I saved my marriage" blog. Of course, your experience might be different. But, over time, I've formed the opinion that there's a reason that men ask for a separation instead of a divorce. Many men want some distance and space to sort of their feelings or to get a different perspective on either personal struggles or struggles that are going on with the marriage. That's not to say that some men don't have a divorce in the back of their minds when they ask for a separation, but, at least in my view, many do not.
However, with that said, it's my opinion that a separation should be taken very seriously. By seriously, I don't mean that you should over react or panic. But I believe that you should take stock of what is going on around you and make any improvements and adjustments that are appropriate. Because often, when your husband wants a separation or time apart, this implies that there are at least some areas where he's not completely happy in (or sure about) the marriage. This isn't your fault or a reflection on you or the marriage. But it can mean that it's a good idea to turn your attention to what you have the power to change or improve upon. I'll offer some suggestions on how to do this below.
Why Taking The Separation Seriously Doesn't Mean Panicking Or Assuming That A Divorce Will Automatically Follow: Many women assume that their husband wanting a separation means that he's trying to bring about a gradual divorce. I know this to be untrue. Sure, sometimes he is undecided about you or your marriage. But many married couples who separate end up getting back together and remaining in a happy and improved marriage. I believe that it can be a huge and potentially costly mistake to just assume that, if nothing very dramatic happens, a divorce is probably going to follow in the not too distant future. Essentially, this is giving up before you've even had a chance to fight.
Assumptions like these can give you a defeatist attitude that clouds your ability to decide on the best course of action. A separation is not the same as a divorce. You are still married. There is still time to turn things around and save and improve your marriage. But in order to do this, you'll often need a positive attitude combined with very decisive and targeted action.
Deciding Where To Focus Your Efforts During The Separation So That A Divorce Is Never Your Reality: I believe that many of the women who ask me what a separation really means or how seriously they should take it are very much hoping that I will give them some reassurance that their marriage can recover. And I know first hand that it can. But this often doesn't happen magically. To have the best chance of saving your marriage during a separation, you'll need to have a decent idea of why your husband is pulling away and what is bothering him enough to want a temporary situation.
Sometimes, husbands don't tell wives why they want a separation. But there have often been some rough times or reoccurring issues that have preceded talks of a separation. If you're still confused as to why your husband wants to separate, I can tell you that many men allude to some doubt about their feelings or about where they want to take their life from this point forward. So, when your husband is thinking more about these issues, you obviously want to give him positive images and memories from which to draw. You want him to smile when he thinks of you. So as easy as it might be to show him to scared and desperate part of yourself right now, try to avoid that at all costs. Instead, show him who you know he is most attracted to. You should know this from your years together. Yes, that woman might currently be buried in the past. But now is the time to bring her forth again.
Should You Begin To Prepare Yourself Emotionally Or Financially In Case The Separation Turns Into A Divorce?: The wife in this situation was very concerned about whether she should be preparing her children or her own finances for a divorce. As she put it, she didn't want to be caught "blindsided" if her husband was not being completely honest about his intentions. I'm certainly not an attorney. If there's some uncertainty about any of these issues, it's certainly not a bad idea to consult with someone who can advise you.
However, my opinion has always been to gather information and to educate yourself so that you can make informed decisions while still remaining hopeful. After all, this wife's husband had not done anything to indicate that he wasn't being truthful. The separation hadn't even happened yet. I didn't think there was any reason to worry or upset her children until she had more information. My stance on this is usually that you should take what your spouse says as truth until they give you a reason not to. So to answer the questions asked, I believe that you should definitely take a separation seriously. But you shouldn't panic so much that you don't take any real action to give yourself the best chance to end the separation and avoid a divorce.Related Information: Leslie Cane is the Webmaster of "I Saved My Marriage" - a website she set up to tell the story of how, against all odds (and even after making many mistakes with a very reluctant husband - who wasn't interested in making any changes) a marriage was saved. You can read more at Http://isavedmymarriage.com