Your marriage is not over when your wife wants to separate. Handled correctly, this can be a good opportunity for your marriage to become better than ever.
Were you shocked by your wife telling you she wanted to separate? Most of the men I work with felt that way even though their marriage had become very disconnected. It never occurred to them that their wives would leave them.
Men in this situation often respond by pleading for another chance, convincing, pursuing, and being super helpful. Their main goal is to prevent the separation. They often do even more damage in the process.
We can’t convince someone to feel something they don’t. And, doing things for people creates appreciation rather than feelings of love. It is a Mr. Nice Guy tactic that promotes friendship rather than romance.
Many men either give up unnecessarily or continue to try the same bad solution until it is too late. They fail to realize they need a different way to promote and save their relationship.
Most marriages can be reconciled, though I won’t say that is always the best thing to do.
Reconciling depends on two things:
- Knowing what to do, and
- being able to do it
When people ask me what their chances of reconciling are, I can not know until I have seen their ability to follow through consistently with the skills I teach them. This is true for every endeavor in life and is why success rates don’t make sense.
People who can do what is required succeed regardless of how many people can’t.
Increasing your chance of success at anything requiring skills depends on your ability to learn and become good at those skills. Reconnecting with your wife doesn’t depend on what she does, it depends on what you do. For me, this is one of the most hopeful things about improving relationships because we never need to try to get the other person to do anything.
It’s about you, it’s not about her
Don’t spend your time wondering what your wife is doing and thinking. Stop looking for signs of hope and improvement in her. What you do or don’t do is what is important for reconciling. My hope for a client goes up when I see him doing what it takes to reconcile.
If you want to talk about what your wife is doing and saying, then go to a counselor. If you want to learn how to reattract and reconnect with her, then work with a coach.
Of course the men I work with are the ones for whom this convincing and fixing approach did not work. They realized that convincing and fixing wasn’t the way to go and that they had to find a different approach. Men who don’t realize this don’t work with me. They just keep trying to convince and fix until they are divorced.
The fact is, separation is not the same as divorce and you can rebuild your marriage from the point your wife wants to separate.
Let me help you get started by recognizing the type of situation you are in because there is no single answer that fits every relationship.
Four reasons wives commonly want to separate
Reason #1: Your wife wants to separate as an intervention
People get married because they enjoy their relationship. When they stop enjoying it, they try to make it better. When it doesn’t improve no matter what they try, they give up. It could be that your wife asking for a separation is part of her effort to make your relationship better.
Did your wife already talk to you multiple times about how she was concerned about your relationship? Was she asking you to go to marriage counseling? Did you have any bad behaviors that she often tried to get you to change? And, most importantly, did she fail to get you to take the need for these changes seriously?
If so, your wife may be asking to separate now as an intervention. That is, she still wants to improve your relationship, and this is her last ditch effort. If this is the case, you do need to take her very seriously, because if her intervention does not work, she will soon be divorcing you.
Then it won’t be an intervention–but a result of her hopelessness about your marriage. You will have a delay of up to two years while she plans her exit. Then, she will be gone. If she already has made a backup plan, she could be gone much sooner.
Women don’t want to lose a good thing, but they don’t want to keep a bad thing either.
Reason #2: Your wife wants to separate to help you transition
Are you on the edge of falling apart because your wife wants to separate? You know, really tearful and an emotional basket-case? If so, your wife is probably trying to soften the blow. She doesn’t want you to completely become dysfunctional or overly reactive. She has to emotionally take care of you by giving you some hope. At the same time she has to help you to adjust to living without her.
You may think that if you are depressed enough, she will stay to rescue you. But at this point your wife is done rescuing you. Having to emotionally take care of a man is one of the reasons women lose their attraction to him. You being sad and miserable is not going to increase your wife’s desire to stay with you.
What will a woman say in this situation? She might tell you that she needs to separate just to think or get space for a while. Or, she may say she needs to time to see if she misses you. Only needy women miss someone they don’t enjoy. And, if your wife is separating, she is not needy.
She will not admit to you that she is actually thinking about divorcing because she knows that is beyond your ability to handle. She will assure you she is not interested in having a relationship with any other man ever again.
Reason #3: Your wife wants to separate due to an affair
You asked your wife if she is having an affair, but she said she isn’t. Most people who are having affairs do not admit their affairs for a number of reasons. Additionally, women typically only have affairs if their marriage is already bad. So, they will not view the affair as the reason for the separation.
Many affairs start online. So, even if your wife is always home she may still be having an emotional affair. Separating will provide an opportunity for her to take the affair to another level. She would not need to separate for a purely emotional affair.
If your wife has said there is no other man, don’t continue to ask her about it. That is interrogation and will just make your relationship worse even if she is lying to you. Getting her to confess to a lie will not help you to reconcile.
The only reason to figure out if a woman is having an affair is if confirming it would make you not want to reconcile. It is a fantasy to believe that if you catch her in an affair that will make her want to reconcile with you.
Reason #4: Your wife needs to separate as a legal prerequisite for divorce
Some jurisdictions require a period of separation before a divorce can occur. In these places a woman may separate because she is wanting to divorce.
To reconcile, you must focus on the relationship, not the separation
Many men are so fearful of separating, that they do a lot of damage in the process of trying to prevent their wives from separating. That makes it even harder to reconcile. The harder they work to prevent the separation, the more damage they do.
If you were single and you wanted a woman to marry you, how would you go about it?
- beg and plead?
- use logical reasoning?
- give evidence and argue?
- blame her and call her selfish?
- give her financial incentives?
- shake the Bible in her face?
- get her family and friends to side against her?
These are some of the damaging things that men commonly do to try to prevent their wives from separating. They work no better when you are married than when you are single.
Creating desire is the key to commitment
Whatever won’t work in single relationships won’t work in married ones either.
The way to get a woman to marry you is to create the desire in her to do so. She must be attracted to you, she must have a good emotional connection with you, and she must feel like she doesn’t want to lose you. To reconcile with your wife requires the very same things. The problem is not her decision to separate; the problem is her lack of desire for you.
There is one exception to this. If your wife is a purely practical, mainly emotionless person, who cares little for personal connection, then logic, reasoning, and incentives are the way to go if you want to reconcile. I’m not sure why you would want to, however.
No amount of pressure will ever make a woman want to be with you. Pressure will only make a woman want to get away from you.
On the other hand
If you believe your wife is separating for practical reasons, visit this link to find out how to stop your wife from separating for practical reasons.
Separation does not mean the end of your relationship
It is a myth that your relationship is over once you have separated. This myth does a lot of damage to relationships because it makes men put all of their effort into preventing separation when they should be focused on creating a relaxed, positive connection with their wives. The fact is, if you can help your wife to relax with you and start to enjoy talking with you again, the separation may not even occur.
Separation does not equal divorce and when you are separated, your spouse is not your “ex.” If you date someone other than your wife while separated, then you are committing adultery. If separation were the same as divorce, then their would be no need to divorce. I won’t work with anyone who is dating someone other than their spouse, even if they are separated.
With good interaction established, a separation is not going to prevent your relationship from continuing to build. On the other hand, if you pursue and pressure your wife prior to separation, she will have very little contact with you after separating–which will make it difficult to reconnect.
Separation is no more of a problem for reconciling than a girlfriend living in her own home is for getting married.
Unless you married your sister, it is likely that you initially built your relationship with your wife while you were not living together. Not living together in no way prevents building or rebuilding a relationship. As long as there is some contact, it can make it easier.
Going no contact or giving space does not rebuild relationships
Another really lousy piece of advice is to just give her space and wait until she misses you. A woman who is relaxed never needs space. Space is only helpful advice for men who are stressing women out. Even then, it does nothing to build the relationship. It only reduces the stress and makes her feel relieved not to have you contact her. This no contact period is when she is likely to connect with someone else if she hasn’t already.
The focus of my work with men is to help men lower the stress level and resistance of their wives prior to separation. This either prevents separation or is a good transition to relationship building after separation.
My clients and I practice good relationship connection skills that they will use:
- prior to separation to create a positive connection and possibly prevent separation,
- during separation, if it occurs, to continue to build the relationship, and
- after the separation has ended to keep their relationship healthy.
Although many men I work with initially feared separation, they often completely change their view. For some couples, not separating would have led to divorce while separating soon enough allowed them to rebuild their marriage.
A separation, like any other thing that happens in marriage, is an opportunity for connection if handled well. (Read more on giving space and building relationships).
If she is having an affair
If your wife wants to separate because she is having an affair, separation is necessary anyhow. Trying to convince her not to separate would make you less attractive by having poor boundaries. Just like in the other scenarios, the best approach for reconciling involves you being secure, friendly, and cooperative.
If you are insecure, argumentative, and stressing her out, you will just be pushing her toward the other guy. Although you may want to blame her, part of the reason this happened may be because you dropped the ball on the relationship.
It is rare for a woman to cheat on or leave a man who has continued to be desirable and who has done a good job maintaining emotional connection.
Now that she is emotionally connected to another man, she will not at this point be open to emotionally connecting with you. You will need to lay some groundwork first. You do this by being relaxed and friendly, and helping her to enjoy interacting with you. Of course you still must have reasonable boundaries so as not to appear needy and lose respect.
You will continue to build your relationship and to work on becoming more desirable throughout your separation. You won’t agree to divorce and be friends if you want to reconcile. The goal is to get your wife to the very difficult spot where she doesn’t want to lose you, but can only keep you by giving up the other man and reconciling.
Working with a coach can help you to:
- Use good connection skills,
- maximize your desirability, and
- have good boundaries.
Without good boundaries, your wife would have her cake and eat it, too. She would have no reason to reconcile.
A no boundary approach is a conflict free way to end your marriage if you choose not to reconcile.
Helping vs. connecting
It is helpful to understand why the other man connects with her even when you don’t. It’s not about being helpful. It’s about making her feel loved, making her feel that the two of you are similar, and making her feel that she is a priority.
Helpful men make good friends and father figures for women; similar and desirable men make good boyfriends. This is why Mr. Nice Guy has many friends but lives alone.
If your wife is doing an intervention
Unlike the other reasons why women separate, she is going to be less resistant to your pursuit. In fact, she is trying to get you to pursue her. But, this does not mean that she is going to change her mind about separating or that your relationship is going to be re-built really quickly. Because she no longer trusts you, and because she still has a great deal of anger with you, she is going to connect with you at times, reject you at times, and also be slow to reconcile.
In fact, she may have so much anger that it is hard for her to ever reach the place where she feels you have repented enough, changed enough, or changed long enough, so that she is ready to emotionally commit to you again. When I work with men in this situation, they typically feel very stuck, or in a no-win situation.
This situation requires good relationship building skills and boundaries. The boundaries help wives to finally let go of whatever they are holding on to that prevents them from emotionally re-committing.
Her feelings are what determine her actions, not her decisions
Women’s emotions do not respond to rational arguments, no matter how good your explanations are. No matter how good your reasons (finances, children), you are not going to reconcile with your wife until you can help her to feel in love with you again.
There is a reason no one falls in love with a robot.
If you spend all of your time trying to analyze your wife’s behavior, it will get you nowhere. That is because it is not her behavior which matters for reconciling. It also is not what she says or even what she plans that is important for reconciling. The single most important factor for reconciling is how you make her feel.
Men who are successful with women know that women’s plans change almost as soon as their feelings do.
To reconcile, you will need to help her to feel relaxed, comfortable, attracted, and connected with you again. If you can do that, you have a good chance of reconciling. It won’t matter whether she is having an affair, doing an intervention, or outright rejecting you.
If you can’t stop being needy, your chances of reconciling are low. You will need to become a secure man before you will be able to keep relationships.
When a woman says, “it is over,”
When a woman says, “it is over,” it only means that’s the way she feels now, she cannot imagine ever being with you again. However, if you can make her feel differently, your relationship will no longer be over for her or for you. It will take on a new life, much better than before. Focus on helping her to enjoy you without being hung up on what she has said.
If you get stuck or would like to work with me, I would be happy to help.