I often hear from wives who feel as if their marriage (and therefore their life) is in limbo. Often, their husband has been pulling away from them and the marriage. Sometimes, the husband has gone so far as to hint, suggest, or initiate a break or separation. The wife can assume that this means the marriage is over, but many husbands stop short at confirming this, which can be maddening for the wife.
I heard from a wife who said: “my husband moved out six months ago. When he left the house, he told me he wanted some space to rediscover himself and he promised that he would go with me to counseling. That never happened. We haven’t seen each other on any regular basis. He does regularly see the kids, but I am not included in these visits. He says that he isn’t seeing anyone else, but I am not sure if I believe him. The other day, I told him that it wasn’t fair for us to live in limbo like this. I told him to be honest with me about what is going to happen with our marriage. I looked him right in the face and said ‘tell me the truth. Is it over?’ He answered by telling me that for now, it wasn’t over. So I immediately said that if it wasn’t over, did that mean he was going to commit to our marriage. I was very disappointed when he said he could not make that commitment yet. This just doesn’t make sense to me. If he stops short of saying it’s over but won’t commit to helping me save my marriage, where does this leave me?”
I really felt for this wife because I have been there myself. When you are in this situation, you feel as if your life is on hold. You don’t want to get your hopes up only to have them slashed later. But you certainly don’t want to give up on your marriage either. So, what do you do? Well, there are a couple of things, which I’ll discuss below.
Although It May Not Feel Like It Now, It Can Be Good News (And A Positive Thing) That Your Husband Won’t Say Your Marriage Is Over: I know that his refusing to say that the marriage is over while also refusing to commit to saving it might not feel like much of a victory. But believe me, it can be. Because I hear from so many wives on my blog whose husbands are being very direct and clear that their marriage is absolutely over. In fact, these husbands often give their wives no hope whatsoever that the marriage can be saved.
So as confused and as frustrated as you might be, know that at least you’re still being given some hope. Granted, he may be sending you mixed signals and you don’t know what tomorrow brings. But he has stopped short of saying that it is totally and completely over. And in my experience and opinion, this can be very significant. As I see it, you can use that as the catalyst to move forward with a positive and hopeful attitude because this will help you no matter what tomorrow is going to bring.
Working On Yourself While Waiting For Him To Make A More Definite Decision: It’s my opinion that the worst thing that you can do right now is to pressure your husband about making a quick decision. I know that you are anxious to get some conformation and move on. But your husband has repeatedly shown you that he’s not ready to give it. If you push too hard, he may just go right ahead and say it’s over even if this is not what he really wants or how he really feels just because you didn’t give him the time he needed to come to a genuine decision. You don’t want to force him into the rushed answer which might be the very one that you do not want.
When I was going through this situation, my attitude was always that as long as he wasn’t telling me that it was over or filing for divorce, there was still a chance that he might ultimately come to the decision that saved our marriage (And ultimately, this is what happened. ) I know that you feel like you are in limbo, but while you are waiting for your husband to come to the best decision, there is nothing that says that you can’t begin to move forward in a healthy way on your own.
The wife said that her husband hadn’t make good on his promise to go to counseling, but nothing said that she could not pursue this on her own. Helping yourself will provide you with some relief. If going to counseling by yourself makes you uncomfortable, there are plenty of resources that you can try in your own home that doesn’t require you to go anywhere.
And let me tell you a secret. Often, when you begin to make improvements to yourself or within your own life, this is going to improve the way that you approach and interact with your husband, which in turn is going to improve your marriage. I know that you may be skeptical of this, but I can’t tell you how many times I have seen it work. The truth is, your husband will often notice positive changes in you and will respond accordingly in his own positive way.
In my own case, I begged and pleaded with my husband to make the decision to come home. I laid on the guilt and the pressure and still, he kept delaying any commitment or decision. In fact, the more I pushed him, the less I saw or heard from him. He was avoiding me because he didn’t like dealing with my drama. Eventually I gave up this strategy because I truly didn’t have a choice. It wasn’t until I backed off and worked on myself that he began to pursue me and this made all the difference.
Since you truly are in a position where you need have the patience to give him some space, what is the harm in trying to make the best of the situation while you are doing it, especially when the very act of this can improve your changes of saving your marriage?