If you ask your separated husband how he is feeling during your separation, you’re often hoping for phrases like: “lonely,” “depressed,” or “confused.”
So when instead you get a response like “liberated,” it not only hurts, it’s very confusing as well. It can make you wonder if it’s even going to be possible to save your marriage when your husband seems to be enjoying the separation.
Someone might ask: “to be honest, I am the one who brought up the idea of a separation. Although looking back, I think that what I really wanted was for my husband to tell me that not only did he not want a separation, but that he loved me and that he was going to rise to the occasion to work things out. I never thought that he would actually go through with it and I certainly never thought that he would enjoy it, but he has. The first clue that something was wrong was that he stopped calling me as often. And when we did talk, he never seemed to have time to really talk for a longer period of time. Finally, I asked him how he liked the separated life. I was hoping he would say that he didn’t like it very much at all. But his response was ‘it’s so liberating.’ I was shocked and I asked him to elaborate. And he said that it’s easier to be happier in life when he only has to worry about one person. He says he feels a sense of freedom knowing that he doesn’t have to walk on egg shells anymore. This hurts me. I never anticipated that he would enjoy the separation. I want to say something to change his mind, but I don’t know what. How do I address this?”
Be Careful Of Desperate Responses: Admittedly, this is a tricky one. Because many of the responses that seem logical here might sound desperate. Options like: “well it must be nice to have no responsibilities,” or “I hope that you don’t mean that because I am devastated and want you to want our marriage again,” sound either sarcastic or born out of desperation. So they may not get the result that you want and may even make things worse.
Know That He May Have Specific Motivations For Portraying Himself In This Way Before I get to a suggestion as to what you could say to open a positive dialog, I want to suggest that your husband could have other motivations in telling you that he feels liberated, other than just innocently trying to share his feelings. He may want you to think that he’s doing great because he is hurt that you pushed for a separation. Because he is feeling a little rejected, he may think that you deserve to feel a little negatively also.
People aren’t always honest about their experience during the separation. There were certainly times in my own separation where I wanted my husband to think that I was doing much better than I actually was. I don’t consider myself a dishonest person, but sometimes, there is a little strategy involved.
I am not saying that you should not take your spouse at face value or that you should automatically assume that he is not being truthful. I’m just telling you that sometimes, not everything a separated spouse says is going to be completely accurate, even if it is not their intention to lie.
Opening The Door To A Positive Conversation: Back to possible conversations to have about this. Know that one option is saying nothing at all and just waiting to see if things are going to change. Sometimes, your spouse just needs time to miss you and nothing is going to short-change this other than to just give it more time. So you want to be careful about opening a door if you really don’t need to.
If you do that and don’t see results or for some reason you don’t want to wait, then I would try a conversation that doesn’t sound judgmental or desperate. A suggestion might be: “well I admit that this wasn’t what I was hoping or expecting to hear. But I can see where a break from the drama and tension might feel like a relief. I can understand that. But in the days to come, the way that we feel may change. I’d like to ask you to be open and honest with me. My hope is that we keep communicating and keep being honest. Because my ultimate goal is for us to improve our marriage during the separation and not to damage it. Can we commit to regularly communicating? I won’t try to make you feel guilty or bad. I just want to stay in touch.”