I sometimes hear from wives who are very confused about their husband’s conflicting behavior during a martial separation. Often, he is the one who initiated the separation and it seems as if he almost can’t wait to leave. But as soon as the couple are living apart, suddenly the husband wants to keep tabs on the wife or seems particularly interested in her day to day activities.
I heard from a wife who said: “my husband has been wanting to separate for a while. I tried my best to talk him out of it, but after listening to him insist upon it for months, I finally gave in and agreed to go and live with my sister for a little while. Since he was so anxious to get rid of me, I really didn’t expect to hear from him, although I knew that I would miss him terribly. I’ve been gone only two days, but now he is constantly calling me and wanting to know what I’m doing. I will answer the phone and the first thing he says to me is ‘what are you doing’ in an almost accusatory way. The truth is, I’m not doing anything and I tell him so. Why does he even ask? He couldn’t get rid of me quickly enough and now it’s like he wants to keep checking on me. What is going on?” I’ll try to answer these questions in the following article.
He May Just Be Missing You: Men often envision having all kinds of peace and quiet so that they can think. But, sometimes this just isn’t the reality. Sometimes all that silence brings about is loneliness. And then he can start to wonder if this was such a good idea after all. And he looks around and notices that everything around him reminds him of you. Now, it might make things easier if he would just tell you all of this, but many men will not. Instead, they’ll call you and do annoying things like asking what, or how, you are doing.
He Might Be Feeling Insecure: It’s very common for separated spouses to admit that they at least partly suspect that their spouse might eventually see other people during the separation. Your spouse might be acting on this suspicion or just looking for reassurance, which leads me to my next point.
He’s Trying To Determine Your Frame Of Mind: It’s common for the spouse who initiated the separation to have a strong suspicions that you are going to be resentful and angry. Therefore, he might want to keep in close touch to gauge your feelings. He may want to see if your resentment is going to drive you away. And he may be feeling some remorse for his actions.
Taking Some Positive Implications From These Annoying Questions: I know that this is probably very frustrating. But there is some positive indications here. If he didn’t care at all, he wouldn’t be calling. If he wasn’t thinking about you at all and was living it up and celebrating his freedom, he wouldn’t be calling either. And since this wife didn’t want the separation in the first place and wanted to save her marriage, this was hopefully good news to her.
How To Respond When He Keeps Calling And Asking What You’re Doing: First, you have to decide what you really want to happen. And ultimately, this wife wanted her husband to come home. I know that it’s tempting to say something like ‘well what do you think I’m doing? I’m sitting here staring at my sister and living in a strange place because you made me leave my own home for your silly separation,’ but this is a bad idea. Because you don’t want to discourage him from reaching out to you. Instead, you want to make him want to check in and initiate contact with you. So, as difficult as it may be, try to sound as upbeat as possible. Trying to make him feel guilty is the wrong call too, because it brings about pain and makes him want to avoid you. With that said, you don’t want to make it sound as if you are sitting by the phone waiting for his call. You want for him to know that you have too much self respect for that.
An appropriate response might be something like: “not much. I’m just spending some time with my sister. We’ll probably go out and grab some dinner in a little while. What are you doing?”
Notice I was light hearted and I turned the question back to him. And I alluded to the fact that no one was sitting around waiting. By asking what he was doing, you’re leaving it open ended for him to share his feelings. He might say that he’s not doing anything because he’s lonely. Or he might say that what he’s really doing is missing you. The point is to not engage with him and don’t ask him why he keeps calling you with his silly questions. Try to stay positive because this really is a good sign. It means he is interested and that he is reaching out. And not all separated spouses fall into this category. Some husbands rarely call their wives at all, let alone care about their experiences or feelings.