I sometimes hear from people who are very disappointed with their spouse’s behavior during a trial or marital separation. Often, they have very reluctantly agreed to the separation either because they didn’t feel that they had a choice or they are hoping the break will actually improve their situation. Some are very disappointed when their spouse avoids or ignores them during the separation and they aren’t sure what to make of this.
I heard from a wife who said: “I will be honest and tell you that I never wanted a trial separation. But my husband insisted. He said he had to see for himself if would have been happier on his own and he also said he needed some space to sort his feelings out. So I decided to respect this request and support him. He assured me that he would be in touch semi regularly and that I didn’t have anything to worry about. Well, this hasn’t been the case. He’s not called me once since he left and when I call him, he doesn’t return my call. I went by his office once at lunch hoping we could have lunch together but he told me he had a meeting. I had hoped that he would call me later that night, but he didn’t. I feel as if I’m being ignored. What does this mean? Does his ignoring me mean that he lied about this whole separation business and that he doesn’t have any intention of ever coming back?” I’ll try to address these concerns in the following article.
Some Possible Reasons Why It May Feel As If Your Spouse Is Ignoring You: There are a couple of common scenarios here. Below is a list of what I feel are the most common.
Your Spouse Feels As If You’re Coming On Too Strong Or That You Aren’t Giving Them The Space They’ve Asked For: Often, if you were to talk to the husband in this scenario, he would tell you that he’s not really ignoring his wife. Instead, he’s just trying to get some of that time and space that she promised him but isn’t giving him right now. Of course, the wife usually sees things quite differently. She often doesn’t think that calling or swinging by for lunch is too much. In her mind, they’ve agreed to see each other regularly and she is just acting in line with this. But, the spouse who wanted the separation can often be overly sensitive to their “time” and their “space.” So if you notice him ignoring you, ask yourself if perhaps you’re reaching out too much. Try backing off a bit and see if that won’t improve the situation.
He Could Legitimately Be Busy Initially But Then He’s Responding To Your Own Actions And Pulling Away: Here’s something that I see happening all of the time. Sometimes, the spouse who initiated the separation is legitimately very busy. They are sometimes telling you the truth when they say they had a work meeting or something similar. But then, the wife’s reaction to that legitimate excuse is so strong that the husbands begin to distance themselves. In other words, in the above scenario, the husband could be truly busy, but the wife’s panic and sudden onslaught of phone calls contributed to him distancing himself even more. Be careful that you don’t overreact and bring this whole undesirable process into play.
He May He Experimenting To See What Kind Of Reaction He Can Get Out Of You: Some people decide to allow their spouse to take the lead during the separation or they will sort of hang back and see what their spouse is going to do. And sometimes, they are trying to shift the power a bit by trying to see if they can get you to pursue them. You have to watch very closely to see if this is applicable to your case and then to determine how you want to respond. If he’s just trying to get a reaction out of you, sometimes it’s best not to fall into that trap because it only brings about negative reactions and emotions.
How To Handle It When You’re Feeling Ignored During The Separation: I know that it’s very tempting to get emotional and to want to make him face you and see you more. But, this can be a big mistake. If you try to force it, he might retreat even more. And he might think in his own mind that he was right to leave. This isn’t what you want. My preferred way to handle it is to the make the next communication brief. Tell him that you can see he’s busy and preoccupied and, as such, you’re going to depend on him to contact you at a better time for him. This puts the burden on him and ensures that you aren’t coming on too strong. It also makes it a bit more likely that he will be the one initiating the contact and pursuing you, which is a better situation than the one you are in now.