I sometimes hear from separated wives who want nothing more than for their husband to come home. I understand this thinking because it is what I felt when I was separated. I used to ask myself how many more days or weeks that I could tolerate. I would tell myself that I could probably only tolerate a few more days. But guess what? Unfortunately, it wasn’t my choice as to how much I could take. I had to tolerate many more days – quite a few more days than I ever anticipated. But I actually survived and eventually, my marriage did too.
However, during my separation, I always wondered just what I could do to get my husband home. And I know that I’m not alone. I hear from wives who say things like, “my husband has been living apart from me for almost two months. He’s been unhappy with our marriage and he wanted time to see how he would feel living alone. Honestly, we haven’t seen one another as much as I would like. He always puts me off. We talk because I call him. Last night, I asked him when he was going to come home. He replied that he didn’t know. I asked him didn’t he want to come home? His response was ‘not right now.’ I don’t necessarily understand this. We haven’t been fighting as badly as we were, so I don’t get why he needs to continue to stay away.”
I get how you feel. During my own separation, I didn’t understand why my husband didn’t want to rush home, because being apart felt so wrong to me. But clearly, he did not share my sentiments. For the longest time, I didn’t understand why. After we reconciled and had some honest conversations, I started to figure out why men sometimes delay coming home. I will share these observations below.
It Could Be That Not Enough Has Changed. (At Least For Him.) Here is one major thing that I did not understand in the beginning stages of my own separation. My husband was actively looking for real and continuous change before he would even allow himself to be open to a reconciliation. I sort of just assumed that once things calmed down, he would get tired of living on his own and we would just sort of fall back into our marriage. Well, this was not going to be considered good enough for my husband. He wanted a greatly improved marriage. And in order to believe that this could be a reality, he wanted to see the concrete and continuous changes that were going to make this possible. He was watching and waiting for that. And, until he saw it, he was perfectly willing to continue on with the separation.
He’s Waiting To See If Any Changes Are Real: Here is another thing that I didn’t understand. Once I clued in that my husband expected changes, I started to work on those things – and so did he. However, in my anxious mind, I hoped that when he saw me making an effort, this would be enough. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. My husband only wanted to reconcile once. Therefore, he wanted to wait until he could be absolutely sure that the changes made were real and were lasting so that we could actually make those changes stick. At first, I hated this. I thought that he was needlessly delaying our reconciliation or that he didn’t love me enough to just dive in.
However, now that enough time has passed and the pain of this is not so fresh, I realize that he was right. He moved back in very gradually. At first, he would only spend a night every now and again. Then he would spend weekends. This allowed us to gradually make adjustments as issues came up. Of course, I was impatient, but, at the same time, I was very afraid of my husband being distant and cold to me again if something went wrong. So I did not want to jinx anything. I had to work very hard to get my husband receptive to me again, so if I had to wait a little while longer to ensure that I wouldn’t have to go through a separation again – or worse – a divorce, then I was willing to do it (although not always patiently.)
The good news with this is that some of this is within your control. You can attempt to make the changes that he is looking for (either by yourself or with self-help or/and a counselor) and you can watch and listen very closely for clues when you are on the right track. I learned to be very good at observation and listening. When something I changed didn’t get a good response, I did less of that. When a change I made had a good response, I did more of that and introduced more behaviors like what I’d already had success with.