Sometimes I hear from people who are very disappointed in their spouse’s behavior during a trial or a marital separation. Often they have reluctantly accepted the breakup, either because they didn’t feel they had a choice or because they hoped the breakup would actually improve their situation. Some are very disappointed when their spouse avoids or ignores them during the separation and they are not sure what to do about it.
I heard from a wife who said, “I’ll be honest and tell you I never wanted a trial separation. But my husband insisted. He said he had to see for himself if he would have been happier on his own and also said he needed some space to clarify his feelings. So I decided to respect this request and support him. He assured me that he would be in contact regularly and that I had nothing to worry about. Well, this has not been the case. He has not called me once since went and when I call him, he doesn’t call me back. I went to his office once at lunchtime hoping we could have lunch together, but he told me he had a meeting. I was hoping he’d call me later that night, but You didn’t. I feel like I’m being ignored. What does this mean? Does your ignoring me mean you lied about this whole separation thing and that you didn’t? Do you have any intention of ever going back? “I will try to address these concerns in the next article.
Some possible reasons why your spouse may seem to be ignoring you: Here are a couple of common situations. Below is a list of what I consider to be the most common.
Your spouse feels that you are being too strong or that you are not giving them the space they have asked for: Often times, if you were to speak to the husband in this scenario, he would tell him that he is not actually 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 often sees things very differently. They often don’t think calling or stopping by to eat is too much. In her mind, they have agreed to see each other regularly and she is acting accordingly. But, the spouse who wanted separation can often be overly sensitive to their “time” and “space.” So if you notice him ignoring you, ask yourself if maybe you’re getting too close. Try backing up a bit and see if that doesn’t improve the situation.
He might be legitimately busy at first, but then he responds to his own actions and walks away: Here’s something I see happening all the time. Sometimes the spouse who initiated the separation is legitimately very busy. Sometimes they tell 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 husbands begin to distance themselves. In other words, in the above scenario, the husband might be really busy, but the wife’s panic and sudden onslaught of phone calls contributed to further distancing him. Be careful not to overreact and jeopardize this whole undesirable process.
He can experiment to see what kind of reaction he can get from you: Some people choose to allow their spouse to take the lead during the separation or they will stay behind and see what their spouse is going to do. And sometimes, they are trying to change the power a little bit by trying to see if they can get you to chase them. You need to look very closely to see if this applies to you and then determine how you want to respond. If he’s just trying to get a reaction from you, sometimes it’s better not to fall into that trap because it only elicits negative reactions and emotions.
How to handle it when you feel ignored during separation: I know it’s very tempting to get excited and want him to look at you and see more of you. But this can be a big mistake. If you try to force it, it could go back even further. And you might think in your own mind that you were right to leave. This is not what you want. My preferred way of handling it is to keep the next communication short. Let him know that you can see that he is busy and worried and as such you will depend on him to contact you at a better time for him. This puts the burden on him and ensures that you don’t get too strong. It also makes it a bit more likely that he will initiate contact and chase you, which is a better situation than the one you are in now.