Wife wants a separation but not a divorce…yet

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Peggy 3 months, 2 weeks ago.

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    Hi there,

    Open to any advice! My wife and I have been more or less happily married for a year and together for two. The last six months have been tough and we have off and on argued, to the point where now she doesn’t care, doesn’t cry, and we both agreed to take a week break and discuss.

    At the time she said this wasn’t the end. But when we met to discuss, she just told me she couldn’t do it anymore, she loved me and I was the most important person in her life, but she didn’t feel like it was enough anymore. She said that the week away she was actually happy and felt free to do her freelance work until whenever she pleased and not worry about telling me where she was going…

    Confusingly, she said she didn’t want to divorce…yet, and just wanted to separate as she didn’t want to rush her decision. She said she still wants to be friends and live together for the time being.

    I left to get some space on this, and give her some space as she was going to stay at her friends for a few days more for things to cool off, and when I return her ring is right there, in the middle of the bedside table. We had literally discussed this hours earlier and agreed at this point, that wasn’t what we were going to do. And why not put it somewhere hidden or taken it with her but put in a box, pocket or anything!! I asked her about this and she said she didn’t mean to hurt me…yeah, right!

    The context: Recently, I had depression and was pretty much just miserable about everything, which stemmed from me feeling a bit stuck in my career. This put a bit of strain on us.

    My wife’s career had recently just taken off, and now she is working essentially two jobs, so is constantly busy and stressed. At the same time, I selfishly have been pestering her to spend more time with me, been a bit needy (I mean I have been diagnosed with depression) and this has led to the tension in our marriage.

    I don’t know whether this is really worth pursuing or even what to do or make of this. I can’t understand her right now. At this point it seems pretty done!

    I feel it is a little unfair to make a decision on her own after one week without having an opportunity to even try and work on ourselves first, and then our marriage.

    She moved back in last night, I was out for dinner and came back a little later. She has barely said anything to me, and not really been civil. It’s pretty awkward. Before that she had started texting me one liners reaching out for general chat (being friends), but it was still pretty weird. Sometimes she seems happy to talk to me, other times I feel ignored…

    This is too much for me at the moment so I have booked flights to see my father and stay with him for a week or two. I think we could both do with the extra space and I haven’t seen my dad in some time. I told her this when she said she was going back to move back in for a few days, and she was shocked. And then asking me loads of questions about it. Why does she care? Guess handy for living arrangements.

    When I come back, all I’m going to want to do is try to reconcile – not all in, but maybe try to rekindle the friendship as a start and try to get back on the same level. I still love the girl massively, and I know she loves me too, but she says all she can see is the bad times. I think I may have pushed her away for good. She probably won’t even be here.

    Is there anything I can do here to help? I know I can’t change her mind, but I can work on myself and hopefully this time will help heal my issues. I don’t know whether I should cut her off for this time and disconnect or whether that’ll give the wrong impression…whether I should even bother making an effort when I get back…

    Help please!



    Dear Preston:

    My advice at this point:

    1. No longer argue with her. If a calm conversation is not  possible, don’t converse at all.

    2. Do  not hold her responsible for your anger and depression, as if it is her job to heal you from what troubles you. (Nor should she hold you responsible for her distress).

    When you feel angry, don’t lash out at her overtly or covertly,  passive aggressively, ex., giving her the silent treatment. Tell her how you feel, but don’t go on and on about it, and don’t accuse her or blame her for how you feel. In other words, express yourself to her in a contained, responsible way.

    3. Consider couple psychotherapy.

    4. Unless there is a quick change in dynamic once you return from your visit, unless the two of you work as a team on fixing and maintaining your marriage, it is a bad idea to be living together, better live separately unless and until the two of you work together as a team.




    Hi Preston,

    Your marriage/relationship is very young.  You both love each other but:

    1)  You are suffering from depression.  2)  Your wife’s career has taken off while you feel stuck in yours.  3)  You now want different things from each other.

    Coming from a personal standpoint, I don’t think it’s a very good idea to live together whilst remaining friends.  This is bound to cause tensions when one person wants more from another person than that person is willing to give.  Your wife has taken off her ring – this is reinforcing her position (just wants to be friends).

    It is perfectly reasonable to want to spend quality time with your other half – this does not indicate ‘neediness’ in itself.

    Why would your wife be ‘shocked’ that you have decided to spend a couple of weeks with your father.  As your friend, she should be pleased and supportive of you that you are taking a break and reconnecting with your father.  I suspect that her reaction has come from realizing that she is not calling all the shots.

    You have one plan at the moment – to go and see your father.  Focus on that and leave any decision making until later.   See how you feel after two weeks away.  Make sure you treat it like a holiday with trips out, visits to places of interest, doing things that you love to do.  Spend some time thinking about how you can improve your career prospects.  Do you need to update your skills, take on extra training or even think about a career change?  If this isn’t possible, perhaps you could undertake some studies in a subject that you really enjoy totally unconnected to your working life.

    The most helpful advice I can give you is to be positive and be grateful.  Positive thought leads to positive action and gratitude brings joy (the opposite of misery).  Focus on these two things while you are away:  I am grateful for……….. (aim for 10 things per day) for instance the aeroplane, money for a flight ticket, your father, your toiletries, your clothes etc.

    I don’t know whether your wife will be there when you get back or whether you will ever be able to make it as a couple.  I do know that you have to live with yourself for an awful long time – it’s one relationship that you can never get out of – it really is 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  How are you going to do that other than by being kind, loving and supportive towards yourself?

    I wish you all the best for the future.





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