I sometimes hear from people who had almost given up on their marriage due to the fact that their separation has gone on for such a long period of time. Sometimes months, or even years, go by while they are not living under the same roof. And, as upsetting as this situation can be, you can almost get used to it after a little while. As much as you’d like to save your marriage, you begin to think that this is never going to happen because living alone and being separated have just kind of become your reality.
But when all of a sudden your spouse announces that he might wish to come back or return home, this can not only be shocking, but also leave you with some hesitation or reservations. After all, you’ve finally gotten used to living on your own. Yes, you struggled at first and not a day has gone by when you hadn’t hoped that things might be different. But eventually, you picked yourself up and you did the best you could. So when all of a sudden your husband wants to change this situation, you might have extremely conflicting feelings.
I might hear a comment like: “my husband and I have been separated for just over a year. At first, it was horrible. I begged him to come home on an almost a daily basis. He always resisted. He always said that he needed more time. In the beginning, I kept up hope as much as I could. I thought that if I was just patient and gave him the time that he was asking for, then eventually he might come around. But weeks started to pass. In the beginning, we kept in touch pretty regularly. But after a couple of months went by, he wasn’t in contact quite as much. It wasn’t unusual for weeks to go by and for me not to hear from him. At that point, I still hadn’t given up hope. I was still trying to keep a stiff upper lip and believe that we were meant to be together and that he would come to this realization eventually. After a little while, it had been six months since my husband first moved out. All of my friends told me that I was crazy to still hold out hope in the way that I was. I knew that this was probably true, but I wasn’t ready to give up. So I decided to reach out to my husband, and when I did, things got a little better. We started seeing one another more. But then things cooled off again. So we kind of got into that type of cycle where we’re be a little on and then a little off. Then a couple of months ago, he told me that he was taking a trip out of the country to try to gain a new perspective on his life. I knew that I couldn’t really tell him that he couldn’t go. And when he was away, I didn’t hear from him at all for the whole time. And it was during this time when I sort of decided that I was going to begin to move on and live my life. This was a struggle for me, but I did it. Well, last week out of the blue, my husband returned and called me. He said that he decided that he wanted to come back home. I was flabbergasted. I wasn’t expecting that at all. Part of me is so happy because this is what I was wanting all along. But the other part of me wonders why he suddenly changed his mind and how our marriage is going to stand a chance when we have lived apart for so long. Frankly, nothing has really changed – except for my husband’s attitude. Does our marriage really have any chance of making it?”
This was a tough situation. Of course the wife didn’t want to turn her husband away in this scenario. She had been hoping and dreaming for months that he was going to want to come home. But, because this hadn’t been her reality, she had begun to think that giving up would be preferable to being hurt month after month. With that said, it made sense that she was doubtful and had concerns. This couple hadn’t lived under the same roof for over a year. And now, all of a sudden, the husband has an abrupt change of heart that means that everything is going to be fine and seamless? Frankly, this didn’t seem all that likely.
But I don’t think that this meant that she should give up. I believe that there are some things that you can do to increase your chances for success. I will discuss them now.
Think About Doing This Gradually: I think that him just showing up at your door one day, bags in hand, is probably not the best plan. You have to suspect that there is going to be an adjustment period and some awkwardness. Since you are both so used to living alone, it probably would be quite easy for him to move out again when things get rough. So, you want to do everything that you can to avoid this pitfalls.
That’s why I’d highly recommend doing this gradually. The wife herself admitted that they hadn’t seen one another or spent any meaningful time together for quite some time now. So, it makes sense to implement a plan where that they would perhaps see each other daily for a while and then perhaps have him stay a couple of nights on the weekend for a while. That way, there is not nearly as much pressure on the situation and you are free to tweak issues as they come up. Plus, there isn’t likely to be too much togetherness and, if there is, you can go your separate ways and come back together after a break.
Make Some Progress On Your Issues Before You Attempt To Live Together Again: This couple hadn’t done much to identify the reoccurring problems in their relationship. So, you had to suspect that once they were living together again, those same problems would crop up. It’s important to try to work through the most problematic issues so that you aren’t dealing with more than just learning to live together once again.
With all of this said, I don’t want to take the celebration out of this process. Having a spouse who is willing to return home after a year away is a reason to celebrate, especially since this is what you’ve wanted for so long. Now, it’s just time to do a little work to ensure that he stays home.