It’s common for me to hear from people who are wondering if “backing off” a little bit during the marriage separation is a good idea. Many suspect that it might help their situation some, but they afraid that if they back off, this will allow their spouse to move even further away from them. I heard from a wife who said: “I have been separated from my husband for four months. It has been four months of hell. I miss him so much. I hate looking over at the dinner table and seeing his seat empty. I hate not knowing where he is or what he is feeling. I always have an urge to call or text him. I speak with him several times per day. And I find myself always wanting to ask him how he is feeling or if he is considering coming back home. Sometimes, he gets very frustrated with me and will cut off contact with me for a few days. He says that I need to give him more space, but I feel very anxious when I even consider doing this. I worry that if I’m not constantly checking up on him, he will start to move away from me. Is it a good idea to back off when you’re separated? And, if so, how do you even begin to do it? I can’t imagine not being in contact with him every single day. How do you back off when your heart is still so invested?” I will try to address these things in the following article.
From my own experience, I can tell you that backing off can sometimes help quite a bit. And yes, it can be very uncomfortable at first. You can feel as if you are losing control. But, here’s something to keep in mind. You are consciously choosing to give up control so that you can regain more control in the future.
Why Backing Off During A Separation Can Be Helpful: Often, the whole idea behind a separation is to give the marriage (and the people within the marriage) some time to reflect on the situation without each other’s constant presence. The whole idea is that this gives them a perspective that they may not have had if they were constantly together. As risky as this might sound, the result can be that both people appreciate and miss one another and, as a result, they come back to the table with a new commitment to work things out.
However, sometimes, this process is interrupted when one person is not willing to give the space that is needed. This is understandable because not being with someone who has been a constant in your life feels odd and scary. It’s absolutely normal to want to cling more tightly when you perceive that something is being taken away from you. But, what you need to understand is that when you cling so tightly that your spouse becomes resistant, you are actually increasing the odds of the thing you fear most – and that is your husband moving further away from you.
The Logistics Of Backing Off. How Do You Do It When It’s The Last Thing That You Want To Do?: I have to say that most spouses understand the reasoning behind backing off. And many have gotten such poor results from coming on too strongly that they know that it’s likely a good idea to try another approach. With that said, many are terrified and extremely uncomfortable with the idea of backing off, even a little bit.
They just can’t envision how to even begin putting this plan into action. They fear the idea of a day without hearing from their spouse. I completely understand this because I have been there. Sometimes, you really do just have to take this day by day. You have to be very conscious of your actions when you go to text or call for fifth time in the morning. If you need to stop yourself and go for a walk or journal or even work out, that is perfectly OK.
Often, you will need to distract yourself, especially at first. It really helps to keep yourself very busy. If you have good friends who can make sure that you get out of the house and engage with others (rather than retreating within yourself,) then share your goals with them. I know that it might be hard to believe right now. But often, it is very beneficial to you to take some time to work on yourself. Spending time with yourself just listening to your own thoughts and wishes will help you approach saving your marriage in a more genuine authentic way because it will make it more likely that you will both recognize and ask for what you want. It honestly helps when you approach your spouse as an equal partner.
Be Careful Of Taking This Too Far: Some wives actually begin to see some improvements with the “backing off” approach and they figure that they should push on a little more. So they’ll take it so far that they’ll pretend that perhaps they want to see other people. Or, if their husband should begin to reach out to them, they won’t return his calls. I believe that there is a point where you can take this way too far so that this strategy actually does you more harm than good. When your husband begins reaching out to you, then you want to walk the fine line between being receptive but not moving too fast too soon.
To answer the question posed, I believe that when it is done correctly, backing off in a calculated and balanced way during a separation can be helpful because it gives your spouse time to miss you and it gives you both the opportunity to work on yourselves and determine what you can give to the relationship when you come back together. I know from experience that it isn’t always easy, but it certainly can be worth it.