I often hear from wives whose husbands are going to leave them. Sometimes though, there’s a different variation on this same theme. I recently heard from a wife whose husband wanted her to be the one to leave the house. They had been having marriage issues for some time and the husband felt that the wife should be the one to leave since she had family and friends with whom she could easily stay.
The husband didn’t want to leave the home for which he felt he’d paid for several years and (in his opinion) had the right to stay in. So, he felt it only fair that the wife be the one to leave. Needless to say, this is not what the wife wanted to hear nor was it what she wanted to do. The idea of packing her bags and walking out of the house where she had lived and dreamed for years (and on the man that she had loved for years) was absolutely appalling to her.
She said, in part: “I can’t believe my husband thinks that I’m going to just leave because he wants me to. How is this fair? I have no idea what to do. If I stay, he’s going to make it very clear that he doesn’t want me there and he might eventually leave me. But if I go, it looks like I’m giving up my marriage and that is definitely not what I want. I don’t want to leave or divorce my husband but he seems convinced that this is the course he wants to take. What can or should I do?”
This is a unique and tricky situation because I often tell wives whose husband is insistent on leaving them (and won’t accept any alternatives) to be the one to leave. This is not ideal, of course, but often there’s really no alternative and at least if you are the one to go, you have more control. You can be the one to come home rather than trying to get him to come home (which increases your chances of saving the marriage.)
So when there’s no choice, I usually do feel like it’s better to be the one to leave than to allow him to leave. Still, this situation wasn’t ideal. And I felt that there were some things to try before the wife just gave in and left. I will discuss this more in the following article.
Try To Take As Much Drama And Immediacy Out Of The Situation As You Can: Right now, both the husband and the wife were filled with emotion and were reacting very quickly to every thing that was happening between them. In situations like these, people tend to make snap decisions and say or do things that they either regret or which are impossible to take back.
So I always feel it’s important to try to bring some calm to this situation so that you get out of reactive mode and get into a mode where you are being proactive and aren’t just reacting to someone else’s whim, words, or actions. So as hard as it was, I wanted for the wife to remain calm and deliberate. As it was now, doors were slamming, tears were being shed, accusations were being made, and the couple were just becoming more and more distant from each other with every passing hour and day.
So, the next time the husband approached her with something hurtful, I didn’t want the wife to engage. I wanted her to deflect whatever it was he was throwing at her and make it clear that their interactions were going to be different and weren’t going to follow the same path.
She might say something like “yes, I know that’s how you feel and I know that you want me to leave because you’ve been telling me this for days. But I’m no longer going to react like I have been. There’s no need. I know how you feel and you know how I feel. I have no idea if we’re going to reach a compromise or not, but I’m not going to fight with you and continue to damage our relationship because it’s still important to me. So, I’d rather wait and discuss this when we are both calm and aren’t going to hurt each other or the relationship. Can we agree when we might discuss this again at a later time when we’ve both calmed down?”
This is an attempt to slow things down and create an environment that is more conducive to working things out. I felt strongly that the longer the wife continued to engage or argue, the better the chance that one of them was eventually going to leave the house. But if you can interrupt the sense of urgency and the drama, you’ll often find that the hurtful words and behaviors are much lessened so that you might actually make some progress and hopefully not have to leave in the first place.
With that said, if you are offered this type of reprieve and end up staying and not having to leave, you’ll need to address and improve your marriage so that whatever issues lead to your husband wanting you to leave don’t remain so that you’re not dealing with this again in the future.
If Your Husband Won’t Accept Anything Less Than Your Leaving, Then Don’t Leave Things Open Ended. Try To Set It Up So That You Can Still Communicate (And Hopefully Improve Things) On A Regular Basis: In some cases, even when you’re calm and are taking a cooperative attitude, your husband will still insist that you leave. When this happens, sometimes it becomes clear that he’s not going to be happy with anything (or accept) but you’re leaving. However, this doesn’t mean that you should just pack your bags, walk out the door, and hope for the best. My suggestion is that if you have to concede (and you shouldn’t do this unless it’s clear that you have to), at least control the terms.
Agree to the least amount of time that you possibly can. Suggest going away and staying with friends for the weekend, or if possible, for less than a week. Define how often you’re going to call one another to check in. If possible, schedule some time to get together during the short separation.
Sometimes, being apart for a short amount of time can actually improve things because you’re not engaging, every one calms down, and your husband realizes he misses you. But the ideal thing is to keep the separation short and to keep the communication going while keeping the tone positive rather than negative.