Relationship Connection: My husband keeps leaving, then returning to our marriage

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My husband left, saying he was unhappy. He said he wants me to move on because he no longer loves me. He came back, and for several months told me he loved me, but then he said he didn’t. Three months ago, he starting sticking to the belief that it’s definitely over between us. He says he has no feelings for me, and he doesn’t want to be responsible for someone else’s feelings. He says he wasn’t ready for marriage in 2012, but he was in his 30s for goodness sake! What if I have already let him know I want to reconnect, but he says he doesn’t want to and that it’s over for him?


I can only imagine how much relief you desire from this constant back and forth in your fragile marriage. Each cycle of disconnection after reconnecting leaves you feeling more guarded and defensive, making future reconnection more tentative and uncertain. It’s an exhausting cycle that appears to have no end. Let’s talk about how you can cope under these crazy-making conditions.

First, it’s important for you to find your emotional and spiritual center so you don’t continue to get tossed around while your husband figures out what he wants to do with his marital commitment. Even though you know what you want in your marriage, your husband isn’t certain. You deserve a level of safety and stability while he figures out his path. This is an opportunity for you to get clear on who you are, what you want and how you’ll allow yourself to be treated.

You’ve let your husband know what you want in this marriage, and it’s now his responsibility to figure out what he wants. It’s tragic and unfair to you that he didn’t figure this out before he committed to marriage. If you still want to stay married to him, even three months after he changed his mind back to divorce, then I recommend you hold your position.

However, you’ll want to hold this position from a place of safety and protection. Your husband’s back-and-forth is highly damaging to your security, confidence and well-being. Create a safe distance where you can still observe what he’s doing while still sending a signal that you’re committed.

For example, if he circles back around and wants to move back in to the home, you can recommend doing some marriage counseling before you make that decision. You’re essentially slowing down the impulsive tug and pull pattern he’s created so you can see where he lands before you put yourself back into the position of being dumped again.

Now, if your husband is truly finished with the relationship and is moving on, then you have to accept his decision and start the difficult work of building a new life without him. You’ll do this best with the support of loved ones and friends. Since it will take time for your heart to detach from him, recognize that you’ll keep checking to see if he’s changed his mind.

At some point, you have to take him seriously, so if he’s held his position for the past three months, then it’s your turn to make your decision. Yes, he’s made the decision for your marriage to end, but accepting his reality is still your decision and will open you up to face your new reality.

Acceptance is an essential step in healing through grief and loss. It takes time to move into full acceptance, as we bargain with our loved one or with God that things can be different. Of course, it’s normal to hold on to hope as long as we can. If your husband holds his position and you continue to move forward, the acceptance will gradually settle, and you’ll experience peace and relief. I promise there are better days ahead for you.  

Stay connected!

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

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