My husband and I have been separated for a while now, and he is thinking of returning home. On one hand, I want him to, and on the other, I am not sure because of the many fears I have. What would be your advice in handling this? What should I do and/or what should I not do?

Dear Hurting,

Thank you for writing. I would suggest that now is the best time for you to make some requests before your husband comes back. Ask him first what 2 or 3 changes you could make to improve your marriage relationship. Then you can ask him to make 2 or 3 changes that you feel would improve your relationship. Since he wants to come back, you can conclude that he probably wants to work on the marriage.

You seem anxious about your husband returning. May I ask why? Was he abusive, either physically or verbally? Or maybe you had difficulty with conflicts? What do you mean by “messing up again”? I can only guess at what the core problems are in your marriage. But in my experience, when couples begin to bend a little and make some positive changes, their relationship takes a turn for the better!

Usually, couples have problems with communication and conflict. This is because relationships need a lot of work. Couples have many differences to negotiate and work out, e.g., personalities, gender, values, beliefs, backgrounds, expectations, goals, parenting, in-laws, and more! But in my experience when couples begin to bend a little and make some positive changes, their relationship takes a turn for the better! Giving up is probably the worst thing that can happen.

Making some small positive communication and behavioral changes along with prayer, support, and encouragement from friends, family, and counseling can give you hope instead of despair — understanding instead of assumption, caring instead of resentment.

Ask him to attend marriage counseling with you or go to a marriage conference. FamilyLife offers excellent Weekend Getaways for marriage enrichment across Canada and the USA.

Unless there has been physical abuse or unfaithfulness, I would encourage you to take your spouse back. Physical abuse problems need counseling and relationship interventions to stop the escalation. Unfaithfulness needs to be confessed with a commitment to restore the marriage. I’d encourage you to seek counseling as well. You can find a counselor or go to the nearest mental health center.

© copyright 2003 Lynette Hoy, NCC, LCPC

Recommended readingFighting for Your Marriage: Positive Steps for Preventing Divorce and Preserving a Lasting Love by Howard Markman, Scott Stanley, Susan L. Blumberg, Dean S. Edell.

This article was written by: Lynette Hoy, NCC, LCPC

Photo Credit: Natalie Rhea Riggs