Maybe your husband cheated on you. Maybe you cheated on him. Or maybe you had been growing apart for a while, you’d stopped communicating, stopped being intimate, or something else unique to your marriage caused you to separate.
You weren’t ready for divorce, but you both needed time apart to work through your issues. And now? You’re ready to get back together. You want to know how to get your husband back after a separation.
Here’s the thing: There is a lot of advice out there about how to win your husband back after a separation, and it’s not all bad. Most of it has one thing in common though: It skips the hard stuff.
Reconciling a marriage after separation is not easy. It takes time, commitment, and the ability to swallow your pride. Sure, you might throw out a half-hearted apology, make him his favorite dinner, and seduce him – and that might actually work. But will it work for the long haul? Is your marriage really fixed, or have you merely slapped on a sexy band-aid?
If you want to skip the band-aid and truly get your husband back for good, use these 3 steps to create a happier you, a happier him, and a happier marriage.
Step one: Forgive him.
Or, at the very least, be honest with yourself (and him) about how much (or little) you have forgiven him.
This is the first and most important step toward repairing your marriage for two reasons.
First: Chances are, if you want to get your husband back after a separation, you’ve already forgiven him to some extent. At least, it feels like it, because your feelings of anger, hurt, and betrayal are weaker than they were before.
Rather than a volcano on the brink of eruption, you’re more like geyser prepared to let off steam.
However, if you go back into your relationship with unresolved feelings, then it’ll only be a short time before those feelings are triggered again. These feelings can be triggered by familiar situations:
When you have a talk with him and he seems to put most of the fault for your break-up on you, without taking responsibility for his role…
When you’ve been back together for a while and slips back into his old habits of coming home late, seeming disengaged from the family, or treating you unfairly…
When your insecurities about your relationship are stirred up by his unchanged behavior…
All of those instances – and countless others – can lead to a flare up of your old hurt or anger and make you feel like the initial betrayal is happening again, right now. So, you’ll respond like it’s happening again, right now.
Except it’s not, and he will not understand why you’re acting as though it is.
This is where forgiveness comes in.
Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling, so it cannot be based on how you feel. If you feel like you’ve forgiven him, but you really haven’t, you’re setting yourself (and him) up for failure.
So, what can you do to make sure you’ve forgiven him?
Try making a list of all the ways he’s hurt you, no matter how small. Be as honest as you can, and don’t leave anything out because it seems petty or insignificant when compared to something else. Did he forget your birthday and cheat on you? If they both hurt you, write them both down.
Next, read the list aloud as though you were reading it to him, and at each grievance, say, “I forgive you for this, and I will never bring it up again. From now on it will be as though you never did it.”
Is that easy to do? Can you commit to never bringing up his hurtful actions ever again?
If yes, that’s forgiveness. If not, it’s okay. Now you know where you are emotionally, and you won’t be going into your relationship under false pretenses.
The second reason forgiveness is vital: If you go back into your relationship still needing an apology from him, chances are higher that you won’t last. Apologies are nice, but you can’t withhold forgiveness while you wait for one.
Not only will it keep you from sincerely moving on, but you will find yourself manipulating your conversations – dropping hints, creating opportunities for him to realize how some of his words or actions hurt you so that he’ll take responsibility for them.
And if/when he doesn’t…how will you feel? Angry? Hurt? Betrayed all over again?
And the cycle continues.
Forgiveness is for you, not for him – and not even for your relationship. Forgive him so that you can be free from anger and bitterness against him, regardless of whether or not you’re able to reconcile.
Step two: Apologize for the part you played.
There are a lot of advice articles out there telling you how to win your husband back after a separation, and almost all of them start with this step. They all say to apologize – even if you don’t feel like you need to, even if you feel like you didn’t do anything wrong.
They go on to explain why you should apologize, and it’s usually because apologies open the door to communication, which is both true and necessary, so it sounds like good advice, right?
Well…that depends on why you are apologizing.
Are you doing it in order to get a conversation started? Or so you can get your husband back?
Or are you apologizing because you genuinely want to take responsibility for the role you played in your marital problems?
If that last one is your answer, then by all means, go and apologize. A genuine, heartfelt apology can go a long way toward reconciling hearts that have turned away from each other.
But if you’re doing it for any other reason, don’t.
Not yet, anyway. Don’t do it until you mean it.
Why? Because an apology, like forgiveness and literally everything else, should never be used for manipulation. Of course, we rarely think, “You know what? I think I’ll use manipulation to get my way today.” But we do it anyway, because manipulation is sneaky.
You know you’re manipulating him when you’re doing or saying something just to get a specific response.
And do you know who else will know you’re manipulating him?
Maybe not at first, but he’ll figure it out pretty quickly, and then he’ll stop trusting your intentions. Everything you say and do will lose credibility with him.
You’ll lose his trust, and no healthy relationship can be built on anything else.
For more helpful advice on how (not) to apologize, check out this video:
Step three: Invite him back into your marriage.
This step is less concrete than the other two, because it’s less about a specific action and more about your state of mind – or, rather, your state of heart.
Believe it or not, the state of your heart is the most important factor when it comes to reconciling your relationship with your husband after a separation.
For example, genuine forgiveness comes from a heart that wants to be free from anger and and wants to make things right for the good of another human being. bitterness, one that wants to move forward without a need for revenge or comeuppance.
A genuine apology comes from a heart that has accepted responsibility for its own weaknesses
A genuine invitation to rejoin you in marriage comes from a heart that is ready to do the hard work of making your world – your marriage, home, and relationships – a better place, regardless of how difficult it is.
Here’s the thing: You’re not inviting your husband back into the same old mess of hurts, disappointments, emotional issues, and anger triggers that the two of you lived in before.
Hopefully you’re over the old mess, whether your marriage reconciles or not, and you’re ready to leave it behind, because your marriage won’t grow into something healthy and flourishing until you are.
Another thing: There’s a huge difference between a heart that issues an invitation into a healthy relationship and one that (broken record alert!) seeks to manipulate someone into relationship.
So, how do you get from one state of heart to the other?
- Find a counselor, mentor, or even a wise friend who will listen to your heart and give you objective, constructive feedback. Find someone who can help you see your words and actions from your husband’s perspective. It’s always tempting to only talk to the friends who take our side, but that’s the last thing your marriage needs.
- Seek help when you need it. A lot of women (and men) go into marriage with issues that stem from childhood trauma and abuse. They don’t realize how thoroughly their traumatic experiences affected them, or they think, “This is just who I am,” and they accept their painful patterns of behavior as inevitable. If you were abused sexually, physically, or verbally as a child, know this: You CAN overcome it. It does NOT have continue to inform your reactions and responses forever. Seek help, and grow through it.
- Allow yourself to change your mind. Allow yourself to be wrong. Don’t allow stubborn pride to prevent you from growing as a person. Remember, you’re not growing and changing for the sake of your marriage or to make your husband happy. You’re doing it for yourself. Don’t allow stubborn pride to prevent you from growing as a person. Remember, you’re not growing and changing for the sake of your marriage or to make your husband happy. You’re doing it for you, because you are worth the effort required to be happy.
So, there you have it: three not-so-easy, not-so-simple, but more-effective-than-a-quick-fix steps to winning your husband back after a separation.
Have thoughts or questions? Leave them in the comments.