Separated wives who are still invested in their marriages will often look at their husband’s behavior in the hopes that they will see clues of an ongoing emotional attachment. After all, you might be having problems, but you’ve known each other (and have been married) for quite some time. Presumably, you can’t just turn off your emotions simply because you are separated. And yet, that appears to be exactly what some husbands are able to do.
Many wives describe their separated husbands as “detached” from the marriage and from the family. Understandably, these wives wonder what this is going to mean going forward. A wife might say, “honestly, for most of our married life, my husband was actually sensitive and loving. If something happened to me or our kids, he would always be right there, trying to help and showing his concern. Within the last two years, our marriage changed. I would have hung there, but my husband wanted a separation. The idea was that hopefully, this pause would allow us to eventually regroup and come back together. I just assumed that my husband would continue to care about (and be emotionally invested in) myself and my kids. I guess I was mistaken about that because the only way that I can describe his demeanor is to say that he is emotionally detached. When you talk to him, his voice is monotone and his face shows no emotion. If I get upset, he doesn’t even try to comfort me or make any gestures toward me. Recently, my kids and myself were in a minor fender bender. We were not hurt, although our car was. My husband did ask if we were OK, but he didn’t seem shaken in the least and seemed more concerned about the damage to the car than to us. Why would a man who is normally sensitive and emotional be so detached? I just don’t get it and it’s scaring me.”
Any guesses as to why your husband is acting this way would be just speculation, but sometimes separated men do attempt to turn down their emotions because they don’t want to feel longing, guilt, or remorse while they are trying to decide on what they want. Below, I will list some of the reasons that I’ve seen when separated men act in this way. Again, I’m only speculating. Your husband would be the best judge of his own behavior (assuming that he’s going to share his feelings with you.)
He’s Trying To Dull His Feelings So He’s Become Numb: People often assume that the person who initiated the separation ends up blissfully happy and living it up while living apart, when in fact, this isn’t the case. Anytime you upend your life and are no longer with your loved ones, this can be painful and can just feel very foreign. In order to dull that, people can try to push down their feelings, giving off this detached and cold persona. Ironically, they are acting this way because they either care too much or are afraid of their own feelings, but their spouse often thinks that they don’t feel anything at all.
He Doesn’t Want You To Know How He’s Feeling: Another reason that separated spouses can seem detached is that he doesn’t want to tip you off about the way that he’s feeling. Many times, the wife understandably is regularly asking the husband how he feels and what he wants. The truth is that much of the time, he just doesn’t know the answers to these questions. So he’s trying to be as straight faced as he possibly can in order to discourage more questions. Men often just want to give themselves the time to sort all of this out and they don’t want to be rushed. They know that you are looking at their behaviors and demeanor to try to figure out what’s going on. And they’re trying to keep you from doing so, (because they are well aware that their feelings are fluctuating and are confusing right now.) They don’t necessarily want to share the feelings that might change. The detached persona is just a defense mechanism.
He Is Legitimately Continuing To Have A Hard Time: Sometimes, the cold, detached persona that you see is a continuation of the man who was struggling emotionally or who was so dissatisfied that he wanted a separation. Unfortunately, his unhappiness does not always resolve immediately once you are separated. Sometimes, it does just take some time. So the behavior that you see now might just be a continuation of the behavior that you saw before the separation.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that things are not ever going to get better. Things do change. Feelings change. Perceptions change and situations change. My husband was actually detached and cold for quite a while. I believe that I actually made things worse by always demanding answers that my husband wasn’t ready to give. Because of this, he felt that he had to be secretive and cold.