Sometimes, when our husbands tell us that they aren’t happy or that they may want a separation, we worry that no matter what he says or does, he has already checked out of our marriage. Even when he backtracks and tells us that he will ‘try’ to help us save our marriage, we worry that he’s just giving us lip service and that the only thing that he is really going to ‘try’ to do is to get out as soon as it is feasible to do so.
To that end, we wives watch our husbands for any indication that he might actually want to save our marriage and is therefore actively trying to do the same, but it isn’t always clear what we should be looking for. As an example, someone might explain: “I am very grateful that I am not separated right now. For several weeks, my husband told me that he wanted to move out and he looked at apartments. My sole priority during that time was to change his mind. I told him that I knew that if we both tried really hard, we could save our marriage. I asked him if he really wanted to be alone. I finally wore him down and he reluctantly agreed that he would not move out right away and would ‘try’ to save our marriage. And I was thrilled with that. But after a few weeks, I’m not so thrilled. Because I literally do not see anything different. I don’t see him acting any differently than he did before. I am acting differently. I’m trying to be more kind and patient. Thankfully, he seems to be responding pretty well to this. But he isn’t doing anything himself. Sometimes I think that maybe I am just too pessimistic and that maybe he is trying, but I’m just missing his efforts. What are the signs of a man who is really trying to save his marriage?”
I’ll list some of the signs below, but know that not every man is going to exhibit every sign. The types of efforts that a man puts forward is going to depend on his personality. Still, you want to see at least some changes and some effort, even if they aren’t what you quite expected or hoped for.
He Is On His Good Behavior: Most of us change our behavior when we know that doing so will get us closer to what we want. You said yourself that you’ve tried to have more patience. You want to see similar changes in your husband. Now, it’s probably unrealistic to see someone totally change their personality. You probably won’t see someone who is reserved by nature suddenly become comfortable with public affection. You probably won’t see a man who is soft spoken suddenly become boisterous. But you should see him making an effort that is alignment with his personality, even if he steps outside of his comfort zone a little.
He’s Checking In With You: A man who truly wants to save his marriage is invested in his wife’s experience during this process. Even if your marriage is struggling, if he’s invested, he will ask you how you are doing and what he might do to help. It’s probably unrealistic to expect this on a daily basis, but you should at least see that type of concern some of the time.
He At Least Tries To Stop Or Slow The Behaviors That Are Hurting Your Marriage: Most of us can at least somewhat identify our roles or the parts that we have played in the struggles of our marriage. You realized that you needed to be more patient. Your husband should have some self awareness and then act on it. For example, if his constantly staying out with friends puts pressure and strain on your marriage, you should see him try to rein this in somewhat.
He Is Seeking Out Whatever Will Help You: A man who really wants to save his marriage will look for ways to make it happen. Again, how he goes about this will depend on his personality. Some will do research. Some will find a counselor. Some will read self help. Others will seek advice from friends, family members, or clergy. Most people will reach out to others when they have a problem that they really want to solve.
You probably won’t see all of these behaviors at once and you don’t necessarily need to assume that he’s not interested in saving your marriage if you don’t see these behaviors right this minute. But you want to eventually see some of them (or at least your husband’s own version of them, even if his version is flawed.) Sometimes, it does take some time to see changed behaviors as both parties process their feelings.