Many of the people who reach out to me are wives. They are wives who are reluctantly separated and who are miserable living without their husbands. Understandably, they often experiment with different strategies and behaviors to try to encourage a reconciliation. Sometimes, these experiments work. And other times, they are an undeniable disaster that makes things far worse. I want to help you avoid these disasters if I can. Because when you make them, you can set yourself back for weeks or even months. So below, I'm going to outline what I believe are boundaries that you just shouldn't cross when you're separated, and I'll explain why.

Going Behind His Back To Lure His Friends, Family, Co-Workers, (Or Even Kids) To Your Side: It's normal to want allies and reassurances when you feel very much alone. It's also understandable to want to reach out to your husband's support system when you are worried about him. But what I believe that you should never do is to attempt to commiserate or influence the people who are really his primary friends and family members. Yes, I know that you may love his family, and I know that the people who were his friends first at now your friends too. I know that your kids belong to both of you.

But, you want to make sure that your husband still feels that he is part of a couple, even if that couple is struggling right now. When you approach people in his support system to try to sway them to your side or to your way of thinking, you've just demonstrated that you are beginning to see yourself as an individual. You are pitting yourself and your side of the story against his. And that is the last thing that you ever want to communicate, especially when you're trying to become a couple again. You want to present a united front while you still can.

And he may see these overtures as a betrayal and withdraw from you even more. You want him to know that you are on his side. And dividing and conquering is not the way to communicate this.

Hijacking His Privacy And Space: This one is tricky. Because I believe that you have every right to have the reassurance that he isn't seeing or flirting with other people. Some may disagree with me, but I do believe you deserve to know that he isn't going out with other women. But when it comes to his male friends and how he is spending his individual and free time, it's very easy to cross the line into almost stalkerish behavior, at least as far as he's concerned.

Many men are extremely protective about the space that they've fought so hard for. I'd never tell you that you have to just leave him alone. I always advocate for regular communication and contact. But there is a difference between regular and excessive. I know first hand that it is extremely hard to find the perfect balance.

Early in my own separation, I'd demand to know how my husband was spending his time, what he was doing with his friends and family, and even exactly what he was thinking. I can't fault myself for wanting to know. But I was rarely satisfied with the answers my husband attempted to give me, and I'd end up pushing for more. As a result, he would be even more secretive, even when he was doing nothing wrong. I once even showed up where I knew he was. As you may imagine, this didn't go well. ( I did eventually save my marriage though. That entire story is at

I know that I'm asking you to strike a very difficult balance. You'll often need to watch his reaction very closely to gauge how close you are to pressuring too much. Respect the cues you're seeing. It is easier to move more slowly than to make up ground once you've gone too far and now have to back up. I know that this may not be welcome news to you, but I'm trying to help you avoid what was probably my most costly mistake.

Playing Games That Are Beneath Both Of You Or Adding More Drama When You Need It The Least: Making a separated husband jealous is a very common strategy when you feel like you've tried just about everything to get a reaction and nothing has worked. So is posting strategic things on social media. Or starting rumors. Do everything in your power to avoid stooping to these levels. Although they may feel like long-term victories, they will deteriorate your relationship and reconciliation attempts in the long-term.

When you are buzzing with adrenaline and tempted to do something you suspect will just add fuel to this smoldering fire, stop. Now ask yourself if what you are about to attempt is more likely to make your husband think favorably or unfavorably of you in the long-term.

You're looking for more than a temporary rise out of him. You're looking for a positive (not negative) change in his perceptions of you and your marriage. Don't go low when you can go high. Yes, it can be harder to go high when your emotions are getting the better of you. But it is almost always the best strategy.

Learn to stop yourself before you make these types of mistakes. Ask yourself what advice you'd give your sister or best friend. Often, you'd advise them against the path that you're getting ready to take. It's important to identify these pitfalls before you actually make them.

When in doubt, take the high road. Believe me, I know that it's painful to muddle through a marital separation. But I promise that it's even more painful to realize that you're going to have to muddle through for even longer because of an unforced error that you made. Or because you couldn't control yourself when you said or did something that you knew in your heart was wrong but did it anyway because you couldn't get a handle on your emotions.

Learn what strategies work best to help you avoid this. Sometimes, it is calling a trusted friend or therapist. Sometimes it is distracting yourself. Other times, it is self-care or tough love. Figure out what it is for you and use it, over and over again, until you're not only not making unforced errors, but you're actually gaining ground.

I hope I didn't come on too strong.  I just feel strongly about avoiding these costly mistakes.  Because the stakes are so high.  You can read about how I recovered from most of them eventually (and reconciled my marriage) at

But the better (and faster) strategy would have been to avoid them altogether.

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