I often hear from folks who feel as if their spouse is not at all being themselves during a marital separation. And while it is understandable that a person would be a little off while they are going through a difficult or painful separation, it can sometimes be obvious that the spouse's behavior goes beyond this. Many people feel that their spouse has taken up the sport of mind games during the separation and they are not quite sure how to handle this.
An example is a wife saying: "honestly, I thought that the separation might be good for us. Our marriage has been struggling for a long time. And although my husband and I often agree to go to counseling and to work together to make our marriage better, nothing really happens. Both of us just sort of wait for the other person to do the changing or to make a move. and so nothing improves and things only deteriorate. so bringing up the separation is something that happened quite naturally. I thought that we could be cordial about it. and the whole idea was that being apart would make us see how much we wanted to be together. But that is not what has happened. My husband is very sarcastic to me and at times, he's downright mean. When I ask to see him, he always says that he is busy. Sometimes, he will not even pick up my calls. The other day, he said he could not see me because he had other plans. When I asked him what those plans were, he told me that he was not going to tell me that information. So, I point blank asked him if he was seeing someone else. And he still would not answer. It was almost like he wanted for me to think that he was going out with someone else. This is infuriating to me. I would not play games like this with him. Why is he doing this? "I'll tell you some possible theories in the following article.
It's a bit hard for me to objective here because many would argue that I took certain liberties during my separation when my husband was distant and avoiding me. In my defense, I never allowed him to believe that I was seeing other people. And I was never rude or even distant to him. In fact, I was always clear on the fact that my hope was that we would get back together, but I made it clear that I was no longer going to put my life on hold.
Playing Mind Games Is A Common Attempt To Gain Reassurance When Separated: I believe that this is very common when one spouse feels rejected. This scenario is especially common when one spouse wanted to separate while the other did not. It's often an attempt to see if you can get a response out of your spouse, if only to prove to you that they still care. And you can call it mind games if you like but it's often a cry for attention or a plea for reassurance. They figure if you get angry, or jealous, or demand information, then this is proof that you are still invested in your marriage.
How To Handle This Scenario: Even if you know what is driving your spouse to act this way, this practice can still be annoying. It can still be hurtful. And it can even hurt your chances of a reconciliation if you take it too far. So how do you best handle this if you suspect that your spouse is playing mind games? Well, you do not want to come right out and accuse them of this. They will likely only get defensive and it is doubtful that they are doing this in a purposeful or sinister way.
You may want to have a conversation about this but you do not want to be accusatory. In this situation, the wife might say something like: "I have to say that things are not going in the way that I hoped. It was my wish that the separation would bring us closer together but I can not help but feel the distance between us. I realize that you are busy, but do you think that we could schedule some time together? I think that it's very important that we make the time to check in with one another. I'm still hoping that this will all turn out OK. I hope that you are too. "
The last thing that you probably want to do is to try to play hard ball or think "two can play this game" and then try to play your own version of mind games. This will typically only make things worse and then with both people pulling away, you have a marriage that just gets more and more damaged and more and more awkward. Sometimes, one person has to step up and be the bigger person. One person has to step up and tell what is still the truth.
It helps to keep in mind that your spouse is probably doing this to draw you closer to him or to get affirmation that you still care. So sometimes, just being the bigger person and offering that reassurance will be all that is needed to get them to back off of this stance.