Most days, I get questions from women whose husband has left them. They are usually searching for a way to get him back. But every once in a while I get the other side of the equation.
Usually an upset wife will reach out to me and will want to know what she can do or say to get her husband to leave her. She will explain to me that the marriage has been finished for years and that she has been trying to get him to realize this, but he just won’t accept it.
Or I will be told of a situation in which the couple have decided to part, but the guy just can’t bring himself to bring things to an end. He will employ all kinds of delaying tactics. He will not make the effort to pack and leave. Or he won’t take the first steps to finding an apartment or some other place to live.
It is always an interesting situation when I come across a woman who is looking for advice on how to bring her marriage to an end.
And it is not an easy thing to advise a person on because cracking a marriage wide open is seldom as simple as it may sound.
Is The Marriage Really Done?
Sometimes the relationship is not done.
Sometimes the wife is looking for a way to get her husband’s attention.
So she will push him away in an effort to draw him closer.
I know, it sounds a bit crazy. But reverse psychology, particularly as it relates to psychological reactance, can be a powerful force.
So you are probably wondering what is psychological reactance and how does it relate to getting a husband to leave or in effect quit the relationship?
Here is how it works.
People, including the guy you think you want out of your life, all have a certain set of freedoms. Take a freedom away, the person begins to desire it even more.
I have known some married women who understood this principle, not by name, but by instinct. They secretly wanted their husband to appreciate them more.
But they were also fed up with their man. So to remedy this situation, they acted against their husband’s perceived freedom and started to push him away.
There are dozens of ways this can be accomplished. Withholding sex. Refusing to talk. Ignoring your spouse at all opportunities (i.e. The Silent Treatment).
The idea is that if you push someway away who loves you, they will in turn be more attracted to you and make more efforts to please you and be with you.
So sometimes I am contacted by women who at first say that want their husband out of their lives, but in reality they really don’t want that at all.
What they want is attention and solutions to some problem areas in the marriage.
They want the marriage to get better. But they are fed up with how their man treats them. They are mad at their husband to such an extent they are willing to throw him out, so to speak.
So as a way to strike back, they tell their man to leave and never come back. They may even utter the often overused declaration, “I don’t love you anymore”.
In talking with women who are moved to act in this way, it is important I confirm what it is they are really trying to achieve. What do they really want, I ask myself. It is important to get to the underlying motivation that is causing them to behave this way.
Sometimes a woman will understand fully want she wants and employing the principle of psychological reactance is something that comes natural to her.
She knows her actions and words will send her husband a clear-cut message. And she is willing to take that risk, knowing full well that her husband is unlikely to really pack his bags and leave.
Once I get to the truth of what she is trying to accomplish, I am better able to coach her on the strengths and weaknesses of her strategy.
Of course, it is seldom that simple.
Sometimes the woman I am advising doesn’t really know what she wants. All she knows in that moment is that she wants him out. Out of her life. Out of her house. She wants all contact and communication with her husband over.
Now, in these situations, I try to help the individual understand that her feelings are important and are real in that moment that she is experiencing them.
But then I explain that emotions have a way of warping our perceptions and the reality of what we really want for the long haul.
Emotions, when they are riding high, can also cause you to lose perspective of what is in your best interest personally and financially.
So sometimes, when a situation of this type crops up, I underscore the importance of allowing one’s feelings time to settle in place.
One way of accomplishing this is to get her to climb out of her own skin and look at things from a 3rd party perspective. I challenge her to play devil’s advocate regarding her marital situation and ask all the tough questions
I encourage her to consider whether she is acting on impulse.
I inquire of her if she thinks she might be over playing her hand.
I ask her, “What if a part of you still loves your husband very much and you are succumbing to your anger and emotions. Will your insistence on making him leave result in you driving him out of your life forever? Is that what you really want?”
Do You Really Want To Kick Your Husband Out?
I will ask my client if there are better alternatives or options she can employ to accomplish what she wants. Then we talk about what she really wants. That is truly a very important topic we will spend a lot of time on.
As far as other tactics she could turn to, I usually will inquire if she and her husband have taken time to really try to talk about the problems they are experiencing.
Many times there really hasn’t been much truth-telling going on in the marriage.
Sometimes it is better to tell your husband the truth. If you are really unsure if you want to live under the same roof, then you owe it to the relationship to open up wide the communication channels.
As crazy as it may sound, sometimes people would rather avoid talking about deeply difficult and private relationship issues.
They would prefer to bottle things up until all the emotions burst out, resulting in an ultimatum type of scenario (such as, “get out of my life” or “just leave me because I don’t want you anymore”)
If you still harbor the desire to make the marriage work, don’t ask or insist that your husband leave you.
If communications fail and you really feel you need some space. Then take a temporary timeout.
You can tell your husband you need some personal time alone. Leave for a while.
How long should you leave?
It depends on many factors. It could be for hours or even days.
The point is you want to take control of those things you can impact. It is unlikely you will be able to force your husband to pack up and leave. These kind of rash ultimatum are more likely to set up a situation where there will be more argument and conflict.
And if you truly don’t want him out of your life, then insisting that your spouse should pack and leave you is not usually a fruitful strategy. He might just call your bluff and where does that get you?
But Chris, I Really Want Him To Leave Me!
But what if you are in a situation where you really want this guy out of your life?
What if you not only want him to leave you, but you want him out like yesterday?
If you find yourself in a broken relationship in which both parties are miserable and you have invested all of your energies in making it work, yet things have not improved, should you insist your husband move out?
I don’t think that is an unreasonable action.
But you want to be sure.
Asking your husband to get all his belongings and get out is a big step. If you are going to take this measure then be assured that you and your husband have tried everything you can think of to explore other alternatives.
We all know relationships are not always easy. And if we quit after the first, second, or third time we encounter tough times, we really wouldn’t be trying that hard.
Just be sure that it is not your emotions that is holding sway on your judgement. If you have been married for a reasonable period of time, it stands to reason you both have a lot invested in each other.
So if you are certain that it is not your emotions that are doing all of the talking, then, yes, sometimes it is in your best interest to ask your husband to leave.
His leaving can take on different forms.
It can represent an extended timeout period (e.g. several days) or it can be something more semi permanent.
If you have asked your husband to vacate the house with the understanding that it is on a trial basis, then that leaves open the possibility that the two of your can be reunited again in the future.
Both you and your husband should leverage the time apart to heal your emotional wounds and work on your selves as neither of you will be in the right frame of mind to possibly reconcile in the future unless you are in a better place personally.
Read this post that discusses how to utilize the No Contact Principle.
How Should You Go About Getting Him Out?
So you have asked him to leave, but he won’t go or is dragging his heels.
What do you do?
Part of the problem is that he may not think you are serious. He may be under the delusion that while the marriage is not working, he still would like to keep things the way they are.
He may rationalize that it is to much of a bother to actually make the break. Inertia may take hold of the way he is thinking about the your relationship. He may reason that it is more practical and financially convenient for him not to have to bother with packing and finding another place to stay.
It unfortunately seldom works out when an estranged couple continues to live together. The resentment levels rise and conflicts continue. And neither you or your husband can properly deal with the reality that the marriage has failed if you are living together like brother and sister.
It becomes almost impossible to move on when your husband won’t move out.
How Do You Push Your Husband Out The Door?
So how to you go about telling him that it is truly necessary for him to pack and leave?
If he angrily balks at what you are suggesting, then don’t be drawn into an argument as that will just further exasperate the situation. Asking someone to leave can cause them to do the opposite, just out of spite.
To give him time to process things, it is sometimes better to give your husband a deadline (24 to 48 hours).
Don’t be surprised if he struggles with accepting the reality of what it is you are asking.
You don’t want to take this approach unless you are absolutely sure you don’t want him returning to the home.
You are taking a huge step. In effect, you are conveying to him that the marriage is probably over and you no longer believe the two of you can coexist.
So this is not a time to be timid or uncertain about what you are going to say. If you are, then you are probably not ready.
But if you are certain this is what you want, then he needs to know you are dead serious.
Tell him that you have made up you mind and there is no turning back.
If communications become heated, don’t fall for that trap. Remove yourself from the environment. You can text and or call him later again underscoring you want him to move out for now.
You can break up what you are going to say to him into small parts so your husband can digest it better. You can say something like:
“I think it would be best for now if we didn’t live together. I would ask you to honor my wishes“.
In his mind, he may think, “OK, she wants me out. She has been hinting at this for a while. But she left the door open for me to come back. Yea, OK, maybe this might not be so bad. ”
But the truth is you never left a door wide open for him to return. Like most people, he is hearing and processing the information in a way that helps him cope.
When people deal with difficult information, they sometimes go into denial. Anger usually follows denial. But eventually, your husband will likely come to terms with what you are asking him to do and accept the underlying reality. He may not agree with it, but most men will honor and respect you wishes.
What If He Keeps Dragging His Heels?
So what do you do if many days have gone by since you have asked him to leave?
What other things can you do or say that will convey to your husband that he needs to leave and that there is no other recourse?
If you are in this situation, it is likely you have already had numerous conversations with him about packing and going. Sometimes a guy will stall. He may have told you numerous times that he was going to. But he may cling to various delaying tactics hoping you will change your mind. Hence he will put off looking for a place to settle or avoid even thinking about the topic.
You may have strongly suggested that he needs to stay with a friend. But he may put you off by saying he tried that, but it won’t work out.
You may have suggested various apartments for him to move to. Don’t be surprised if he takes the opportunity to complain about how he apartments did not measure up to his standards. Or, he may say something vague about how he was working on it.
The bottom line is the he is still hanging around and won’t go. And with every day and week that goes by, you are getting further away from putting your own life back in order.
So what other alternatives are there?
Some of them are not so attractive. But they are viable options if the circumstances warrant it.
For example, if your husband has been physically abusive or threatening in his language, you can seek to get a restraining order such that he must vacate immediately.
Another option, while not desirable but is sometimes necessary, is to seek a type of intervention.
So let’s say there is an understanding that your husband is supposed to leave, but it is not happening. He keeps putting it on the back burner and every time you have a conversation about this topic it results in conflict.
Another way to grease the skids and nudge him out the door is to speak to a mutual friend that can talk to your husband.
Now, this can back fire if you don’t choose the right person to intervene in the situation and they don’t handle it right. But sometimes, if the right person says the right words (on your behalf), your husband will get the message that he needs to get off the snide and get out.
Of course the risk is that he may get upset that others are drawn into the situation.
But while it may be upsetting to him in the short-term, the message is delivered and sometimes that is sufficient incentive to get him to take your seriously.