Much of the email that I receive is from wives who are trying to get their husbands to come back home. In these situations, the husband is in control of the timing of his returning home. However, I also hear from wives who feel as if they are in control. The reason for this is that they have kicked their husbands out and it is their decision as to when to let him return back home.
I heard from a wife who said: "my husband and I were fighting all the time and he was not appreciating me enough so I asked him to leave. This is not the first time either. He moved out a couple of years ago when he lost his job and we were constantly fighting about money. We limped along for a while until he resorted back to his old habits and we started fighting again and he was not even trying to work on our marriage. So I asked him to leave so he would learn his lesson. he's been gone for a couple of weeks and he wants to come home. he keeps calling asking me to let him return. How long should I wait until I allow him come back? How long until I ' m able to prove my point? I want him to stop taking me for granted and treating me poorly. and this is the only way I know to get his attention. "
Although it's very common for one spouse to initiate a break or a separation in order to be taken seriously, sometimes this course of events can become an unfortunate habit, which appeared to be the case here. It seemed that every time the couple had difficulties, the wife felt that she needed to do something dramatic in order to get the husband's attention. As a result, he would show her the behaviors that she was looking for – but only for a while – and then he would resort back to the same behavior until the cycle would repeat itself.
Therefore, I felt that this wife might be asking the wrong question. Instead of asking when she should let him back home to teach him a lesson, she might want to ask how she could bring about a change in the husband's behaviors. The key would be that such a change should be lasting and healthy to the relationship rather than hurtful to the relationship, which was the case now.
Because right now, it seemed pretty obvious that both spouses knew that this wife was going to let the husband come back home eventually. It was also a reasonably safe bet that eventually the husband was going to resort back to his old behaviors over a certain period of time. But what if, instead of repeating this destructive cycle, the wife actually had a plan to change things once and for all? What if instead of demanding that the husband act in such a fleeting way, she instead inspired him to want to do better? I know this to be possible as I have done it myself.
The key is to determine why the husband is acting out and then to deal with whatever issues are contributing to the problem. With that done, you want to praise and encourage the husband when you see the behaviors that you want. Instead, the wife had been trying to punish him or make him afraid. These things only worked for a very short time and they made the husband resentful and withdrawn, which only damaged the marriage further. But if she could gradually make the husband want to do better and then praise him when he did, this would create a cycle that would make her marriage better and stronger.
The cycle that she was on now was weakening her marriage. And it was ensuring that every time they went through this, she had to be even more dramatic and forceful to get the husband to comply. The risk was that eventually the husband would think that the whole process was not even worth it and would not even try to return back home.
So I guess my answer to this wife's question would be that I would suggest waiting until you have a workable plan to strengthen your marriage in place before you worried about him coming home. Because having the husband leave to "scare" him was only putting a band aid on problems that were never being addressed so they were going to continue to come up again and again until eventually, they might end the marriage all together. But if the wife changed this dynamic and made it where the husband wanted to please her (and got positive feedback when he did) then she was setting it up so that the husband would not be likely to leave again.