My Lover Is Separated From His Wife

Just because your lover is separated from his wife does not mean he is not ‘bound’ to her in some way.

Seriously, if you are in love with a ‘separated’ man, it’s important to be able to differentiate between a ‘physical separation’ and an ’emotional separation.’ You also need to know the difference between ‘leaving’ a wife and ‘separating’ from her.

A physical separation is obviously leaving a spouse by moving into a separate living space. Emotional separation means you have separated from the thoughts, feelings, and actions that would identify you as part of a specific couple.

If a man is separated from his wife with intentions to divorce, and is in a serious love relationship with you, the best you can hope for is he is both physically and emotionally separated. If so, he is as emotionally available for another relationship as anyone can be in a ‘temporary’ marital separation situation.

Now, it is entirely possible for a man to be emotionally but not physically separated from his wife. People do this all the time. They leave their spouse emotionally but live separately together in the same space with no physical separation between them.

The big problem here of course is not having your own space. A man who is not physically separated from his wife and looking for love beyond his marriage is not really available for much beyond a ‘triangle’ outside of the home. By triangle I mean you, him, and his wife with limited relationships all the way around.

If your separated man is physically separated but not emotionally separated, you may have a similar problem. He may look and sound like he’s separated from his wife, but in reality he is emotionally with her as a couple. Thinking, feeling, and doing the things that identify him as a husband to a particular wife. This will obviously be a problem for any other woman who tries to get into his heart. Look at it this way, the emotional space in there is still occupied.

In some cases, a married man is ‘banished’ from the marriage because he has been ‘bad’ in some way. The intention was not to get rid of him and he knows it. The intention is to teach him a lesson, or facilitate his maturity, or just give him a little time to think about what he has done before coming back at some indefinite future date. If you fall in love with a guy with this kind of physical without emotional separation, your relationship will be limited by the continued presence of his wife in his emotional life.

Now what is the difference between separating from your wife and leaving your wife? Separating from your wife means you move away from the marriage, but have not yet made the decision to leave. Separation involves the use of space. Whether we are talking about an emotional or physical separation, distance is the thing being used to resolve a marital problem. The marriage is obviously not over.

When a man leaves his wife, he does not look back. The technical aspects of whether or not he is separated or divorced are not really important. Leaving means you are gone. The marriage is dead.

When a man, or woman, leaves his or her spouse, he or she has let go of his or her marriage at the point of deciding to leave. Apart from needing a little time to clear one’s head, a man who ‘leaves’ his wife is in a better position to start something new including a love relationship.

Why do married people separate? Let’s discuss some of the most common reasons. Reason number one, they are waiting for a divorce. These are people who separate as a way station to divorce. They live separately and work through the experience trying to decide whether to leave or not. Divorce is a real issue for them. Separation is being used mostly to help them decide when and how to divorce.

Reason number two is, using separation to take a break. If marriage has gotten stressful or painful for some reason, a separation is one way to avoid any further destructive consequences. The philosophy goes something like this, if I get away from you I will avoid hurting you further or being hurt by you further or both. Married couples who find it difficult to work out their marital problems in any other way may find this method better than permanently leaving their marriage.

Now some couples have difficulty because of individual problems one or both parties have that require a cure before the relationship can resume. This might involve alcohol abuse, drug abuse, relationship abuse, or mental illness of some kind. The point is, the marriage goes on ‘hold’ for a while as one or the other or both spouses get the help they individually need. In these cases, separation is only physical and both spouses intend to resume their relationship once the worst is over.

There is one more reason that comes to mind. I have encountered couples where one (or both) spouses are too immature to remain married in a healthy manner. The love between them is strong but the relationship is premature. So they put their marriage in a state of suspended animation while they ‘grow up.’

Because the love they have for each other is strong, it lasts and waits for that future time when they come back together changed by time and maturation. This kind of separation reminds us of how resilient love can be.

If you are ‘in love’ with a ‘separated man,’ you have to be able to wait for your lover to grow out of his marriage. If you truly love him and you’ve decided to wait, you’ll have to help yourself remain patient as he goes through the steps requires to ‘leave his wife.’

If it looks to you like he is not leaving but instead is trying to get you to settle for a ‘triangle’ love-life involving you, him, and his absent wife, you need to think about what you really want. This would mean your separated lover intends to remain in a perpetual separation. If you want a full-time emotionally available man, he’s not the one. Keep looking. In the long-run it’ll be much less painful and far more fruitful.

Dr. Thomas Jordan, clinical psychologist, author of Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life. Need help fixing your disappointing love life?   Confidential Love Life Consultations available by phone, inquire at




Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.


  1. babyruth bulabon on April 25, 2015 at 9:14 am

    my partner for now & i had a 3 yr old kid. he was married,but he & his wife were together for only 3 yrs & has 2 siblings.they were separated(not legally) for almost 18 yrs.where his wife had kids to another man too. i was married too.& got separated (not legally) for 5 yrs.we had 2 kids w/ my husband. now,me & my partner are living together for 5 yrs.may i know if we can get legal advice regarding our situation?

  2. Vixis on March 21, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    I am engaged to a man who has emotionally and physically separated from his abusive wife. What I am keen to know is, if there is an accident, can she block me (legally) from seeing him?

    • Sara on June 26, 2016 at 7:20 pm

      Usually, if they are still married, then yes, she can. She has all legal say so over him in that circumstance. He needs to get divorced if he isn’t already. Especially if you 2 are engaged because you technically have no rights if they’re married, and also, some states consider it adultery if he isn’t divorced, and he’s also engaged to you. Which, unfortunately, looks really bad in front of a judge, and no one will look to you with respect.

  3. Cathy on May 22, 2016 at 8:34 am

    My boyfriend of seven years just recently split up with me. This whole time he has still been married to his wife, although they are separated. She lives in another house with her boyfriend. He says he has no intention of getting back together with her, ever, and that the only reason they aren’t divorced is because he doesn’t want to split up their assets, which are fairly substantial (~ $20 million). He takes care of all her expenses, her house is paid for, she doesn’t want for anything. His concern always seems to be the “preservation of the estate”, I guess he feels that if she got half of everything, she’d go out and blow it on something stupid. They’re both in their 60s, they have set up a trust for their adult children, so I don’t see his concern regarding their assets all being spent by his wife. After this much time together, this has become the breaking point for me. He doesn’t understand when I tell him that he is still emotionally entangled with his wife, because he isn’t willing to get a divorce. In his mind, it’s all finances. I used to want him to get a divorce to marry me, but at this point I would be happy if he just got a divorce, period. How can I get him to understand that there is more to remaining married to his wife then just the financial concerns? He doesn’t see the emotional aspect of it at all, and can’t grasp why it bothers me. What can I say that will get through to him?

    • Sarah on October 14, 2018 at 11:21 am

      You could say bye, that should do the trick!

  4. Sarah on October 14, 2018 at 11:27 am

    You could say bye, that should do the trick!

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