Some husbands can be a bit mysterious and vague when they initiate a separation. They'll tell their wives that they just need some time away. They insinuate that it might all be temporary. Sometimes, they will reassure their wife that they still love her (or at least care very much about her,) but they just need a break from the marriage. In other words, they make it clear that although they aren't exactly sure about the state of the marriage, they are sure that somewhere deep down, they do still care. They may not be sure if this will be enough, but they are clear that the feelings are still there.
And then there are husbands on the other end of the spectrum. Although these husbands might stop short of telling their wives that they don't love her anymore, many of them don't mince words. Some will come right out and flat out say that they don't care as much as they used to. Some will tell their wife that they don't care at all. They'll then follow this up with the announcement that they want a separation. This leaves the wife with very little to work with. Much of the time, when a wife is trying to get her husband to reconsider a reconciliation, she will fall back on the love and the history that the two of them share. But if the husband is denying to care about that connection and history, where does this leave her?
She might say, “I knew that my husband was not happy in our marriage. And I knew that he was considering a separation or a divorce. But what I did not anticipate was that he would say that he doesn't really care about me and our marriage anymore. He basically said that he wanted a separation and then acted like he expected me to just accept it without any discussion. So I asked him how could he make a decision like this without us having a sit-down discussion? How could he just think that he was only one who got to make this decision? His response was that no matter what I thought or felt, his feelings were his own. And then he told me that he really didn't care all that much about me or our marriage anymore. He flat out said that he didn't care. It was almost as if he was trying to be as mean as possible so that I would be too shocked to respond, which is about what happened. This has left me devastated on many levels. I am devastated that my husband admits that he doesn't care about me. But I am further devastated that he doesn't appear to be giving me any room for discussion. I have been completely shut down. What can I do now? He doesn't care about me. And he won't discuss it any further.”
I was in a similar situation and it ultimately ended up okay, so I'm going to share this story in the hope that it helps. I'll try to keep this brief: My husband alluded to still caring about me at the beginning of our separation, but I truly started to doubt this because he made it pretty clear that his preference was very little contact. This was not acceptable to me, so I pushed very hard for that contact. This, of course, created conflict and things deteriorated further between us. After this conflict had gone on for a while, my husband began to insinuate that he was losing feelings for me and for the marriage. This left with me with few cards to play. But it was clear that continuing to create drama just wasn't working. It was making things worse. So I just accepted what he said, told him that I still cared very much about him and our marriage, and I essentially waited in the wings. I stopped bothering him. I went out of town and spent time with people who loved me – family and friends. I gave him the space that he claimed to so desperately want. I wasn't doing this to punish him at all. I made it clear that I wished that things were different. Eventually, he came around and we began to communicate again. In time, it became clear that he cared very much.
The point I am trying to make is that right before a separation (or early on in one,) people can say hurtful things that end up not being true. As you already suspect, he might be trying to be a bit aggressive and abrasive so that you don't try to change his mind. He may be claiming not to care so that you don't have room to negotiate. I know that this is difficult, but sometimes in situations such as this, a pause is needed. The pause allows for everyone to calm down and it ensures that the situation does not become worse. Sometimes when you make it clear that you still care very much and then give your husband that space that he wants, he will miss you and realize that he actually cares very much. People tend to posture a lot at the beginning of a separation. They make claims that they don't actually mean.