It's always kind of a double-edged sword when you finally get your separated spouse to admit to loving you or missing you, only to hear a huge “but” at the end of that sentence. Most devastating of all, sometimes that “but” is connected to a phrase alluding to the fact that the husband wants to continue on with the separation or to “move on” with his life. Sometimes, after the wife becomes upset or presses him for more information, he'll stop short of saying that he wants a divorce immediately. But he makes it clear that the separation won't be ending any time soon.
Here is an example. A wife might say, “when my husband first insisted on a separation, he made it sound as if it was going to be like him having a slumber party with his brother for a while. I envisioned it maybe lasting for a couple of weekends until he got the need for space out of his system. But weekends turned into weeks. And weeks turned into months. Eventually, he got his own place and rarely saw his brother. We have been in contact for this whole time, but often, it feels as if my husband is checking in on his little sister rather than on his wife. Sometimes, it feels as though he's just concerned about my well being and safety, but not about my feelings. Lately, I have become really discouraged with this and I commented that my own husband doesn't even miss me. To my surprise, not only was my husband listening, but he responded by assuring me that he DID miss me. For just a second there, I got my hopes up. But then my hopes came crashing down when he continued and said ‘I do miss you. I really do. But for right now, I just want to move on.' Of course, I panicked at this. I asked him if ‘move on' meant a divorce. He assured that for right now, he did not mean that. But he was very careful to clarify that he did not know what the future would bring. He said that, for now, he is content with living on his own. I don't know what to make of all of this. His insistence that he misses me doesn't really seem all that genuine right now. If he truly missed me, would he really want to ‘move on?' Is he just saying that he misses me to make me feel better?”
That's almost impossible to answer. I've known and dialogued with many separated men (my own husband included.) Honestly, their feelings and wishes can be all over the place. One day they can feel loving and nostalgic toward their wives and the next day, they want to avoid her. They can miss their wives desperately, but still feel that they need to follow through on the separation in order to see where it leads.
Why This Conversation Feels So Important: I think that most of us are so very desperate for these answers because we want to know where it leaves us. In my own case during my own separation, I was constantly wanting to know what my husband was thinking and feeling because I wanted to know for how much longer I was going to have to live alone. I suspect that the same is true for you. What I learned was that the more I pressured my husband about this, the more he didn't make any immediate plans to come home. It is possible that your husband is giving you the ‘move on' phrasing right now because he is trying to get you not to pressure him about how much he misses you and where he wants to go from here.
I know that this is a bitter pill to swallow. I struggled with it too. But as soon as I understood how damaging pressure can be, things changed for me. I decided that I would dial down the pressure and focus on my own life for a while. I did not date other people. I never wanted that. I still considered myself married. But since I had no idea what tomorrow was going to bring, I decided to stop putting my life on hold. I went out with friends. I took classes. I read very dense books. I still stayed in contact with my husband and it was still clear that I was invested. But I was no longer bugging him all of the time.
After a little bit of time went by with this new plan, things changed. My husband reached out to me. I think that once the pressure was turned down, he allowed himself to welcome the feelings that he had for me, whereas before, he felt the need to keep me at a distance because he was afraid I was going to push for the reconciliation that he wasn't yet sure about. Because of this shift, we did eventually reconcile.
Where am I going with this? I am just throwing it out there in case the “move on” comment was meant to get you to stop pressuring. I'd suggest dialing it back and seeing what happens. What do you have to lose? You've been in close contact. He admitted that he misses you. And you've been communicating well and regularly. I would keep going on that path and I would dial down all of the pressure for clarification about his feelings and intentions, at least for a little while.