So your bride has left, or asked you to leave, or you realise one of those is about to happen. Odds are you are shocked; you did not see it coming, and you do not understand it. Worse, it seems her mind is made up and she is not listening to anything you say. I cannot promise your marriage can be saved, but there is a good chance if you do things the right way. The problem is your natural reactions are almost certainly not the right way. Frequently a husband’s reaction makes his wife feel she has made the right choice. All to often, his attempts to save the marriage are what kills it for good.
Bottom line: Your way of thinking and doing things has you on the brink of divorce, more of the same won’t fix it.
Yesterday I asked you to read The Walk-away Wife Syndrome by Michele Weiner-Davis. This article is brilliant – well done and a perfect description of a very common cause of divorce. Michele ends with this:
“Perhaps your wife is no longer open to your advances because she’s a soon-to-be walk-away wife. If so, read the posts on the divorcebusting.com messageboard. Don’t crowd her. Don’t push. Be patient. If you demonstrate you can change and she still has eyes… and a heart, you might just convince her to give your marriage another try.“
I want to build on that over the next few days.
First, you need to get over your perception of your marriage, of what you have each done right and wrong and why your wife is doing what she is doing. In truth there are three versions: your perception, her perception, and reality. If your goal is to save your marriage, you must act as if her perception is accurate. I know that feels wrong, especially if you feel she has made untrue accusations or completely misunderstood your intentions. Fighting over who is right, or trying to correct her perception of you, is not going to save your marriage; on the country, those things will push her away and seal the deal on your divorce.
I know this is a major struggle for many men. Not correcting her seems like agreeing with her, and agreeing with something wrong feels like telling a lie. Even worse, I am suggesting that you act as if she is mostly right! You have a choice here, and only one choice holds any real chance of your not ending up divorced. I suggest you put away your need to correct, your need to be right, your pride, and anything else that makes you want to set the record straight. In reality these traits, or at least the over expression of these traits, are part of why you are facing the end of your marriage.
Next, you need to be clear, in a simple and non-confrontational way, that you don’t want a divorce, and you are ready to do whatever it takes to work things out. To that end, the following are bad ideas:
- Telling her she does not have cause to divorce you.
- Talking about what you put up with from her.
- Saying it would be sin for her to divorce you.
- Using the kids against her (“Think about the kids”).
- Suggesting you will try to take the kids is beyond stupid. [If the kids are truly not safe with her, I mean real harm is very likely, you need to act in their best interest, otherwise don’t say a thing about the kids.]
- Asking if she is seeing someone else (or outright accusing her of an affair).
- Trying to spin the situation with mutual friends.
- Sending anyone to “talk sense” in to her.
- Making any kind threat, no matter how veiled or ambiguous.
Of course, some of these things may be true; that is not the point. These things are attacks, and attacks will make her defensive. You need to avoid anything condemning or confrontational, it will not help.