I regularly hear from men who “suddenly and without warning” receive either divorce papers, or a warning their wife is going to file. Often these men are honestly caught completely unaware – they had no idea their wife was unhappy in their marriage. Never mind anyone looking on would have seen it, they really were oblivious.
Usually the wife made noise about being unhappy in the past; sometimes a great deal of noise. Either her husband ignored her, or he made half-hearted efforts with no sustentative, long-term changes. Eventually she decided he was unwilling to change, so she either had to learn to live with things as they are or get out. Some start planning leaving then, while most make an effort to live with it. Given selfish people generally become more selfish with time, what she has to live with gets worse and worse, and eventually many of the “live with it” women also start to plan to leave. The thing is, once a woman decides her husband is not going to change, she stops complaining. All too often men take this as an indication everything is fine now, which is why they’re so shocked when their wife files for divorce months or years later.
In our recent poll on the chance of divorce in the next 18 months, women answered a question about how likely it was they would divorce, and then gave anything their husband could do to decrease the chances they would file for divorce. Of those who felt it possible they would file for a divorce in the next year and a half, the likelihood broke down as follows:
- 15% It’s only a matter of time, it will happen.
- 23% Very likely
- 23% Fifty- fifty
- 23% Somewhat likely
- 15% Unlikely but possible
I would bet most of those ladies husbands are clueless – which is scary. If your wife “used to be upset” about your marriage, and stopped being upset without much change, you may have a problem. Do not take her silence as evidence it’s all good, because it may not be.
As to what their husbands could do, if anything, to change their mind (less than half answered this section):
- Work on himself personally and with others, work on his relationship with his wife, work on his relationship with his children, show that he’s stable, safe and dependable and willing to love through the pain. Divorce is always hiding, yet it’s because two people have decided NOT to work on it and be ALL in.
- gGrow a heart and a conscience
- Yes, stop with the Fox News 24/7 and turn off the computer and tweets and email! I love my husband but I can’t compete. He would rather spend time with Shannon Breen (Fox) and Facebook than with me.
- Do a better job of making amends and regaining my trust.
- Stop cheating on me and “show up” even though he is away for his job.
- If he repents and changes in his behavior and enters intense therapy and accountability then there’s a chance of reconciliation.
- Yes, spend more time with his family.
- Yes, if he could open his eyes and listen to me, work with me and defeat the demon. Thus we can accomplish our marriage back
- Do what he USED to do.
- Stop lying to me. Stop porn usage completely. (He says he has stopped, but he’s lied so many times before.)
- Continue with his relapse prevention (porn and drug addictions). Have sex with me more (I’m tired of begging and being told no). Stay faithful (recent infidelity with female co-worker while high). Be honest (even if he slipped in his relapse prevention…we could work past it if he didn’t lie to me about it). At this point, I only stay for the kids. And I am MISERABLE.
- No. People don’t change. After the first 16 months of marriage being a complete communication breakdown and sexless, my feelings have completely changed for my husband, and I don’t think there’s any bouncing back.
- Turn to God/
- I don’t know. He’s never been passionate towards me and I’m growing weary. At this point, even when he tries, it seems like an act.
Notice the three there who said there was nothing he could do? They have given up; it is over as far as they are concerned. I suspect many who did not answer this section also felt it was hopeless.
If you have good reason to think she has given up, I suggest you read the ten part series starting here. I can also recommend, on the recommendation of friends I trust who did it, the Save My Marriage crisis intervention intense couples workshop. They have a 75% success rate, defined as a couple being together five years after participating. It is going to cost you $1,500 to $2,000 with travel and lodging, but if your marriage is hanging in the balance I’d call it money well spent – and it’s a whole lot cheaper than a divorce!