Giver her space, but let her know why.

This is the second part in a series for men facing divorce. See parts one, two, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten.

Couple sitting apart © Pashok |

She has had enough. She does not want to talk, or work on it; she just wants it to end. Failure to respect this is only going to make her mad, and that won’t help you save your marriage. You need to communicate to you respect her need for some space, and you are giving that to her because you love her, not because you want to be divorced. I say communicate because talking to her is probably not the best way to go. Even if she is will listen to you, odds are one, or the other of you will get upset and say something that just makes things worse. An e-mail or short letter is the way to go here.

You want her to continue her life as normally as possible. This means letting her stay in the house/apartment, while you find other accommodation. It means letting her know you will find somewhere else to go to church so she can feel okay going to the church she knows. It means not using the children as a way of inserting yourself into her life.

Some guys think making it difficult for her will snap her out of it, but this is not what happens. Any challenge makes her even more sure she should leave. She has been building up to this for a while, she has thought it out; she has plans. Because of this the odds are she will handle challenges well, tells her she does not need you. Additionally, pushing her away from what she knows, and from those closest her, just encourages her to make new habits and new friends. This is the exact opposite of what you want.

You must realise she does not want to see you or talk to you right now. She is almost certainly afraid, to some extent, you will push yourself on her. Maybe you have given her cause to fear this, and maybe you have not, but most women expect it. If you show her you understand and do not want to make her uncomfortable, it can help a great deal. I realise you cannot work things out if you are not communicating, but giving her space allows her to calm down, and shows her you respect her more than she has thought you do.

  • If you have kids, let her know you want to find ways to spend time with them so it won’t be a problem for her. Tell her you are open to picking up and dropping them off at a neutral, public place or someone’s home.
  • Ask her if she would like you to copy all communications with her to a third-party.
  • DO NOT just show up at the house for ANY reason. If you need something, let her know, and ask when you can come by. I said ask her, not tell her. Ask her if she wants to be gone when you come by, or if she wants a friend or two to be there with her.
  • Give her your house keys; all of them.

In all of this, continue to communicate, gently, that your desire and prayer is to reunite.

No idea what to say (write)? Use this as a starting place:

Her first name (skip the nicknames and other stuff, it will feel insincere or manipulative),

I don’t understand what is happening, but I can see you are deeply hurt. I do not want to divorce, but I know I can’t force you to stay with me. It is my deepest desire, and my prayer, that we can work this out. I will work hard to save our marriage; please let me know what I have done so I can start working on my stuff.

I can see you need to have time away from me, and I respect that need. I want this to be as easy as possible for you, so I have made arrangements to stay at ______________. Let me know when I can come by to drop off my keys and get what I need. If you don’t want to be there, I understand. If you want someone to be there with you, or in place of you, that’s fine. It’s your call.

I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable with your friends. I will not bad mouth you in any way and I won’t try to get our friends to choose sides. I realise seeing me at church would be very difficult, so I will go to (another church or another service) for the time being.

I will, of course, want to spend times with the kids. However, I don’t want to use them as pawns, or make you uncomfortable. We can arrange swapping of the kids in a public place, or at someone else’s house. I have no intention of trying to turn the kids against you, and will only tell them we are having problems and I hope we can work them out. I will not put this on you or try to make you “the bad guy”.

Let me know how you want to communicate when we need to do so. If you don’t want to talk, I understand. We can do email. If you want me to copy everything I write to someone, let me know.

You may not feel or believe it right now, but I do love you, and I want to continue being your husband. I want to understand what I have done to drive you away so I can change. I want to become the man you need and deserve. I pray giving you the space you need will allow you to feel okay about giving me a chance to work things out. I realise the problems are many and long-term, and there is no quick fix. I’m in this for the long haul.

Your name

My bride, who has dealt with women leaving or thinking of leaving a husband, says a letter like this would give any woman pause. Many would not believe it, but if it were followed with action matching the words, it would shock and confuse almost any wife seeking a divorce. Shocked and confused is good, it means she may consider things are not as she thinks, or at least that she was wrong her husband could not or would not change. Additionally, following up on such a letter with actions that match the words would leave a woman with very little cover. She cannot point to anything he is doing at the moment that is wrong, selfish, or harmful. Regardless of what is in the past, or what she says is in the past, the man who writes such a letter, and follows it with appropriate actions, is clearly trying to save his marriage. Such a man shows he won’t let his pride or fear or his own perceptions destroy his marriage.

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11 Comments on “Giver her space, but let her know why.

  1. I would say maybe to this.

    This is largely what I did when my ex-wife left. Of course she just left.

    The problem with this advice is it doesn’t work on those having an affair. They take the letter and crumble it up.

    When you ask them to help you understand, they don’t bother to answer.

    So I would say the first step, after you pray, and that is what I did first, is to find out what you are facing. If it’s just she doesn’t want to be married, this may work.

    If she’s having an affair, this will not work. It only fuels the entitlement mentality of someone who has chosen to betray their vows and their family. I say betray the family because it’s not just a betrayal of the husband, but of her children as well.

    In such a case, the family must be protected from the emotional abuse she is perpetrating on them. By no means should a betrayed husband leave his children with the unfaithful wife, ever.

    • @Tony – You are correct, it’s different for the woman who is having an affair – or has a drug or alcohol problem. This series if for the husband who has things that can be changed – things about him that he can change.

      • The problem is, you don’t know why she’s saying what she is saying until you dig.

        It would be great if you could just assume the best. The problem is, if you and it’s not, if she really is having an affair, regardless how hard you find that to believe, you’ve made the wrong first step and may have placed your family in grave danger.

        Many of the same words the walk-away-wife uses are the ones the wayward wife uses. Since you can’t trust the wayward wife, my recommendation is that you get as many facts as you can before you choose a course of action.

        So I see the initial actions the same for either scenario because you don’t yet know what you are dealing with. So this is very much for the husband facing either scenario.

  2. I have been doing my best to grow in our marriage for four years. I’m the only affectionate one! I have mentally left this marriage, I realize its a defense mechanism. I have not had an affair but would love to be touched more than once a week and just for sex! I’ve bought books we could read together, I’ve suggested seminars and counseling. But unless I am sports, Craigslist, Wikipedia, or some fitness magazine, I’m out of luck! Its not just me that wants his attention, we have 2 toddlers as well! I’m gonna be honest with you guys….I’m a very attractive woman, stays in shape, and keeps it all together, I turn a lot of heads! But just want my husband’s attention! Sex is great when we have it. I could use even more of that…especially when I’m ovulating. You guys really don’t understand the physical need we have once a month for about 4 days….you should eat your Wheaties and saddle up. We are like no other animal during mating season and our bodies crave the sex and affection horribly during this time and when its not met, women stray, but I get angry and disappointment and resentment build until I’m ready to blow a gasket! I clean, cook, do laundry, take care of our babies, and keep myself together and in shape, what am I doing wrong. I think he just really wants me to leave! I have prayed heavily over this BC i don’t have scriptural grounds for divorce, but this isn’t a marriage, and I don’t believe in fairy tales either, but I do know that when I have pleaded and still ignored, then we really aren’t married. Its just a complacent union and I’m dying a little every day. It makes me envious of others and has shot down all of my self esteem …. this is where I stand. I hope if your wife is in my position, that you try with all your heart for your family BC it will be greatly rewarding in the end. When a woman is happy, she’s a better Christian, wife, mother, friend…you get the picture? We are very busy multitasking and don’t have time for distractions, worry, obsessive behaviors. Just be honest, take a hard look at what you are also. That’s the reason most women stray and leave, we’re not complacent creatures.

    • @WIFE….FOR NOW – I know you have spoken for a number of women. I know because we hear it all the time.

      Maybe your husband is trying to drive you away, and maybe he is just satisfied enough to not care and clueless enough to not realise how bad it is for you.

      I can’t tell you how many men are in a similar place, and don’t get it when their wife tried to tell them how bad it is. She keeps trying, and he keeps ignoring her, or down playing it. She finally gives up, and then months or years later he is shocked and dismayed when she walks out.

  3. I have to say I while I agree with this in concept, I don’t agree with the act of leaving your family. I get that this clearly demonstrates how serious you are, however it’s a big risk/reward situation as it could be used against you in a later divorce to show you abandoned your family. Before taking any action like this, I would recommend you consult an attorney so you don’t open yourself up to problems later.

  4. My wife told me to go, she dosn’t love me and the marriage is over, she wants to sell our home get 80% of the home, custody of our kids…….. the difference in my situation is I have done all I can for our entire  years of marriage, she even wants me to come around and spend all weekend taking the kids to sport  etc etc. we talked in depth the day I left  she  sais she has a love for me but has not been inlove with me for years. I know I have done all I could . there is no violence involded or abuse, certainly not from my side. By doing this will she change, fall inlove with me like when we first married and want me back? will absence really make the heart grow fonder’?

    • Husband If you have done nothing wrong, I doubt this will make any difference. 
      Perhaps the problem is what you have not done? Has she felt you did not fight for her, or did not pursue her? Taking care of a woman is great, but most also want to feel like their husband is passionately pursuing them. Not sexually (or not just sexually) but showing you have to have her.

  5. Hi,
    Yea she says she does not love me, she married too young and wouldn’t choose somebody like me. look one of the problems has been that my business collapsed about 3 years ago and most of the time since I have been unemployed although I am always searching and chasing jobs and have had a few but they have not lasted. I think the fact that she decided a long time ago that she wasnt in love with me and so this hardness of heart meant that although I have been a great father and husband ( apart from not having a job) has not made alot of difference. I am hoping and praying that by leaving it up to God and doing my best to support her and the family that the relationship will start to grow again.what do you think?

    • Husband I think what you propose is your best option.
      I suspect she has a very romanticised view of how relationships work, and it may take her getting into the real world and dating to find out how wrong she is. Are you prepared to stick by her if she does that?
      The job loss may also be a big thing. I’ve seen women get panicked and leave a man over this even though they have no biblical cause. It can also be the excuse a woman is looking for.
      She is looking for something she has not found with you, and while she may define it as “love” I doubt that is accurate. My best guess is she does not want passive, she wants passion, She wants you want her so much you cannot bear the thought of losing her. How you show that at this point I do not know.
      You have my prayers!

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