Good men ask: "How do I save my marriage when my wife wants a divorce?"
Hi, this is professional couple therapist Abe Kass, MA RSW RMFT CCHT.
I am often asked by sincere men how they can get their partner back when she declares she wants to end the relationship.
The following 5 suggestions are not a guarantee, but they will significantly increase your chances she will change her mind and want to stay together with you.
How to save your marriage when your wife wants a divorce!
You are devastated having learned that your wife wants a divorce! Yes, she complained in the past that she was unhappy — but you never thought you would hear the words, “I WANT A DIVORCE!” from your wife. The rejection, the uncertainty, and the fear of the future consume you. My wife wants a divorce pounds away in your mind… you can’t think or sleep.
You want to know, “What do I say to a wife who wants a divorce, and how do I save my marriage?” You are asking, “How can I get my wife back when she wants a divorce?” You know a man is not supposed to cry, but you can’t stop crying! Your mind calls out from deep within you: “Save my marriage!” You will do whatever it takes to save your marriage when your wife wants a divorce.
I want to help you: My name is Abe Kass, MA RSW RMFT CCHT. I am a professional couple therapist.
With my clinical expertise, I have successfully guided countless couples to create healthy and long-lasting relationships… Let me share with you my professional techniques…Many couples have learned how to turn around their troubled relationships.
How to save a marriage
You want to save your marriage when your wife wants a divorce. Saving your marriage when possible is extremely important — especially if you have children. Divorce is destructive and should be avoided when possible.
The first thing you need to do is change your approach and your thinking. Trying to convince your partner that she is at fault for the broken marriage or committed relationship will just push her further away! Don’t expect her just to accept her unhappiness! If you do, you are making your situation worse!
You need to understand that you need to offer your wife or partner a better life. You need to recognize that it is your actions and not your words that will prove that you are sincere when promising that things will be better in the future.
Listen to your partner
The only way your wife or partner will consider living with you is when you are an asset in her life. This is the key to saving your marriage and there are no shortcuts!
You must listen and learn what you have done that has upset her and then you must consider how to change your behavior for the better so she is happy to be with you. Yes, your wife or girlfriend also has areas to improve! However, she must decide on her own to make these corrections. At another time you can request that she also improve, but not now. During this time of crisis, she will only hear your request that she too improve as criticism of her.
The only person YOU can fix is yourself, you have full control over yourself — and this should be your focus during this time of relationship crisis. Be humble and listen to what your wife tells you…
When you listen carefully, you will learn what you can do to contribute to her happiness — take note of everything she says. Each one of her words is like a gold nugget you can use to create an opportunity to keep your marriage or committed relationship together. Now that you understand how to approach your wife who wants a divorce we can proceed…
Divorce has become common
These days, many people throw away years of marriage happiness in a flash. The many positive happy memories are tossed aside as if they never happened! You are in shock that this is happening to you — that your partner or wife wants to end the relationship!
Your wife or girlfriend tells you the children will be okay, and that you can find someone better. The only thing you can think of is getting angry, yelling at her, calling her names, and exposing her bad character to all your family and friends… but you know this will only make matters worse, and you are right — if you do this you will ruin any chance of fixing your broken marriage or committed relationship.
You try to hug your wife, but she stiffens like a board; she is not present. You know she is not cheating. Then why does she want a divorce? You know you are not perfect… but a divorce!?!
STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING! Try to figure out why this is all happening… and learn how to save a marriage from a top professional.
“When did I become a grump? When did I start complaining about everyone and everything? What happened to the fun we once had?”
“What was I thinking of when I criticized her for buying nice things for our house? I remember the time she came home with a painting she had purchased at half-price. She was so proud of herself for getting such a good deal, and really liked the piece she had bought. Then she put the picture up on the kitchen wall all by herself. Instead of asking me, she got a hammer and a nail and installed the picture promptly to surprise me. She said this was the first time she had ever put a nail in the wall. Stupidly, when I came home from work and saw the picture, I told her I didn’t like it and that she had wasted money on nonsense. I took the picture off the wall and put it in the garage. She wouldn’t talk to me for days.”
“Why did I spend Sundays watching sports events when she wanted to go out as a family and enjoy the nice weather?” “And the lovemaking? What lovemaking! Alternatives, yes… I can take care of myself, thank you very much. Yes, I forgot there are two of us in this marriage.”
“I remember the time when my wife flirted with me not so long ago… she invited me to dance with her. I was irritated and told her to go to bed. I heard her crying quietly, and so I rolled over, grabbed my earplugs, and traveled to dreamland.”
“Then there was the time when her mother came over for our seven-year-old daughter’s birthday. Without a word, I put on my coat and left. I am no fan of my mother-in-law… but to embarrass my wife and hurt her mother’s feelings… stupid is the only word I can use to describe what I did.”
Yes, I know… I am an idiot! Hey buddy, if you want to call yourself an idiot for how you treated your wife all those years… it is okay with me; those are your words, and I won't dispute them. But if you let your wife just walk out the door without trying to convince her to stay, or promising her a better life… then I am calling you an idiot… and these are 'my words.'
If your wife or partner leaves, your life will be hell and likely your children will sink with you. Divorce is hard on kids, regardless of the custody arrangement you and your partner agree on or the court mandates.
How can I get my wife back when she wants a divorce?
Here are five things you need to say and do that will increase your chances at getting your wife or partner to take back her words, "I want a divorce," and for her to decide to stay with you:
1. Acknowledge how you have hurt her
With a big dose of humility, ask your wife or partner what you have done to make her life miserable. Make a list for your benefit so you will remember. Ask her questions for clarification. You really need to understand her experience of living with you. Most importantly, do not get mad, justify or explain your behavior. If you do, your wife or partner will perceive it as callous and indifferent to her pain.
At this time, just make a list of her grievances. Ask for examples of a particular situation so you can increase your understanding. At a later time, when you are alone, you can try to understand what she is telling you and why she wants a divorce. You need to connect with how she experiences you. Perception is everything, and if this is how your partner perceives past events, then your best move is to accept what she says and learn from it.
In a relationship crisis, subjective perception is often more important than accuracy and truth! Don’t tell her she is ‘irrational and unreasonable’— she will just interpret that to mean you think she is ‘crazy’, and she’ll tell you once more that she wants a divorce! Going forward, and to the best of your ability, correct any of the behaviors that your wife finds objectionable. Simple… yes, simple!
Your best advocate is a set of behaviors that communicate to your partner that you take seriously her unhappiness and that you are committed to pleasing her. (If this is too hard for you because you are angry at her and you blame her because this is all so unfair — then your best strategy is to just move on. Give her a divorce and call it a day!)
When you understand how your partner has been hurt by you, and you have remained calm and contrite, you can now tell her you are “sorry” that you have hurt her. You don’t have to agree that your behavior was ‘bad.’ You may or may not agree. However, you can regret that she was hurt by you regardless of your intentions.
When your apology is sincere, and your wife or girlfriend is receptive, she will feel you understand her feelings. This is important to her and will bring her closer to you. It is a good start to a relationship recovery!
3. Learn anger management
Anger is love’s poison! Why? Anger and love cannot coexist together. When both are present in equal measure anger will always prevail. That’s just the way it is! You need to learn how to remain calm regardless of what your wife or girlfriend does or what happens. You may not like or approve of everything, but you do need to stay calm and respectful at all times.
Marriage or a committed relationship cannot exist without love. Sexual love, emotional love, admiration, and approval. Anger kills all these loves. If there is any hope of recovery and marriage restoration, then you need to stop all expressions of anger. Simple… yes, simple! If you find staying calm difficult, get some professional help or try a course in anger management.
4. Court your wife, show her love and romance
Some men think courtship begins with a date and then ends when they get married — not so. Courtship never ends. Recall the activities you did that led to the two of you falling in love with each other. Start doing them now and continue forever. When circumstances change, new ways of experiencing pleasurable times together must be sought.
For example, if you have children and it is difficult to get out of your house, after they are asleep make a romantic party in the privacy of your bedroom. Decorate the room, get special foods, put on romantic music, or watch a chick-flick and the like. Courtship requires effort, and the reward will be a loving and lasting marriage or committed relationship. As you would tend to your garden, you need to tend to your relationship to keep it healthy, exciting, and romantic.
P.S.: Sex must be part of your marriage or committed relationship. Your partner needs your sexual attention. If you are living in a sexless marriage — then it is imperative you do what it takes to remove any obstacles to a full romantic relationship.
5. Recognize that a marriage or a committed relationship is a voluntary relationship
Relationship fact: Your wife or partner will only stay with you if you are pleasant to be with.
Most people put a lot of time, effort, and money into looking attractive. They buy fashionable clothes, they try to maintain a healthy-looking physique, and they try to have the best smile possible. However, this is only part of the story. You also need to be emotionally attractive. You need to be kind, generous, compassionate and sweet. And when you are of good character, your wife or girlfriend will want to be around you.
You want your wife to enjoy being with you; so you must be emotionally attractive. A marriage or a committed relationship is a voluntary institution. You cannot force your wife to be with you. But you can attract her with your good character. This is your best strategy — it is your only strategy! Your wife or girlfriend must choose you over all other available men. And you must give her compelling reasons to do so.
Be a man of good character. The foundation of good character is being calm, and anger-free. Your wife or girlfriend must feel that you respect and approve of her and that you cherish her. (If you are unprepared to do this — for whatever reason — it could be the best thing for both of you to move on and try with someone else.) Without good character, you will never get any traction trying to convince your wife or girlfriend to stay with you!
She has told you “she wants a divorce” and she will get it!— unless you can prove you are becoming a better husband or boyfriend. So your wife wants a divorce? Transform yourself into the man that your wife or partner can love. This is the best you can do to increase the likelihood that your wife will take back her words, “I want a divorce” and the two of you can live happily ever after.
If the above suggestions on how to save your marriage do not work...
If you have done all the above and still your wife or girlfriend wants a divorce, then try to reason with her. Request that she have an open mind and accept any positive change you offer her. Explain the risks and injuries of divorce, especially to the children if you have them. Ask for a six-month moratorium when you both agree to remain together and work on the relationship.
Most couples can be helped with marriage counseling. Offer to go to counseling with her. Professional marriage therapists can be found using the website for the American and Canadian Associations of Marriage and Family Therapy. In the USA go to AAMFT in Canada go to OAMFT.
If despite your best efforts, your wife or girlfriend still wants a divorce or leaves, this does not mean it is your fault. Likely both of you could have been better at being together! You may never understand fully why your partner wants to end the relationship — but having tried your best to save it will comfort you in the days ahead.
I wish you the best of luck,