How to Save My Marriage When My Wife Wants a Divorce — 10 tips

My wife wants a divorce
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10 tips from a top professional on how to save your marriage

If you’re facing the possibility of divorce, it’s understandable that you would want to do whatever you can to save your marriage.

While it may seem like your relationship is at the end of the road, there is still hope that you can turn things around.

By putting in the right effort, starting with you, you can rebuild your relationship and create a stronger bond than ever before.

Many resources are available to help you save your marriage, so don’t give up hope.

Keep reading to learn more about how to save your relationship.

So you want to save your marriage!

Your wife or girlfriend wants a divorce, and you don’t!

You are a good man. You don’t hit your wife; you don’t cheat on her. But sometimes, you get angry, mean, or neglect her.

You ignore her when she is unhappy and when she complains about your marriage problems, you do nothing about them.

Sometimes the words, “I want a divorce,” comes out of nowhere, or she has been threatening for years. Either way, you are broad-sided; you never thought she really meant it!

I hear from these devastated men, “My wife wants a divorce, but I still love her,” or “How do I save my marriage?”

my wife wants a divorce,save your marriage,saving a marriage,save my marriage
Your wife wants a divorce, and you want to save your marriage.

Hi, this is professional couple therapist Abe Kass, MA RSW RMFT CCHT

In my clinical practice, I have helped thousands of couples over the past 30-plus years turn their troubled relationships around and make them healthy, happy, and long-lasting.
I am often asked by good men how they can get their partner back when she declares she wants a separation.
In this article, I want to share with you the 5 steps to take when your wife wants a divorce and the 5 mistakes to avoid.
When you follow my advice, you will increase your chances she will change her mind and want to stay with you.

I will be answering the following questions common questions

What should I do when my wife wants a divorce?
Do wives change their minds about divorce?
How can I save my marriage when my wife wants a divorce?
How do I cope with divorce if I love her?
Will my wife change her mind about divorce?
What should I do if my wife wants to separate and I don’t?
What to do if your wife tells you she wants a divorce and I want to save my marriage?
Why do wives ask for a divorce?

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 why your wife wants a divorce.

 my wife wants a divorce,save your marriage,saving a marriage,save my marriage
“I want to save my marriage.”

Save my marriage

You are devastated having learned that your wife wants a separation or divorce!

Yes, she complained in the past that she was unhappy — but you never thought you would hear the words, “I WANT A DIVORCE!.”

The rejection, the uncertainty, and the fear of the future have taken over.

My wife wants a “DIVORCE” is repeated over and over again in your mind… you can’t think or sleep.

You want to shout to all who will listen, “MY WIFE WANT A DIVORCE,” but you are ashamed, so you say nothing.

You suggest marriage counseling, but your wife refuses. She says she is in an unhappy marriage, but she won’t do anything to fix it!

I commend you for your desire and efforts toward that end — especially if you have children. Divorce is harmful and should be avoided when possible.

Be realistic when you want to save your marriage

Many men find themselves in your shoes — feeling ashamed and embarrassed that their marriage is falling apart.

It’s hard to admit that things are not going well at home, but it is important to remember that you are not alone.

The threat or fear of divorce is a common experience. Should this be your situation, there is no shame in seeking help to improve your relationship. In fact, doing so is to your credit.

When you face the reality that your wife wants a divorce, which includes your feelings and those of your wife, you take an important step toward saving your marriage.

There are many resources that can provide you with the tools you need to work through your problems and improve your relationship.

With time and effort, it is possible to repair the damage caused by an unhappy marriage and build a stronger marriage than before.

However, you must be realistic and understand this will take time and patience to achieve.

Reconciliation is not a decision. Rather, fixing your broken marriage is hard work.

You, and perhaps your partner as well, need to improve your relationship lifestyle by changing your attitude, expectations, and behavior.

 my wife wants a divorce,save your marriage,saving a marriage,save my marriage
You need to change how you behave to save your marriage.

Don’t try to force your wife or girlfriend to stay with you

Relationship repair and reconciliation require the willing participation of your wife or girlfriend. You cannot and should not try to force her to stay with you.

In the end, if she insists on divorcing or separating from you and she will not consider anything else, you cannot stop her from leaving.

Her decision to leave the marriage is her moral and legal right, regardless of what you think or how it affects you.

To save your marriage, you need to carefully construct a strategy that will show your wife that divorce is not the answer.

You want to educate her that fixing a bad marriage should be the first approach to solving relationship problems.

You want to inspire her to try, together with you, to save your marriage or committed relationship.

First steps to save your marriage

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 away further!

Don’t expect your wife to accept her unhappiness! If you do, you are making your situation worse!

Don’t waste your time trying to justify your behavior or explain why her decision is wrong.

You must understand that you need to offer your wife or partner a better life. This is the only road you can take to get another chance with your female partner.

We all make decisions based on how we ‘perceive’ any given situation or event.

If your wife is unhappy, and she sees her marriage with you as bad, then it is.

This is her perception; don’t try to talk her out of it. Accept this as the starting point.

You need to recognize that your actions and not your words will prove that you are sincere when promising that things will be better in the future.

You cry, “Save my marriage,” but if you don’t approach doing so in the right way, you will fail!

Before you can even approach your partner to consider fixing your broken marriage, you need to prepare yourself. You need to be humble, willing to listen to your wife, and then agree to fix yourself first.

Be humble

When you listen carefully to what your wife or girlfriend tells you, you will learn what you can do to contribute to her happiness.

Make a mental note of everything she says, even if you don’t agree with her assessment or conclusion of a particular event.

Her perception is where you can find opportunity. Don’t ruin this opportunity by getting into an argument with her.

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.

For example, if she tells you that you are angry, commit to learning anger management skills so you can be calm and pleasant.

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.

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 will be 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, and she will only do this if you become a better partner and she decides to stay with you.

Fix yourself first

First, get her to agree to reconcile using the tips in this article and other resources. 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 which is likely one of the reasons she wants to leave you.

The only person YOU can 100% fix is yourself — and this should be your focus during this time of relationship crisis and hopefully new beginnings.

You must be prepared to fix yourself without demanding your wife do the same.

This may seem unfair to you. However, this is the only strategy that will work!

 my wife wants a divorce,save your marriage,saving a marriage,save my marriage
Listen to your wife if you are to fix your broken marriage

10 Tips When Your Wife Wants a Divorce (and you don’t)

5 things to avoid and 5 things to do to save your marriage or committed relationship

All you can think about is how to save your marriage. If you have any chance of success, you must carefully follow these guidelines.

1. Don’t tell her she is wrong

You can try to talk your wife out of wanting to leave you, how it is all wrong, but it is not likely to succeed. You’ll just make her angry, and you will end up arguing. And then she will want to divorce you more than ever!

Respect how your wife perceives the relationship problems and use this reality as the starting point for reconciling with her.

Repeating to her, “I want to save my marriage,” but you dismiss her unhappiness will only lead you more quickly to a divorce.

2. Don’t get a divorce lawyer

You can hire a divorce lawyer. However, doing so will just make your wife feel attacked and that you also agree with her that the marriage needs to end, which is not the case at all!

The divorce process is adversarial, and if she is angry at you now, her anger will only worsen as she talks to her lawyer. Serving divorce papers will only inflame the already difficult relationship problems you are both struggling with.

Getting a divorce attorney would only worsen the situation if you’re trying to reconcile. Hiring a divorce attorney is not the answer.

3. Don’t go for individual therapy

Suggesting that each of you go for individual therapy when your wife wants a divorce will not help your relationship. If anything, it could make it worse!

Most therapists do not challenge their client’s to think beyond the agenda they bring into the office. If your wife goes to individual therapy, likely the therapist will support her opinion and decision to separate from you.

This does not mean that either the therapist or your wife is wrong in their point of view. Only if you want to save your marriage, in most cases, individual therapy will not support this goal.

Rarely is an individual therapist also a marriage counselor. Either the individual therapist is not trained to work with relationships or sticks to the presenting agenda.

4. Don’t put your head in the sand

You think that if you just ignore that your wife wants a divorce, it will all go away. Well, it won’t.

If you ignore her cries that she is in an unhappy marriage, this will be one more reason she wants out.

Not wanting a divorce, your goal is to reduce or eliminate the reasons she wants a divorce, not increase them! And you can only do this when you take your wife’s view of you and your relationship seriously by facing them straight on.

5. Don’t fall apart!

Self-care is important.

If you stop eating or sleeping, you will become not only useless to yourself but also useless to your family. It is highly unlikely that this will impress your wife and make her want to reconsider her decision to exit the relationship.

Self-care includes not abusing alcohol, drugs, or cheating.

Deal with your negative emotions and pain constructively. Don’t make your problems worse and more complicated by doing something stupid!

Having avoided the above “mistakes” when you want to save your marriage, you need to prepare yourself to approach your wife or partner. When you go to your wife, you need to listen to her without interruption or explanation, and you need to be humble.

 my wife wants a divorce,save your marriage,saving a marriage,save my marriage
Saving your marriage from separation or divorce requires energy and determination. Keep yourself healthy.

6. Admit how you have hurt your wife or girlfriend

With a big dose of humility, ask your wife or girlfriend why she wants to leave. Accept whatever she says without objections, explanations, or qualifications! Just listen.

Make a list of the reasons she tells you she wants to leave. This is for your benefit so that you will remember what she tells you. Ask for examples of a particular situation so you can increase your understanding.

Ask her questions for clarification. You really need to understand her experience of living with you.

Most important, 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 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 will have one more reason she wants to divorce you! No one wants to be told they are crazy!

From now on, and to the best of your ability, when reasonable, correct any of the behaviors that your wife finds objectionable.

Your best advocate is a new set of behaviors that when noticed by your wife, tells her that you take her unhappiness seriously and are committed to being a better partner for 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.’ With such an attitude, you will never fix your marriage problems. Give her a divorce and call it a day!)

7. Apologize

When you understand how you have hurt your partner, 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!

If you have difficulty talking to one another, consider going for marriage counseling as a resource to facilitate and improve your communication.

8. Learn anger management

Anger is love’s poison!

When both “love” and “anger” are present in equal measure, anger will always have a stronger influence on your relationship.

You need to learn to remain calm regardless of what your wife or girlfriend says or what happens. You may not like or approve of everything, but you must always stay calm and respectful.

Marriages cannot exist without love; sexual love, emotional love, and spiritual love. Anger kills all these loves.

If there is any hope of recovery and marriage restoration, you need to stop all expressions of anger. 

If you find staying calm difficult, get professional help or take a course in anger management.

9. 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 that led to the two of you falling in love. Start doing them now and continue forever.

When circumstances change, new ways of experiencing pleasurable times together must be sought. For example, if you now have children, you need to include their needs in your plans to create mutually enjoyable times together.

For example:

If now 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, enjoy romantic music, or watch a chick-flick together.

Make a date night. Get a babysitter so you can leave your home and do something exciting.

Find activities for the entire family to do together.

Courtship requires effort, but 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.

10. Recognize that a marriage or a committed relationship is a voluntary relationship

Relationship fact: Your wife or partner will only choose to 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 as well. You need to be kind, generous, compassionate, and pleasant.

Your wife will enjoy being with you only when you are 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 — in fact, 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. And 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 would be best 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.

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.

 my wife wants a divorce,save your marriage,saving a marriage,save my marriage
You must understand that your wife or girlfriend will only want to be with you if she enjoys your company!

If the above 10 suggestions don’t work, try to reason with your wife

If you have done all the above and your wife or girlfriend still wants a divorce, try to reason with her.

Tell her you to want to save the marriage.

Request that she be accepting of any positive changes you bring to the marriage.

Explain the risks and injuries caused by a divorce, especially when there are children in the family.

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. Make sure the counselor is trained to work with couples and wants you to succeed and stay together.

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.

Why do women want to leave their men?

You want your wife’s love, commitment, and devotion.

Then she must be at peace with you.

A woman hates discord.

Criticism, anger, and arguing cause her to feel distant, and she will ‘fall out of love.’

When your wife or girlfriend experiences you like a cactus with sharp needles, don’t expect her to hug you!

Criticism, anger, teasing, name-calling, and threats are like sharp needles piercing her emotional skin.

Your wife or girlfriend often disregards what she wants in favor of what she thinks you want.

When her sincere efforts ‘fail to please,’ she feels unappreciated and sad.

She may even lose hope of ever pleasing you.

‘Hopelessness’ is a dangerous place for your wife or girlfriend to be!

She may give up emotionally, go away, and never come back.

Many men are in a sexless marriage because they have emotionally alienated their wife or girlfriend.

How your wife or girlfriend experiences the relationship may differ greatly from how you do. Likely, what she needs to feel loved may be very different from what you need to feel loved.

Listen to her carefully.

Divorce is not the solution to most marriage problems

Divorce is messy and should be considered only when there are no other options. This is especially true when there are children.

The complications of getting divorced are many. One of my clients lost his business due to getting divorced, and another spent over $1 million to complete the legal process. If there are children, there is often a battle in family court over the access and custody arrangement.

Know that if you start the divorce process, it will only make your relationship worse and not reflect what you can achieve if you were both sincerely working to improve your relationship.

A better solution is for you and your partner to learn how to love and respect each other. A good marriage or committed relationship is science — when you know what to do and do it, you will have a healthy, happy, and long-lasting relationship.

A happy marriage is not good luck. It’s a result of relationship skill, commitment, and effort.

One family is best for children

Research shows that if relationship conflict is not expressed in front of the children, it is better for them if their parents stay together. This is especially true when a peaceful, respectful, and loving relationship replaces the “conflict.”
Children do best when two loving biological parents raise them.
Remarriages are difficult for children.
In a blended family, the step-parent often does not fully accept their non-biological child(ren), and the children also do not accept the step-parents. This can lead to enormous stress and conflict for everyone in the family.

 my wife wants a divorce,save your marriage,saving a marriage,save my marriage
Children need both birth parents. This gives them the best start in their new lives.

If nothing works to save your marriage

If, despite your best efforts, your wife or girlfriend still wants a divorce or actually leaves, this does not mean it is your fault.

Likely both of you could have been better at being together! And if you needed help, you could have gone for marriage counseling or sought some other form of help.

You may never understand fully why your partner wants to end the relationship — but having tried your best to save your marriage will comfort you in the days ahead.

Confessions of an idiot who doesn’t want his wife to divorce him!

“When did I become a grump? When did I start complaining about everyone and everything? What happened to the fun we once had?”

John’s wife announced that she wants a divorce. That she’s going to get a divorce lawyer.

John is a dentist, has two children, and has been married to Susan for 11 years.

“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 she liked the piece she bought.

Then she put the painting up on the kitchen wall all by herself.

Instead of asking me to do it, she got a hammer and a nail and installed the picture herself to surprise me. She told me this was the first time she had ever put a nail in the wall.

Stupidly, when I saw the picture, I told her I didn’t like it, that she had wasted money on nonsense. I took the picture off the wall and put it in the garage. She wouldn’t (couldn’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 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, so I rolled over, grabbed my earplugs, and traveled to dreamland.

Then there was the time when her mother came for a visit to 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!

Now my wife wants a divorce!

Thinking about how I treated her for so many years, I cannot blame her.

However, I know if I let my wife just walk out the door without trying to convince her to stay, promising her a better life… that would be the dumbest thing I ever did!”

Marriage counseling or self-help relationship improvement for an unhappy marriage

As a professional marriage counselor, I have helped many individuals, couples, and families restore peace and harmony in their lives.

However, not everyone can afford marriage counseling or find a qualified and caring counselor. So I responded to this challenge with my website, Marriage Counselling Self-help.

I am giving everyone seeking to upgrade the quality of their relationship the same positive guidance I provide my clients. I am offering you some of the best self-help articles and books found anywhere in the marketplace.

Explore my Abe’s Relationship Improvement Store.

Of course, learning at home from self-help books is not the same as face-to-face guidance from a skilled and caring therapist. However, for many individuals, the results can be just as good with home learning.

For many people, combining professional marriage counseling with marriage self-help would be the most effective approach.

I wish you the best of luck,


VIDEO: Your Wife or Girlfriend Wants a Divorce (and the five steps to get her back)

VIDEO: Tips for Men When Your Wife Wants a Divorce

About the author

Abe Kass, MA, RSW, RMFT, CCHT., is a Registered Social Worker, Registered Couple and Family Therapist, and award-winning Educator. He has a busy clinical practice in Toronto, Canada, and worldwide using Zoom or the phone.

After years of clinical practice and research, Abe concluded that practical solutions requiring a focused effort of no more than a few minutes a day for very specific relationship problems were critically needed. GoSmartLife Publishing House has been created to fill this need.

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