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What to Do When Your Husband Gives Up on Your Marriage
Yesterday, I received an email from a wife who wanted me to give her some advice. Her husband informed her that he had decided to leave their marriage. He told her that he felt there was nothing either of them could do or say to save the marriage and that it was best to just walk away and cut their losses before things got bad and really ugly.
The wife did not agree. He felt that the marriage could be saved with a little effort and cooperation. I agreed with him, because I feel that there are really only a few marriages that cannot be salvaged from the brink. Unfortunately though, the tactics he used to change her mind were completely flawed. I seriously doubted they were going to work. In fact, I suspected they would make the situation worse. In the next article, I will share with you the advice I gave her on how to convince a husband to overcome his resistance and not leave your marriage.
Look at the terminology you’re using and the picture you’re painting:So often, when we wives want to motivate our husbands to work with us to save the marriage, we use very unfortunate language that only motivates the opposite of what we want. We try to talk him into “fighting for our marriage” or “working on our relationship.” Do these things sound pleasant to you? “Battle?” “Working?” It sounds like some of the unwanted things you might do at your job, but you don’t necessarily like.
Then, when the husband does not respond to this request as we would like, we declare that he has “left.” Again, this has a very negative connotation. To save your marriage, he has to finally be on board and cooperate at least a little. You’re not as likely to get these things if you use language that implies he needs to dig in, roll up his sleeves, clock in and get on the assembly line.
So, what is the best way? You want to convey that what you are asking him to do is going to be pleasurable. But, there’s often a catch, right? Because he probably already started tuning you out. He had already decided that nothing would change. He has already seen that you have tried various things that have failed and that you have talked until you are exhausted and still no real change has come. So, you can’t just keep talking talk talk talk. Instead you need to take action. And, you shouldn’t tell him you’re doing it. If you do, he’s going to resist you more than he’s tipped.
To allow it to run properly: Remember that we let our actions speak for us. But, you need to set it up first. So, just tell your husband that you are sorry to hear that he has given up. On your part, it makes you sad, but you realize that you can’t control his thoughts or how he feels. Still, you’re grieving the loss of the relationship—regardless of what happened to the marriage. You want to maintain a positive relationship so you’re going to focus on making this process as painless as possible. You want to stay as positive as possible. The reason you are doing this is to change his perception of you from negative to positive. You want him to see that being with you can be quite harmonious.
You may have to be patient for this to happen. He will probably resist at first. However, there will be times when you have to be together and interact and you have to make the best of the situation every time it happens.
Reminding him of who and what you were: The woman who emailed me really felt that things were hopeless. She was convinced that her husband no longer loved her or found her attractive. He kept saying “We have nothing in common. We’re like roommates.” These things were probably true. But, I still reminded her that we already know that it is possible for the two of them to connect on a very positive level. They have already done this. They were once deeply in love and seemed to have a lot in common at the time.
But the situation was different then. They didn’t have the stress of adult life. They weren’t trying to hold down two jobs or raise kids or pay their mortgage and car payments. Still, I believed that if they could put these burdens on the back burner and rekindle their willingness to focus on the positive feelings of falling in love, things would begin to lighten up. I referred the wife to some good books to prepare for this and instructed her to always focus on creating light-hearted, fun encounters that don’t touch on what’s going on with the marriage.
We’ll see how it works, but I have to tell you that I’ve seen it work countless times. The tension starts to ease as you bring out the qualities he loved about you. He begins to be a little less resistant and a little more willing. Eventually, he begins to communicate and becomes more willing to believe that things can change. When he does, you must continue what you are doing. Don’t go back to the negative, neglected things that got you here in the first place. Always remember that if you can maintain a steady stream of affection, appreciation and attention, it will go a long way towards keeping both you and your husband on board so that neither of you wants to leave the marriage.
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