Over the weekend, I got an email from a very upset wife who said that her husband was getting ready to leave her and she felt that there was nothing or little that she could do to stop it. She had seemingly tried “everything” on her end of things and her husband was resistant to most of them. She had eagerly suggested marital counseling, but the husband refused to go, saying it would be a “waste of time.” So, she was left with little but her own desire to save the marriage and she feared that this was not enough. She asked what she could do, on her own, to turn the situation around because she was clear on the fact that she didn’t want to lose her husband. I’ll share some of the highlights from my response in the following article.
Accept What Is And Work Forward From That Place: I started out by telling her that if she was meeting resistance and had tried to negotiate and still run into a brick wall, that she had to accept this as her starting point. There is little good in trying to strong arm, guilt, or “make” someone change their mind. This only alienates you from them and gives you yet another point on which you disagree.
She did not need to add any fuel to an already raging fire, so I felt that she should stop trying to change his mind because this only made her appear high maintenance, desperate, and needy – all things that likely weren’t going to be attractive in her husband’s eyes anyway and would probably contribute to him only wanting to leave sooner. Instead, I wanted her to agree that time apart, should he chose to go that route, might just do everyone some good. Now, of course, she may have had to stand behind that statement. She may have had to keep a straight face right as he walked out the door. But, she also needed to understand that his leaving or his staying didn’t really matter all that much if the underlying tension and drifting apart weren’t addressed. There were bigger problems at stake than which roof was over his head. And countless husbands decide to come home and work things out once they have the time and distance to clear their heads.
Presenting Yourself In The Best Way Possible: Another thing that you need to understand is that what you have right now (in addition to relationship problems) are perception problems. If your husband wants to leave you, it’s likely because he perceives that things are better for him without you than with you. To make him want to stay (or to get him back home, if he’s already left), you will need to change this perception. He must eventually come to see that he’s much better off with you than without you. And, he’s not likely to decide this if you are fighting him every step of the way and telling him that he’s wrong or selfish to want to leave.
So, always take a second to think about how you are presenting yourself and how he is perceiving you. Always remember that your goal is to overcome the negative way that he perceives you right now. This may require for you to not say what immediately pops into your head or to put a positive spin on something before you just come out and say it, but taking this one step is vital in turning this around.
He has to come to realize that the two of you can still interact and connect in a positive way. This may well not happen overnight and is more likely to be a gradual shift, but it is a shift that needs to happen if this is going to change. In order for this to happen, you must have control over your emotions and you must display this to him. You want to appear strong, capable, and understanding – all at the same time.
Addressing His Wanting To Leave You: My best advice is to sort of find a happy middle of the median. You want to make it clear that you don’t want him to leave, but you only need to state this once. Your goal now is strengthening your position, not weaken it. If he still insists on going, tell him you are sorry that he feels this way, but you must concede that the break may do some good. Explain that you love him and want him to be happy and if this is what it takes, so be it. You will support him in this decision and will use the time to your benefit also.
“Using the time to your benefit” doesn’t mean or imply that you’re going to go out with other people or do things that you will regret. But, you should make the best of it and see friends, work on yourself and display your best self because it’s highly likely that once the dust settles and the quiet kicks in, he will be watching and this is exactly when it’s most vital that you are aware how you are presenting yourself. (Seeing the counselor on your own can be a very good idea. It will support you and it will allow him to see that you are serious about what you’ve been saying.)
You want him to see the vibrant, capable woman that he first fell in love with, not the desperate, moping one that would be so easy to give over to right now. At this time, you must act “as if” you already have what you want. This will help immensely in attracting what you really want and toward presenting yourself as the person (that you are deep down anyway) that is going to turn this thing around.
When my husband wanted to leave (but I desperately want to save my marriage), I did everything that I could to make him stay. I made many mistakes born out of frustration and fear. I delayed, I begged, argued, stalked and engaged, but none of these things worked. Thankfully, I decided to approach things from another angle and this eventually worked. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com/