I recently received an email from a wife who was very clearly beside herself. In her own words, she said she could feel her husband slipping away from her. She could not help but notice that his attention, commitment, and affection were waning. She had felt this shift for quite some time, but every time she attempted to discuss this with her husband, he became somewhat annoyed and snapped at her that this was all in her head and he then became even more distant and standoffish.
The wife wasn’t sure what to do. She knew from experience that doing nothing only made the situation worse. But saying something and asking for answers and changes seemed to give her a bad response also. She felt stuck, as though the only thing that she could do was know that someday she was going to lose him and to watch helplessly while this happened.
I had several concerns but my most immediate were the wife’s mind set. She was sure that losing her husband was almost inevitable and so she was certain that she was almost a sitting duck – almost as though no matter what she did she was going to get the same result. This really did not have to be the case and I was concerned that she was determined to believe this no matter what. The truth is the fear of losing your husband can become such a self-fulfilling possibility that you’re almost moving toward the thing that you fear the most, which is precisely what you should not be doing. (I know this first hand as I made many of these mistakes. When you are done with this article, you can read more about the mistakes that almost cost me my marriage here.)
Being Proactive Rather Than Reactive: As it stood right now, the wife was just waiting for the shoe to drop – which she was pretty sure was going to happen at some point. Instead, I felt that she might put herself in a better position if she concentrated on being proactive rather than merely waiting to react to whatever bad thing she assumed was going to happen.
So instead of just feeling helpless and afraid, I wanted for her to identify the things that were bothering her the most and were making her the most fearful and then to be proactive. For example, when she could feel her husband pulling away and not being affectionate, I wanted for her to (in a nondesperate and not obvious way) show some affection to him.
If she felt him being distracted, she was to be attentive. If he was rude, she was to be polite. Now, this is a very delicate undertaking. You can’t show any desperation or have this come off as anything other than genuine. You don’t want to lay this on too thickly because if you do, you run the risk of pulling when he’s trying to push. And if you come on too strong, he’s going to push away even more.
The key is to really come off as caring, affectionate and someone who wants her husband to be happy and has his best interest at heart. At the same time, you want to show yourself the same concern. You always want to come off as though you 100% believe that you are deserving of his attention and love and you do not need to stoop to desperation or trickery to get it. (I know this can be difficult. In my own case, I sort of lucked into it.)
If you act as though you expect him to come around and are confident that if you show him (by your own demonstration) how you would like to be treated and what you want your marriage to look like, you will often see some improvement if you’ve done everything correctly.
If Your Suspicions Turn Out To Be True And He Really Is Leaving: Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you will have a situation where a husband has flat out told you or is hinting very heavily that he’s going to need some space or distance or time to reflect. Other times, he will just begin to walk away. In these situations, it’s so easy to panic and fear that your worst case scenario and the thing that you feared the most is finally here.
And this is when many of us get into full out panic mode. And unfortunately, this is the very worst thing that we can do because this will make us do things that we might later regret or that weaken our position and our currency in his eyes. As hard as it is, sometimes the best thing that you can do is to take a deep breath and give him his space. If you don’t he will either just take his space, resent you, or see you as the thing that is between him and his happiness.
And what do people do when they think that something is a deterrent to their happiness? They seek to remove that deterrent for good. Do not allow for yourself to be put into that position. As hard as it might be to trust this process, you are generally going to be in a much better situation with a greater chance for success if you come from a place of strength rather than weakness. To that end, you can conduct yourself with dignity and respect. You can make it clear that you want the both of you to be happy. And you can tell him that you will likely be there if he decides that you are what he wants.
You always want to act as if you are confident that this is what he will ultimately decide. You want to act “as if” you know that the two of you are right together and that he will come to learn this. In the meantime though, you will be the same desirable, upbeat and loving person you have always been who also values her own happiness and well being.