I often hear from wives who are trying to change their husband’s mind about the divorce. Some common comments that I hear are things like: “He wants the divorce but I still love him and don’t want to be without him.” Or, “He’s filed for divorce. I still love him and want to save the marriage. Do I have to just accept this? Isn’t there anything that I can do?”
The situation is hard enough when you know that you still love your husband but you doubt that his wanting out means that he still loves you. But, when you add the mention or the filing of divorce into the mix, it can add some volatility into an already difficult situation. You can definitely feel like you’re running out of time. In the following article, I’ll discuss non legal strategies that you can try when you’re sure that still loving him means you don’t want the divorce to go forward.
Understand That His Wanting The Divorce Doesn’t Always Mean That He No Longer Loves You: The overwhelming perception is that if a man wants or files for a divorce, he no longer loves his wife and wants to get away from her as soon as he possibly can. This isn’t always true. Sometimes, he just doesn’t know what else to do or he just doesn’t see another viable solution. I sometimes dialog with the husbands in this situation and many tell me that the divorce is on the table because they just don’t see any real change or improvement on the horizon.
I often hear them say things like: “We’ve tried many different things but nothing ever changes. I’m not happy and I know she probably isn’t either. It’s not that I don’t love her. I do. But I just don’t think that us staying married is the best thing for either of us. The situation has gotten to a point where it’s not good for either of us.”
Do you see the difference here? It’s not that the husband in this situation doesn’t love his wife. It’s that his perceptions are telling him that he’s in an unhappy situation that isn’t going to change. So, in his mind the best (and likely only) option is to walk away so that eventually you can both be happy again.
Still Loving Your Husband Might Not Be Enough (At Least In His Eyes) To Convince Him Not To Go Through With The Divorce: Many times, the wives in this situation dwell on the fact that they still love their husbands. I often have husbands tell me that the wife’s repeat the “But I still love you” phrase like a mantra. The thing is, if love were enough, then he likely wouldn’t be thinking about a divorce. So while still having loving feelings for him is a very good thing, it’s not the only thing. Don’t let this be your sole focus.
Remember how I said that it was likely that the reason he was moving toward divorce was because he thought that things in the marriage were bleak and would never change? Well, this is often the best place to put your focus. You have to show him that things can improve and things can change. You have to show him that you both can be happy. (Telling him often just doesn’t cut it anymore. )
Often, when I tell wives this they will respond with things like: “I’m afraid it’s too late for that. He’s not going to believe me now. He’ll think I’m just trying to manipulate him to change his mind.” You may be right. At least this may be his response at first. But, you’re never going to know unless you try. And usually, the worst thing that happens is that you improve his perceptions of you and the marriage. This certainly isn’t a bad thing. Yes, you will usually have to have patience and take it slowly, but I’ve seen many marriages saved by just focusing on improving the husband’s thoughts and perceptions and making real changes to the relationship.
How Do I Change His Mind About The Divorce When His Mind Is Made Up And He Won’t Listen To Me?: This is one of the most common questions that I’m asked. The thing is, it’s very likely that you’ve been repeating the same words over and over so much that your husband has become immune to them. So, when you start to go down the same old path he sort of glazes over and stops listening. He no longer wants to hear the same old thing because, at least in his mind, he knows how things are going to turn out.
Often the way around this is to change the message. Usually when I say this, some wives take this to mean that I’m talking about doing or saying something really dramatic or off the wall to get his attention. No, I really mean quite the opposite. He likely suspects that you are approaching being desperate so this is your first opportunity to show him that his perceptions (on many levels) are quite wrong.
Instead of trying to negotiate or reason with him, make him think that you’re on board. Many wives give me a wide eyed stare of shock when I mention this. I often get responses like: “So you want me to agree to the divorce? Are you kidding me? Are you crazy?” I promise that the answer is no to all of these questions. Basically, I’m asking you to take a more cooperative stance because this will improve your situation on many levels. It usually eventually means that you will be given more access to your husband. It also usually means that he starts to see you in a more positive light.
You don’t have to go full speed ahead with the divorce. And this most certainly doesn’t mean that you’re giving up. It just means that you’re changing strategies and it works something like this. When you can be calm and convincing, tell your husband that you have thought a great deal about this and you see and understand that he’s doing what he thinks is right. Obviously, you don’t want a divorce but you want the two of you to be happy and you don’t want to continue to engage with him because your relationship is much too important to you for that. You should be focusing on the fact that you’re wanting to salvage your friendship because that is going to be your “in.”
Of course, you know that you don’t want the relationship to end through divorce, but if this is how you have to play it to obtain access and to change perceptions, then every one wins. At this point, you begin to make very small strides. You show your husband that the two of you can connect in a positive way and you show him that his thinking that he’s better off without you may not have been accurate. This usually takes some time and it usually works better if you move very slowly. But this process usually helps you to gain a lot of ground and it’s likely saved a few marriages too.