My Husband Doesn't Want To Stay Married. What Should I Do?

in Marriage

I often hear from wives whose husbands have told them they don't want to be married anymore. Sometimes, the husband has said this in the heat of the moment or as the result or an argument. And sometimes, he's calmly sat the wife down and told her that his feelings toward her have changed and that perhaps he doesn't love her anymore and no longer wants to be married.

No matter how the message is delivered, it can be a devastating one that can leave you unsure of what to do next. Wives often ask me things like "how in the world am I supposed to respond when he tells me he doesn't want to be married anymore?" Or "is it at all possible to save your marriage when your spouse wants a divorce or no longer wants to be married? If so, how?"

I know that it's possible, but it isn't always easy. And sometimes, the things that feel right at the time are not the things that work the best to save your marriage or are even in your best interests. I'll explain this more in the following article.

Even If He Says He Doesn't Want To Be Married, There's Sometimes Still Room And Time To Make Some Changes And Improvements That Might Eventually Change His Mind: Many wives panic when they hear this message and this is certainly understandable. It's very hurtful and scary to even entertain the thought that he no longer wants to be married. Your mind can go to all kinds of horrible scenarios like divorce and your family breaking up and being alone.

And while this is absolutely normal and understandable, it's so important that you don't allow for your fear and your panic to be your driving force. This is a very common mistake (that I made also) but it's a mistake just the same. Because there is a real risk of coming on too strong, appearing unstable, or eliciting negative emotions in your husband that only contribute to him wanting to be married even less.

There are many possible outcomes right now. It's entirely possible that your husband might be projecting stress or frustration about another situation onto your marriage. He could change his mind tomorrow. Or, he could really mean what he's saying and you have a serious situation to deal with. But, no matter which of these possibilities are true, you're going to help your cause so much more if you handle this very deliberately and calmly. Panicking and acting in a regretful manner may worsen any of these scenarios.

I suspect that if your situation is anything like mine was, you may save yourself a lot of heartache and frustration if you accept that you may be better off if you accept a more gradual process. A situation as serious as this will likely not be truly resolved tomorrow or overnight. It likely took a while to hear these words and it may take a little while before your efforts work so that these words are taken back and no longer accurate.

From my observation and experience, the wives who don't overreact but who take this situation seriously and take measured action have a much better outcome than those that panic and try to convince their husbands that he's wrong or try to strong arm or guilt him into taking this back or changing his mind. Sure, sometimes you can wear him down, but this can cause a lot of resentment and doubt which means that you might find yourself back here later.

Take Changing His Mind About Staying Married Off The Table In The Beginning: It's understandable that the words that wives tend to worry about and focus on the most is the "I no longer want to be married" phase. You start to wonder how long you have before you're facing a divorce or before he moves out for a trial separation. You feel as if your back is against the wall and that the clock is ticking.

So, you can feel a lot of pressure to just get him to commit to remaining married while you try to work things out. You are likely to want immediate reassurances, but this can also cause you to push too hard which can cause him to retreat or to step up his exit strategy.

In my opinion, you're much better off if you break this down into more manageable goals. Calling off the divorce, or saving the marriage, or getting him to want to be married again are doable goals. They truly are. But they are much easier accomplished if they are broken down into smaller pieces. There are several reasons for this.

First, an immediate resolution is likely to sound in-genuine to your husband. He isn't likely to believe that everything can be fixed instantly. He's likely to suspect that you're promising too much too soon. And he may well feel manipulated and resent this very much.

That's why I often suggest that you try to take the marriage or divorce issue off of the table and break things down into more manageable goals. The first goal might be to calmly decide that you're just going to try to improve the interactions between you so that they no longer seem so volatile and negative. It's incredibly important that you're able to gradually change your husband's perception so that he believes that you're offering him something that is genuinely lasting.

Because he's very likely to doubt that things can really change. You have to show him rather than telling him. And you have to set it up so that the changes and improvements that you make are gradual and small enough to be believable. The next step might be to show him the side of yourself that he's not seen for a while or during this process.

Many husbands confide to me that they wonder where is the upbeat, easy going, fun woman they married and why is she replaced with someone who is so negative and uptight. You want to show your husband that his perceptions might have been wrong and you want to tackle these one at a time.

As things improve, an obvious goal is going to be to address the problems that lead up to him no longer wanting to married in the first place. But I would caution you that you don't want to tackle this goal too soon. It's better to wait until you're interacting in a positive way again and you're no longer fearful that he's going to end the marriage in the near future.

When my husband told me he no longer wanted to be married and left, I made many of the mistakes I described in this article. These things back fired. Thankfully, I finally realized I was doing more harm than good and was able to change course and save the marriage. You can read a very personal story on my blog at

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Leslie Cane has 7169 articles online and 9 fans

Leslie Cane's blog is at  She enjoys sharing the story of how she saved her own marriage to help others.

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My Husband Doesn't Want To Stay Married. What Should I Do?

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This article was published on 2010/09/15
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