I recently heard from a wife whose husband had been constantly telling her that their marriage "just wasn't working" for him anymore and that he was thinking about exploring other options. Needless to say, this wasn't what she wanted to hear. He'd been talking about separating, staying with friends, or filing for divorce.
The wife didn't want to do any of these things. For her, the marriage was far from over. She kept repeating "I don't want to give up on my marriage or my husband. It's not over for me. I believe that if we worked together, we could work things out. But he doesn't seem to be open to this. What can I do when I seem to be the only one who thinks it's not over and that it can work?"
This position can be a tough one. It can be very discouraging when you feel that you're the only one who wants for things to work. It's a very vulnerable place to be when you know that you're the only one who still believes in your marriage. But look at it this way. At least there's one person who still believes. Sometimes, that's all you need, at least at first. I will discuss this more in the following article.
When Your Husband Says The Marriage Isn't Working, Understand That "Working" Often Has Multiple Meanings: Wives in this situation often have a knee jerk reaction. There first goal is usually to convince their husband to firmly commit to "work" with them to save the marriage. And, while this is certainly understandable, it's often a plan that fails. The reason for this is that they are placing a questionable request on top of an already negative perception.
You have to understand your husband's psychology right now. He's already come to the conclusion that, at least for him, the marriage is broken and is no longer providing the pay off that makes him want to stay in it. So, his perceptions surrounding this situation aren't good. You don't want to make them worse by suggesting that the two of you buckle down and "get to work."
This makes it sound as if you need to hold your breathe as you walk into something that is going to be less than desirable and may be downright unpleasant.
Breaking This Process Down Into Smaller Steps Doesn't Mean You're Giving Up On Your Marriage: One of the wife's main themes in our conversation was that she didn't want to do anything that meant she was "giving up on her marriage" or accepting that the marriage was over. But, her inclination (like many wives in this situation) was to push (very hard) to immediately get the husband to commit to changing his mind and committing to the marriage again.
And because the wives are so worried about losing their husbands, they want to change his mind sooner rather than later. In other words, they are hoping for a very fast resolution and reconciliation. But, unfortunately, sometimes this hope drives you to push too hard so that your husband only retreats more.
It's my observation and experience that you'll often have more success in this situation if you break the process down into much smaller and more gradual pieces. Sure, it might be unrealistic to think that your husband may change his mind overnight or suddenly do a complete shift and say the marriage is suddenly working for him next week.
But, it might not be unrealistic to think that he may see some small improvements which give him pause in a few weeks. And it could be possible, that in a few more weeks, he's having positive rather than negative perceptions when he thinks of you. Or, if in a few months time, he may feel that this marriage is perhaps working better and may begin to change his perceptions about giving up on it.
But don't make the mistake or thinking or insisting that it's all or nothing right this very second. You often will get much more cooperation if you show your husband some real improvement that, at least at first, he didn't have to work too hard to get.
Backing Off To Reevaluate Your Goals Is Not The Same As Giving Up: Sometimes when I explain a more gradual process to wives, they fear that I'm telling them to give up on their marriage. I'm certainly not. Often, I'm observing (at least from what they've told me) that their crusade to get their husband's attention or to change his mind about the marriage or about splitting up doesn't seem to be working so perhaps it makes sense to try something else.
So, what I'm often suggesting is a more gradual process that shows him the changes rather than telling him how hard he's going to have to "work" with you to get it. Because usually showing him something is more effective than telling him what he's going to experience, especially when he's reluctant in the first place.
You're often better off if you just begin to make some changes on your own and showing him more positive experiences. This needs to come off as genuine rather than staged. Reluctant husbands hate feeling manipulated and you don't want for him to perceive that you're pulling out all the stops because you are desperate.
But, think about it. Let's think about the advantages that you do have. You already know that you have what it takes to make him happy. You have done it once before. You can do it again, but you may have to do it at a gradual and deliberate pace. And you may have to settle for smaller victories that lead to larger ones. And this is can be preferable anyway because it often means that changes are actually lasting.
It was my husband, not me, who felt that our marriage wasn't working, so he threatened to end it. I knew that it wasn't over for me and I refused to give up. But, for a long time I drew on negative emotions rather than positive ones. This seriously backfired. Thankfully, I realized my tactics were not working and changed course. Eventually, I was able to not only restore my husband's love, but to change the dynamics of our marriage. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com/.