How to Win Your Wife Back
After 17 years of working with distressed marriages, I, along with the help of several other marriage experts developed a program to restore and rebuild distressed marriages. Today this program with a proven 87.3% success rate of restoring crisis marriages, has restored thousands of crisis marriages all across the U.S. and Canada. In the process, I’ve listened to a lot of men who’ve shared with me their anguishing experience of being told by their wives that they couldn’t take it any longer and wanted out of the marriage. They were leaving and wanted a separation or a divorce. Many of these men, by the time they called me, were distraught and to the point of despair. The men told me how, to their astonishment, they had come home from work that day to a shockingly empty bedroom. Many still tell me today how incredibly surprised they were to find their wives had packed their bags, taken the kids, and left. For this reason, I wrote this guideline on how to win your wife back. While reading, keep in mind Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”.
Today, amazingly hundreds of these men… and their wives can tell you that because of our program, they are back together again, and astonishingly, many have told me that they are happier now as a couple than they ever were before their crisis. Their marriages were saved by following a proven process that we guided them through in our New Beginning, Marriage Counseling Retreat.
Many of these men tell me they’ve come to the end of their rope and don’t know what to do, but that they feel hopeless, and desperate and are ready to do whatever it’s going to take to get their wife back. Surprisingly many of these distraught husbands say they are willing – and earnestly sincere about making the long-needed changes in their personal lives that should have been made long ago, if they had just tuned into what their wives were needing and crying out to their husbands for. There’s only so much pain a woman can bear, Now in a desperate attempt these men tell me they’re sincere about wanting to make whatever changes are necessary to win their wives back; save their marriages and families.
But as I listen to their often tearful eyes I wonder just how willing they truly are. Many tell me they’re truly willing to change and do whatever it takes to turn their marriage around and get their wives and children back. It’s a solemn moment for me to hear a guy pour his heart out, almost to the point of tears, tell me, that they honestly regret their mistakes and are willing to make needed changes and do whatever it takes to win their wife back.
In most cases like these, regardless of the specific nature of the problems that the couple is having, there is usually a tremendous amount of hurt, pain, tension, anger, bitterness, and resistance on the part of the wife. Many of these guys tell me that when they tried to get their wives to come to a Christian Marriage Counseling Weekend Retreat, their words have unfortunately fallen on deaf ears. The reason, they tell me, is that their wives are not the least bit interested in working on the marriage anymore. When I ask why, many say something to the effect, “My wife tells me that she loves me, but that she is not ‘in love’ with me anymore.” She says, “We’ve tried everything and you’re not going to change, and I just can’t keep living like this anymore. I think we just need to part ways. I want a break from this and a separation might help.” Or, “I’m done. I’m filing for a divorce.”
Talking to these men it’s obvious, they feel panicked and at a loss about what to do. They want to know two things; (1) Given their particular situation, is there any hope for saving their marriage, and (2) How should they go about winning their wife back?
In most cases, there has usually been plenty of unmet needs, hurt, pain, and conflict. Arguing, blame, finger-pointing, anger, volatility, and often withdrawal have become common daily occurrences. Things may have continued along these lines for several years, and now all the talk and threats of separation or divorce have become a reality. Their wives have no desire to go to counseling or seek any kind of professional help to get back together. So now here these guys are distraught, many at the point of tears, wanting to know if I think there is any hope, and if so, how they should go about getting their wife back, and how to get her to come to our program so that their marriage might be restored.
Perhaps as a husband reading this article, you and your wife may be at a similar place in your marriage. Perhaps your wife is talking about leaving or has already left and you find yourself in total dismay, wondering if anything can be done to win her back. If so my heart goes out to you. When you love your wife and you see her slipping through your hands, you can hardly sleep at night. She is all you can think about and you want to do anything and everything you can to save your marriage and your children from a legacy of divorce.
Practically every week, guys call me and tell me they are calling me at the recommendation of a friend whose troubled marriage was saved through our Marriage Intensive Counseling Retreat. Many of these guys, at the point of tears, several near suicidal, and they’re telling me that the reason they are reaching out to me is that they love their wife and children so much that they are unwilling to sit idly by, “call it quits,” and end their lives or their marriages.
The good news is there is hope. Our proven process has an 86% success rate which is phenomenal, especially when you consider the pain and hopelessness that many of these men and women feel when their marriages reach this level. I’ve seen some of the seemingly most hopeless of relationships restored and marriages saved. But it takes a willingness on the part of both spouses, to engage in a proven marriage renewal process that works. To do that, two questions need to be considered and answered with total sincerity. The first question is: (1) Are you willing to get to work on yourself and the relationship? The second question is: (2) Are you willing to do the things (things I’ll show you), that need to be done to relate to your wife in ways that can influence her to begin to move towards you, and to engage with you in a marriage restoration program that can result in the two of you experiencing a marital restoration and renewal of your love. If your answer to those two questions is affirmative, then let’s get to work.
First, you as the husband will need to invest some real effort in understanding the emotional state of your wife and the painful feelings she is experiencing. You must be willing to make some changes and do some things that run counter-intuitive to what might seem to you be the “right” and “logical” way to deal with your wife.
She may be saying that she does not love you anymore, and it may seem to her that her love for you is gone and that you and she can never get it back. But as I have seen in literally hundreds of troubled marriages over the past 19 years, the feelings of love spouses once had for each other have not been lost, but have become masked by past hurts, that resulted in pain, frustration, fear, disappointment, anger, bitterness and perhaps even contempt. Fortunately, it is possible to heal the hurts, reconcile the relationship to a state of peace, and restore affectionate feelings of love.
What’s important for you to know now is that you will NOT be able to influence your wife to engage in a restoration process unless you are willing to do some things that run completely counterintuitive to your normal way of thinking. You must be willing to take an honest look at yourself and your marriage and make some changes. You must come to a clear understanding and acceptance of where your wife is emotional. Then you must start consistently responding to her in appropriate ways that will allow her to open her heart to you, and be willing to engage in the process of healing her heart and repairing the relationship.
Trying to coax her, fix her, smother her with “love, and trying to convince her that you have had an awakening, or that she is wrong about you and the marriage and how she feels will only serve to push her further away from you. These kinds of attitudes and actions invalidate her feelings, creating more frustration, hurt, and anger in her, making things even worse for her… and for you. If you try to logically convince her to feel and do something different from what she is presently feeling and doing you will continue to push her even further away, decreasing any possibility of saving your marriage and increasing the probability of eventually losing her.
Think about it this way, like a teenage daughter who has disobeyed her dad by staying out late past her curfew. Now she and her dad are at odds with each other. She is trying to explain her legitimate reason why, but he tells her to just be quiet and shut up. There is a huge conflict and he ends up demanding, belittling her, and yelling means, harsh words at her.
The teen daughter may have done wrong, but now her feelings are hurt. She is crying and is now very angry at her Dad. Consequently everything her dad tells her to do – does the opposite. “Clean your room,” he says. What does she do? “She leaves her room a mess, refusing to cooperate with her dad. A few days later, her dad says, “Be nice to your sister. What does she do? She sneers at her dad, turns away flippantly, calls her sister a bad name, and treats her sister even worse. Weeks later her dad says “Be home before midnight” and she comes in at 2:00 AM. On it goes.
The teen is hurt by her dad who treated her badly and refused to listen to her. She feels hurt and disrespected, and then she becomes what? Angry. She in turn resents her dad’s being disrespectful, yelling at her, and demeaning her. He tries to reason with her and get her to cooperate and come to the table and talk. She withdraws and resists. She’ll start doing all sorts of things to prove to her Dad that she is a respectable, honest person. Her dad in response gets upset and angry at being ignored and disrespected and he gets even more demanding.
“You’re grounded!” he says. So, she sneaks out. …smokes…drinks…meet Johnny and…Whatever. She resists and rebels and withdraws. Even when she knows it will mess up her life. She does it because she is hurt at her dad for not listening, she feels disrespected and her feelings invalidated by her dad. Now her hurt and anger and resentful feelings dominate and her anger kicks in and begin to drive her thinking and actions. Her emotions have the power to drive her to withdraw in self-protection, not speak to her dad, and do the exact opposite of what her dad wants her to do.
Both dad and daughter need to listen to each other and show each other respect. And it’s the same in a marriage, when there have been conflicts and hurts your wife then becomes angry, resentful, and self-protective and she withdraws or lashes out. Now the hurts over time have stacked up and your wife is pulling away from you, wanting a divorce or separation. She is like a teenage girl, obviously hurt emotionally, frustrated, angry, and resistant to anything you may try to get her to do.
What can be done to change this dynamic and turn things around? There are several important things you can do to help your wife recover emotionally so that you can get a cooperative dialogue going with her. Each marital situation will be different and have its specific characteristic of hurts. What is important to understand and remember is that overall women, as different as they are from us guys, contrary to popular belief, are wired in certain ways emotionally, making their behaviors quite predictable. And once we begin to understand how they are wired emotionally we can expect certain behaviors, and in so doing take steps that can influence her in a positive direction.
So I want to share with you some key concepts couples that can help you win your wife back if you find yourself and your wife in this kind of situation. Once you see some of these things, you’ll better understand what’s going on inside your wife emotionally and be able to act and react most appropriately to influence her in a positive direction. And then I want to give you some very specific and practical steps you can take to begin to influence her feelings and behaviors in a positive way that will most likely lead her to open her heart back up toward you. Once this begins to happen, she will be much more likely to be willing to engage with you in a professional process of restoration and renewal.
1. First, Listen to and Validate Her Feelings.
Why is your wife saying she does not love you and that she wants to leave or get a divorce? Ruling out the possibility of an affair is likely because she feels hurt emotionally, and has reached an intolerable threshold of pain. She likely feels so hurt that she will do almost anything to stop the pain. And the only way she thinks she can stop the pain is by getting away from the source of her pain, and that is you. Of course, she has probably hurt you as well and caused you a substantial level of pain too. The difference is, you may have likely not reached your maximum threshold of pain or both of you would be talking about parting ways.
If she is talking about leaving or asking for a divorce, most likely she feels deeply hurt and before she can start to recover emotionally she needs her hurt feelings to be validated, and empathized with and to feel that to some degree you can relate to the hurt you have caused her and that you are understanding her pain, and where she is emotional. She needs you to validate her feelings. Not tell her you to love her so dearly. She doesn’t need you to apologize and try to make the hurt go away. Right now she doesn’t want to hear any of that. She just needs you to really “get” the sense of pain she is feeling and acknowledge it and not try to fix it and make it go away.
She needs you to show her you can listen, relate to, respect, and acknowledge her upsets, and hurt feelings, even if you disagree with them. If she is telling you she wants a divorce, she probably feels frustrated, angry, afraid, and hopeless. So don’t argue and disagree with her and try to convince her otherwise. Instead listen, identify, relate to and validate her feelings. Ask yourself, “What is she feeling?” Do you have any idea at all as to what she is saying feels like inside? If you do, then empathize with her. Tell her, “I understand you feel… or,” I understand with those kinds of feelings how you could want to get away from me for causing a lot of your pain and how that could cause you to feel like you don’t love me and would want a divorce.” Then be quiet. None of this: “But the reason this is not good is,” or “the reason I did this was that you…” or “Well you shouldn’t have done such and such.”
Unfortunately, as you listen to what she is saying and you hear what her hurts and feelings are, you will likely hear her say some things that sound very unpleasant to your ears. This may include hurtful things you have said or done, or perhaps even weaknesses she points out about you or things she says you have done, things you have failed to do; or things that you disagree with her about. Beware, now is NOT the time to refute, argue, defend, disagree or explain why. This is NOT a time for you to get defensive and point fingers at her. That would only serve to frustrate, hurt, and alienate her more. Remember, the ultimate goal is to save your marriage. To do that you want to influence her (not coax them) to open up her heart to you even if just little by little. You want to influence her in a positive direction that will lead her to be willing to get professional help.
When a wife feels hurt and has decided to leave her husband, she has closed her heart to him. She has decided that closing her heart will protect her and feels this is what she needs most for herself at the present. She doesn’t want to be reasoned with or talked out of it. If your wife’s painful feelings have caused her to close off her heart to you, she is in a severe state of emotional pain, and if you try to fix it by reasoning with her about it, you are in essence telling her that her feelings are invalid, that her feelings are wrong and that she has no right to feel that way. That invalidates her feelings and causes her even more emotional pain. From her viewpoint it equates to you disregarding her personhood, disrespecting her, and being uncaring and inconsiderate of her. This is the way she has been feeling for some time now, and she is at the tipping point.
It will cause her to close the door of her heart even tighter. Just try and tell any hurt, angry person that they have no right to feel a certain way, that they are wrong for having those feelings, or try and minimize those feelings and just watch the response you get. That person will feel so invalidated, disregarded, and disrespected they will then naturally shut down and will lock you out of their heart and life. They will make every effort to protect themselves by withdrawing, avoiding, and disengaging with you at all costs.
2. Back Off and Give Her Some Space.
She is experiencing difficult and painful emotions. Men tend to have a hard time understanding “emotional pain”. Physical pain we can identify with and understand, but “emotional pain” is usually somewhat more difficult for us to hear about, recognize and deal with. When a person is in a critical physical condition and suffering pain, what they are needing is some quiet, low-stress time to heal and recover. It’s the same with a wife who is experiencing emotional pain. She needs some quiet time to rest, calm down and begin to recover from the emotional trauma of the crisis she is feeling. This may require some processing of her pain with a trusted friend or counselor so that she can regain a sense of calm, start feeling safe again, and have a chance to re-gather her sense of personhood and value. All of that usually requires time in a peaceful, non-threatening, non-conflicted environment. So do everything you can to give her some time, space, and privacy, When a person has been in an auto accident and is severely injured, they are traumatized and that’s the main reason doctors and hospitals limit the number of visitors a patient can have.
Understand that where your wife is now is like she has been in a train wreck. She is in critical condition emotionally; probably experiencing what she considers to be an extreme level of emotional pain, akin to trauma. A good consideration for you would be to check yourself right here at this point, and ask yourself “My wife is in pain, do I care?” If you care, then make a sacrifice for her and do what she really needs and what is best for her right now. Be willing to back away from her for a while, give her some space, and leave her alone so she can calm herself.
It is a natural human response when someone is hurt to first experience pain, and then anger. Have you ever been hurt emotionally by a co-worker or business associate? Maybe betrayed, put down, disrespected, lied to, disappointed, or offended? Recall a specific incident when you felt that way. Recreate the scene in your mind the details of it and what happened. How did that experience make you feel? Did you feel hurt, insulted, cheated, or angry? On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being very little pain and 10 being very much pain, what number would you give it?
If you multiply that by many repeated hurts, where a person has experienced multiple wounding repeatedly over some time or has experienced a majorly shocking trauma, their natural human reaction will typically be hurt, then anger, and also fear. A person who has been wounded repeatedly or deeply will feel afraid of what caused their pain. Afraid they may get hurt that way again.
Take a moment to try to grasp what fear feels like. Consider a situation in your past when you felt anxious or afraid. Do you get a sense of the feeling from that previous experience you can relate to about how it feels to be afraid? Anyone who has been deeply hurt by someone is likely to feel anxious and afraid that what hurt them might happen again resulting in more pain again. It can activate your God-given internal “fight or flight” mechanism. It moves you to action, to flee or to back and avoid the source of pain so that you are not inured, or to rise and fight whatever is threatening you and to get rid of the perceived threat.
And even if the one who has wounded you tries to reassure you that it will never, never happen again and that they will never cause that hurt again, what they are saying will not alleviate your fears. Words don’t build trust. Change does. When a person is hurt emotionally by another person, there is a broken trust that causes the person to feel extremely uncomfortable, and vulnerable and either to rise and defend oneself against the threat or withdraw in self-protection. That is why a wife who has experienced emotional hurts from unmet needs will either lash out or withdraw and avoid her husband. It will take some time for her to process through and deal with her pain, hurt, anger, and fear if she is going to be able to open up to her husband again or consider reconciling with him and wanting to be with him or near him again.
When she is at a high threshold of pain, the more you move toward her, the more she is going to feel the need to protect herself from the pain. She is going to pull away from you or push you away. It is at this very time when she needs you to understand that you hurt her, and that to at least validate her painful feelings, hurt, anger and fear. This is when she needs you to care enough to back off and give her some space. She needs to hear you tell her that you realize that she needs some space and some time to heal and that you are willing to give her that gift. This will make it more for her to open her heart and consider reconciliation. But, this is NOT a time for apologizing and trying to fix things and make her feel better. She is in no place to hear your apology. But if you follow these steps and don’t rush matters, there is a significantly increased likelihood that she will, given some point and space, come to a place where she is willing to consider restoration.
For now, though, you must understand and keep in mind that you have hurt her, that she is in pain, is probably angry, and is likely experiencing a roller coaster of emotions, especially anger and fear. In this state, she does not need or wants you to pressure or pursue. Most assuredly, that is the very opposite of what she needs and wants right now. Even though you may feel desperate and afraid that you are losing her, it will be extremely important that you get help with those feelings in some other way through the help of a counselor, or friend, rather than looking to or moving toward her.
You must not under any circumstances act desperate for her, pursue her, or crowd her through your words or your actions and behaviors. You may feel like you can’t live without her, but you lived without her before you met her. Though you love her and desperately want her back, you will need to give her some space and allow her some time alone, regardless of what you may presently be needing, wanting, or expecting from her.
This will help her to be more able to calm herself, emotionally stabilize and be less resistant toward you. Then she can feel freer to open up to you and the idea of reconciliation. But this will come only if you give her some space, and do not crowd her, push on her, or cajole her. You absolutely must do whatever it takes to back off. It may require you to develop your ability to do some things for yourself and to develop more independence and responsibility in taking care of yourself spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
It is more likely she will become more approachable and open to talking if you give her space and stop constantly pursuing her. Go work out. Get a hobby. Do something challenging. When a woman sees her man taking responsibility for himself, taking care of himself, and not leaning on or pushing and pursuing her she will be more comfortable with him. She is more attracted to him and more likely to want to be with him.
Here are some guidelines on what you can do to back off and give her some space:
- Don’t call her for 3-5 days (if the two of you are not living together). If you are living together allow her to be alone, stay out of her face, and be around, but out of sight. When near her, be cordial and kind. If she initiates a serious conversation Do Not get pulled into arguing. Detach yourself emotionally from the argument. Stay calm. Pray and stay with Step 1 closely, not doing a lot of talking, but if she wants to talk just focus on listening and validating her feelings.
- Don’t phone her, text her or email her during work hours or after-hours for the first 3-5 days of the crisis or of being separated, whether or not you are living together.
- Don’t drive by her house. Don’t panic. Be patient and pray for wisdom for yourself, that she will recover emotionally and that she will come to a place of receptivity to you and to working on the marriage.
- Do call a counselor or a trusted friend who can support you in this approach. You need this to help you keep your sanity.
- Do, (if you are not living together) after 3-5 days give her a call, text, or email her. Say a brief hello, ask how she is doing, and affirm your love for her. If she needs support with kids, or the house or car, offer it but do not be overly forward or pushy about it to show how “wonderful” have suddenly become. Don’t volunteer to do a lot of stuff for her thinking that will win her back.
Briefly share with her you understand she is in pain and that she needs some space, (see Step 2). Confirm with her you realize this and that you will commit to her that if that’s what she needs, then you want to honor that need. Lightly remind her that you love her. But WARNING -do not go overboard and get all mushy, touchy, huggy, and heated up about it, if you know what I mean. And certainly, for now, ANY initiating sex on your part is completely OFF LIMITS. Don’t even think of going there right now, whatever you do. That would be insensitive and prove to her you do not understand her pain or care about anyone but yourself. Communicate to her that you understand she is in pain and that you will “back off” and “give her “some space.” Keep this conversation as brief as possible, though important as it is.
- Do stay calm, cordial, and self-controlled on all occasions you are around her.
- Do not keep trying to engage her in serious discussions. Some therapists erroneously encourage their clients to attempt to engage in serious communications as quickly as possible. But this is not yet the time for serious communication; infrequent and light conversation only. Attempts at serious, problem-solving communication can be counter-productive to the relationship at this time. Keep it light ad keep it brief. See how it’s received. If it’s received well, wait 2-3 or more days before you contact her again. If not received well, wait another week or two.
- Do take some time every day to read some good resources that can help you grow and improve yourself.
3. Keep It Light.
Some counselors will insist that you need to sit down and have a lot of serious talks. But in most cases, early on in the crisis of her wanting to leave, having too much serious talk or too much chummy talk can hurt the relationship rather than help it. But a limited amount of small talk, light, friendly talk is okay, and usually needed. But at the same time, peacefulness and quiet are needed for her to heal and to be able to recover emotionally if she is ever going to open up her heart to moving toward you again. Whether the two of you are living together or separately, make your conversations positive, few, and brief. Sure you can occasionally call or text her. But keep it brief and positive. That way she will not feel pressured by you if you keep it light.
4. Be Honest with Yourself.
This is a time to look at your contributions to marital problems. But not a time to be in hot pursuit and trying to make up for them. Don’t put her on a guilt trip or play on her sympathy. Instead, be honest with yourself about your part of the problems in the relationship and the things that you have done that have hindered your marriage. Don’t blame, defend yourself, deny your mistakes, or discredit her opinions and perceptions about things she says you have done that have frustrated, hurt, or irritated her. Of utmost importance, zip it up and just LISTEN. Empathize with her feelings and don’t try to make a bunch of promises and try to fix things now. She’s not ready for that yet, and it will only serve to push her away further.
5. STOP ALL Negative Interactions.
In the days ahead there must be a concentrated, all-out effort to keep your opinions and feelings about your marital problems to yourself for now. Pray and ask God for help and wisdom to do this. This is what will enable her to begin to open her heart to you. But you must stop pressuring her, stop criticizing her, stop invalidating her feelings.
If you will make the choice and commitment to respect her feelings and see her as a little girl who is hurt, this will help you stop the negative interactions with her. Being negative will never influence your spouse to open her heart to reconciling with you. Stop it. Pray for God to empower you with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, a spirit of self-control (Galatians 5:22-23.).
The big question is, do you want her back? Or another biggie, do you have to be RIGHT? You can’t have both. If you always have to have the last word and to be “right” then you need to realize you will soon be relocating and living all alone in “Rightsville”. So do not, DO NOT, argue and disagree with her. To help keep your interactions with her positive, look for points of agreement with her and again, zip it up and work on LISTENING. Listen for feeling words and validate her feelings with responses like “Yes, this relationship has troubles and I can understand how you would feel hopeless” or “Yes, I hear you. You feel you will never be able to trust me again. I understand.”
Do not defend yourself. Do not make excuses for things you did or failed to do. Do not justify anything you’ve done wrong. Do not deny her perceptions of the hurts and wrongs you have done. Acknowledge it and feel her pain. The Bible pictures Christ as the husband and we followers of Christ as His bride. Scripture admonishes husbands, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, Ephesians 5:24-26. What did Christ do for us- His bride? He bore our pain. He took nails through his hands and His feet for us and died on the cross for us. He denied His rights.
Agree with her, validate her feelings sincerely and let them go. Don’t try to explain why, or to fix it. Tell her she is right. Agree you were neglecting her…taking her for granted…not listening to her or whatever her complaint is. Don’t disagree with her, even if you see it differently. Whether you agree with her or not you can at least try to understand whatever it is she is complaining about and validate her feelings. Do not say anything invalidating, like “I said I was sorry – can’t you just drop it?” That only makes her feel more frustrated, angry, resentful, and resistant to you. Do not use drama to get what you want. Do not get in a car wreck and need her to meet you at the ER. Do not “attempt suicide” or pull a drama show…”I just can’t live without you so I’m going to kill myself.”
If you DO have suicidal thoughts… GET HELP immediately! You can’t get her back if you do something you can’t come back from.
6. Don't Talk About Change - Demonstrate It!
A lot of guys tell keep saying to their wives, “I’ve changed. I’ve changed. Let’s get back together. I’ve changed.” That is not productive. It just supports any possible suspicion that you are making temporary changes just trying to convince her to come back. When I hear of guys saying these kinds of things to their wives, my advice to these men is, “Every time you say, ‘I’ve changed,’ you are demonstrating to her that you have not changed.” A wife can see through this easily, her response to this is likely to be “Really? How could that be? He has been talking about it but it probably won’t last. He is just doing this now for himself so he can get me back… and so he can get his companionship or sexual needs met,” and so on. It is counter-intuitive to how we guys think- and so it is hard for us guys to get it. But examine what you are saying and why? Read my article “Why Marriages Fail: Invalidation,” on this website in the article section. Think about it. What is your underlying motive when you say certain things to her about how you are changing? Why are you telling her how you’ve changed? What are you expecting from telling her this? Be honest with yourself. Are you saying it to get your way with her?” Sure, you want her back, and that is completely understandable. But touting a behavior that you have only been working on changing for one week, and yet you have been doing it for ten years is not the way to get her back. That will rather be certain to only drive her further away.
If you cannot see it from her perspective, you will not be willing to completely let go and let her be her own, free person. You must have her. You are driven to have her, and that is insisting on having your way. You will not allow her to have her way even for a while. You have to have her now. You want her back and you want it now. She says she may consider it later. But not right now. And that is a little scary so you keep trying to convince her with your “new attitudes and behaviors”. I’ve changed.’ You’re saying, ‘Come back now, give me my way. In essence, you are saying to her “I do not care what YOU want and need. We are supposed to be together right now. My way is the right way. I want you to do this my way. What I want is more important than what you want. I don’t care what you want.”
And subconsciously, she says, “He hasn’t changed. He’s still the neurotic, controlling, selfish, pressuring guy he has always been, and if that is the way he is going to keep on being, there is no way I am going to go back to him. I do not want him if he has to have it his way. I have had all I can take of that.”
7. Don't "Love" Too Much.
Of all things, do not smother her with “I love you” cards, flowers, and letters. Every time you say to her, “Oh but, I love you,” you are in essence saying, “I know you feel hurt and do not want to be near me, but I want something different than what you want and I want to be close. I know you feel hurt and want to pull away, but what you want does not matter, I want you with me. I don’t care what you want. What I want is what is important.”
When she calls …be pleasant…be positive. Talk a little. If possible laugh a little…even though you’d like to talk to her for a long time, be determined to keep it short. The conversation might go something like this; Hi, good to hear from you. I hope you are doing okay. Allow her to talk some. Then sign off from the conversation. “I was headed over to do such and such. And I’ve gotta run – I can’t be late”. Do NOT stay on the phone for more than 5-7 minutes. Again, Do NOT… I repeat, Do Not keep saying “Oh baby I love you,” or “I miss you so much.” She does not care or wants to hear that.
You must be sincere and committed to persevering in treating her in this respectful, understanding way. You cannot do this for a week or two and then switch back to a controlling, defensive, argumentative way of communicating with her. It will not work that way. You can’t do this for a week or a day or a month and then switch back over to the old pressuring self. You’ve got to be consistent with this; no pressure at all, or it’s not going to work for you. This may take some months and if she senses that your behaviors were all just a temporary act, she will not be interested in staying in the relationship. Neither will she be in the least bit interested in seeking professional help to restore the marriage. If this approach is not sincere and does not have your wholehearted effort to live with her ongoing in this kind of understanding way, she is likely to soon be out the door and on her way to a divorce attorney.
These steps will help her to feel that her painful, angry, and hopeless feelings are not ignored, refuted, or put down, but rather listened to, validated, and respected by you. That is what she needs and that is what you must give her. This will demonstrate to her that you respect her feelings and her thoughts. It is what she has always needed from you and it is what she needs now.
And you can not do this half-heartedly. You can’t agree in one conversation and then slip back to defending and explaining yourself about what you want or why you did what you did. You have to stay on track. Every time, not some of the time. Listen to her. Let her say what she wants to say. Validate her feelings. Be consistent. if you do, she will likely start to calm down and open up to you.
WHY? Because you are…
- Respecting her and seeing you are learning how to care.
- Listening, respecting, and validating her feelings.
- Meeting her need for space and alone time makes her feel better because she needs that now more than ever before.
8. Offer Some Support.
After several weeks as she begins to recover emotionally, offer to help her with a few practical things. For instance, ask her:
“Would you like for me to pick the kids up?” Or, “Do you want me to bring a check by, or do you want me to mail it to you?”
The key is you MUST not overdo this, because if you do it will only cause her to pull away and she will feel that you are doing it just to get her back, She will think you are being manipulative. But if you do a few helpful things for her in a low-key non-noticeable way, without expecting anything from her in response, not so much as a smile, or a thank you, it will not make her feel uncomfortable and feel you are doing it just to get her back.
Doing the small everyday kinds of practical things that a wife needs help with, without expecting anything in return can demonstrate to her your unconditional love in a very tangible way. It will tell her that you love her and that you care. Not just that you can not survive without her and that you are just trying to get her back. And if you are willing to keep doing these things, it can show that you are willing and trying to truly make lasting changes.
9. Get a Life Now.
What does this have to do with your wife? Everything! A person who has interests is interesting. A person who can have fun is exciting and attractive. Show her you are fun. She will see you in a new light. This not only helps to keep your mind occupied, but it gives you a level of vitality you have not had before and allows you the opportunity to make some new friends, and develop some confidence. A wife wants a friend and needs to see that her husband has the capacity for friendship. Now, it’s time for you to step up to the plate and get going. Get in there and do things the right way and we’ll likely be talking soon and your marriage will get restored and you will have her back. You can do it!
10. At the "Right" Time, Talk with Her to Explore and Share About the Possibility of Getting Professional Help.
Timing for this conversation is of utmost importance. Consider her energy level, her schedule that day, her schedule for the next few hours, and her general mood and attitude. Your approach is important. Perhaps begin by suggesting to her that you realize you have made some serious mistakes and that you realize you have hurt her. However, this is not the time for an all-out, detailed, lengthy confession, and request for forgiveness. Instead, this is the time to communicate or re-communicate that you have been wrong and that you are “beginning” to see there are some real changes in you that you need to make. This will take humility. But without your admission to her of you seeing the ways you have hurt her and of your wrongdoings she will only remain stuck in a defensive or accusatory posture.
Unless she sees in you a spirit of humility and a sincere willingness to change, she is not likely to be receptive at all. And at this point, don’t expect that she will be thrilled or outwardly “impressed” with your admission. But, in time these changes may help her to begin to open up to the possibility you are willing to change. Additionally, she may then entertain the possibility of getting Professional help.
Share information with her about the advantage of attending a Marriage Renewal Weekend rather than the traditional one-hour-a-week counseling. Point her to our website on your laptop and show her about the ministry.
Allow her to acquaint herself with the ministry on her own. Provide her with a printed copy of some testimonials and an article from our site. Show her the information about the format and dates of our upcoming Christian Couples Retreats. Don’t try to push anything on her. At this point just introduce her to the idea by pointing it out to her. Allow her to read it for herself and give her some time to think about it.
In a day or so, revisit the subject. Ask her what she thinks of the ministry, and the idea of A New Beginning, Marriage Renewal Retreat, the After-Care program, etc. Realize that she may be ready then to commit to it, but she may need some additional time. Point out to her that we offer a free 30-minute phone consultation where she can talk with a counselor to further explore if this is something that she feels the two of you could benefit from.