It would be nice if every one agreed when divorce was on the table. But, in my experience, this is rarely the case. Often, one spouse wants and is pushing for the divorce while the other desperately wants to save the marriage. This was the case with me and with many of the readers who visit my blog.
So I know first hand that this is a very difficult position to be in because you’re the odd man out, your heart is breaking, and you’re hearing conflicting advice. Your heart is telling you to fight for your marriage while your head, some friends, and perhaps your attorney is telling you to protect both your assets and your heart. This article will not give legal advice regarding your divorce.
Because I conducted tons of research when trying to change my husband’s mind about the divorce, my experience lies with saving marriages when you are the only one who wants to, by controlling what you can right now – yourself.
Want You Must Do If You Want To Save Your Marriage: Here are the top marriage saving tips that I have seen work countless times. I realize that they may seem counter intuitive and they may feel weird at first. But, you need to understand that doing what may feel right at this time (closing yourself off, engaging with your spouse, trying to make your spouse feel guilty, trying to manipulate them, etc.) only pushes them further away and only speeds up the downward spiral you are on.
You Need To Be On Their Side: Let’s think about this for a second. You want a divorce, but they don’t. You’re on separate sides of the fence. If he wins, you lose your marriage. If you win, you’ve managed to strong arm him into to doing what he didn’t want to do. So, even in the best case scenario, his heart isn’t really in it and the chances for long term success are not as good as they can be.
It’s better to jump on their side of the fence (or at least make them think that you are). Doing this alleviates the tension and ensures that they begin to give you more access to them. You want to present yourself as someone who doesn’t want a divorce, but who wants their spouse to be happy and who is willing to put your wishes aside (at least for now) to help them accomplish this. I know this may sound risky, but it is actually the only plan that allows every one to get what they want, so that when the marriage is saved, you have the best chance of long term success.
So tell your spouse that you are hearing what they are telling you and that you respect their feelings. Explain that you agree that the marriage is not fulfilling for either of you and that you both deserve better than this. Promise that you will no longer engage in behaviors that run counter to this and confess that you too, could use some space and time to work on yourself. I know this may sound difficult, but it’s important that you come off very convincing. At first, your spouse may not believe you, but eventually they will as you show them that you are going to do exactly what you promised.
Always Be Conscious Of The Image That You Are Presenting And Note How It Differs From The Person They First Fell In Love With: It may be hard to hear, but I have to be honest. Right now, your spouse sees you in a negative light. When he thinks of you, he thinks of something that is lost and can’t be found. And, he thinks that things can’t or won’t change. So, you need to change both of these perceptions.
You need to remember and pinpoint exactly why he was attracted to you and which attributes most contributed to this. Most people will immediately think of things like physical attributes and chemistry. This is normal. But, lasting marriages don’t value these things over all else. I’ll bet if you dig deeper, you’ll discover things like a sense of humor, honesty, making your spouse feel important, desired and appreciated. (Although looking and feeling your best is important too.) Ask yourself how often your spouse sees these attributes. The obvious answer is not enough.
I know that you may be thinking “well, it’s too late for this. We’re getting a divorce, so it won’t matter. I can act this way until I’m blue in the face, but he won’t see it.” I understand why you feel this way, but this is not necessarily true. I find that often, once you agree with your spouse and confess that you’d like some time yourself, they will often wonder what is going on. So, they’ll keep one eye and ear open. I’m sure you have mutual friends and I’m sure you know where they hang out. It’s so important that you polish yourself off, put a smile on your face, and get out there. You want your husband (or wife) to be aware that the vibrant, busy, and engaging person they fell in love is still around.
Bringing Back The Balance Of Power: Probably the biggest misstep that I see people make is that even when these things start to work, they let their guards down. They find their spouses receptive again and the relationship become lighter and more fun and then they let go of everything they were doing and revisit their old behaviors and mistakes of the past. They push for reassurances and commitments and scare the spouse away. So now your job is that much harder because your spouse will no longer believe you, and you have to go back to the drawing board. Always move very slowly. It’s better to leave them wanting more than to move too quickly.
Remember that your best case scenario is that your spouse sees the open, honest, fun, lighthearted person that they first fell in love with and wants to spend more time with that person, while you play it cool and take it slow. Then, you’re at least an equal partner in this this and are again on a level playing field. And, your relationship is steadily improving and moving forward.
When my husband wanted a divorce (but I desperately want to save my marriage), I made many mistakes. I begged, argued, stalked and engaged, but these tactics back fired. Thankfully, I finally realized I was doing more harm than good and was able to change course using the tactics discussed here and save the marriage. You can read my very personal story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com/
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