Help! My husband filed for divorce but I don’t want one! I’ve got this email more times than I can even count at this stage so let’s start off with what you need to know and then move on to what you can do to save your marriage.
When your husband has filed for a divorce and you don’t want one it isn’t over yet. Marriages can come back from worse and sometimes this is just the wake-up call you both needed to get back to where you once were. As long as one spouse wants to save the marriage there’s still hope but it’s going to take some real effort.
My intention here is to give you some hope that the marriage can still be saved and to share with you the thought that sometimes it takes this real and final threat of loss to save a marriage that has been limping along for a while.
The key mantra here you can’t go back to what you were but you can move forwards together to become something better.
It is easier in many ways to start divorce proceedings than it used to be. The online application process makes it easier 24/7 and the grounds for divorce in law have been made simpler in unreasonable behavior and irreconcilable differences being the catch-all approach and the most commonly used. These ‘advances’ in simplicity mean steps are easier to take and this makes it easier to do.
Whether it has been a rash act enabled by the new processes and legislative changes, or something that has been long considered, once it happens it takes some work to turn it around. There is no instant magic wand I can wave but there are steps you can take to right the situation.
Be Prepared to Do Some Heavy Lifting
You’ll often hear anyone giving marriage advice say it’s important for both people in a marriage to be trying. And this is absolutely true – in the long term. Overall, it takes two people to keep a relationship healthy but sometimes one of you needs to put in more effort than the other.
If your spouse wants a divorce (or at least appears to) then you’re going to have to be prepared to do some heavy lifting in the relationship in the short term.
I’ll get into the specifics of what you can actually do but prepare yourself for this. Anytime I get a message like my husband filed for divorce but I don’t want one the first thing I say is to be prepared to set aside ego for the short term and do what it takes to get your marriage back on track.
Note: I obviously don’t know you, your husband or your marriage. The advice given here is general based on what I often see in this situation. If you haven’t already, make sure you take the marriage assessment quiz so we can focus on your marriage and how to get it back on track quickly.
What Happens When You Don’t Want to Divorce Your Husband?
When you don’t want a divorce you have to be prepared to put up a decent fight for your marriage. Once a lawyer is involved it becomes a different situation. Mediation through a counselor can be one of the best ways forward at this stage just to get the dialogue going again.
The key to fixing this is to make him want to come back. You are in trouble if he has taken the step of filing, it is either a warning shot or he is serious. You need to woo him back, he has to see what he walking away from and regret his decision.
There are a few scenarios here and each one requires a slightly different strategy or at least a different starting point for you to work with so you will need to take a different tack depending on your starting point. This is not an exhaustive list, but broadly speaking these are the things that kick off the divorce filing when you get to the root of why it happened you can start to work on the fix.
What To Do When Your Husband Says He Wants a Divorce?
This is a really tricky stage to navigate, but it can be done. Remember this may be an empty threat said in temper or something that has been brewing for a while and planned for. All is not lost, if you want to stop and fix this you need to get your husband onto the life raft with you. You need to invite him back to a nice safe place where you can both be together and happy. You need to build a picture of what you can be like together, some of that is about the good parts of what you are already.
The key to remember is that this is a choice both of you have to make and want. To get your husband to want to stay he has to see you as the best proposition. You cannot bully or beg someone to see this. He has to want back into the relationship because it is the best thing for him.
In the short term that might not be as obvious to him as it is to you. This isn’t always a logical choice so we’re going to have to be a little beyond a pro/con list and try to avoid throwing things at him in frustration.
He Could Be Having an Affair
If your husband has been having an affair it could be that he is under the influence of the other woman to get a divorce, this pressure is not uncommon, and he can feel between a rock and a hard place. Obviously not a great position to be in, but affairs are not always the marriage killers you’d expect. Roughly 40% of marriages survive them and I’ve gone into detail before on getting your husband to leave the other woman.
In these circumstances, if you want your spouse back you need to take a step back and think carefully about your next move. If your husband feels he has two options in front of him, you or her and she is pressurizing him for a divorce you have to become the better option it’s as simple as that.
Going in guns blazing doesn’t make you an attractive option. Going after her makes her the victim, and he will be required to protect her. So steer clear of a big confrontation, it might feel like that’s what you need, but if you want the marriage to survive this, and it can, that is not the way forward.
In this situation, hard as it feels, staying calm, and reminding him of all that he stands to lose is your way forward. The advice from then on is the same as any wife looking down the barrel of a divorce when they do not want one.
just clearly stay away from talking about her and criticizing her in these early stages. this is a delicate time and you must proceed with care. Remember bringing him back to a place where he is forever the bad guy is not attractive to him.
It Could Be a Rash Response to a Big Row
This is not uncommon, and generally speaking, it isn’t the first big serious row but lots of fighting has led to this. Your husband feels he wants a divorce because it cant be fixed and the marriage is over. This can be a big dramatic gesture carried out in pure temper and frustration.
If it was a rash act and he already regrets it, you still have some work to do to bring it back from the edge and save your marriage. He has put himself in a difficult position of taking this step and it may not be easy for him to back down.
If he did it and he felt good about it and he now has convinced himself that he wants a divorce it is a harder one to draw him back from
In either scenario, It is important here that he is allowed to save face, that you listen to his reasons and understand what drove him to this point. You will need to show you are willing to really work with him to fix it. You must at this point support him, even though it is the last thing you might feel like doing.
It Could Be Shock Value
It could be that he doesn’t actually want a divorce.
It might be that things have been rocky for a while and you’re both unsure of how to actually fix things. Incredibly common and suggesting the two of you get divorced (or even filing the paperwork) might just be a last-ditch effort to do something.
Sometimes life just gets in the way of love. I have to cover topics like telling if your husband still loves you because it can be easier to lose yourself and your marriage below a mountain of bills, work problems and minor arguments. It can be hard to see a way forward.
He needs to see the woman he fell in love with, the reason he wanted to be with you. This wooing takes a bit of time, but you need to invite him to try to go forward with you. If it has been a long slow journey to here maybe you have just lost the sparkle you had in the early stages. You cannot go back but you can go forward, this is a good mantra to remember.
I will share with you a story of one client who was shocked to hear her husband wanted a divorce they had two kids, they were both busy with work and bringing up their teenagers. The wife got a horse she always wanted the year before and gradually spent all her time with the horse and talked about it all the time so her husband felt unimportant and unnoticed and alone. When it all came out that this is what was happening they were able to gradually sort it and find things to do together and are together and happy to this day.
There are ways that you can both find each other again, simply by spending time doing things you both like, by agreeing to set aside the past for some that works. For others, it may be that you seek counseling to unpick what happened and to work through the issues.
Whatever happens here, the advice to stop and breathe and think about what you want and what would make you go back somewhere you left because you were miserable or were tempted away by a better offer. Stop and think before you jump in demanding they come back, or begging them to come back.
They need to want to step back in and they need to know the welcome is warm, they won’t be made feel bad for wanting out, that both of you are going to make things better, and ultimately that they are loved and wanted.