Understanding what to do when your husband says he wants a divorce is incredibly difficult especially as you are probably in a state of shock when it happens to you. Is there a way back? What should you do?
Take a breath. Your marriage can come back from divorce (or the prospect of one) but you have to tread carefully. This is not the time to let your emotions call the shots and we’re going to have to change the pattern which has allowed you both to reach this stage.
It may be that the marriage has been in difficulty for a long time and this was inevitable or it is a coming to you as a complete shock when you thought the marriage was fine with no major problems. Either way, you are in a bad situation that you need to find a way out of, and that takes more than love.
Can The Marriage Be Saved?
Yes, it can is the short answer. It will not be easy and you are going to have to act carefully if you don’t want a divorce and your spouse does, but you can save your marriage.
In my experience, this can be a wake-up call for marriage and it can result in a stronger relationship, not a broken one, but this is a delicate process and you need to approach this situation with a lot of care at a time when emotions will be running high. I recently wrote a piece answering the question does my husband really want a divorce and often he doesn’t actually want to get divorced, he just doesn’t see another option. We just need to help him see one.
I am going to share with you a few golden rules that I have used to help many couples come back from the edge.
Golden Rules For Changing Your Husband’s mind
There are a few things that will really help at this stage to stop the divorce from going ahead
- Impossible as it might feel try to stay calm in your conversations with your husband
- Listen to what he has to say
- Take on board what his reasons are, admit when you are in the wrong
- Work out what you want
- Work on getting the two of you talking about saving the marriage
- Keep the conversation future-focused and paint a picture of how you could be together
Note: I’m going to have to talk in fairly general terms here. I don’t know you, your husband or your marriage. If you haven’t already – make sure you take the marriage assessment quiz so we can focus on your marriage and getting things back on track (quickly).
It may be that you are in total shock, that this is completely out of the blue and you can’t understand any of it, it may have been threatened in the past and finally, it has come to the point where your husband has said he wants a divorce.
Either way, it will be a shock and awful to hear. It can feel like it’s the end of the world as you know it and you don’t want the relationship to end.
Take time here to think and digest what is being said, even if it is 5 minutes on your own before you respond. this will help you gather your thought before you launch into an attack and damage the situation any further, which believe me it is possible to do even at this stage.
if you find yourself screaming, stop and leave the room for a few minutes, or just sit and breathe, nothing you do here in anger will help. Tell your husband you are in shock and ask for a few minutes.
If he tells you and then leaves you to have time to think and work out what you want and what you want to say before you talk again. There will be other opportunities to speak, this is not your only chance to save the marriage.
This might sound like crazy advice when you hear that your spouse wants a divorce, but it is the best advice I can give any couple. You are going to have to find out why he wants a divorce and once you ask you cant launch into a defensive attack. You need to really listen to what he wants because you both have to work for a fix and listening to what he really wants and getting as much detail as possible is the way forward.
It may be hard to hear, there may be a lot of hurtful things said and they may not all be true in your opinion, either way, letting your spouse talk it all through without you correcting him every time you disagree is one of the toughest jobs here. He needs to be able to speak and say what he wants without a fight from you on every sentence.
this deep listening to his whole story takes you further towards a fix than you can imagine, it will shortcut months of fights and maybe take you back from the brink of divorce quite quickly.
Admit When You Are in the Wrong
Having listened properly to all that your spouse has to say, and to get all this out in the open you are going to have to ask can you talk, and ask questions to get everything out in the open. If you don’t want this divorce then if there are things that are hard to listen to and you disagree with, ask for examples of some of the things your husband feels aggrieved about.
Showing you are willing to listen properly will change the tone of the conversation and will help both of you stay calm. It may be you can accept that he is right and you can find a way to say sorry and work out how to change these things in the future.
It may be that you have been completely unaware of how your spouse has been feeling, you may have been too busy at work, r with kids or both to notice, or he may be good at bottling things up. When the floodgates open, and often the threat of divorce brings everything out, it can be good for the marriage that nothing is hidden anymore, and it can be dealt with.
Being willing to accept some criticism is the key here to moving forward.
Work Out What You Want
There are two people in this marriage and two people have to work out what they want here. Often a statement of ‘I want a divorce’ means I don’t want what I have and the only way I know how to change it is to leave. It can be easier to leave or not to see a way of fixing things.
You need to both want something different to make this work. It is likely that there is still love in marriage, and there are a number of reasons to stay together. Talking about the love you have and the life you have shared is important.
It is equally important to say out loud to each other what it is you really want, how you both want to feel. There is every chance that both of you are going to say you want to be happy and then it’s a matter of working out how to make each other happy.
This may be a time of compromise for both of you, if you still love each other and there are other reasons to stay together then that is what you need to agree on, and how you go forward is next.
Work on Getting the Two of You Talking
My questions to ask to save your marriage can give you a good starting point here. How you get to the point of listening to your husband talking about what you want and sorting things out really depends on proper conversations. This takes time.
I suggest you do not try to have this conversation as soon as your husband tells you he wants a divorce. your spouse will probably not want to talk right away and be full of emotion in telling you this. You will be full of all sorts of emotions on hearing it. Now is not the time for an instant fix.
Relationships take time to fix, it may be you use a counselor or another family member to help you both have some good conversations. Either way, try and have these conversations when emotions are not running as high when you have both taken time to breathe.
It is best to agree to talk, and perhaps to do this over dinner or a walk, where you are both likely to stay calm and focus on just you two.
When you are married you can get too caught up n day to day living to pay attention to the marriage itself, taking time now is important it can’t be out of, you need to dedicate the time, and set up the conversation with the statement that you want to talk, to listen and to try and fix things.
Paint a Picture of How You Could Be Together
This works when you have followed all the advice above. You have stayed calm, done a lot of listening, taken on board what is said and admit some fault where it is true.
You both need to build this picture of what it is you want, and start to work on how you get there. Part of this will come from understanding what drove your husband to say this in the first place, but lots of it will come from honest conversations about the two of you and what you both want.
This is the conversation that carries the marriage forward, keeps you safe for the future. This is the kind of conversation you should have every now and again inside a marriage so you both stay on track.
Keeping the conversation positive and future-focused and describing the things you will do together and how it will feel will make both of you feel better about the relationship you are in.
This dreaming of a future together is easy in the early stages of a relationship and getting it back is important as this is a fresh start for both of you. A warning shot has been fired across your bow. Take this and turn it around by keeping your eyes on the prize of a stronger relationship than you have had of late.
Things to Avoid at This Stage
I know it seems like an easy thing to say but it is incredibly important that you think before you speak, this is a critical time for the marriage and you can push it over the edge and off a cliff if you become a screaming harpy or incredibly needy.
Begging, shouting, threatening, using the kids as blackmail, all these reactions happen and none of them are useful or lead to a reconciliation. A lot of things said in anger at this stage can do more damage and allow your husband to confirm in his mind that he was right you are not matched you should not be together.
if you use threatening behavior especially around children and father’s access at this time it just raises the legal game and takes you one set farther down the path of being unreasonable therefore why should he stay.
If you beg it makes him respect you less and makes staying less attractive.
Shouting and dragging up old hurts just remind him of all the stuff driving him towards divorce, so best keeping your powder dry and not looking backward to all the things he has done ‘wrong’ in the past. Reminding him of all the reasons why he is not lovable doesn’t bring you closer.
The bottom line now is not the time to air old grievances, to threaten not to let him see the children, or to beg him to come back.
Stopping the Divorce (Quickly)