By: Leslie Cane: I often hear from wives whose primary goals are to prevent a divorce, end a separation, or get their husband to come back home. I recently heard from a wife who felt that she was going to be able to prevent a divorce (simply because her husband was claiming he didn’t want one) but who had no idea whatsoever how to get him home.
She said in part: “we’ve been separated for the past nine weeks. Things are up and down with us. Sometimes, I think we’re doing a little better and sometimes, it’s clear we’re doing a lot worse. Every time things look better, I ask my husband to come home. He always refuses. And every time he refuses to come home, I ask him if he’s going to file for divorce. He always reassures me that he has no intention of doing that. So I’m left wondering if he won’t come home but doesn’t want a divorce, what happens? I’m certainly glad he doesn’t want a divorce, but what good is a marriage if your husband doesn’t live with you and refuses to come back home?” I’ll try to address these concerns in the following article.
Understand That His Not Wanting A Divorce Is A Positive Sign On Which You Can (And Should) Build: I understood why this wife was so discouraged. She felt like she wasn’t making any real progress. But I also felt that she shouldn’t ignore what was good about this situation (which was that her husband kept repeating that he didn’t want a divorce and had no immediate intentions to file for one. ) I dialogue with many wives who would give anything to make this same claim. Many are trying to save or improve their marriage when either a divorce filing is imminent or has already happened.
So, although his not wanting a divorce may seem like a small consolation, it is in fact a big one. It means that you potentially have the luxury of much more time so that you don’t have to rush or push. It also means that you have time to evaluate a plan, try it, and then tweak it as you see your husband’s reactions. Not every one is able to do this because the deadline of the divorce is looming.
Take Your Immediate Focus Away From Getting Your Husband To Come Back Home And Place It On Improving Your Relationship In A Very Low Pressure Way: There was not any doubt that this wife’s main goal was finding a way to get her husband to come back home at any and all costs. Every conversation and interaction always ended in the same way – with the question “when are you coming back home?” If they had a great time together, the wife would end the evening by pressuring him to come back home. When they fought, the wife would end the argument by saying that if the husband were home where he belonged, then non of this nonsense would be happening.
This dictated the tone and the outcome of their interactions pretty much every time this couple was together. The husband knew that the questions about coming home were imminent and so he was never truly relaxed. He also was beginning to avoid his wife because he also wanted to avoid the “coming home” issue. I very much understand how much the wife wanted him to come home. I’ve been in this situation and I know how it feels to think that you can’t spend one more night alone.
But sometimes, you have to almost force yourself to look at the bigger picture. You don’t want your husband to come home because you wore him down or because you finally got your way. Him reluctantly coming back home is not really a victory. If he comes home by force or under duress, how much effort do you really think he’s going to put into making your marriage work when he’s not even sure if he wants to be there in the first place?
In contrast, if you take the “coming home issue” off of the table and instead focus on just improving things between you (without worrying about what the outcome is going to be,) you’ll often notice that both of you start to relax and that things don’t feel nearly as rushed or as forced. The whole idea is that you can laugh and interact without pressure or a larger issue hanging over your head.
Once you both are relaxed and are just letting things unfold, you’ll often find that the relationship will start to improve. When this begins happening, you must use some restraint. It’s going to be very tempting to jump right back on the “come back home” bandwagon, but it is in your best interest to resist this urge.
It’s my experience and opinion that the best case scenario (and the one that you should strive for) is the one where your husband decides to come home on his own without your pressuring him. This is the only scenario that ensures that once he does come home, he is truly invested in your marriage. I know that you are probably worried that this scenario is never going to happen on its own. But I promise that if you back a way a little bit, you will very often get better results than if you kept pushing when it’s clear that your doing so is only making things worse.
He’s made it clear that he doesn’t want to come back just yet even after you’re repeatedly pressured him. What is going to change just because you’re continuing on with that same strategy? The point is, just repeating what doesn’t work isn’t likely to suddenly make your husband enthusiastic about changing his mind. So, changing strategies is often the best call.
And changing strategies by focusing on the positive rather than the negative is usually the call that is most likely to work. Because if you can improve the relationship while taking the pressure off, your husband is much more likely to decide for himself that it’s time to come home (since most of the things that made him reluctant to do so in the first place should now be removed.)
For way too long, my focus was only on getting my husband to come home at all costs. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Once I realized that I had to give him something to want to come home to, the light bulb went off in my head, I changed strategies, and I found a strategy that eventually worked. If it helps, you can read more this process on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com
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