When She Brings Up Divorce: 10 Tips For Desperate Husbands
A husband’s nightmare is hearing, “I’m not attracted to you”, “I am no longer in love with you” or “I am thinking about contacting an attorney.” These dreaded words can transform a fairly normal guy into a desperate husband. I have written 10 proactive alternatives to acting and feeling desperate. If your wife is distant, try these tips.
1. Don’t stalk her. When your wife says she wants space that usually means without you in it. If you relentlessly follow her, forcing her to talk, you will only create more distance. Keep working on yourself and do your part to repair your marriage. Don’t suffocate her with long talks. It will be better heard.
2. Quit acting weird and needy. If you are desperate for reassurance, it will stress her out and drive her further away. It isn’t attractive. Keep living your life. You still need friends, hobbies and other pursuits. It is still important to do well at your job. And if you have children, be a great dad. Be someone she would want to be with. She didn’t fall in love with a desperate, needy person.
3. Be positive. Don’t walk around with a self-defeated, pitiful look on your face. Be engaging. Make at least two positive comments to her each day. Be specific when you complement. “I really enjoyed going out to eat with you last night. I loved your sense of humor.” She may respond to complements and she may not. Complement her, because you love her—not to manipulate a response. Be genuine.
4. Don’t make threats. Often people make threats when they feel desperate and regret it once they calm down. You move on, but your wife doesn’t. Threats have a way of coming back to haunt future conflicts. Only lay out an ultimatum when you are in your right mind and intend to follow through with it. Since you may be feeling unusually emotional, you may need to bite your tongue and only say what is helpful.
5. Cut back on criticism. Pick your battles. Talk about what is most important and let other concerns go. Your distant spouse may easily feel judged. She may already feel guilty for being distant. When you do state a concern or need, be concise. Don’t be accusatory or stack your case. Avoid bludgeoning her with a lot of words. Make sure the positive far outweighs the negative.
6. Listen. Quit looking at your phone and give your full attention. Don’t think about what you want to say next, interrupt, debate, or try to fix her. Catch what she says before you respond. Like baseball, you have to catch the ball before you throw it. Understand and respect her thoughts and feelings. You have to show her you care by treating what she says with respect.
7. Accept responsibility. Rather than defending yourself or counter attacking, take a hard look at yourself and admit specific ways you have hurt your marriage. This is a great opportunity to man up rather than extolling all your great qualities you believe she has forgotten or taken for granted.
8. Apologize. Once you have accepted responsibility, apologize. Again, be specific. Don’t just say you have made a lot of mistakes or messed up. Be specific about what you have said or done that hurt her. The more specific you are the more likely it will be heard. When you apologize, mean it.
9. Take care of business. Remember those “To Do’s”, you have put off for months or years. It may be a good opportunity to take care of unfinished business. It is good for you and good for her. You will feel productive. Just don’t expect her to throw her arms around you and smother you with love. It may not register as a deposit in your “Relationship Bank Account”, but it may be removing one of the withdrawals that has put a wedge between you and your wife and lowered your account balance.
10. Set boundaries when necessary. Sometimes, but not always, when a wife is in a lot of relational pain, she can get mean and insulting. Accept responsibility and apologize as often as she needs you to, but sometimes boundaries need to be established. You are not a punching bag. You don’t need to be treated like dirt for her to honestly express her hurts and concerns. An ongoing extra marital relationship is also a boundary issue. It needs to end for the marriage to have a chance of being repaired. If you choose to set boundaries, you may need to seek input on the best approach.
Following these tips can help your marriage from getting worse, but I recommend you consider seeking the assistance of a professional who specializes in helping marriages get better. If you would like to set an appointment, click here.