The Let Her Go to Get Her Back Mindset

“Letting go is hard, but sometimes holding on is harder.”

That’s a quote I heard a while back. I don’t remember who said it, but I can name more than a few men Inside the Haven who would agree with that statement, tears in their eyes.

Let’s look at the facts…

Fact #1. We know that your wife wants out of the marriage.

Whether she’s having an affair, going through a midlife crisis, coping with depression, or just plain isn’t happy, the end result is she wants out of the marriage.

Fact #2. We know that you cannot control your wife.

You cannot force her to change her mind about the marriage. You can’t “convince” her to come back or have a change of heart. You can give her a good incentive to come back by being a wonderful, loving husband, but you can’t force her to want that incentive enough to change her mind. Many times, she won’t even recognize that incentive exists.

So, if your wife wants out of the marriage, and you can’t control your wife, where does that leave us? What needs to happen in order for your marriage to be saved?

Your Wife Must Choose to Come Back on Her Own

You’ve probably heard that saying…

“If you love someone, set them free… If they comes back, it was meant to be; if they don’t, they were never yours.”

This is never truer or more applicable than when your wife wants out of the marriage.

Just think about it…

  • Do you want to be married to a woman who only stays with you because she feels too trapped to leave?
  • Do you want a wife who only stays with you because she’s too scared to get divorced and live alone?
  • Can you have a lifelong happy marriage with a woman who is only with you because it makes more financial sense to do so?

This mindset is all about focusing on what you can control and putting yourself in the best position for her to start seeing you differently.

No, no and no!

Ultimately, your marriage is only going to work if your wife wants to be with you.

In order to ever have the type of joyful, lifelong marriage that you want, eventually you need a wife who chooses to be with you, who loves you, who wants you. You want a woman who sees the man you are and WANTS to be with that man.

Want to read TWO more chapters about separation?

This post is Chapter 1 from Manly Separation Survival. Click the link & scroll down to read Chapter 7 about Leadership Archetypes and Chapter 8 about Tactical Guidelines for separation.

Working Backwards to Your Marriage

What we’re really doing here is working backwards. We’re saying, “What would your ideal future marriage look like?” and then we’re working back from there.

In your ideal marriage, you are the kind of man you want to be, and your wife loves and chooses that man.

So, what things MUST happen in order to get to that point? It's pretty straightforward...

In order to get that marriage for yourself, two things need to happen:

1. You must become the man that YOU want to be

2. Your wife must recognize that man and choose to love him

You can control #1 – you can identify the kind of man you want to be and you can take steps to become and remain that man every day for the rest of your life.

You cannot control #2 – the most you can do is enable your wife to make her own independent choice to come back to the marriage by putting her in the best position to do so. This is where the let her go mindset comes in.

Make no mistake… #2 is crucial. Your wife has to CHOOSE to come back to the marriage. She has to CHOOSE to love the man you want to be.

You will NOT have a long-term happy marriage if...

If the only reason your wife stays married to you is because she feels too trapped to leave, or because she’s too scared to live life alone or because it makes more financial sense to do so.

The ONLY way you will have a happy, loving marriage over the long-term is...

If your wife makes a choice that she WANTS to be with you, or at least that she's willing to try. That is the only solution to this separation. There are no other magic answers.

I know I’m repeating myself a little bit here, but this is extremely important. You have to understand this core requirement that stands between you and a happy marriage.

So, What is the Let Her Go Mindset?
How Do You Do It?

I’ve been helping men through marriage crisis for about five years now. About 10,000 men have come Inside the Haven and I’ve personally talked over 1,000 of them through their wives’ separations, affairs and midlife crises.

I’ve seen many separations end in reconciliation and many end in divorce.

Some men handle separation very poorly and some men handle it very well…

  • I’ve seen men spiral out of control to the point that they attempt suicide after a few days living in a cordial in-house separation.
  • I’ve seen men stay strong, confident and at peace after months of enduring their wife’s ongoing affair and emotional abuse.

What’s the difference between these men? What do you do if you find yourself in that first category?

The truth is, when most men start out, they don’t “get it”. They don’t have the optimal mindset for coping with separation… They have to learn it and work to apply it. Sometimes it’s a bit messy.

If you’ve been that guy who has completely spiraled out of control, it’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure – it just means you need to keep learning and keep working.

The men I’ve seen “separate well” – the guys who remained calm, confident and at peace even as their marriage was falling apart – they all did it by getting to a point where they were happy with the man they saw in the mirror.

I’m not saying every single one of these men got their marriage back. Many of them did, but many of them are now divorced.

It’s not that the men who got their marriage back did a better job than the ones that didn’t; both groups of men worked equally hard to become the type of husband they wanted to be. It’s just that some of their wives made the choice to come back and some of them didn’t.

It's About Accepting What You Can & Can’t Control

At its core, the “let her go” mindset is based on the fact that you cannot go into this situation trying to control your wife or change her mind because those things are out of your control.

In fact, the outcome of this separation is out of your control. There is no way to guarantee that your separation will end in reconciliation.

If your plan to get your wife back is to “convince her” to change her mind or to “earn” her love with changes in yourself, there is a frustrating and futile road ahead of you.

To be clear…

  • ?I’m not saying you should give up on your marriage.
  • I’m definitely not saying you should give up on being the best husband you can be.
  • I am saying that you must stop trying to control what you can’t.


No matter what kind of separation you’re going through, no matter what you or your wife has done to get you to this point in your marriage, you have two simple goals:

Goal #1. Figure out what kind of man YOU want to be and work hard to become that man

Goal #2. Develop clarity in what you can and can’t control to be at peace with your decisions

And in order to do either of those things, you have to be focused on what you can control. Read this carefully:

Once you have peace over yourself and clarity over your circumstances, you will be able to make optimal decisions throughout your separation.?

Ultimately, everything you will learn in this book about separation will go back to one of these two points.

Let Her Come to You

I want you to pay very close attention to this:

If the love of your life wants out of the marriage, there inevitably comes a point where the best way to prove that you love her more than yourself is by NOT trying to get her back.

We’ll talk more about when exactly that point comes and how to handle it later in the book. For now, start preparing yourself for when that day comes.

Right now, your wife is probably asking for space. Even if she hasn’t come out and asked, her actions are telling you she doesn’t feel close to you and doesn’t particularly want to either.

If you spend too long trying to “get her back” without seeing any results… If you keep trying to convince her to go to counseling, or to work on the marriage, or that you’ve changed, but she never agrees to any of it… Eventually she’s going to feel trapped.

For the overwhelming majority of wives who have come to the point where they want out of their marriage, even if you make immediate changes in your behavior to step up as a husband, they still need time and space to see those changes or believe they’re real.

So, give your wife time. Give her space.

What’s the opposite of trying to get your wife to come back?

Let her come to you.

And that’s exactly what you should be doing right now.

Some guys will take to this more than others, and it's more important in some separations than others. Again, we’ll talk more about what things you can and should be doing in this area later in the book. For now, just know that this is what you’re working towards… Let her go so that she can come to you on her own.

Don’t Deny the Worst Case Scenario is Possible

I have seen many, many men over the years who have gone through their entire separation refusing to acknowledge that it could end in divorce.

Most of the time, these men end up extremely frustrated because they put so much work into the marriage and see nothing in return. In their mind, even when they admit they need to give her space, even when they say they are abandoning ulterior motives, secretly they are still doing everything they do because they hope and expect that it will make their wife come back.

Don’t get me wrong – you should hold onto your hope and your faith in your marriage. After all, hope is all that any husband in your shoes has to work with right now. Keep hoping and hoping and hoping for her to change her mind.

... However, you also need to recognize this:?

One of the best ways to set yourself up for an extremely painful and difficult separation is to refuse to admit that divorce is a possibility.

Expectations are just pre-determined resentments.

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Most of the time, you will tell yourself you are maintaining this stubborn expectation because you “refuse to give up on the marriage”.

Conversely, many times the men who refuse to give up on their marriage are secretly using this determination as a mask for their fear or self-interest.

Get this into your head now:?

Acknowledging the possibility of divorce does NOT mean you're giving up on the marriage. It just means that you're aware that the outcome of divorce is not entirely yours to stop. It is physically possible that the outcome of this separation will be divorce.

Look - this is not a rule book!

If you have an immense problem with accepting that divorce could happen, if you cannot bring yourself to think in any way that comes even remotely close to “giving up” on a moral basis, then I respect that and I encourage you to maintain that mindset with confidence. Like I said, if hope is all you’ve got, do whatever you need to do to maintain that hope. 

I’m just telling you what I’ve seen happen with other men who maintain this forced expectation of reconciliation in their marriage – they end up frustrated.

In the end, the best approach I’ve found is to adopt the age-old adage:

Hope for the best; prepare for the worst.

Again, I am NOT telling you to give up on your marriage. This mindset is all about focusing on what you can control and putting yourself in the best position to remain as the man you want to be no matter what happens in your marriage.

No matter what mindset you adopt, continue to hope that your marriage will be restored! Don’t let yourself become bitter or resentful in order to make it easier to accept; you don't need that crutch.

The fact is, if you’re reading this book, your marriage may end in divorce. Some of you are already divorced.

You don’t have to sugarcoat it... You don’t have to try and find a way around it... You don’t have to pretend that you are 100% confident your marriage will succeed...

And yes, accepting that divorce might happen is painful. But just because it’s painful doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. And that brings us to our next point…

Letting Her Go is the Only Win-Win You’ve Got Left

“You mean accepting that my wife might choose to leave the marriage is a win-win? How the heck do you figure that, Stephen?!”

Well, just think about it…

It’s a win because letting her go is your best chance at getting your wife to CHOOSE to come back to the marriage.

Most of the time, the more your distant wife feels that you are trying to change her mind, the more stubbornly she will tell herself she’s made the right decision.

On the other hand, when you give her space… When you show her that your love is genuine to the point that you want her to be happy even if it’s not with you… That’s when you allow her to see you through unbiased eyes. When the pressure is really off, that’s when she can start to see all these changes you’re making as genuine and permanent.

It’s also a win because if she never makes the choice to come back, you have a head start on coping with the worst-case scenario. This will make transitioning into the next part of your life MUCH easier.

If you’ve already accepted that she might choose to get a divorce weeks or months before the divorce is finalized… If you’ve been living your life independently as the man you want to be… It’s going to be much easier to transition into the next chapter of your life.

Letting Go of Your Wife is Rooted in Love

On some level, most of the men who will struggle with the Let Her Go mindset believe that accepting she might not come back is too much like giving up.

Maybe this is what you’re thinking right now…

“Stephen, if I give up at all, then there’s no hope for the marriage because I’m the only one trying to make it work. In other words, if I’m not trying to fix the marriage and my wife isn’t trying to fix the marriage, then the marriage is over, right?”

It's certainly understandable to have that objection. It's easy to see how "letting her go" feels like giving up hope.

But know this: the Let Her Go mindset is NOT hopeless.

Just the opposite – this mindset is deeply rooted in love for your wife. In fact, your love for your wife is what motivates you to take this mindset in the first place! Just think about it:

  • You KNOW that you can make your wife happy and keep her happy for the rest of her life.
  • You are determined to continue working to be the best husband, father and man that you can be – the type of man you want to be.
  • You love her with all your heart, and your deepest, deepest hope is that she will see what it is that can make her happiest (you & the marriage) so that you can give yourself to her 100%.

But, you cannot force her to make that decision.


Because love forced isn't love at all.

Right now, you are afraid to accept the loss of your wife’s love for you.

This is the natural reaction when the woman you love tells you she no longer feels the same way.

But, as you let this fear of losing her love rule your life, what you don’t realize is that the love you’re afraid of losing is already gone and it’s been gone for a while.

At this point, you’re not trying to prevent her from losing her love for you; you’re trying to get it back. You are courting her, but in a much different way than you did before your marriage. However, just like the day that you proposed to your wife, you can ask the question, you can hope she joins you, but ultimately you can’t control the answer and you wouldn’t want to even if you could. Because again...

Love forced isn't love at all.

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In the end, letting go of your wife isn't about "being realistic"…

It's about coming to an understanding of what you really want and what love really means.

If you’re reading this, if you’re Inside the Haven, you have done and will do everything you possibly can to be the best husband and father and man you can be.

You KNOW that.

I know that.

That part isn’t up for debate.

Right now, you are waiting with open arms for your wife because that is under your control. And you WANT your wife to love you and to come back to a relationship with you, not just for your own and your family's happiness, but for hers too.

But, you also know that it must be her choice, because otherwise it won't stick.

By accepting that the future of your marriage rests on your wife’s choice to come back to it, you recognize that yes, there is a chance she might make the choice to divorce, and that will be heartbreaking. All the more so because you KNOW how happy you could make her. You don't have to pretend that, "Yeah, my wife might not come back, but it's okay, I won't be sad. Instead I’ll just be happy and life will be roses and this whole thing will just be awesome!!"

You don't have to pretend it doesn't hurt. That's not healthy or realistic.

You can allow yourself to be afraid of your wife making the choice to divorce and still relinquish control. Because after all that, the upside is worth it... If she DOES choose to come back, oh how joyful that will be! Oh how much love the two of you will be able to share!

The only way to the marriage of your dreams lies in letting your wife choose to join you in it.

… And that’s where the “let her go to get her back” mindset comes from.

Want the next chapter?

Click here then scroll down to get two more sample chapters for free. Chapter 7 is all about leading your marriage when your wife wants out, and Chapter 8 is about 11 Tactical Guidelines for you to use during your separation.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 45 comments
Joshua - last year

Thank you for this. This is exactly what Gods being leading me to and through.

Randy - last year

letting her go is so painful, I know what I am supposed to do. it is applying it that I am having difficulty with.
let her go, for her to choose to come back. 28 years together her 19 years old me 20 been with each other our entire lives. two grown daughters at some point her and I lost touch, intimacy, emotional connection. she one day says to me after all seemed ok (not great but ok) don’t ever touch me again I want out, this was out of the blue to me. she moved out, broke off virtually all contact, I am trying to let her go. I am trying to let her go.

    matthew savage - a few months ago

    I’m there with you brother. I knew things were a little bit Rocky and I started trying to reach out to her and she kind of blew up in my face and then all of a sudden everything was wrong. A lot of it she said didn’t have to do with me. When she asked for a separation and when I came back she said she needed a longer. I spent a month trying to be loving but also trying to give her space and that backfired. Now she’s moved out and completely cut off all communication.

    This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me and I don’t know how to deal with it. I know I’m supposed to let her go and so I haven’t reached out and I haven’t made contact in days and days… But this is crap

    Miki - a couple of months ago

    Happened to me as well just got a WhatsApp text that she’s tired of my bad ways and wants out at first I was devastated but you can’t live someone who doesn’t love you back.

Frank - last year

Thank God for people like you Stephen, On top of all the hurt and confusion that a situation like this causes , when looking for answers from anywhere , there is a lot of conflicting advise on what to do out there . I wish I had read this article much earlier , and pray that others in my situation have the strength to accept and act on what you have mentioned .

Thank you for the good advise .


Kent - last year

Wow, wow is all l can say. Stephen your words ring true so true. This is the hardest thing lve ever endured and yet l feel a sense of calm reading your words. I’m letting go.

MAQ - last year

Stephen, I’ve read this message from so many other sources and have had it DICTATED to me so many times over the past 6 months of our separation, but for some reason it’s finally hitting home with these words. Thanks so much. I hope that I haven’t pushed too much at this point to allow her to feel safe enough to approach me. I love her so much and have been in a flat panic. I really messed up for a long time (addiction, neglect, undisclosed infidelity from years ago), and am a much different person. She says she wants a new experience with someone new. Here’s hoping she’ll be able to see that the changes I’ve made over the years are real, lasting — that I am a new person and capable of providing a new experience.


Brad - last year

Hi Stephen,
Thanks for the article, this is where I am now. I was with my wife for nearly 21yrs, we had our good and bad times. Always got along really well. Well things had been rocky for the last couple of years, and I thought we had turned a corner and things were getting better. Well she told me she wanted to separate, and need to find herself. Well eventually she moved out. We still each other a lot, and talked all the time. I never stopped trying to work things out, even when she tried dating I was trying. Eventually things blew up and I said I had enough and was going to walk away. We talked and agreed that we would work on things, a few weeks went by and she told me that she was feeling too much pressure and wasn’t ready to start back into a relationship with me, and needed space to sort her stuff out. She is going to a counselor to help. So I guess because I love her, and want her back I have no choice right now but to give her the space. Reading this article has given me some hope that maybe it isn’t completely done.

SE - last year


You may want to edit this section I placed in quotation below to remove the wording “WRONG”. I was looking into this site to get research on what’s happening because I was completely caught off guard. Things weren’t great but we’ve survived worse trials. Death, illness, stress, kids, moving, etc. The minute she saw this page that I had looked at it enraged her. “Oh, I can’t make this decision because it’s “WRONG”. Everyone else knows what’s RIGHT and I’m always WRONG!” That was essentially how the conversation went. I’m fairly confident my marriage is over but perhaps this can save someones…

“By accepting that the future of your marriage rests on your wife’s choice to come back to it, you recognize that yes, there is a chance she might make the WRONG choice, and that will be heartbreaking. All the more so because you KNOW how happy you could make her. You don’t have to pretend that, “Yeah, my wife might not come back, but it’s okay, I won’t be sad. Instead I’ll just be happy and life will be roses and this whole thing will just be awesome!!”

You don’t have to pretend it doesn’t hurt. That’s not healthy or realistic.

You can allow yourself to be afraid of your wife making the WRONG choice and still relinquish control. Because after all that, the upside is worth it… If she DOES choose to come back, oh how joyful that will be. Oh how much love the two of you will be able to share!”

    Stephen - last year


    You make a very good point and I am so deeply sorry for the hurt that your wife has felt and the bias that she feels is pointed against her. This is certainly a change that I will look for a way to incorporate into this post. Thank you for having the courage to leave this feedback.

    To offer some context, this blog post comes from a chapter of a book that was still in the early stages of being written, and my hope in publishing it was to get feedback while speaking about a very difficult-to-accept concept for men facing the loss of their marriage. My goal in wording it this way is to respect the feelings of the men who come to this site in a very difficult, very painful place. And the truth is, I DO always think that reconciling is better than divorce. But I also understand that reconciliation is not an option for everyone, and I respect that your wife believes divorce will make her happier than staying in the marriage and continuing to put in work that she may have no faith will work.

    With that being said, as I go back through and update these “sample chapter” blog posts (such as this one and this one), this is something that will definitely be addressed in the updated version of this chapter because of the feedback you have left here.

    I wish you and your wife the best of luck in your marriage or whatever comes next in the next chapter of your life. You may email me at inside (at) husbandhelphaven (dot) com if you wish to talk further.

    Much manly love,
    – Stephen

    Ted Ray - a few months ago

    Funny I just wrote on here along story of what I’m going through and it got erased now I am so wondering where to start again I don’t know where are if I would be wasting my time to try to do it again so I hope you respond to this so I know you do read these and would love to tell you so if you would be so kind to respond to this I would greatly appreciate it I would love help just not very good with this time of stuff thanks

      Stephen - a couple of months ago

      Hey Ted, yes I do try to respond here but you can also email me. Sorry to hear your story got deleted, that doesn’t normally happen.

Perry - last year

Thank You, i wish i would of read this sooner… i was going crazy when i found out my wife wanted to end our relationship and it was because i first didn’t think this would ever happen and second because i didn’t know what to do or how to think. when the anxiety of my wife wanting to leave me is over whelmeing i read this article to bring me back. again thanks for all the insight and information. if i can’t get my wife back i hope to find a new wife that i can apply this information and be happy with. Thank you so much

Jackson - 10 months ago

Great Stuff Stephen – I can’t get enough of your articles. I wish I would of been turned onto them three months ago. My wife keeps saying “I don’t know” when I ask if she wants to return home and work on our marriage…what the heck do I say to that? It is very frustrating! Thank you again Stephen for all the manly advice!

    Stephen - 10 months ago

    My advice is to stop asking her if she wants to return home and work on the marriage! Trust that when she wants to return, she will. Until then, let your actions speak louder than your words and trust that she really does need the space right now to work through her own issues. Spend the time working on yourself and try to make the most of the time you get together with as little pressure as possible.

Mario Tanjun - 9 months ago

Thank you Stephen, after reading so many websites on separation and empty promises and tricks on ” How to get your wife back” finally somebody is making clear the path to follow. You are not “sugar coating” the situation and telling us straight forward material that will help us know the ground we are stepping into right now.
thank you

Edward - 7 months ago

Thank you for sharing this information. I am currently seperated from my wife. It was my fault. I did treat her and respect as I should have. I was the beggar and was doing exactly what you said not to do. She said she needed space and she was not getting the space with me at home. I reluctantly left the house. We both agreed it was temporary. I truly believe that if I continued to be the beggar I would have lost my wife. I now have hope that there is a chance we can work it out I am focus on doing what you suggest. Thank you and I pray we will work it out

Seth - 7 months ago

My wife has left me 4 times since we married…. our 3 year anniversary came up recently…. the first time…. i had to be strong… i knew it wont over but i had to be strong and not break they needed me…. i needed to take care of us… i was the only one working she was gone almost 2 months… the second… i hit a wall unlike anything i ever experienced hardest thing in my life to said point, she was gone for 6 months…. cause everything from convolutions to hallucinations (the stress was making me have a mental breakdown)…. some how she came back…. the third she was gone a couple days… i went and talked to her and she came home…. the fourth and now…. shes been gone for 8 months…. ive put everything into it…. honestly in time ive realized… it isn’t me…. its her…. and i know theirs nothing i can do… marriage is all compromise…. you cant make it work alone… and this hits nail on the head…. i feel like letting go is giving up… i feel im the only one working for it… kills me to let go… for me i dont think there will be a happy ending… but i like to think some one is out there who wants to be with me… and not run away..

    Stephen - 7 months ago

    Separating four times in 3 years definitely tells me that your wife has some deeper unresolved issues that she’s trying to avoid dealing with. Sadly, she has got herself into a routine behavior of blaming the marriage instead of getting the help she needs. Personally, I’d recommend you go talk to an individual counselor. They can help you keep your head on straight and deal with all the stress you’re going through right now.

Mark Flanagan - 7 months ago

I have read the posts and article. I am trying to.move forward the best way I can. Me and my wide are currently seperated. She has since said there is no chance of us getting back together.

However I am hoping that if I stay away and just see her when I collect my daughter then she will come back to me. I have every intention of trying to change for the better. I have been the better but now I need to try and be the strong silent type and see if she comes back to me. Just hope to god it works

Martin - 7 months ago

Hi all

Just been reading through the posts trying to get other people’s viewpoints. My wife says she doesn’t love me anymore and wants me to leave.
I have been trying for months to win her back, but I just appear to make things worse and she blows her top over the smallest things. Eg sat down to watch a film, went to get her an ice cream, washing was wet room decided to sort, was about 15 mins, went up stairs when she told me I wasn’t there for her, remote control thrown against wall lead to a night on sofa and I’ve been there ever since (last 2 nights)

I’m going to give her what she wants and have a trial separation where I’ll move out, and hopefully this will give her some space, I love her and want things to work

Thanks for the advice

Aaron - 6 months ago

I’m trying to learn how to do this. My wife left 3 months ago, we still text almost everyday, she calls me to come over when she’s feeling lonely but dodges me anytime I try to do anything with her. i feel us growing further apart. We have no kids and nothing to hold us together after the divorce passes, and I think she may have already found someone else and is just afraid to tell me. I haven’t begged her to come back, but I’ve made it clear I want to work on this and at least give it a shot. There’s no abuse or anything, she was just unhappy in the marriage. I think I might need to let her go for real.

Murray - 6 months ago

My wife had seperated with me off and on the last 7 months. She keeps telling me she’s going through something and that she doesn’t feel love for me. I’ve tried everything possible. I work out of town so for 10 days I’m gone and only home for 4. I now know that she has slept with another guy. She had called me Friday morning after spending the night at his house balling saying she wanted to come home. And to take things slow and not put a label on it. She listened to our wedding song all that day on repeat. Crying. She got home and said she never said those things and that she had a couple drinks over lunch and mentioned her and I should go back to Mexico. I’m confused to what she wants. She keeps telling me she wants space but still continues to talk to this guy because he is there for her when she needs him. And he doesn’t overwhelm her or talk about the relationship. My hearts broken but I’m trying to stay strong for my kids. Today she told me she doesn’t want this other guy but still doesn’t know what she wants. She just wants space and maybe speak to a councillor. I just want my wife back so I’m giving her the space requested. She doesn’t want to sell our home or anything so I’m left to believe she wants the idea of what we have but it what we actually have. It’s hard being the better man when you find these things out. But what am I to do? Is letting her go the best bet?

Bryant - a few months ago

what i have read has helped me so much more an its the same thing i have received from some others i have talked to. she moved out about a year ago, an regretted started a lease about six months later. ever were we go, she thinks others females want me, an says im to friendly because i have a great sense of humor and love making her smile an they smile also. we travel some were ever weekend or a ever other weekend, an she shows nothing but love till a month ago, she said she needs space and she loves me but not in love with me anymore. i felt so used because i got her a new car an sold her other one, and she kept over half the money from the sale. none of that bothered me, until she said, nothing have changed in the last 3 months, and it wasn’t going no were. so she moved here little items out when i went to a car show that she changed her mind on going with me. i told here i didn’t no i was on a trial, period. i had changed so much with my time at work for her and us, and showed her more love than before, but it didn’t work, just like you said in your article. so i took the new truck back and told her she was going to drive another car i got for her before this new one. she said she dont want anything from me, an called her friend and left. i haven’t heard or seen her in 4 weeks. she wont talk to nobody (mom,dad,counselor,friends, nobody) im hurting because this silence was killing me, until i read your articles. i guess my question is, how long do we wait, before we quit hoping and praying and go file for a divorce? P.S do you think i was wrong for taking the truck back? she was vary hesitant in driving it at first. she had all this planed,an i told her i wouldn’t have sold her other car, if i new she had this planed to separate in two months. thanks

Alan - a few months ago

Omg! I really needed to read this..Lord knows I’ve been trying so hard to get her back but she constantly rejects me. Now just by reading this article I can now give her the space she needs and be mindful of a divorce… Thanks

Bob - a few months ago

After 43 years of marriage, my wife asked for space. So painfully I have been away for 3 months. I called several times a day. But lately I’ve given her space to sort things out.
It has torchered me to not be with her and frankly I never would have thought she would do this.
I recently told her that I was sorry for pressing her to come back and that she could take all the time she needed. Immediately she said I could come back.
I want to continue to give her space, but it is hard after 43 years.

    John - 6 days ago

    Mate, I’m luckier than you. Next week is our 49th Anniversary. 6 years ago we stopped having sex because she said it was painful. What happened over six years is that all the intimacy went out of our marriage. She now doesn’t like kissing, cuddling or being stroked. We still stay together and sleep in the same bed. We have been to 8 counselling sessions and throughout this she maintained her aging body was the problem. The counselling sessions did nothing for me because I failed to understand how a kiss could be painful or cuddling and hugging. Having now left counselling we have been talking to each other trying to reach a compromise. Just today she admitted “that the magic had left her”. Our discussions continued and then it all came out – the things she finds objectionable about me
    Now I said lucky because after she told me what she thought, I decided that I would change and become what she wanted me to be. And that was before reading Chapter 1 above which speaks about becoming the man we want to be. That has all just happened today, so I can’t tell you that I have changed and we are all sweet again. However I was grateful just to read chapter 1 because it confirmed what I thought; but now I have insight to make it work. I am a macho man and don’t normally cry, but over the last few weeks I have cried many times over what I had lost. Again I say lucky because I have the chance to woo her back. Before she actually told me what her problems with me were and I had asked her how I could win her back she coyly said you must court me all over again. At 74 I have no idea how to do that, but I will leave no stone unturned to do so

Ochedi Ojonugba - a few months ago

Dear Stephen,

I don’t know how to thank u for this article but I believe everything occur for a reason.

I would have lost my job and my life because of a woman I have been forcing to luv me.

My wife left home to sleep outside and still came back to my house. She told me am not in her class and went to hotel for five days with another man because she needs to give me chance.

Worst of all I was begging her telling her I will change, do u know what my wife did after I knelt down to begged her, she bought a 80 leaves note book and listed the conditions for reconciliation
When I read tru d conditions I really discovered this woman hate me and I just I rejected them and let e
her go after one month she is begging to come back but I will never accept her anymore thanks for saving me stephen

A - a few months ago

I am a woman.
I understand what you are saying and I think it is important that the husband
still pursues some but more from a distance if he wants to get his wife back.
Such as, flowers and a card with something written about when they first met.
Maybe just once a month a lil something or maybe wait longer depending on
how needed the guy was before. Women like to be pursued and know
that the guy will always love us, but I do understand what you are saying
especially if the guy has been desperate, extra needy, wimpy…etc. I just
think if the woman is on the way to divorce if he isn’t in the picture at all or
worse she is with someone else and then her husband is doing nothing
romantic and isn’t in the picture at all then I do not think chances are
good for reconciliation.

Chas - a couple of months ago

What good is there in wanting someone thay doesnt want you

    Stephen - a couple of months ago

    Very good point, something I tried to sum up in these couple sentences:

    Ultimately, your marriage is only going to work if your wife wants to be with you.

    In order to ever have the type of joyful, lifelong marriage that you want, eventually you need a wife who chooses to be with you, who loves you, who wants you. You want a woman who sees the man you are and WANTS to be with that man.

david - last month wife left 1 june 2017. she has been living with her affair partner who she has known since she was 15. she is now 38 and he is 52.. married and divorced 3 times. I have custody of the kids. she lives 1 hour away in her home town where her married daufhter 25 lives and her two grand kids. her sister lives there also. what I read is just let her be and move on.

    Stephen - last month

    What you read is right. She can’t choose the marriage til she is done with the affair. At this point, with her making the kind of choices she’s made (leaving the kids and family far behind) it could be months… It could be years… It could be never. You can’t spend your life waiting for that. Focus on yourself and the kids and move on. That said, only YOU know when you are ready to truly let go, and I won’t presume to tell you here. Trust your gut, and for right now, really just do your best to help your kids through this. If you haven’t already talked to a lawyer, do so now… Even if you don’t plan on filing, you need to know your options.

    My heart goes out to you david. That is an extremely difficult situation.

    If you haven’t read the articles about midlife crises, may be worth doing. This one is about signs she’s going through a midlife crisis, this one is about why she is having a midlife crisis.

Charles - last month


I am truly scared and unusually emotional right now. My wife of 21 years and best friend of 25 years asked to be out of the marriage 4 weeks ago. Reasons that were stated was because she loved me but was not “in love” with me and wanted time and space to find herself. Her unhappiness has been steadily growing over the past few years but I never felt our marriage was on the brink of failure. As recently as 2 months ago, we were doing a lot of fun and happy activities together. Although our marriage isn’t perfect and I am certainly the cause of many communication issues, but I never saw the unhappiness that she is now expressing. I must have missed the warning signs.

I have made ALL of the mistakes on what NOT to do when this occurs. I begged; I tried to convince her to change her mind; I cried…A LOT which is very unusual for me; we talked to the family who tried to convince her also. Each time this gets discussed, she seems to dig her heels in deeper and is not budging and seems to have a growing resentment.

Last night we went to see a counselor and although some new details came out, the bottom line is the same but with even more resentment now. It became clear to me that my only path forward is to agree to the separation and to move out and give her space and time that she is asking for. She has initially asked that I move out of our bedroom but stay in the house and move into our downstairs room. When I asked why not me out of the house, she was worried about finances and taking on additional expenses. I told her I understood but for her to truly have the space that she needs to take this solo journey, I need to be out of site for her so I offered to go to my parents for awhile. Even after that, she still prefers me to be in the home but just downstairs.

This is so confusing for me and is pulling at my emotions. She has cut off all physical contact…no hello or goodbye kiss, no hug, no holding hands. We sleep in the same bed but we might as well be on two different continents as she intentionally keeps as far away as possible. She now hides in the closet when changing clothes and does not want me in the room when she is showering. This all just seems so very sudden and cold which is not like her at all, but perhaps this is part of her process to being independent and trying to find herself.

With all of this and after reading this article no less than 5 times, I am going to move out and give her distance and time to miss me/us. I know that this is a gamble and it may still conclude with a divorce, but as the article states…the choice is hers and is out of my control. I know she loves me because she says it and means it. I know she is in love with me although she says she does not feel it but her actions prove otherwise. I am hoping space and time for her to think will allow her to realize that her best friend and true love is waiting and ready when she is.

I welcome all feedback and guidance


    Stephen - last month

    Charles, do NOT move out just yet. My advice is to try the in-house separation first. I know where you’re coming from, and it’s not the moving out is always a bad idea; you’re free to make that choice and you should trust your gut. But! It should be a decision made carefully and strategically, not emotionally. Moving out can have some hidden consequences outside of your marriage, especially if you have kids (which you didn’t mention here). I’m publishing a post on this exact topic this week, so stay tuned for more details.

    If you’re only 4 weeks in, I know that your head is still spinning… This is normal and expected. Give yourself a bit more time to stabilize, and to see whether or not it’s possible for her to seemingly get the space she needs with separate living spaces inside the home. Remember, giving her space is just as much about giving her emotional and mental space as physical space. Match her distance, although you can do it with warmth and kindness instead of her coldness. If she doesn’t want goodbye kisses or hugs, don’t ask for them. If she doesn’t say I love you, don’t say I love you. If she keeps her plans vague, you do the same. If she doesn’t ever engage in conversation, stop trying to start them. Live your own life and show her that you can move on… She’s going to go through this independent phase one way or another even if she ends up coming back. Your job right now is to pick yourself up and clarify what you can control and figure out what YOU need to do to survive right now. And just like we talked about in this article, focusing on self-care and self-improvement first will incidentally end up being better for her and your marriage.

      Charles - last month


      Thank you for the reply

      As an update, we told our 4 kids last night and it wss the hardest thing i have ever done. No parent should ever inflict let alone see that can of pain on their own children. We have 2 kids in college and 2 in High School. They were devastated and emotional and angry. We were all crying except for my wife. She was very stoic in her explanation that it was not because of me but her who wants the divorce. She wants to find herself and that i do not want it at all.

      Later that night after we told them my wife asked me to come upstairs and I assumed that she wanted to talk about what happened. The moment we got to our bedroom we closed the door and she began sobbing and feeling that the kids all hate her. I comforted her and gave her love and told her that they are sad but you ar their mother and they love you.

      I have been staying at my parents house some 20 minutes away for the past two weeks now. We communicate via text and I see her fairly often. I don’t know if things will turn around or not but I am trying to be myself. I have had setbacks especially as I am learnings that she might be secretively communicating with another man on Facebook Messenger. I know who the person is but I chose to not confront either of them over it because I cannot control that. I believe that she knows that I know. Furthermore, I don’t have any details that would indicate that it is more than online conversations. Again, out of my control

      This is all very hard and it truly requires me to be a good actor and keep a tough upper lip.

      Now that I am out of the house, is there any hope?

      Stephen - 3 weeks ago

      Charles, yes there is still hope! As the saying goes, hope for the best, prepare for the worst. I have absolutely seen plenty of reconciliations after spouses live apart, ESPECIALLY as in your case where you continue seeing and talking to your wife, even more so when those conversations are kind and cordial. I don’t see anything at all in this situation that makes me believe you’ve moved past the possibility of reconciliation. The best thing you can do is stay consistent, keep working on yourself, maintain what you’re doing, and be there for your kids and, strange as it sounds, for yourself… Taking care of yourself and keeping up good self-care will be crucial not only for your own well-being but also in staying consistent for your wife.

      Best of luck and much manly love!

Jason - last month

My wife told me 4 weeks ago she fell out of love with me . We’ve been together 20 years. Married 17 Two kids 13 & 10. First 3 weeks like all of us I cried and begged lost 22 pounds. She says I had a short temper with her I never hit her or even yelled at her in anger never cheated . My issues where if it wasn’t my way or what I wanted we didn’t do it plus the daily routine I lost the time to be affectionate and spend quality time with her. These last 2 weeks I haven’t cried in front of her I’ve been positive spending more time with my kids helping out around the house more asking if she needs anything. She wants to start the mediation process I told her okay just because it buys me 6 months to win her back I also told her I’ll start the process if we can go to marriage counseling. She said she will go but she will just be going through the motions she’s checked out and doesn’t love me anymore. Any advice ?

    Stephen - last month

    Hey Jason,

    All the things you’re doing now are good. Most important thing is keep your head on straight and make sure you’re taking care of yourself SO THAT you can remain clear headed and make good decisions consistently.

    For the marriage counseling, one possible option would be to acknowledge to her that you know she’s checked out and that marriage counseling probably won’t fix your marriage. Tell her that even if it does nothing for your marriage, you think it will help maintaining good communication and maybe give you some ideas for keeping the family stable throughout the mediation process. Then you can say, “Obviously, I DO hope that it helps us because I believe that the best days of our marriage can still be in front of us, but even if it doesn’t I think it will still be worth it during mediation.”

    Just a thought, adapt as you see fit, or don’t do it at all. Either way, good luck.

Stephen - last month

Kyle, it seems very likely to me that your wife is having an emotional or online affair. The behaviors that you listed, as well as your wife’s attitude towards the marriage, all heavily point me towards that belief.

If your wife is continuing to engage in another relationship, then the hard truth is that nothing you do right now is going to have an impact on your marriage. Your wife’s heart can only be in one place at a time, and right now because her heart is in the emotional affair, it makes her view the marriage as ALL bad while the other relationship is ALL good. It’s a fantasy.

My honest advice is to truly let go and start focusing on yourself. Work on yourself. Don’t pursue her at all. Your mindset is, “I am going to live as if we are getting divorced until my wife gives me a reason to think she wants something else.” It’s up to her to make that decision. In the meantime, be the best man you can be; get to where you like the guy you see in the mirror. And, just like we talked about in this post, the Let Her Go mindset puts you in as much of a win-win as you can be in right now – especially for you – because not only does this space and detachment allow you to become a better man and husband, it makes it more likely she can see it, and shows her that you’re not going to keep pursuing her through an affair. It’s okay for that to be a line you draw.

I think the iTunes gift card is fine, but I could see an argument for no gift at all, especially if you share my belief that she’s having an EA. Because of the marriage being ALL bad, it means that no matter what you give her, no matter how you give it, will be viewed as bad in some way. If you do give her anything, read this post… It’s technically about Valentine’s Day but same type of thinking applies.

Also, if you do suspect an affair, look into the divorce laws in your state and consider talking to a lawyer ASAP. It’s hard advice to give here, but right now you are dealing with two problems – one is saving your marriage, the other is surviving divorce if it comes to that. Your lawyer may advise your to file before her, and if you live in a fault-ground state, to get proof of the affair. Obviously I’m not a lawyer, so talk to someone who is. You need to be equally prepared for both possible outcomes, even if you would obviously prefer to save the marriage. Again, that’s a choice that takes two people.

This comment got kind of long, but all things that I felt needed to be said. This doesn’t cover everything, but should give you a good start. Good luck.

Oh, and make sure you’ve seen this – 3+1 Separation Strategy.

Much manly love,
– Stephen

Michael - last month

Been through this many times over. She came back just before we finalized and after I found peace in me. Now going through it again after a few potential seperations 14 years later. I love my wife with all my heart and can say I want to leave her with the memory of I want it to work but out of love respect your space and loss of love for me. I might lose my best friend but if I lose me and who I am I am losing what gave us a great 20 years of pain and memories I’m glad to be part of. I’m proud I was a man she said yes to 20 years to. At 41 I won’t share the love and pain and children with someone else I have with her and want peace knowing in was blessed. I am humble for being married to the greatest woman in the world and only regret it couldn’t continue. But I can at least honor the blessing I was given by honoring me and who she is in all of our thoughts and actions wrong or rite. I will never forget her and will fight till my last breath but must let her go if it is what she wants. I love her that much

Hlb - 3 weeks ago


I’m from France, married 1,5 years ago, I’m 27, my wife is 22
We live in a particular situation: I work 400 kms from our appartment, so we see each other only 1 time every two weeks (the situation has been like this since 5 weeks).

By the past, when we were both at our appartment, she alread told me that she has doubt about her feelings for me. Yesterday, by text, I understood something was wrong and asked her what it is with her. She told me that she considers divorce, and as long as the conversation went, said that she never felt in love with me, that she tried to convince herself that she was, told me about some defaults she saw in me, and finally said that the question for her today is do we fill for divorce now, or later, but that divorce is inevitable. She also said that now that we don’t live together, she fells like it’s the best life for her.

But I’m convinced that she painted a very dark picture of what our marriage really is, because we had our happy times too. Is it a common trait with women who tell their husband they want to divorce to be so forgetful about the good times? Does the smoke clear afterwards?

Today, we send messages to know how is it going, etc… She’s concise, and I don’t know how to interpet it. She answers almost immediately, but as she doesn’t really want to chat.

I planned to see her next week-end. What would be your advices for out meeting? Should
I then quit the job I currently have to live again under the same roof as her?

Sorry, for the long message, the amount of questions, and the poor english. Thanks sir, a lot !

    Stephen - 3 weeks ago

    Greetings Hlb, to quickly answer your question:

    — Yes it is common for a wife to forget the good times once she decides that she wants to leave. She probably isn’t even conscious of it; she legitimately doesn’t remember the good times because it feels bad right now. This is common even in 40 and 50 year old women, so it would be much harder to have the awareness that current feelings aren’t how it’s always been for a 22 year old like your wife.
    — I don’t know your current circumstances. I don’t know how easy it would be to get another job. I’m assuming that the reason you’re working so far away is because you have to or because there are no jobs near your apartment. If leaving your current job to come back to the apartment means struggling to make enough money to get by, I don’t think it’s worth it.

    If you move back home now while she’s “enjoying” having you gone, your wife is just going to convince herself that the marriage is definitely bad for her. What needs to happen is that she needs to WANT you to come back. Easier said than done. My suggestion is to match her distance and work on keeping yourself stable, mentally and emotionally. Make sure you’ve read the 3+1 separation strategy (there’s a link at the top of the site). You may also want to read this post for more ideas… It’s about low/no contact separations. Even though technically your wife does continue communicating with you, being long distance means many of the lessons in that post will apply.

    It’s a tough situation that you’re in and I can’t give you a full answer here, but I wish you the best of luck.

Stephen - 3 weeks ago


I read this every time I am feeling discouraged about how things are going in my separation and it helps me to stay confident and helps me refocus. This, so far, has been the hardest thing I have ever gone through in my entire life but your words help keep me hopeful.

Thank You

Landon - a few days ago


Thank you for the great article!

My wife of 13 years (2 children – 7&11) has been having an affair with a married man for the past 5 months. I found a note, confronted her, and she told me she loves him and that they’re moving out together. Over the next week he e sbthslly tokd his wife and moved out from her.

I found the note at the end of October. She has since moved into her own apartment and he has moved into his own. She essentially left me and the kids high and dry for 3 weeks while she got moved in. Having said that, she was coming over every other day to hang out.

Where we’re at right now is he is over at her apartment every other day (when the kids aren’t there) and spends the night. On the days she takes the kids, shas been coming over to have dinner or have a few drinks with me. We actually even went out for drinks and supper 3 nights ago. We had a nice night, she told me that he doesn’t know she was with me that night, and even gave me a passionate kiss on the cheek (first time she’s made the effort since this happened). I then seen a text he sent to get and got angry about what it said because it was about him wanting to come over when the kids were sleeping. Since then, I have decided to give her space because I have been trying WAY TOO HARD!

This is all SO fresh still and I am VERY confused. Any advice? I don’t know where her head is at and it’s killing me. Obviously it’s with him, but there’s been so much said and done to convince me otherwise. I have a Christmas present for her that I purchased before all of this… should I give it to her or not? What should I do?

Thank you in advance!


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