How to get your wife back with no contact

4 Separation Strategies When Your Wife Won’t See You

     You’ve made positive changes as a man, and you're a better husband than the day your wife left.

     The problem is, your wife can't see any of it because she won't see you. Maybe you live separately. She doesn't return your calls or texts. She avoids you when you drop off the kids. And if you do see her, she gives you the cold shoulder.

Listen to the audio version of this post instead

        How do you show your wife your changes if you live apart and she won't communicate?

     This post is a comprehensive strategy guide for this type of separation. We're going to start by establishing the right mindset for this kind of separation, then we’ll look at the strategic options you have to get through to your wife.

     Use the table of contents below if you’d like to skip ahead, but I highly recommend reading the whole post. 

The Mindset

Stop Being Desperate,
Clarify What's Yours to Control

     If you’re desperate, you won’t be able to make the most of what you can control.

     Implementing this mindset is the first step in any separation. It’s also the first step of the 3+1 Separation Strategy. Be sure to watch the 3+1 Separation Strategy video if you haven't already.

     Take a deep breath and figure out what you can actually control. Right now, your wife’s distance from the marriage is not one of those things.

Desperation Kills Your Chances 

      Most men reading this feel desperate.

     But, if you constantly feel desperate, you can’t do the most important things you need to do right now.


desperation is what happens when you try to control what is not yours to control


     It’s natural and expected to struggle with desperation, especially when you KNOW that if your wife would just open up her eyes she would like what she sees in you. However, by desperately trying to show those changes to your wife, you actually make her less likely to believe them when you do get the opportunity.

     Remember, desperation is what happens when you try to control what is not yours to control – in this case, your wife's choice to leave and refuse communication. 

Take Time to Stabilize &
Let Go of What You Can’t Control

     If your emotions are constantly spinning out of control, then you MUST take time to stabilize before you do anything else. You do that by reminding yourself what you can control, and what you can’t.

You CAN control:

  • check
    Your thoughts
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    Your attitude about life, your wife and your family
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    How you spend your time
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    How you act around your kids and/or wife
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    How often you reach out to her via text, call, email, etc. and what you say when you do
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    Your reaction to her distance or silence

You CAN'T control:

  • Whether your wife responds to your efforts to get through to her
  • How she acts around you
  • Your wife’s thoughts or feelings
  • Her attitude about the marriage or the family
  • How she spends her time or who she spends it with

     These are just sample lists. It’s important to think through this for yourself. What can you control in your separation? What is outside of your control?

Homework: On a piece of paper or in a Word document, take 10 minutes to brainstorm all the things you can control, then take 10 minutes to brainstorm the things you can’t control.

Accept That Her Distance Is Her Choice

     Even if you live in a different country, it is not chance that your wife isn’t talking to you. Even though it might seem obvious, if you’re in this situation you must remind yourself that your wife’s cold shoulder is not a chance – it is a choice. 


Her choice to be distant is likely a defense mechanism that prevents emotional pain or frustration for her


     Accept that it is your wife’s CHOICE not to communicate with you. Even if you are exchanging kids back and forth, she may refuse to interact with you during those exchanges.

     She is CHOOSING not to see you. She is CHOOSING not to talk to you.

     If your wife is determined to truly refuse all contact with you for the rest of her life, then there's nothing you can do about that. If she never lets herself see you again, if she ignores your emails and texts and blocks you from as many modes of communication as possible, then that's her choice and there's very little you can do to change it.

Why is she choosing to distance herself?

     Could be a variety of reasons:

  • It’s easier or less painful to ignore you than to talk to you.
  • She is determined not to let you change her mind about the marriage.
  • She doesn’t want to be pressured into coming back.
  • She’s trying to prove she’s gone for good and force you to move on with your life.

    Long story short, her choice to remove you from her life is likely a defense mechanism that she is using to prevent some kind of emotional pain.

     Here's the thing: there's no way you can remove this defense mechanism until SHE is ready to let it down. And until it's down, everything you do or say to her is going to be filtered through this defense mechanism… Even if you could communicate freely with her, this emotional wall would be there all the same.

     With all of that being said, the reason behind her choice not to communicate doesn’t matter that much. What matters is how you react to it.

Set the Right Goals

Right Now, Your Goal is NOT "Saving the Marriage"

     Accepting her choice for minimal contact means that you must set a different goal.

     Your goal right now is not to save your marriage, or even to convince your wife that you’ve changed...


Instead of making every day & every week all about when you will get to *MAYBE* talk to your wife, start investing time in yourself


     ... Your goal is to give her an incentive to WANT to spend time with you in the first place, and to meanwhile make peace with the waiting.

     In other words, you have to give her a reason to make a different CHOICE than she’s making right now.

     No matter where you’re at in your separation, the end goal is the same… She must CHOOSE to give the marriage another chance to make her happy. It’s so, so important to remember that her CHOICE is what you’re trying to change, not your marriage.

Use This Time To Yourself

     Instead of structuring every day, every week, around when you will get to MAYBE talk to your wife, start investing time in yourself.

     Although it may seem impossible, do your best to look on the bright side. I’m willing to bet that there are things that you could not do with your wife… Perhaps old hobbies or friends that fell by the wayside throughout your marriage. Now is the time to pick those things back up.

     Remember the saying:

     "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst."

     Continue to work on yourself. Become a better man in all areas of your life. And ironically, the way that you make these changes genuine and permanent is by making them with the acceptance that divorce is a real possibility.

She (Probably) Needs to Fix Her Own Issues

     We talk a lot about your role in the separation on Husband Help Haven, but for most of you, your wife has her own internal issues she needs to work through too.

     Again, we go back to the role that her choice plays in this separation...


Remember, She probably isn’t getting the same help that you are


     If your wife chooses not to look at herself in the mirror, if she chooses not to improve herself, if she instead throws herself headlong into bad habits, destructive choices or toxic relationships, or if she has simply made up her mind to cut you out of her life, you may not be able to change her choice.

     Even in the best case scenario, your wife will probably work through her own issues slower than you are working through yours. She probably isn’t getting the help that you are. Be patient and give her time to figure things out. 

MINDSET SUMMARY

  • Accept that you can’t control your wife, settle in for the long haul, prepare for a life outside of the marriage if it comes to that.
  • If you feel desperate, you cannot make the most of the things under your control. Fix your mindset before you do anything else. You NEED clarity.
  • If you feel at peace, with clarity over what you can control, you’re probably in a good place.

The Strategies

     Finally! Let’s talk about your strategic options if you find yourself in a low/no contact separation.

     Your separation is unique, with unique people and unique circumstances. So, instead of telling you the "right" answer, I'm going to outline your choices and provide the pros and cons of each.

     These strategies are listed in order of how much space you give your wife. The strategy that gives her the most space is listed first, the least space listed last.

Quick Note About Kids:

     No matter which strategy you choose, you should not give up communication with your kids. The strategies below refer to communication with your wife, about the marriage. If you want to talk to your kids or spend time with them, obviously you will need some communication with your wife. Do not neglect your kids no matter how much space your wife wants.

Strategy #1. 
Do not try to communicate with her. 
Only let her come to you, period.


What you do:

     Pretty self-explanatory. With this strategy you NEVER initiate communication with your wife, and you keep your communication short and to the point when it does happen. You accept that she doesn’t want to talk to you, and so you do not make any effort to communicate with her until she gives you some indication that she wants to hear you.

     If you have kids and therefore you have to communicate with your wife at least a little bit, keep your communication exclusively centered on coordinating kid-related plans.

Pros:

     This strategy gives you a sense of closure because it allows you to let go of the burden of changing your wife’s choice, and it allows you to NOT think about the marriage.

     With this strategy, you never have to wonder, “Should I text my wife today? Has it been long enough?” Instead, you accept that no communication will happen unless she reaches out to you.

Cons:

     Obviously, there is a chance your wife will simply never reach out to you. Your separation may simply fade into divorce. However, if you believe that forcing communication your wife doesn’t want has about the same effect as no communication at all, then this option lets you focus on yourself and your kids (if applicable) and looking toward the future.

When to Use It:

     This strategy is best if your wife is making destructive or out-of-character choices in her life. For example, if your wife is having an ongoing affair or if she has fallen into a drug or drinking habit.

     Generally with this strategy, even if she reaches out to you, YOU will choose to keep the communication short and to-the-point. The only way this changes is if she basically comes out and says, “Let’s give things another chance.” The reason for this is because this strategy is all about allowing yourself to heal… You recognize that the marriage is only going to be saved if your wife makes drastic changes.

     This strategy also has a lot of benefit if you really feel that you’ve already done everything that you can, and you’re confident that nothing you do or say will change your wife’s mind… All that’s left for you to do is heal; her choice is between her and God now.

Strategy #2. 
One last hurrah, then match her distance.*

     *This is the strategy I would recommend to most men reading this.

What You Do:

     Make one final plea to your wife. This could be in person, via email, via handwritten letter. Perhaps you wait for an opportune moment, one of those moments where it seems like your wife is opening up to you.

     However you do this last hurrah effort to get through to her, make sure your tone is empathetic and calm, NOT desperate. You want to show her:

  • That you recognize and respect why she’s chosen to leave the marriage.
  • That you understand how your actions affected her.
  • You respect her decision, but you also believe that the marriage could make you both happy again, and that you’re willing to work to make it that way.
  • (Optional) You understand that she wants space, but you have to get this off your chest before giving her the space she wants.

     This changes a little bit if she’s having an affair or having a destructive midlife crisis. In those cases, your tone may be more along the lines of, “I understand that I made mistakes and hurt you, but I also know that the marriage cannot be saved as long as you continue making the choices you’re making now. I would love to have a future with you, but I cannot continue reaching out to you as long as you continue [insert behavior].”

     However you do your last hurrah, have low expectations. You are doing this just as much for yourself (so that you can have peace knowing that she’s heard you) as for her.

Pros:

     The reason I favor this strategy is for the peace of mind it gives you as a man trying to save his marriage. With this option, you DO end up getting the space you need to heal, just like in Strategy #1, but you’ll also have peace of mind knowing that your wife definitely knows how you feel.

Cons:

     Same as Strategy #1. The only additional downside is that you risk pushing her further away with your last hurrah, but if you give her as much space as you can after that, then not really much different.

When to Use It:

    This strategy is very flexible and fits well with any separation where there’s long-distance or low communication. The reason I recommend this is because it offers a nice balance ?between taking risks to get her back and ??giving ??her the space she wants.

Strategy #3. 
Continue to reach out to her, but not often

What to do:

     Every couple weeks, reach out to your wife (text, email, in person, whichever she’s most likely to hear) and let her know that you’re still thinking about her. This could be as simple as saying, “Hey, hope you’re having a good day.” Aside from these times, you keep the lines silent and do not reach out to her. 

     Your mindset is very important with this strategy. You need to have the same acceptance of the distance as you do in the previous two strategies.

     The only difference is that you make a strategic decision to reach out more frequently, seeing if something will stick. And, you may choose to also interact with her more when she reaches out to you, even if it’s just for technical stuff.

Pros:

     This strategy allows you to feel like you’re still doing *something* to keep the hope alive, even if your wife never changes her tune. You may gain peace of mind knowing that your wife really can’t doubt your commitment to the marriage, while also giving her a good amount of space.

Cons:

     This strategy can easily come off as inconsistent to your wife, so you need to tread carefully. Inconsistency is not a trait you want your wife associating with you. After all, you’re trying to show her that your changes ARE consistent, you want to minimize her chances of thinking, “I knew he hadn’t changed.”

     Even communicating every couple weeks could feel smothering to her.

     Most dangerous of all, this strategy can make it easy to lose focus of what you can control and prevent you from healing and making the most of your circumstances.

When It’s Best:

     This strategy works best when your wife has made some indication that she’s on the fence. Perhaps she’s even told you something along the lines of, “I just need time to think things through.” Ideally there are no other factors at play such as an affair or midlife crisis... Just a plain ol' loss of love separation. Could also work during a MLC where periodically checking in on your wife may make sense.

Strategy #4. 
Continue to reach out frequently
(not recommended)

     Chances are, this is how most of you started your separation, and for most of you it hasn’t yielded results.

     I’ve included this strategy because technically it IS an option, and my goal here is to outline all of your options (within reason). However, it is not recommended in a separation where your wife is pushing for low/no communication… Which is the topic of this article.

What to do:

     Reach out to her every day, every 3 days, every week, whenever you feel like it… Basically, do whatever you want. Pretty straightforward. However, I recommend keeping your messages short and simple. Don’t expect your wife to read a new lengthy email or letter every week. Not gonna happen for most of you to whom this article applies.

Pros:

     This strategy is easy and doesn’t require much discipline, although you’ll need strong resolve to prevent discouragement if she is mostly unresponsive. With this strategy, she really can’t doubt that you still love her.

Cons:

     If your wife asks you for space, if her actions and attitude tell you she wants space, then frequently reaching out to her will feel smothering. If she feels smothered, it’s unlikely for her to believe that you’ve changed into a man who is capable of prioritizing her and making her happy. Even if you’re being nothing but kind and sweet, it may still seem selfish to her because in her mind you’re just trying to get what you want.

When it’s best:

     If you have a very mild separation, and your wife usually responds to your communication, this could be a good strategy. This doesn’t apply to most men reading this, since this article is about low/no contact separations.

     If this is what you’ve been doing so far and it’s been working for you, by all means continue… As long as you can stay focused on what you can control.

What Do These Strategies Have In Common?

     Having seen hundreds and hundreds of men in separations like this, I have noticed a few common threads among men who seem to do well in this kind of separation.

You Care About Quality Over Quantity

     Saving your marriage is about high quality interactions, not high quantity.

     I have seen many marriages turn around after just one incredible, positive, game-changing interaction between a husband and his separated wife. Many times this doesn’t come for many months into a separation... Many times these husbands have endured true "no contact" (no visits, no calls, no texts) with their wives for weeks on end... Some have even gone through divorce. But in the end it didn't matter because that one interaction made the difference and rekindled a dormant spark.

     Your wife only must truly believe in your changes one time for her to start questioning her decision.

     For example, I remember one guy who finally got through to his wife during a mediation session after she’d been giving him the cold shoulder for several months. He did it by participating and even leading in the mediation, all while being genuinely kind and cheerful to his wife. Their interaction was so groundbreaking that even the mediator chimed in and asked why they were getting divorced. This left an impression on her and afterwards she saw him differently.

     You can’t magically make your wife spend more time with you, but you can shift your focus to make the most of the interactions you do get, even if those interactions only happen once every few weeks.

You Have Realistic Expectations

     You know how it seems like people always find love when they stop looking for it?

     Accept that divorce is out of your hands (at least partly). This is one of the keys to self-confidence and peace during a low/no contact separation. 

     Many times it is only after the husband has accepted that he can’t fix the marriage on his own – once he truly lets go and starts looking to a future without his wife – that’s when his wife finally starts having second thoughts.

     Of course, there are plenty of times where this doesn’t happen. I don’t want to give you false hope that you can somehow trick ‘the universe’ into giving you your wife back by pretending like you don’t want her anymore. That is NOT what I’m saying here.

     It goes back to the let her go to get her back mindset. Letting her go puts you in the best win-win position you can be in, because it both gives her the freedom she needs to MAYBE see you differently, and it gives you the ability to have peace and clarity in your life as you begin preparing for the worst.

     Now you can see why I spent so much time hammering home the role of your wife’s CHOICE. Recognizing her choice in this separation is how you begin the process of letting her go.

You Are Patient & Don’t Pressure Yourself

     Even in the best case scenario, this will probably be a long process. Even if you choose one of the strategies above and do it perfectly, it will take time for your wife to believe that you’ve changed. More importantly, it will take time for her to believe the marriage can make her happy.

     You shouldn't let yourself think, “This is it, my last chance to save my marriage,” every time you get to see your wife.

     Most low/no contact separations will go on for several months. If you put too much pressure on yourself you will ruin any chance of showcasing the genuine, natural changes you've made in yourself. If you’ve truly made changes, they will speak for themselves without you saying anything about them.

     Give yourself some grace. Having one imperfect action or one imperfect word will not be the thing that keeps you from getting her back. Again, remember, it is her CHOICE that matters here. Your only goal is to make the choice that keeps you in her life a more attractive one.

The Original Question –
Can Your Marriage Be Saved?

     This is the question you had when you started reading this article. If your wife doesn’t live with you AND rejects communication with you, is there any hope?

     The answer is, yes. There is hope. Keep hoping!

     But! I cannot promise you that the majority of you reading this will reconcile. The reality is that your marriage is in a bad state, and both you AND your wife will need to put in a lot of work and healing to make things right again. This is why acceptance of what you can control is so crucial.

What to do right now:

  1. Choose which strategy gives YOU the most peace. Trust your gut, which one ‘feels’ right, and adapt as needed to your own unique circumstances.
  2. Implement the strategy, stick to it, and be patient.
  3. While you do the above, work on yourself, work on building a life that can sustain itself and keep you stable through the ups and downs that inevitably lie ahead.

     There are no magic answers, but there are smart strategies that optimize the odds. I wish you the best of luck as you choose and implement your own.

Do you have a different strategy for a low/no contact separation? Have any advice you’d like to pass on? Drop a comment below.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 12 comments
Jay Gonzales - last month

Does your program offer templates for strategy #2. Thank you

Reply
    Stephen - last month

    By templates do you mean things that you can say or do for your “last hurrah”?

    Manly Marriage Revival does include some ‘things to say’ in I believe Chapter 17, at least a couple of which would be applicable to this type of strategy. Manly Separation Survival also includes templates like this, but they are more scattered throughout the book, and you’ll also get more information on how you might come up with your own, for example using some of the guidelines in Chapter 8 which is free on the sales page. There’s also an entire chapter that deals with how to navigate your separation once you and your wife live separately, and another chapter about after she’s filed for divorce.

    Reply
Ricky - last month

5404513622,I have been reading your articles for 3yrs.now.I have gone through hell for 18yrs in a unique and strange live in separation that has sent me over the edge more than one time.While your articles help.My situation is do strange it”s hard to grasp which direction to turn.I even went through Counciling 3 yrs and still feel lost most days.I lean heavy on God and seek good advice.But struggle most days for peace.So much has happened in my 30yrs of marriage it”s hard to explain in a short text.Keep me in prayers any advice or contact welcome.

Reply
David - last month

My wife left about 2 months ago. She started living with her father. I have been sticking to no contact since then. The only contact I was forced to make with her when her family started threatening me to file false police complaints against me. Their demand was that I should beg her to come back and chase her. I denied and tried contacting my wife to end this false allegation game. I even offered her mutual peaceful separation but she just wouldn’t talk to me nor take any action.

Since then I have been living alone and hoping whatever choice she makes I will let her but I will never beg or pursue her this time. I used to be a madman who would cry, plead, beg her to stay and agree to whatever she would ask. But I have had an awakening this time and I will not repeat those stupid mistakes I made. She did this to me like 5th time and this time I let her go.

Reply
    Stephen - last month

    I’m so sorry to hear what you’ve been through, but I applaud your stability throughout this crisis.

    I’ve seen something like this happen a few times before, where a wife develops a pattern of repeatedly separating and SEEMS to be doing it for some underlying reason besides the marriage. It sounds like your wife has developed this pattern. Perhaps it’s a subconscious desire for control or maybe it’s easier to always blame the marriage anytime life gets hard, but either way, even if it really is that she’s genuinely unhappy in the marriage, you can’t be the one to “fix” whatever problem she’s having — for HER sake just as much as for yours. She needs the opportunity to work through this on her own. Even if you could do your usual routine, begging and bending over backwards to get her to come back, what about next time? I agree with your stance here.

    That being said, DO be gracious and forgiving. Don’t let yourself build bitterness towards your wife. I know it’s easy to be in a situation like this and start to harbor negative thoughts about your wife. But! Recognize that this is a defense mechanism more than anything… It’s easier to lose someone you don’t like. Don’t let yourself take the easy way out in this separation by building up hatred your wife. In your heart, remain loving, open to reconciliation, compassionate towards her… Even if you’re not outwardly communicating those things to her.

    On the whole, it sounds like you’re doing a great job in this separation and that you’ve found a lot of clarity in your decisions. Continue that trend and trust your gut. You know yourself and your wife better than anyone. Good luck.

    Reply
      David - 3 weeks ago

      It is really hard for me to hold myself up in this situation. She didn’t care about disrespecting me in front of her sister, father and sister’s husband. Abusive words from them still echo in my head and she did nothing about it, she didn’t defend me from their bad behavior. It will be 3 months in about 2 weeks since she left. I find it difficult to face our common friends and relatives as they ask about us and I don’t know what to say. She only took some of her stuff and a lot of stuff is still in the house and reminds me of her all the time.
      We work for the same company and for the same boss. In front of everyone she commutes to office from her sister’s house everyday and that really embarrasses me that I and my wife commute in different directions. I always avoid going near to her workplace, I avoid going to team outings and team activities so that I don’t have to see her. It hurts me seeing her behaving like she never cared about our marriage.
      I just don’t understand how can someone doesn’t understand the boundaries in relationships. How can she choose to live in her sister’s house? Doesn’t she have a sense of morality? Doesn’t she understand that she is married and her husband should be her priority not her sister or others? These questions just hurt me all the time. I was alone on festivals in our home while she was with her sister celebrating. It is very hard for me not to have bitterness Stephen! I often blame myself by thinking may be I did something really wrong so that she just shut on me. I am deeply hurt and don’t know how if I am doing right.

      Reply
      David - 6 days ago

      After 3 months of separation now, my wife texted me only to pick up rest of her stuff from the house we lived in. I still live alone there. I asked who was coming with her to pick the stuff up, she didn’t respond and showed up in the evening with her brother-in-law.
      She picked up every little thing which was personal to her and a few things that belonged to both of us. She didn’t even leave the blankets. (To me it was a really cheap action). I didn’t stop or do anything. I just watched and let her take whatever she wanted. She and her brother-in-law collected the stuff together and left.
      She didn’t say a single word to me. Just focused on picking up her stuff. That was it. No talk, nothing.
      When they were leaving, her brother-in-law said to me in front of her that they will be looking for an attorney for our divorce and separate us as quickly as possible.
      This action of her left me devastated and shocked. I never expected she could be such cold. I believe it is certain that she has no plans for reconciliation or coming back to the marriage. I have been giving her all space to think during all 3 months of separation and never contacted or bothered her. I also didn’t beg, plead, cry or convince her to stay with me this time as I mentioned earlier (I used to beg, plead, cry a lot before when she would threaten to leave me over every other issue). A week before the day when she picked up her stuff, she also removed me from Facebook, changed marital status to none, removed all our wedding photographs and blocked me.
      I can’t believe this is the same woman who once adored me and I adored her. We loved and have so many positive memories together and suddenly now she completely hates me and leaning towards her sister and her family. I feel betrayed and unloved. I read your book to calm myself down and motivate myself to work on myself. But her positive memories haunt me. And her recent behavior keeps breaking me. Sometimes I blame myself that I didn’t deserve her but I can’t find that big fault which led her to leave me like this. I still love her despite all this happened with me.
      What do you think about how a woman can just start hating her husband like this and leave everything behind? And what all steps can I take to be an emotionally tough man now? Thanks for your help.

      Reply
      Stephen - a few days ago

      Although I don’t know the full story, at first glance it sounds like your wife is experiencing an identity crisis. Do any of these signs of a midlife crisis look familiar? There is another article that goes with that one, so be sure to read that one too. When your wife completely flips a switch like yours has, and when there’s no real reason to do so, that points to an identity crisis, otherwise known as a midlife crisis.

      Either way, you’re doing the right things. It’s okay to be struggling with emotions right now; that’s expected. My advice is to keep maintaining the life you’ve started building for yourself without your wife. With time the pain will fade. Cherish the positive memories, but accept that they may remain in the realm of memories. That doesn’t mean you’ll never make good memories again; life can and will bring you joy again. Keep moving forward, making the most of what you can control. And if you haven’t already, I would talk to a divorce attorney. You can’t be too prepared.

      Best of luck and much manly love,
      – Stephen

      Reply
Jesse - last month

I’ve been following this website for months ever since my wife asked for divorce early this year. I have read all the articles and ebooks (manly marriage survival, manly separation survival etc.) I thought your name was Jacob, now it is listed as Stephen. Can you explain the name change please, I’m confused about who is actually writing your material. Thanks, jesse

Reply
Josh - last week

Aren’t you advocating succumbing to a wife’s manipulation? And you say it may just fade into divorce? That sounds unacceptable. Especially if we’re talking about one member leaving while the other wants to stay. If the wife just leaves to live with friends or family instead of staying and trying to fix things, why would I give in to her as a parent would give in to a child’s tantrum? Especially in the case with multiple children involved and you don’t want the children to go through a divorce so you tell yourself divorce is not an option. But I’m completely relying on giving in to everything my wife wants? But don’t worry this won’t empower her to continue to act like a child and flippant leave again to pull the divorce card because we just taught her we’ll give in. And you say even still this may make things worse and end in divorce anyways?

Reply
    Stephen - a few days ago

    Hey Josh,

    First, to be clear, I generally recommend that you start a separation by actively trying to advocate for the marriage to your wife. In MSS, we discuss how the order of operations is first try to get your wife back, appeal to her commitment to the marriage, do whatever you can to show her the marriage can and will make her happier than any alternative, THEN when/if that doesn’t work, you revert to giving her space with the assumption that nothing you say or do is going to be what makes the difference; it must come from within her. You start with high pressure, then turn it down and adopt a stance of acceptance once it becomes clear that she’s not going to budge. This approach is why I generally recommend Strategy #2 of the options presented in this post.

    The difference between your wife leaving and a child’s tantrum is that legally, you control that child. That child is stuck under your care virtually no matter what, and so you can heap whatever consequences you want until the child’s choice becomes what you want.

    Legally, you do not control your wife. Your wife is not stuck. As far as I know, every single court in the US will grant a one-sided no-fault divorce, even if the other spouse wants to make the marriage work.

    As similar as your wife’s behavior may be to a child’s tantrum, the two require different tactics. Yes, you can enforce some BIG consequences if your wife up and leaves like that; leaving the way your wife did is one of the stupidest things you can do during a divorce. As the spouse that has stayed with the family, you can file for divorce, claim spousal abandonment, claim child abandonment, claim that your wife doesn’t need your financial support because she’s doing just fine without… You can push for an extremely one-sided divorce where your wife doesn’t get the home, has no child custody, and gets little if any spousal support. You can effectively ruin her life and take away everything she loves (even if her behavior doesn’t show it right now). Are there any bigger consequences than that?

    And yet, will doing these things or threatening these things get your wife back in the marriage? Maybe for a while, but the choices that people make with a gun against their head aren’t really choices. Her inward desire or the inner problems and discontent that led to her choice remain unresolved. So then with a consequence-driven approach, it is very likely that you WILL face these issues again, except maybe next time your wife wises up and talks to a lawyer first.

    Your belief is that letting your wife go off and do whatever she wants with no consequences is succumbing to her manipulation and setting yourself up for failure. My belief is that stopping her from doing what she wants can’t be the goal, rather what needs to happen is that your wife changes what she wants.

    When I was little I stole a dollar off my dad’s dresser. I thought I was really smart. My dad, of course, knew that the dollar was missing. He could have stormed into my room and demanded the dollar back and given me a spanking. He would have gotten the dollar back, and I would have learned to be sneakier next time. Instead, he waited. Later that day when we were in the car, he asked me if there was anything I needed to tell him. I crumbled under the guilt and fessed up. I learned that stealing is wrong and that I hated that guilty feeling.

    Our choices are much more impactful and permanent when we make them independently. So then, you need to ask yourself, what is the best way I can make my wife WANT to come back to the marriage? The goal of giving her space isn’t to let her get away with whatever she wants; it’s to ensure that the ONLY way she comes back to the marriage is CHOOSING the marriage over separation. But only you know what approach will work best for you and your unique circumstances.

    There is a reason that I showcased four different strategies in this blog post, because I know that some men will want different strategies. Yes, one of the risks of Strategy #1 – the one where you leave her alone no matter what – is that she simply never comes back and the separation fades into divorce. But remember that divorce is a possible outcome in ANY separation. And that is only one strategy. If that approach leaves a sour taste in your mouth, a more active approach like Strategy #3 or #4 may be a better fit for you, and more power to you if this is the case.

    No matter what you do, thank you for sharing your feedback and I hope that my response here helps shed some light on some of the ideas discussed in this article. More than that though, I hope that you will be able to remain strong and at peace in the midst of this struggle with your wife. I know it is painful and difficult, made more so when you have kids you’re trying to protect in all of this. Right now, your kids must be your first priority, even above getting your wife back. They need your full attention. Your wife has forfeited her position at the top of your priorities.

    Much manly love,
    – Stephen

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