What do you do when your wife's friends & family are telling her to leave you?
Here are two things you can do to help your wife see things clearly.
My wife and I have been separated for 2 months now. I am 44 years old. We are both devoted Christians with an 11 year old son and an 8 year old daughter. No infidelity by either of us. She has checked out of the marriage and has seen a lawyer, but hasn’t filed anything yet.
I do not want this divorce at all. She is unwilling to see counselors, however I am independently seeing a psychologist and my pastor for guidance.
My wife’s dad and many of her friends and family are telling her to end the marriage. Most of her support group is divorced, including her dad.
She says she can't stop the divorce because she would lose credibility with her friends and family that have supported her decision to divorce.
How do I get her to choose this marriage over her friends and family?
One of the hardest obstacles to overcome in a separation are friends and family who actively encourage divorce.
What is unique about your situation is that your wife has partially admitted that her negative friends are part of the reason why she’s hesitant to come back to the marriage. This is a good thing because her admitting this should allow you to bring this issue out in the open and address it.
Most of the time a separated wife refuses to admit that her anti-marriage friends or family have anything to do with her decision to divorce.
I have two pieces of advice for you:
Show Your Wife That The Man She Sees Now
Isn’t Going Anywhere
You can’t control who your wife talks to. You can’t control what other people say to her. You can’t make her stop listening to these people who are rooting against your marriage.
What you CAN control is the type of husband you show to your wife right now.
What you CAN control is the type of marriage that your wife is throwing away by listening to her friends.
Be the man you want to be, regardless of your wife’s reaction. Then stay consistent.
What you need to do at this point is show your wife that she’s right, you are not in the same corner as her friends and family… And that’s a good thing!
- Her friends & family are NOT considering what’s best for her kids. Show her that you DO care deeply about your kids by being the best father you can be to them right now.
- They are NOT working to make her life better. They’re just saying what will get her in the same boat as them. Show her that you WILL work to make her life better by stepping up in the little things.
- They are NOT prioritizing her happiness. Show her that you will be content and at peace with or without her, so that she will wonder whether she can share that happiness with you.
Be the man you want to be, regardless of your wife’s reaction to it. And then stay consistent. Remember the Trust Formula:
Time + Consistency + Trustworthiness = Trust
The Time part of the formula is important… No matter what you do, you’re in for a journey. Be consistent throughout it no matter what happens.
Reassure Her Divorce is HER Choice
?Since you and your wife are still talking regularly, it's worth giving you some pointers for things you can try and communicate to her.
The overarching thing you want to get across to your wife is that leaving the marriage is HER choice and nobody else’s. Get her to detach her friends’ and family’s wishes, as well as your wishes, from her decision. It is HER decision.
Here are some examples of things to try and get across to your wife in conversation:
- “I know that I can’t control you or make you choose the marriage, but your friends and family can’t control you either. No matter what you choose, it’s your choice and nobody else’s.”
- “It’s not them or their kids who will have to deal with the consequences of divorce; it’s us and our kids.”
- “We’re talking about a very big life decision. I’m not telling you that you have to stay, but don’t get divorced because of your friends when it’s ME who wants to stand by your side for the rest of your life.”
- “What are the reasons YOU want to leave besides your friends’ and family’s feelings?”
- “Would your friends have still gotten divorced if their spouses were working as hard to save the marriage as I am?”
You don’t have to copy these examples word for word, but hopefully they’ll serve as a good starting point.
No matter how you say it, you are trying to confidently emphasize a few key points to her:
The choice to divorce is HERS and nobody else’s.
This is a decision that will affect the rest of her life. The feelings of her support group shouldn’t be a priority.
Her support group won’t feel the consequences of divorce.
While you recognize it’s her choice to leave or stay, you ARE still invested in this marriage, and that’s not going to change.
Your goal isn’t to start a big fight or argument over these points. And you shouldn't make these points in a way that sound like begging. You don’t need to repeat yourself constantly or sound like a broken record.
Don’t press these things too hard; make your point and make it with confidence, then let it be.
Ultimately, it’s up to your wife to choose to hear you, just like it’s her choice to hear the negative influences that she’s put so much stock in now.
If you're reading this and your wife is being influenced by anti-marriage friends and family, it's worth noting that usually your wife is only listening to these people in the first place because they validate the decision that SHE has already made.
In other words, the problem is never the negative influences - the problem is that your wife WANTS to listen to them. Anti-marriage friends and family are just one more justification for her decision to leave.
It's unlikely that any conversation you have with your wife will be the thing to change her mind. Before your wife can discount the advice of her negative support network, she needs to believe there's a reason to make a different choice. That's where the consistency (discussed above) and the patience (discussed below) come in to play.
Be Patient & Keep Doing What You’re Doing
At 2 months in, you’ve still got a long road in front of you no matter which way things go.
- If she ends up filing, you’ve still got a lot of time to turn it around.
- On the other hand, if she ends up coming back, you probably won’t see it for at least a couple more months yet, even if you do everything perfectly.
This means that the single most important thing you can do right now is to be patient and stay calm. Your marriage is not going to make or break in this moment right now.
Keep moving forward & stay focused on what you can control.
Trust that your wife will eventually start thinking for herself.
In the meantime, while your wife makes up her mind about the marriage, focus on yourself and your daughter. Model the type of man that you want your daughter to someday marry. Show her what it looks like to be gracious and kind towards your wife, even as she pushes you away. This is an opportunity to teach your daughter AND your wife about unconditional love with your actions and attitude towards both of them.
Whatever you do, best of luck.
With much manly love,
I'm Stephen, the guy behind Husband Help Haven. I'm not a marriage counselor or a lawyer, I'm just a guy on the Internet who has talked to a loooooot of men going through separation... Over 2,000 in the past 5 years. My goal is to give men the tools they need to save their marriage from separation. Read more here