With some couples there may come a time when you reach a pivotal stage of the marriage.
One of you wants out of marriage. The other partner is not ready for the relationship to end.
Let’s say it’s the husband who is wanting to leave.
Perhaps he is unhappy with how things have been trending in the marriage. Maybe he has taken up with another woman and just wants out.
Or possibly, he is just mixed up and tells you that he needs time to sort things through.
I am sure there are plenty of you out there who are married to a guy who at one time acted like he was unsure about whether he wanted to continue living under the same roof.
He may offer a litany of explanations regarding his desire to leave you. Things like:
The Husband Who Says He Is Confused…
- Honey, it’s all on me. I just can’t figure out what I want in life and I am not sure if it’s fair to you that we continue in the marriage. I just need time to get it together.
The Guy Who Is Depressed and Wants To Be Alone….
- I am unhappy and want to be by myself to work things out. You have not done anything really wrong, but I just can’t keep living like this. I am not sure if I am made for marriage. I am not happy.
The Husband Who Feels Betrayed and Insists He Wants To Leave You…
- I can’t stay with someone who I don’t trust or respect. Every time I look at you I am reminded that you cheated on me. You were with him and I can’t deal with the thought of living another day under the same roof with someone I don’t respect.
The Married Man Who Decides He No Longer Wants To Be With You…
- I am sorry but this relationship is not working out. I think we rushed into things. I don’t have the same feelings for you as I use to. I don’t know if I love you anymore. I want to end things and I think it is better for us both. Let’s just move forward without either of us being tied down.
The Immature Husband Who Wants to Try An Alternative Approach….
- I want us to have an open marriage that way you and I can both be free to pursue other interests. We need this change to shake up our marriage. Let’s just give this a try to see how it works out. It actually might help our relationship.
The Married Spouse Who Cheated and Now Wants Out of His Committment….
- Look, this marriage will never work since you know I was unfaithful. I love you, but am no longer in love with you. I want to move in with this other woman and I don’t think there is anything left for us to talk about.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
Hopefully not, but if you and your husband are struggling and he his making noises about leaving, then read on as you may find some useful tips in this post.
And by the way, you ought to take a look at this recent article I wrote on a related topic as you weigh in on just what you should do and how you go about it.
How Do You Cope When Your Husband Wants Out?
When you are confronted with the prospect that your marriage is on the rocks and your husband wants out, what does it all really mean and how should you handle the predicament you now find yourself in?
It is a pretty tough situation when you are left with trying to figure how to convince your husband to stay married.
You probably worked really hard to make him happy.
You may have made many sacrifices in your efforts to please your husband, bending at his requests, thinking that you are investing in the future.
You also probably feel betrayed if you have invested a lot of emotional energy in honoring your pledge to make the marriage as successful as possible.
You may be plagued with thoughts on how to stop your husband from leaving. You may be preoccupied with how to stop a pending divorce and save your marriage.
It can be incredibly frustrating, confusing and painful if your husband wants a divorce, but you don’t.
Perhaps the two of you have already broken up. Your thoughts may have now turned to how to stop a divorce after a separation.
Maybe you are not even married to this guy and you are wrestling with the dilemma of how to stop your boyfriend from breakup up with you and going off in a direction that dooms your relationship.
How do you make him stay when he wants to leave is one of the most challenging issues a wife will face.
It does raise some interesting questions.
Should you let him go?
Should you just run him out the door and tell him good riddance as a form of reverse psychology (not usually a good idea).
It certainly might make you feel good about exorcising those angry, upset feelings your are likely to experience.
Of course, that doesn’t help those “know it alls” that tell you that you should have done more to prevent the break up in the first place. Or, “I told you not to marry him as he wouldn’t make a good husband”.
I mean really, wouldn’t you like to strangle people they say such things.
It certainly is not constructive advice.
It’s like you are being blamed for not knowing beforehand that he might be breaking things off with you in the first place.
No rationale person enters into a marriage thinking they later things will end badly. We all try our best to match up right with the “right” person.
Well, just be reminded that you are not a mind reader and in most cases the events that ultimately lead to a husband choosing to leave happen in real-time and it is not always obvious that a spouse is going to bail out.
In some situations, yes, you will see certain signs the marriage is on shaky ground.
But more often than not, when a husband decides to leave or part ways with his wife, it will frequently take you for a shock.
Even if you sensed it could happen. You will still feel numb at your core.
It’s one thing to think of the worst case scenarios (e.g. “My husband will storm out and leave me all by myself. My man is sick of me and is going to dump me. My lover is fed up with this whole marriage thing and is going to call it quits“).
It’s altogether a different thing to deal with the actual reality of a husband deciding to walk.
“So does it boil down to how to convince him to stay with me?“, one client asked me.
Or should we back up a bit and ask ourselves if it is better to just let one’s husband go?
Should you give him what he wants?
Should you just let him loose to explore what he thinks he knows will be best for him.
Are those workable recovery strategies?
And by the way, when thinking about a recovery strategy, you shouldn’t simply focus on the marriage recovering or getting back to the norm.
Recovery, as I like to discuss it, also involves recovery from the emotional baggage that comes from a couple splitting up.
It’s not just the marriage getting back up on its feet. That is a challenge all unto itself.
Why Might It Be Important To Give Your Husband Time To Recover.
I think this question of what to do boils down to two primary schools of thought.
The first notion works like this…
Do everything you can think of to stop your husband from leaving. The fear is that once he leaves, the marriage is now exposed and he may never come back.
He will get use to living without you and your resentment levels will continue to grow, making a reconciliation near impossible. At least, that is logic behind this school of thought.
The notion that you may lose him forever is also powerful fear as evidenced by many married women who often turn to begging their husband not to leave.
Sometimes trying to appeal to their husband’s sense of the sanctity of marriage pays dividends. I have seen situations in which the husband will come to his senses and back off, particularly after the emotions have settled down.
It is true that sometimes a guy will overreact and threaten to walk out of your life, though that is not his true intentions.
But is this the best approach?
The second school of thought is to let him leave.
If your husband is attacking you with false threats of walking out, it could be useful to see just how far he is willing to take these threats.
After all, telling your wife you are going to leave the marriage is not something one should just use as a bargaining chip. So shame on your husband if that is his “play”.
It could also be true that your husband is incredibly frustrated with the direction of the relationship.
From his point of view, things are not going well and he needs to be alone. He feels compelled to escape. He may need time to process everything that is going on. So under this thesis, it may very well serve him and you both if you simply just give him the room he needs.
How much room should you give your husband?
Hang on, I promise to get into that.
But let me say, unless you are quite certain that your husband is simply bluffing and issuing an empty threat to leave you, I tend to favor the theory that it will serve you better in the long run to apply some finesse and support his decision to leave.
The idea is you should let him do exactly what he “thinks” he wants to do.
If he is convinced that marriage is a wreck and that the two of you have irreconcilable differences, then in most cases there is little you will be able to do to change your husband’s mindset.
While your internalized thoughts and fears may be screaming, “don’t let him go”, just remember that it is not the anxious voices you should listen to during such moments.
If your husband is headstrong and if the current atmosphere of the marriage is bleak, then your husband’s choice to leave may very well be part of a better long term solution.
We can get caught up in chasing after unproductive relationship dead ends, particularly when our emotions have taken over.
As emotions rise, our logical, rational mind can take a vacation.
When confronted with a fear, a person will sometimes succumb to their worse instincts.
It may not serve you to act in a needy fashion or make desperate attempts to keep the status quo.
If anything, such behaviors can be perceived as turnoffs by your husband and may further cement his desire to put distance between you and he.
A great social scientist, Abraham Maslow, taught us many years ago that men and women have certain needs that must be satisfied and these needs can be ranked by their level of importance.
The hierarchy of needs start with a cluster including food, safety, and security.
Once these needs are met, we move to higher level behavioral needs such as love and belongingness, then self esteem and eventually reaching a self actualized state where one’s full potential and creativity is achieved.
If a wife gets broadsided by their husband about his desire to leave, it is understandable that the wife could feel vulnerable around just getting these primary needs satisfied, never mind the needs of love or a sense of belonging.
So not feeling safe and secure is often high on the list of things that cause panic to kick into high gear.
Therefore, it is no too surprising that breakups can be so hard as one tries to process what it all means and how it impacts them personally.
But my sense is that once you realize your minimum needs will be met as well as some of the higher needs, it behooves you not to push the panic button.
It may serve you to not fight against your husband’s desire to leave. Though I would argue you should apply some finesse which I will get into.
There will likely come a time, particularly after the confusing emotions have died down, where you and your husband can better process what is the best thing to do going forward.
Hopefully you and your husband can get there without him departing.
What If You Choose To Convince Him To Stay With You?
If you feel your husband is not truly serious about leaving you or is acting immaturely and needs some steering, how do you bring him back to his senses?
What can you do to get your husband to see that leaving and breaking up the marriage is likely to make things even worse.
No doubt, there are occasions when the husband acts stupidly and puts it out there that he is going to walk.
No sooner than when the words leave his mouth, your husband’s ego may take center stage as he feels compelled to defend his proclamation.
Isn’t this how it sometimes unfolds. A husband get’s himself all worked up and with an outburst declares he has had it and is leaving.
What the heck can you do?
Buy Time To Reason With Your Husband
In such situations when it seems obvious to you that your husband has overreached, my advice is try to slow down time.
Say things slowly. Think carefully before you speak. Move slowly. In time, your behavior, like mirror, will influence how he behaves and he will begin to reflect how you are acting.
I refer to this as “Slow Down Therapy“.
It is easy for a husband and wife to get very excited during an argument. When conflicts arise or when threats or ultimatums are issued, everything will seem to be moving fast.
Before either of you realize it, a great many bad and ugly things may be said. Your physical gestures may also become more aggressive. None of this is good.
When this happens, couples usually end up blowing up the fight and they can reach the point of no return.
So if you think your husband is acting irrationally and is talking about packing and leaving, then it will serve you to adopt this “Slow Down Therapy”.
Without him realizing it, you can have a more positive impact on his behavior and hopefully ratchet down the pressure and strain.
Calmer minds do often prevail.
What If Your Husband Leaves For Just A Little While
Sometimes it may serve you to support your husband’s desire to leave, but not in the traditional sense.
Instead of walking out in a huff and puff or packing his things to leave indefinitely, it may be best to suggest that if he is so dead set on leaving, just do so in a less impactful way.
This is what Alice told me when she faced a similar situation:
“My husband was really hot and bothered. He was angry at me for an emotional affair I finally admitted to. I tried to convince him that it was immature and stupid of me and there was no physical component to the emotional attachment I had with a guy at work. But he was furious and demanded that we get a divorce and was packing up to leave. I knew in my heart he loved me and what I did should not be a marriage deal breaker, so I just told him he was right to be angry and disappointed in me. Then I just kept slipping in suggestions like ‘ we shouldn’t call it quits’ and that ‘we have a good marriage and can recover from this’. I told him if he must, just get a hotel for a couple of nights and we can talk about our next moves when he is ready’. I told him I would happily move out of the bedroom for now. I could see he was confused about what to do and where to go and I kept reinforcing I was wrong and he was right to feel this way and I told him if it was me that I would want to get out for a spell to clear my head. I kept telling him calmly that I felt ashamed, but that I am a good person and so was he. I tried to avoid being combative or starting up trouble, though in my own mind I knew why I was drawn into the emotional affair. My husband is not very affectionate and often ignores me, but I knew this was not the time to get into all that.”
Whatever path you choose to take, just be reminded that you have choices in how you wish to handle this matter on your end.
That doesn’t mean you will be able to change your husband’s mind.
But if you read the situation carefully, you have a better than average chance of crafting a response that will serve you best in the long run.