I recently received a pretty heartbreaking email from a wife who felt that in the next few days, her husband was going to leave her. The two of them had just not been getting along due partly to the stress of their financial situation. They both were at their wit’s end, but the wife was willing to stick it out and work on the marriage, and the husband was not. He had been alluding to packing his bags and leaving. She suspected that he would promptly file for divorce not long after that.
The wife was beside herself. She stressed that she “could not live without” her husband and did not know how she could survive without his love and support. She was trying to come up with a plan to convince him to stay. But she was meeting a lot of resistance. She had tried reasoning with him. She had tried debating. She had tried guilt. And, recently she was contemplated begging. Basically, she told me that she was willing to “do whatever it took” to keep him from walking out the door.
She wanted my advice as to what might work best to convince him not to leave her. I will tell you what I told her in the following article.
Even If You’re Scared That He’s Going To Leave You, Don’t Let The Fear Drive You: I have to get this out of the way and just say it. Fear is not a trait that is generally perceived to be attractive. The truth was, this wife had already laid her cards on the table numerous times. She had made it very clear that she did not want to live without her husband and wasn’t sure if she could. So, continuing to tell him this was no more likely to drive the point home than the numerous previous tries.
Honestly, I felt that the desperation and fear that she was wearing on her sleeve was only making her situation worse. I dialogue with so many men in this situation and they almost always tell me that this type of behavior only wants to make them leave that much faster.
When I told the wife this, she responded with “well, do you think I should play hard ball then and tell him to just leave if that’s what he wants to do? Because I’m not sure that I can pull that off since him leaving is my worst case scenario.” No actually that wasn’t what I was suggesting. Because this strategy will also bring about the negative emotions and reactions that you want to avoid.
Instead, you want to focus on things that are going to bring about some relief and some positive emotions. You have to set it up so that you’re luring him toward you rather than pushing him away with tactics that are only going to make him want to escape the situation.
You’re Better Off Appearing Rational And In Control: I know that this might be difficult, but your best bet is to change tactics and try to be rational and non threatening so that it’s no longer necessary for him to continue to avoid or thwart you. And I felt that the wife needed to make the first move to give her husband a glimpse of her new tactic. Yes, she was going to talk about him leaving her. But she was going to go about it in a new way.
I wanted for her to calmly sit and down and tell him that she suspected that he was considering leaving. She was then to ask if there was anything that she could do to make the situation better. I also suspected quite strongly that the husband was going to continue to resist and assert that it’s was too late and there was nothing that she could do.
However, instead of responding like she always did, I wanted for her to show a bit of restraint. And rather than begin her speech about how she couldn’t live without him and how wrong it was for him to leave, I wanted for her to just state that although she was very sorry to hear that, she only wanted for things to improve between them. If he needed some time and space for that to happen, then so be it. She was not to be angry or desperate. I merely wanted for her to state the facts and to come off as empathetic.
Basically, I wanted for her to get the point across that she only wanted both of them to be happy – preferably together. I wanted for her to leave the impression that she was no longer going to fight with him. Yes, this might be scary and risky. But the reason that we do this is because it allows us more access to them (which we very much need) during this process.
And in the days to come, we are going to move slowly and use this to our full advantage. The real goal is not to try to talk him into something that he’s not receptive to right now. The real goal should be to change his perceptions so that he’s looking at you, and the marriage, in an entirely different way at the end of this process. You must show him the strong, rational, and laid back side of yourself rather than the needy and desperate one right now.