“My wife wants a divorce. How can I change her mind?”
If my husband had asked this when I told him I was leaving, I would have said, “Nothing.”
Yet here we are, still happily married more than ten years later.
Here’s my advice:
- Stay confident and don’t hassle your wife to change her mind
- Create a safe, positive atmosphere
- Learn true compromise—don’t waste her valuable years
- Stop your self-destructive patterns
Once you get your wife back, you *must* avoid making the same mistakes again.
That’s why I highly recommend starting an expert-created program like Save The Marriage.
Check it out now, or read on to learn how to stop the divorce process in its tracks.
Table of Contents
My Wife Wants a Divorce. How Can I Change Her Mind?
Fortunately for both of us, my husband did change my mind about divorce.
Or rather, he curbed his emotional reactions and laid the groundwork so that I didn’t want a divorce anymore.
Let’s be clear—he didn’t do everything exactly right.
Still, I have often wondered what’s different about us—why my marriage was saved (without a family therapist) and the married couples I knew who did go to a family therapist ended up divorced.
(Note: I am NOT disparaging marriage counseling. I would absolutely do it if I thought it would help my marriage because I’d be willing to try anything.)
Nevertheless, I feel almost guilty that we made it and they didn’t.
So, in the effort to help assuage that guilt, I’m going to share with you what brought me back from the brink of filing for divorce.
Read Next: Will She Change Her Mind About Divorce?
Step 1: Forget the Marriage-Saving Myths
The very first thing you should be doing is getting your head straight about how to save your marriage.
At this point, you may already be confused by the sheer flood of advice you’ve gotten.
From your buddies, from your twice-divorced stepfather and from the internet.
Not all of it is bad. But not all of it is good, either.
And some of it is straight-up myth.
Let’s talk about these myths first, because they’re toxic and you need to make sure they’re not influencing you if you’re going to succeed.
Myth #1: Get her sympathy
“Baby, please stay.”
“I can’t live without you.”
These lines just aren’t going to work.
She may pity you a bit, but pity is not the feeling you want your wife to have for you.
You want her to regret her decision to leave, not look at you like a kicked puppy.
Myth #2: Try to talk her out of it
Along these lines, you should also stay away from trying to make appeals to her practicality.
“You don’t want to raise our kids in a broken home, do you?”
“You don’t have a car. How are you going to get to work on time every day?”
These things sound logical, but if we’re being honest, they’re really just thin veils for getting her to stay.
While there might be some validity to these concerns, they’re typically complex subjects that require more in-depth discussion.
In short, they are not a shield to protect your failing marriage.
And they won’t buy you much time, if any.
Myth #3: Remind her of the good times
Trying to get your wife to look at old wedding photos is not going to do a damn thing except annoy her.
In fact, trying to convince her to reconsider divorce with emotional manipulation is a sure sign to her that she needs to get out.
Myth #4: Suck up to her
Again, this is only going to annoy her.
No one finds a groveler attractive.
You must have self-respect for your wife to respect you and want to come back.
Myth #5: Romance her
Trust me, the last thing your wife wants is to get cuddly and romantic with you.
If she wants out, she doesn’t want to get away with you over the weekend.
She probably doesn’t want you paying attention to her or any physical contact.
Sorry, but it’s the truth.
If you try to force it, you risk inciting disgust, not a romantic relationship.
Myth #6: Tell her you’ll do anything
Telling you that she wants a divorce took a ton of courage and consideration on your wife’s part.
Just throwing an “I’ll do whatever you want” out there is kind of meaningless to her.
Step 2: Accept Her Decision
To help change your wife’s mind about divorce completely, the first thing you need to do is show that you respect her ability to decide what’s in her best interest.
Paradoxically, that means you must accept this decision.
I know—it’s totally the opposite of what you’re trying to do, right?
Well, not really.
If you refuse to acknowledge her choice, or try to prove that she’s crazy or wrong, you will appear to be attempting to make her choices for her.
You will not succeed that way.
Instead, start by accepting that she came to the divorce decision at no small cost to her own happiness and wellbeing.
Then, you can focus on what you can do to help her make the choice to stay—which you’ll read in the tips below.
Step 3: Respect Her Boundaries
Chances are, your wife has set some ground rules to follow.
This is necessary for her to be able to keep functioning.
So, trying to press her on these boundaries is unhealthy and will probably make her plant her feet in the ground anyway.
If she’s asked for a no-contact period, do not—except for in a real emergency—call, email or text her.
If you’re nervous that this is the same as letting her go, don’t be. It’s not.
In fact, it’s showing her respect and honoring her wishes like a good husband.
Basically, you will need to work within her boundaries to win her back.
Not outside of them.
Step 4: Quit Self-Destructive Behaviors
Right now, a friend of mine (let’s call her Jane) is taking first steps toward divorcing her husband.
The reason is alcohol.
Jane has long been concerned about the number of drinks her husband downs in one sitting, but it wasn’t until a year ago that his problem with alcohol came to light.
He was hiding bottles all over the house.
He lost his job and nearly put their child in danger after passing out one day.
After many fights and broken promises to stop drinking, Jane told him that she’s filing for divorce.
It breaks my heart because all he would need to do is one thing: go to rehab.
Now I know that addiction is no easy mountain to climb. And maybe this example is an extreme one.
But it still stands: It’s imperative to fix your self-destructive behaviors.
Because they’re destroying your mental health and your marriage, too.
Spend time becoming a better you first. Then you can be a better husband.
Step 5: Apologize
A heartfelt apology can go far in opening your wife’s eyes.
As long as you recognize, an apology alone will not fix things.
But once you’ve made steps toward solving your own problems, acknowledging how they’ve hurt your wife shows her you’re taking responsibility.
Don’t wait for her to accept your apology.
Act as if you expect nothing from her so that you don’t undo the work.
That will impress her and show her you’re sincere.
Related Reading: How to Apologize to Your Wife
Step 6: Act Confident
What happens when your wife sees you continuing on with confidence?
Not worrying about other guys?
Showing that you are strong enough to stand on your own two feet and—yes—that you are even perfectly capable of moving on gets into her psyche.
It’s not the only element of success, but it can help to create that “oh crap” moment for her.
What if you find another woman? Would you take her back if she wanted to come back, or would you no longer need her?
This is the kind of questioning you want to inspire.
I’m not saying acting like you’ve got everything under control is the magic button you need to press, and nothing else.
Because that’s definitely not the case.
But, showing confidence and self-sufficiency recharges your wife’s desire and creates urgency for reconsidering divorce.
Step 7: Talk
At this point, it’s okay to reach out to your wife.
It’s a good idea to reach out in a casual way first, just to see how she’s doing.
Wives change their minds when husbands are not demanding.
However, if she doesn’t respond, then ask her for a face-to-face meeting with you.
Chances are, she will feel some obligation out of respect for your marriage.
Then you can tell her how you feel and what you want from each other.
Be direct—and if your wife brings up why she thinks you’re incapable, you have proof.
You’ve already begun to wrestle your demons and quite self-destructive behaviors.
This opens up the door for a real conversation in her mind.
Step 8: Listen
It’s not all about you talking.
Be sure to listen to her—maintain eye contact and show a genuine interest in what she has to say. Even if it hurts to hear.
And never get defensive or throw blame around.
Empathy and understanding are what make a marriage work.
Tip: Mind your body language.
If you sit across from her with arms folded, you look angry. That contradicts your words, making your wife think you’re not serious.
Sit up straight, stand tall and look confident.
Step 9: Don’t Waste Her Time
When my husband and I would talk about staying together, one of my main issues was my biological clock.
She was a-ticking, and the conversation about not only when, but if we would have kids was nigh seven years old.
If that conversation had been a child, it would have been in second grade already.
Whether your wife wants a family, feels stagnant or feels ignored in your broken marriage, she’s out of patience.
Your job is to help her feel that she is not throwing valuable years down the drain.
Which means, to use an elegant phrase, you need to s#@! or get off the pot.
Be ready to make goals and plans together, as a team.
And if your wife isn’t ready to help you make those plans, read Save The Marriage for how to rescue your marriage alone, all by yourself (you can).
Ultimately, you need to decide then and there that you’re going to commit to a course of action, and then do it.
Actions speak louder than words.
Step 10: Avoid Dragging Her Into Divorce Discussions
You may feel like you can’t move forward without having a conversation about the dreaded D word, but you can.
I know—that sounds almost impossible.
But ultimately, you want to create a positive image of yourself in your wife’s mind.
That cannot manifest if you’re always rehashing the bad stuff.
Which will be exactly what happens if you bring up the divorce when she’s not ready to talk about it.
Better to let her bring it up if it’s something that she’s comfortable with—when she’s ready.
Otherwise, your focus should be on creating an optimistic atmosphere.
Not on the negative situation at hand.
Step 11: Don’t Take Your Frustration Out on Your Wife
Anger is one of the most destructive coping mechanisms.
If you show anger, it will only give her ammo to leave.
Likewise, if you’re mopey, you won’t get her sympathy. She’ll just start avoiding you as much as possible because you’re tough to be around.
Essentially, making her bear the brunt of your emotions will always backfire.
Your wife knows that you’re angry and sad.
In reality, how you deal with your anger and sadness will affect her judgment.
You may have started spending time with each other as your wife gets more comfortable with the new, healthy relationship you’re developing—all the more reason to be calm around her as much as possible.
That will make you approachable to your wife.
And if your wife has so far refused to talk to you, being neutral is more encouraging than being emotional.
Step 12: Compromise
If your wife is looking into divorce proceedings, she likely feels that something beyond *her* control is tearing your relationship apart.
For me, it was my husband putting his career before mine that made me want a divorce.
His decisions had locked us into living in an area with very little opportunity for me. I was forced to find work that was often unstable.
Things did not feel like a two way street—this wasn’t the career path I had wanted, and I blamed him.
How did we fix it?
I won’t lie—the solution was not painless for either of us.
Ultimately, my husband told his company that he needed to be relocated somewhere that was better for the both of us.
A move that would not happen immediately, and in fact took years.
But the fact that he was, for the first time, willing to see from my side—that my life and aspirations were suffocating under his—was what I needed to see we could have a balanced relationship and come back.
I consider myself one of the lucky ones.
To all my married friends who are hanging on by a thread, read Save The Marriage.
Even after my marriage was stable, learning the techniques in the guide has helped me to better understand my husband and our psychological patterns so that we can stop any issues taking root ever again.
It’s powerful information.