My most popular blog post by far is, “The Dos and Don’ts of Saving Your Marriage” (https://lisamerlobooth.com/dos-donts-saving-marriage-winning-spouse-back/). Having received over 200 comments on this post alone, it’s clear that people are at a loss to know how to win their spouse back. More often than not, those comments are from men who tell me that they treated their wives terribly in their marriages for many years. They are desperate to fix the damage they caused and have “seen the light.” The problem is that they only “see the light” AFTER their wives decide to end the marriage.
I cannot tell you how common this is. Time and time and time again, I get couples in my office, or readers of my blog, begging me to tell them how to save their marriage. The trouble is that, for many of these marriages, the wives have been telling the husbands all along what they need. They’ve been very clearly stating how unhappy they are, how lonely they feel and how badly they want things to change. The wives have been complaining, crying, yelling, threatening, etc., in an effort to have the husbands wake up and hear them. The men don’t wake up, though. They don’t hear their wives—and if they do “hear” them, they don’t listen. The men, by and large, year after year after year, brush their wives’ complaints off as insignificant, hysterical or unimportant.
Until one day, the wives have had it. They’re tired. They’re tired of feeling lonely. They’re tired of their husbands intimidating them, bullying them, talking down to them, ignoring them and treating them as though they are second-class citizens. At some point, the wives reach their breaking point. They stop complaining and instead, begin to plan their escape. Then, one day, the wives tell the husbands that they’re done and they want out of the marriage. The husbands are in shock—and then beg the wives to give them another chance.
I cannot stress this enough — the best way to save your marriage is to listen to the complaints your spouse has been speaking for years. Do not assume for even a moment that, because she’s not complaining today about that particular behavior she has complained about for years, things are okay. Tune in. If you’ve been a bad husband for years—wake up. Your wife will NOT stay forever. Everyone has his/her breaking point. Even if she’s placated your anger, over-accommodated for your absences and turned a blind eye to your selfishness, harshness or lack of connection—she will have her breaking point.
The best way to save your marriage is to never lose it in the first place. Keep your finger on its pulse. Listen to the unspoken sadness of your wife. Hear her complaints, requests and struggles in a whole new way. Listen as though the future of your marriage depends on it—because it does. You do not want to be one of the countless men I work with who are devastated that their wives left them and now want to make the changes they should’ve made years before. The truth is that, often times, changing after she leaves is too late.
Challenge: Keep your eyes on your marriage while you have it. Winning your partner back after she/he has walked out is a very difficult road at best.
Note: Although this is a more common dynamic with men, it certainly applies to women as well.