when one spouse wants to save the marriage-husband reaching out to wife

When One Spouse wants to Save the Marriage, and the Other Doesn’t

Marriage Dynamics InstituteCommunication, Conflict, Intimacy, Marriage Health, Marriage Intensive, When Life is Difficult

Sometimes things go terribly wrong in a marriage relationship, and one spouse wants to save the marriage, but the other does not.

Unhealthy relationships can fall apart quickly. They can go completely off the rails in dramatic fashion setting off shock waves that can leave one or both marriage partners in denial.

Marriages can also drift into indifference. And couples may not even notice their marriage is dying until it’s practically gone.

But often when a marriage is in trouble,  one spouse sees warning signs and starts looking for help before the other spouse is ready to acknowledge there is a problem.

And in many cases, one spouse wants to save the marriage, while the other spouse feels differently about the future of their relationship.

This is a tough challenge.

But it is possible for couples to get back on the same page and rediscover each other. And yes, it is possible for both spouses to learn and grow together, reignite passion and love for one another, and build the kind of marriage they both want to have.

So, if you are trying to save your marriage all by yourself, consider these suggestions for convincing an unwilling spouse to get help when a marriage is in trouble.

Note: Since people and situations vary, not all of these suggestions will apply to every relationship. Use whatever is most helpful. And begin with the more simple approaches before bringing other people into the situation. In addition, don’t assume it’s too late. It may take days, weeks or even months to get on the same page about getting help for your marriage. But with a little patience and persistence, you may be pleasantly surprised at the result. 

If You Are a Person of Faith—Pray

And as you pray, honestly evaluate your own thoughts, words and actions toward your spouse.

Pray that God will open your hearts to each other.

Pray for help dealing with addictions or ending wrong relationships.

Invite spiritually mature people you know and trust to pray for you and for your marriage.

Take Care of Yourself

If you have not been sleeping or eating in a healthy way, remedy that immediately.

In fact, pursue good health in all areas of life. You will feel better about yourself and optimize opportunities to re­attract your spouse.

And take care of your responsibilities. This includes seeking help in areas where self improvement is needed. So make it a point to actively address things like anger management, addictions, co-dependency, and personal spiritual growth.

Invite Your Spouse to Attend the A New Beginning Workshop for Marriages in Crisis

This three-day workshop is led by a counselor and based on research. It is specifically designed to help couples designed to help couples facing major challenges in their relationship.

Spouses often have very different motivations for attending the workshop. One spouse may want to save the marriage while the other may attend only to prove the marriage is over. But that does not matter.

The important thing is to show up, listen, and participate for three days.

Give Them Time to Think it Through

Allow for some resistance and even rejection when you present this workshop option. Don’t try to respond to every objection. Give your spouse a little breathing room.

Often people feel they are choosing between their happiness and their marriage. Because they lack the tools needed to build a fulfilling marriage, they don’t understand it’s possible to stay and the marriage and be happy.

Do Not Cling, Beg, or Lose Control of Your Emotions

Your spouse will see you as strong and, therefore, more attractive. But if you demonstrate panic or fear, your spouse will likely withdraw from you.

(If you have been begging and pleading with your spouse, you are not alone. That’s what most people do. But these behaviors are unattractive. So stop now.)

Avoid Constantly Bringing Up Issues in the Marriage

This often makes things worse. Instead, tell your spouse the positive things you hope to gain from the workshop.

And whatever you do, don’t tell your spouse the workshop will “fix” them. That’s a sure way to stir up defensiveness.

It’s much better to admit your own shortcomings in relationship. But you don’t need to be a doormat. You can be strong even as you demonstrate remorse about the past, and highlight a desire to learn and grow.

Be reasonable in your requests.

To introduce the A New Beginning workshop as a helpful option, you might say things like:
· “We have X number of years invested in this relationship. I am asking for three days. Would you participate in a this workshop for three days to honor the years of our marriage.”
· “I’m not asking you to commit to saving the marriage right now. I’m asking you to go, listen, and participate.”
· “There are several reasons we should do this. For our children. For people who care about us. Because of our beliefs and values.”

Or you might simply say: “I believe this workshop will help us make better decisions about our future.”

Ask for Help to Convince Your Spouse

Make a list of all the people who might be willing to talk with your spouse about attending the workshop with you. This might include your spouse’s parents, siblings, or close friends.

Depending on family relationships and interactions, you might add your own parents or siblings and their spouses. Is there a church leader, pastor or counselor your spouse respects? Add them to the list.

Work through the names and decide which ones you will ask to help.

If your marriage is in severe trouble, don’t worry too much about a negative reaction from your spouse about this. Because if the marriage is ending, what do you really have to lose?

Instead of being timid or embarrassed and fearing a negative reaction, think positively. When one spouse wants to save the marriage, even if the other does not, it is possible to turn things around. By asking for help, your marriage may be saved.

The A New Beginning workshop for marriages in crisis helps couples reconnect and get the tools they need to build a fulfilling marriage relationship. More than 75% of couples who participate in the workshop stay together and report finding happiness and satisfaction and their marriage.

About the Author

Marriage Dynamics Institute

Marriage Dynamics Institute (MDI) wants to cultivate healthy families, churches, and communities by helping create marriages full of joy, meaning, and purpose. Having served more than 75,000 couples since 1994, MDI offers workshops and seminars for marriages at every stage, including those in crisis.