Last night, I received an email from a wife who told me that she felt she was “running out of time.” Her husband had confided in her that he was considering leaving the home in the short term and perhaps leaving the relationship in the long term. This terrified the wife. The relationship had always been somewhat volatile. But, they had always found a way to work things out. They had broken up and gotten back together a few times previously but somehow she always knew that they would reconcile and get back together eventually.
This time things felt differently to her and more final. The husband had seemed very determined to leave and move on. The wife wanted my advice as to what she could do to make him change his mind or to “make him stay.” I strongly felt that she needed to pause the cycle of volatile behavior. It was not helping anything. In fact, it was likely only making things worse. I will discuss this more in the following article.
Is There Anything That You Can Do To “Make Him Stay?”: It was pretty clear to me that the wife wanted for me to tell her some magical secret or to give her some perfect letter that was going to drastically and quickly change her husband’s mind. I have to tell you that if things such as this existed, I would have found and then used them when my own marriage was in real trouble. The truth is, there is no quick fix but there are permanent and lasting fixes – ones which may take a little longer but will work much better and on a much more permanent basis.
There is plenty that you can do to influence his decision to stay. But, I think it’s a big mistake to hope or think that you can control someone or “make” someone do what you want for them to do. I took this stance as well and it was the biggest mistake that I made. Men do not like the insinuation that they are not their own person or are not in control of their own thoughts and wishes. Implying otherwise insinuates a certain amount of disrespect and no one wants to feel as though their spouse thinks they know more, can make better decisions, or can control your own thought process.
So, if that’s the route that you are taking, I would strongly hope that you might reconsider this. At the very least, try to look at this objectively and evaluate if this tactic has really brought you any closer to what you really want. And, I’m pretty confident when I say that what you really want is probably a healthy, stable, and growing relationship that you are both participating in equally and fully.
Because, what have you really gained if you manipulate, guilt, or trick your husband into staying when deep down he doesn’t really want to? Sure, he’s still there physically. But, he’s certainly not there emotionally. And, it’s only a matter of time, probably, when you are visiting these issues again. As soon as stress presents itself and begins to affect the relationship (and this almost always happens) then it’s likely that you will be starting all over. And, then next time, you’ll have to act even more drastically and try that much harder to gain control again. This is not the best cycle to be in.
Strategies To Convince Him That He Really Wants To Stay: It’s my experience that, when you’re in this opposing cycle, your husband is going to want to do the exact opposite of what you want him to do. So, the more you push him to stay, the more he’s going to want to go. It’s better not to allow your fear to push you into acting in a way that is beneath you. We’ve all begged and threatened and reasoned and belittled ourselves to get him to stay. We’ve all heard those very embarrassing phrases coming out of our mouths and yet we can’t seem to stop ourselves and we keep right on going.
These are the things that I didn’t want for my reader to do. I wanted for her to take the opposite strategy. I wanted for her to tell him that perhaps he was right. Maybe some time apart would do them good. They could either take the time apart with the both of them “giving each other space” without either needing to leave. She could visit friends or they could both visit friends or he could leave as he’d been saying that he was going to.
Of course, the wife did not like these suggestions. They meant that she was not able to control the husband and watch his every move. She was afraid that once she let him go, even for a little while, that he would never come back to her. Basically, she was afraid that he would find that he liked being alone or would meet someone else and that would be the end of her relationship.
What many of us can not see in these situations is that, if we don’t make some changes, the relationship is likely going to end anyway whether this is down the road a bit or in the short term. The key to feeling secure in the relationship is knowing that you both really want to be there and you’re never going to have this peace of mind if you know that he really wants to go but that you have tricked him into staying.
You’re much better off making it clear that you want to save the marriage but that you also want for him to be happy and support his efforts to make this happen. There is nothing wrong with saying that you too will take full advantage of the break. He will likely wonder why you’ve had this abrupt and dramatic change of heart. This will sometimes help you to get his attention. When this happens, you need to make sure that you’re presenting the woman that you want him to see.
Because you already know the woman that he wants to see. You are her at your very best – when you are laughing and flirting and not clinging too tightly or worrying too much. You are the happy go lucky person who first caught his eye. Think for a second about how often he sees this same person. Because this is the person he needs to see right now on a regular basis. And she’s not afraid or threatening or clinging or crying. She’s in control of herself because she knows that he loves her and that you can work this out. She’s your best chance to make this work. So don’t discard and become who you know you really are not.
Once she’s gotten his attention, she will need to eventually make some changes in the relationship. But this should not be attempted until you’re stable in the relationship once again.
When my husband wanted to leave (but I desperately wanted to save my marriage), I made many mistakes. Rather than seeing the lack of intimacy for what it was, I engaged in many embarrassing tactics that back fired. Thankfully, I finally realized I was doing more harm than good and was able to change course using the tactics discussed here and save the marriage. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com/.