"Everything I do drives him away. God can save my marriage, but Jason wants a divorce, so I'll accept it. If I choose not to fight him and go along with it, he'll calm down, and maybe we can fix our marriage later down the road." With those words, Jillian ended her description of her marital situation.
She called the marital counselor's office to inquire about workshops for troubled marriages and got the counselor on the phone instead of the staffers who typically answer the phone. The counselor listened politely and only interjected as necessary. When she finished her description, the counselor responded carefully, saying, "Based on your description, it sounds like he's manipulating you to get his way. I'm afraid that what he wants isn't what's best for you." Before he could finish, Jillian cut the counselor off, and that was the end of the conversation.
Marriage counselors talk to people like Jillian every day who want to fix their difficult marriages. Unfortunately, for the majority of them, their spouses don't feel the same. In some cases, the other spouse is in love with someone else and wants to get divorced. In other cases, the other person feels dominated and controlled for so long that they want to get as far away as fast as possible.
The reasons vary, but the situation is that the ones who call the marriage counselor wish to save the marriage, but the other person doesn't. Here's what to do when your spouse wants to leave.
Almost everyone tries to cling, but they rarely succeed. Trying to keep your loved one from leaving by begging, arguing, demanding, apologizing, or manipulating fails terribly. Some people choose to bombard the other person with words via text, email, in person, and through other people. They tell the other person they're sorry, that they forgive them, and that they'll change. They also tell them they're destroying the children and no other person will love them like they do, anything they can think of to stop them from leaving.
Some people cry so their spouse can see their pain in hopes of evoking passion. Others "accidentally" hurt themselves or get sick to kick off a rekindling of the love lost within their spouse. Instead of trying to get the departing spouse back, clinging behaviors force them away faster. There are numerous reasons it does. One is behavior like whining, begging, and clinging isn't attractive in any way. Another reason is that clinging behavior suggests you'll take the other back no matter what, taking away any reason for them to stop their abandonment.
Instead of clinging or giving up on clinging, some people give the leaving spouse permission to do what they want. Others tolerate inappropriate behaviors or ignore them altogether. In some cases, spouses agree to separate or end their joint accounts. Usually, they give in because they feel if they don't, the leaving spouse will get mad, and things will deteriorate. In reality, they're likely easing the departing spouse's transition into divorce.
Typically, the departing spouse gets mad when the other tries anything to stop them from leaving. In response to manipulations and threats, the other spouse gives in and tells themselves that things will get better. Unfortunately, giving in can have the opposite effect.
No one wants to be controlled, so if you try to keep your marriage by dominating, dictating or demanding, things won't end well. Consider this your wake-up call if your spouse wants to leave your union primarily because you've shown controlling behaviors. Stop your controlling behaviors and show that you'll treat them with equality and the utmost respect. Don't try to force your opinions, and stop nagging until your spouse gives in to your point of view. Let your partner be, feel and think even when you don't like it.
Being patient buys you time. No matter how hard, take things one day at a time and make decisions one by one. Defeat obstacles separately and start with something you can fix. Work out how to deal with problems or situations that feel overwhelming and take time to seek counsel if necessary. If your partner is rushing to move forward with a divorce, don't join them because time is on your side. If your spouse has someone else, time will wear down the intensity of the emotions in the affair.
If your spouse isn't happy with life with you, time gives you a chance to show the changes you're willing to make. There will be a reaction to every action you make. Positive actions offer a possible future for your marriage.
Talk to a trusted third party.
If there is someone that the departing spouse holds in high regard, ask that person to intervene in your union. It could be a friend, pastor, parent, or one of your children if they're grown. Ask this person to spend time with the departing spouse, listen to them, and do anything possible to influence them to agree to marriage counseling. Typically, a spouse who refuses to go to counseling when asked by a spouse will consider it when urged by a third party they respect.
If your spouse reluctantly agrees, don't get frustrated and decide against it because of their lack of desire. Instead of being upset that your spouse doesn't want to save your union, be glad about their willingness to go to counseling. Hundreds of marriages have been saved when a couple goes to counseling due to one spouse's desire to save the marriage.
Prove that you've changed.
Instead of focusing on your spouse's faults, try to see your weaknesses. When you start working on improving yourself in specific areas, you'll benefit from it while making strides toward saving your marriage. Whether your spouse ignores and scorns your efforts or recognizes them and affirms them, keep growing in these areas. Even if your marriage ends, you'll become a better person.
It takes courage and strength to try and salvage a marriage when your spouse wants out. However, you must stay strong and find a support system of people who'll encourage you. It's also best to understand that reconciliation is possible, but don't bet on it. If your spouse wants to leave, then let them. However, give it everything you've got if they're willing to seek counseling and salvage the marriage.