I often hear from wives who are worried about their husband’s enthusiasm level when it comes to saving their marriage. Often, the husband will agree to go along and will agree to “try” to save the marriage, but he will make it very clear that he has his doubts. And the wife will often worry that his doubts mean that he won’t really cooperate fully. I heard from a wife who said: “a couple of months ago, my husband told me that he was going to move out because he didn’t think that there was really anything left of our marriage. He said that to him, the chemistry was gone and we were basically living as roommates. He said he still loved me as a person but that he wasn’t sure that he was still ‘in love’ with me. I told my husband that his love for me as a person was a start and that I felt confident that if he would just agree to work on our marriage, then we could turn this thing around. At first, he said that he would think about it and get back to me. For weeks, he didn’t say anything at all about this. I finally confronted him and asked if he would agree to work on our marriage. He sighed and said that he reluctantly would agree but he also said he had to be honest and tell me that he had serious doubts that this was going to work. He went so far as to say that he thought we were wasting our time. So where does this leave me? I almost feel like he’s not going to put much effort into saving our marriage so we may as well just give up.”
I certainly hoped that this wife would not give up. I know from experience that you don’t always need your husband cooperation for the entire time that you are trying to save your marriage. With a little skill and luck, you can often over come his doubts and eventually gain his cooperation and enthusiasm. I will discuss this more below.
Nothing Says You Can’t Proceed Despite His Doubts: I know that this can be difficult. It can feel as if you shouldn’t go forward without his blessing or his enthusiasm. But you actually can. And moving forward on your own is often the best way for you to remove his doubts. Try to remain as positive as you can. Because if you project your own doubts, your husband is going to pick up on this and his doubts might increase. You want to portray confidence. And you want to show him that this process isn’t as difficult (or as impossible) as he might think.
Now admittedly, you are going to need his cooperation if you want to seek joint counseling. But, nothing says that you can’t go alone at first. And, nothing says that you don’t have the ability to identify the issues on your own and then start whittling away at that without him needing to even know what you are doing. Because often, you already know what the major issues are. And there is usually plenty that you can do to begin to address this on your own. Sure, it is optimal if you work together. But if working together isn’t possible in the beginning, that is no reason to give up or to not try.
Know That If You Can Show Him Some Painless Improvements, He Will Often Willingly Join You: What is really unfortunate about this situation is that very often, the wife will become discouraged and will approach saving the marriage with dread. Her apprehension will be obvious and the husband will think something like “see, I was right. even she knows that it’s too little too late,” when this is the furthest thing from the truth. The wife is only reacting to his doubts, not her own. This is so unfortunate because if she had just moved forward with confidence anyway, she probably would have found him coming around eventually.
It is often easier to overcome your husband’s reservations than you might think. You have to understand how his mind is probably working right now. He likely doesn’t want to get his hopes up because often, you have already tried to make some changes and have failed. That is why you have to be very deliberate about how you approach this. You want to project confidence that not only will this not be overly difficult, but that it will work. You don’t want for your husband to think that he is going to have to roll up his sleeves and go through a wasteful process that is emotionally draining.
Instead, you want to show him that right at this moment, you have an opportunity to set it up so that you restore the intimacy and the fun in your marriage so that you are both happy. It is much easier to get him on board when he believes that the pay off is going to delight him and that getting from point a to point b isn’t going to be so difficult after all. Frankly, you are the one who can show him this. How you proceed right now can either confirm or change his reservations.