You can get your wife to fall in love with you again, even if she says “it’s over.” The no convincing, no conflict approach to rebuilding a relationship
Your wife told you she doesn’t love you and has either left you or is planning to. She had some very good reasons to stop loving you, and you have worked hard on changing those things. But still she has no feelings for you and has no interest in being with you.
What’s going on and what can you do about it? You can stop trying to convince her and stop getting rejected. You can instead begin to connect with her and re-attract her. See how other men are doing this every day.
Not a one step approach
Sometimes men get so caught up in working and practicalities that they don’t do what they need to do to make their wife feel loved. When that happens, they often want to fix things all at once by making up for what they didn’t do before. This one step approach to making her love you again won’t work. For that, you will need to use a different approach.
Step 1. Take the focus off of what you want and put it on this
Getting her to empathize with you is the wrong move. You are not going to turn on your wife’s love by getting her to empathize with what you want. She is way past putting you first If she has told you she doesn’t love you anymore. There is only one person she is focused on helping–herself. You need to understand what she wants, why she wants it, and how it makes sense for her.
Why making her feel guilty will work against restoring her love. Guilt makes people repeatedly justify what they are doing to reduce their guilt. It doesn’t get them to change what they are doing to reduce their guilt. So, you would just be getting her to tell herself over and over negative things about you.
“My wife doesn’t love me anymore. Why not?”
Back when she used to complain to you about things, it was because she still had a positive vision of your future together. Every time you did something that clashed with that vision, she experienced it both as anger and as disappointment. Early in your relationship, it would have been more anger than disappointment because she had more hope of things changing.
As she moved toward hopelessness, her anger faded away. People don’t get angry about hopeless things. They get sad. They emotionally shut down. All of their feelings turn off. And that’s when they realize they don’t love you anymore. There are some situations, however, when a woman will say she doesn’t love you when she still does. There are indicators you can check for to see if she really isn’t in love with you.
Why you didn’t see this coming
Women don’t end their relationship as soon as they feel it’s hopeless. Usually, they stay in the relationship for a pretty long time. That’s because of a few things.
First, it’s a hassle to move out and pretty expensive, too.
Secondly, hopelessness drains women’s energy and motivation. When that happens you may realize that they are unhappy, but you may not realize that they are just going through the motions.
Some women are pretty darn good at pretending everything is alright. They may have no problem kissing you, cooking, and so on, because it doesn’t really matter to them. Many men mistakenly believe that things have actually improved because their wives are no longer complaining and the house is peaceful. What they don’t know is how dead their wives feel inside.
Why she decided to (or is deciding to) leave you
The reason your wife decided to leave you or is thinking about it is not because of how bad the relationship is, or because of the things you have done. Those all contributed to her becoming hopeless and falling out of love with you, but they are not her reasons for leaving. In order to leave, she has to have gotten some hope that she can be happier or have a better life without you.
For the first time in years, she may actually be feeling positive about her future. Not only that, but she is getting a plan together to do that. Her life is starting to get better as she contemplates leaving you. Because women get more positive before they leave, it may come as quite a surprise to their husbands when they are informed the marriage is over.
Step 2. Stop pushing her away with your attempts to convince her she is wrong
It’s natural to feel hurt and even angry when your wife first breaks the news to you. It’s something really bad for you and you don’t want it to be that way. You may beg, promise, and argue. Hopefully, you will quickly realize those behaviors are not helping. If you continue them, she will soon demand space. And if you continue still, she will have nothing to do with you.
Why apologies and promises won’t work
When your wife leaves you, all of her hope is in a future that she can make without you. Although you apologize and make promises at this time, they are not likely to have any effect on her decision.
Try to imagine this: If you were feeling hopeful about leaving and you already went through an extended period of despair (years) because your wife didn’t change, how willing would you be to go back and try again? It would seem like a pretty crazy thing to do, wouldn’t it?
Why your promises to change no longer matter. Your promises to change appear to her to be self motivated and not trustworthy. Giving up her dreams and going back with a man based on promises would mean what? Being in a hopeless situation again? Giving up on the recent motivation and hopes she has gotten after feeling down so long? And that is why your promises and apologies don’t matter.
She may sympathize with your position—feel sorry for you even. She may even offer to be friends. But don’t mistake those things for a desire to stay with you.
Why offering to work on problems with her won’t work
Unless your wife specifically says she wants to work on your marriage, don’t try to fix it. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but at the point where she says she doesn’t love you anymore, she will have no interest in fixing things. In fact, she will see working on your marriage as pointless and a waste of time.
In her mind there is no way that she will ever love you again. She will believe that as much as she believed that she would always love you when you first got married.
Keep in mind that how a woman feels now does not indicate how she will feel later (which was bad news on your wedding day, but is good news now). But, a woman’s love does not get turned on by fixing things. The time when they want to fix things is when they still love you because of their fear of the marriage failing. That was probably about two years ago, if your situation is like most, where women tell men they don’t love them anymore.
Fixing problems can’t happen until she is:
- loving you again, and
- wanting to reconcile.
If you are like most men, you have put the cart before the horse. You think you need to fix problems in order to reconcile. But you actually have to reconcile before she will care again about the problems. You have a lot of work to do before then, but it’s not on cooperatively building your marriage. It in on reconnecting with her.
Step 3. Begin the process of rebuilding
Realistic expectations will keep you more emotionally stable. As much as you want her to reconcile quickly, that just isn’t going to happen. This isn’t like when you were first dating and she was excited by the idea of a relationship with you. She isn’t relaxed with you, doesn’t trust you, she doesn’t love you, and her future plans intentionally exclude you.
“How do I get my wife to want me again?”
There are four things you have to work on, in order. And each of them takes time, according to how skillful you are at each. They are: relaxation, talking, friendship, and romance. That means that romance will come last. Romance is a result of reconnection. Romance does not cause reconnection. If you attempt to romance her before she has loving feelings for you again, you will be rejected and set yourself back.
The key to helping your wife to relax with you
Agreement and sincere interest in her plans will help her to relax with you. If you can empathize with her motivations (step 1, above), you will be in a much better position to do that. Many men have been debating their wives for years and have a hard time agreeing in a sincere way.
A book such as Connecting Through “Yes!”, can be a good resource for responding to her in a way that builds your relationship without making you sound needy. What you need to be able to do is to sincerely agree with her as much as possible.
Sincerely agreeing and being interested means really caring about what she cares about and listening well. She will not be interested in your opinion or what happened in your day. Try to stay away from the word, “I,” in your communication. If you are working with a marriage coach you will have the benefit of getting your communication right before you talk to your wife.
If you are not working with a coach and your communication is not bringing down her defenses, consider getting one. You will have to get past her defensive barrier before you will be able to make any progress.
How to help her to enjoy talking with you again
Helping her to enjoy talking to you again will set the stage for doing things together. You can actively work on building communication skills and agreeing in difficult situations. Men often confuse long conversations with good communication. Good communication actually involves talking only as long as the other person enjoys. If you can make it enjoyable, she will gradually want to talk with you more and more. If you just make it long, she will find you uninteresting and unattractive.
When to talk about yourself. When she starts to ask about you, only then is time to share about yourself. But, maintain an emphasis on listening to her, helping her to open up, and to feel good being with you. The one caution at this point is not to turn your relationship into an all accepting friendship. Friendship is important, but you must draw a line when it comes to listening to her talk about other men.
Talking about the future
If you have done the first two parts well, she will feel comfortable talking to you about the future. When she started out, she couldn’t do that because of your defensiveness and attempts to convince her that she was wrong. By this time, talking with her should be better than it has been in years and she will be having second thoughts about leaving you.
She will start to have feelings that she can’t help–feelings of attraction to you. Her mixed feelings will make her sometimes moody and rejecting, and she will also try to provoke you. She may say she feels“confused.” If your old needy, defensive, hostile, or convincing behavior comes back, you can set yourself back to square one. If you can make it through this time in good shape, she won’t be eager to leave you anymore.
Step 4. Work on yourself
This step doesn’t come after step 3. It comes at the same time. If all you do is recreate her feelings of love, but don’t work on yourself, two things will happen. First, she will see that the only way you are changing is in regard to her. That indicates that this is a temporary change, based on your neediness. She will believe that if she reconciles with you, you will go right back to being the way you were before.
Secondly, if you don’t work on yourself, you will become overly focused on your wife. This means you will actually be needy and unattractive. You will have a hard time sleeping because of worries about her and you will also be fearful every time you interact with her. An insecure man is a very unattractive man. If you want guidance on what to change to be less needy, you may wish to use my book, Overcome Neediness and Get the Love You Want.
Take your wife off of center stage
Why overly focusing on your relationship makes you less attractive. If your life revolves around your wife, you will not be able to attract her. Women are attracted to successful men who have a passion for something other than them. You need to be able to love your wife without needing your wife.
Men who need their wives are continually trying to get their wives to behave a certain way so that they (the husbands) can feel better. No woman ever seeks out a needy man or desires one over a secure man.
The balance you need to have. Men who love their wives are concerned about what is best for their wives, while also being able to take care of their own feelings. In short, if you don’t enjoy your life, your career, your hobbies, and your friends, you are likely to become needy and your mood will fluctuate depending on how your wife is feeling.
This creates roller coaster relationships that eventually end. Think about your wife when you are together. The rest of the time, get involved with other things in life that interest and challenge you.
A word about marriage counseling
Marriage counseling is great when you and your wife both want to save your marriage. Then counseling will be productive. But, if she wants to get out of your marriage, she is more likely to convince the counselor that your marriage cannot work. If the counselor persists on working to save your marriage, your wife is likely to be minimally involved, you won’t make any progress, and your wife will use that as evidence that your marriage won’t work.
I am a believer in marriage counseling and did it for most of my career. But, recognize that the best time for it is early on when problems start, or later on when she wants to reconcile again. At the time she is rejecting you, it is likely to be counterproductive.
A word about marriage coaching
Marriage coaching is a completely different animal than marriage counseling. Marriage coaching does not require the participation of your spouse and it does not involve counseling. It is not something you do to convince your wife you are working on things, and in fact it is better if she doesn’t know that you are in coaching.
The skills you need for going through the stages of reconciling. Coaching is a skills focused approach that focuses on actions you need to take to rebuild your marriage. Coaching takes the guess work out of reconciling. You don’t need to spend sleepless nights wondering what to do next. See my Re-Connections Marriage Coaching package for three levels of help you can choose from for your situation.