Do you want to persuade your spouse to stay together for practical reasons (kids, finances, home, business) while your spouse wants to separate because your relationship is not emotionally close?
This kind of problem is common when husbands and wives are from different cultures. It is also common when one spouse is very traditional, while the other is more modern. The relationship initially works well because it is both practical and close, satisfying both husband and wife. After having children or starting a business, often the emotional connection drops away and the relationship becomes purely practical.
The romantic partner gradually becomes dissatisfied while the practical partner thinks everything is okay because all the bills are paid and the home is running well. Unless emotional reconnection is restored, this relationship is on its way to ending. This means that to persuade your spouse to want to be with you, you will have to learn how to emotionally connect with your spouse.
Why you and your spouse don’t see eye to eye
There are two predictors of marital success. One is how well the emotional connection is maintained in the marriage, and one is how well matched people are before they get married. Many men and women assume that their fiance has the same image of how they will relate to each other after marriage. Depending on their own models of marriage, they will think of marriage as either a continuation of dating, but with commitment; or they will see marriage as a transition to more of a business partnership.
Who is right and who is wrong?
From a Christian perspective, both spouses are right and both are wrong as well. It is important to take care of the practical concerns of our family and to do our part in society. We shouldn’t be separating or divorcing simply because we are not feeling fulfilled or because our relationships have gone cold. However, we are also to prioritize our spouses over all others and to love and cherish them. To be One with them.
We shouldn’t be staying married merely to follow rules. God’s desire is not blind obedience, but that we love each other. If you would like a more secular, rational reason, consider how good it will be for your children, if in prioritizing them, you lose your spouse. Or how happy you will be to lose half of your business to your spouse who has found romance with someone else. Emotional connection can’t be put on hold until you finish your degree, build your business, the kids are grown, or until you retire.
The only thing that can persuade your spouse is emotional reconnection
It is not possible to persuade a person who needs to feel loved to stay for purely practical reasons. As has already happened, that spouse has become miserable to the point of leaving the relationship. Trying to convince such a spouse to stay through reasoning and explanations is just more proof to them of a lack of concern for their happiness and a further statement that they are not a priority.
Getting them to think about the difficulty for the children may make them feel guilty, but it won’t make them stay. The spouse who feels unloved has become love starved. Starving them more will make them run to someone else faster.
Continuing to persuade and convince
If you take the approach of continuing to persuade your spouse to work on your relationship you will get more resistance and rejection. If you enlist the aid of family members in your attempt to convince, you will create alliances against your spouse and make him or her out to be a terrible person.
If you tell your children that your spouse wants to separate, while you do not, you will alienate him or her from the children. All or any of these actions will signal to your spouse that you are only concerned about what you want and need. You will have confirmed that he or she is on the right path to leave you–that emotional connection with you is not possible.
Connecting when your spouse no longer wants to connect with you
If your spouse has given up on you, after years of emotional neglect (failure to date, have one on one time, or have a good sexual relationship with your spouse), he or she is naturally not going to be persuaded to do that some more. Instead, you will need to show that he or she is the priority by empathizing, supporting, and cooperating–without persuading or convincing.
Empathy creates a connection because it puts you and your spouse on the same page emotionally. Just one word of persuasion on your part can undo a whole lot of empathizing. Empathizing, supporting, and cooperating in this way will help your spouse to relax with you, which is always the first step to connecting, with anyone.
Once your spouse has reached this point, re-connection can only happen after separation
Separation is NOT the end of hope for reconciling. Marriage counselors have intentionally been separating people for decades as a step to healing their relationship. It is called a therapeutic separation. By reducing their negative time together, and improving the quality of their contact, a couple can become re-connected during separation in a way that may not have been possible with them living together. For this to work well, separation must friendly and cooperative. Otherwise, contact will be minimal and negative after separation.
New skills, not separation alone, will rebuild your relationship
Re-connection is not simply a matter of time. That is why ideas like “giving space” and the “no contact rule” do not work. A spouse who has been emotionally disconnected from you for years is not going to miss your contact. You will have to learn how to stop talking in a purely practical way and to talk in a way that helps your spouse to enjoy talking with you. Practical people usually think that just getting someone to talk means they enjoy talking.
Asking many questions will not make your spouse enjoy talking with you. More important is to validate your spouse’s thoughts, ideas, and feelings by learning to agree. This is what all emotionally connected people do on a daily basis to maintain their relationships. If you are from an unemotional family, you may have never learned these skills. A book can give you examples and instructions. A coach can help you to practice. Choose the level of help that will make you successful.
Would you like to find more persuasive ways to convince your spouse?
Some people feel more comfortable continuing to try to persuade their spouse logically. Rationally, it makes more sense to them. In doing so, they have to disregard the evidence of their eyes and ears as they get continual rejection. It is imperative for the sake of your relationship with your children and future spouse that you learn that relationships are based on emotions rather than logic.
In learning to be logical, you have learned about how only part of the world works. There is a lot in the world that is not rational, but is nonetheless true. Seeing only logic is like a color blind person, who not seeing colors himself, does not believe that colors exist, even though everyone else around him (or her) is enjoying them. It is possible to love and feel connection while also maintaining a home and family.
Still prefer a rational spouse who prioritizes the children, home, or business?
You can have what you want, but you will need to realize that you do not have such a spouse now. You can’t convert him or her. If you want a rational, traditional spouse, then you will need to make sure you choose one next time. You are more likely to find one from Asian countries such as India or China and surrounding areas, though some in these countries (not most for sure) prefer to prioritize a romantic relationship.
The next step is up to you
Will you continue to work on persuading your spouse? Can you maintain that until the children are grown? And what happens then? Will you give up on your spouse and find someone who matches you better? Or, will you make a mental shift from prioritizing your marriage to prioritizing your spouse? Although it sounds contradictory, it is the only chance you will have of saving your relationship with your spouse.
I’m sure you will have realized by now the importance of maintaining emotional connection. Now you want to provide it, but your spouse is not open to it. You will need someone to guide you through the stages of reconciling because you only get one chance at this. Fortunately, there is a re-connections coaching package that will help you with just this situation. It helps people who feel stuck to make progress again.