General Question

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

How do I save my marriage?

Asked by NaturalMineralWater (11295points) May 7th, 2009

My wife just said: “I think I want a divorce”. Since January my whole mindset has changed toward us.. I’ve woken up to a lot of things.. There’s obviously too much going on to put here.. I guess I’m just desperate right now. I love her more than anything in this world.

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50 Answers

cak's avatar

Will she consent to counseling? Religious, secular…group. Something? Anything? Talk to her, really listen to her, hear her reasons why. Let’s face it, hearing these things can be devastating; however, it’s necessary.

Thing is, both parties want to make a change, both parties need to work on this. You can’t force the other party and unfortunately, sometimes, it can just be over.

Is she still talking to you about the issues?

drClaw's avatar

I agree with @cak, try counceling if you haven’t already. If she won’t agree to that then just be persistant. Hearing something like that is enough to make you shut down, but unfortunately that’s a recipe for divorce. Just don’t throw in the towel.

Stanley's avatar

Get off the computer and go into couples counseling.

Lothloriengaladriel's avatar

(edit) Maybe you should get offline

I think the question below this one is pretty similar, maybe you should check that one out.

asmonet's avatar

@Lothloriengaladriel: I don’t even know how to begin explaining how useless that is.

chyna's avatar

I wish I had tried counseling with my ex-husband. He wanted to but I didn’t. I think back to that time and I now think it could’ve worked if I had tried harder. If you can get her to a marriage counselor, please do.

nikipedia's avatar

The hardest part of resolving any conflict is getting all your grievances out there without putting the other person on the defensive.

The easiest way to get around this is by having a third party to mediate.

So find a priest, find a counselor, whoever works for you two. Your priest might be able to refer you to a counselor, or if you need help finding one in your area I’d be happy to help you take a look.

I know we disagree on a lot of things, but I really do hope you manage to work things out. Good luck.

Response moderated
eponymoushipster's avatar

If movies have taught me anything, you need to stand outside her window and play “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel.

How about sitting down, and honestly and openly discussing the issues your marriage is facing, and mutually determining how you could both resolve them.

@Lothloriengaladriel @asmonet hey, you kids stop it, or i’m turning this fluther around.

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eponymoushipster's avatar

[non-mod cool guys says:] flame off, folks.

chyna's avatar

@Lothloriengaladriel Come on, this isn’t helping Natural with his marriage question.

Response moderated
Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’m sorry to hear this
You have to let her know you’ll be willing to compromise
and ask her what she wants to be different
good luck

charliecompany34's avatar

go back to the day you met and the weeks of romance that followed. pick something from that time or era that was special. whatever that thing is will jar a memory or tug on a heart string, whatever that is. that certain moment will shock your partner and just may defribillate the relationship.

asmonet's avatar

Everything that I would suggest has been mentioned. I wish you the best, and I’m sorry for whatever part I played in derailing your thread for a moment there.

I really hope things work out for you.

wundayatta's avatar

I knew my marriage was hurting for so long. I kept on waiting, thinking that it would get better. It was this, or that that was in the way, and as soon as we were past that, we could get back together, and it would be like it was.

We were like a business more than a marriage. The corporation took care of two children and a house. It managed a couple of vacations a year, and a car.

My hope never came true, though, and I thought I would try to take care of my needs on my own. Fortunately, I met someone who showed me the value of being honest with one’s spouse. I tried it. It wasn’t easy coming clean. But it was crucial.

A therapist helped us a lot. It was easier to say some things that needed to be said in front of a third party. I hadn’t been talking to my wife about what I wanted because I was afraid she would leave me if I told her what I wanted. It seemed to me like everytime we had a disagreement, she’d use the “d” word. That scared the shit out of me.

We talk now. I know what she wants, and I work hard to give it to her. She knows what I want, and she tries, too. I hadn’t known that she still loved me. But when I started talking about wanting to be on my own, she got really scared. And I was thinking that’s what she wanted.

The only way you can save your marriage is through communication. It can be awfully hard to do that on your own. That’s why people are all suggesting help.

In a therapists office, you will learn how not to blame each other for whatever failings you perceive. You will learn that you are just two people who want love, and don’t know how you lost it. Maybe you’ll be able to negotiate a solution to the problems you’re having

It will be harder if one of you has gone outside the marriage. Much harder. But not impossible. When you go outside the marriage, not only do you have to learn how to communicate again, but you have to find forgiveness.

Talk to her. Tell her that you owe it to each other to try. If it doesn’t work, then you’ll deal with separation, but for now, try again, and get help in doing it. I wish you the best, my friend. I’ve been there, done that, and I’d like to burn that T-shirt.

chyna's avatar

@daloon My ex brought up the D word everytime we had a fight too. I was scared when he said that at first and then he said it so much I got sick of it. He said it one too many times and I called him on it. I had already picked up divorce papers and the next time he said it, i gave him the papers. He started back peddling, but by that time it was too late. I regret very much that we didn’t work it out. I do think a therapist or counselor would have helped tremendously.

Dr_C's avatar

I’m not married yet but well on my way… all i can tell you is that from my experience the best you can hope for is an open dialogue in which you both try to air out your grievances and figure out if you can either resolve them or live with them. Often times explaining each others point of view will help better understand the issue and in some cases even resolve them.

All you can do is hope for the best. I hope everything works out for you and that you can come to some sort of solution that works for both of you.

MissAusten's avatar

I am sorry that you’re going through this, and I’m going to add one more vote for counseling. My parents separated when I was in college, and my dad wanted to see a counselor to try to work things out. My mom refused, and now bitterly regrets it. My dad has remarried and refuses to have any contact with her (the divorce was very ugly, and I don’t blame him at all). I think sometimes we are so used to the little problems and wishing for something better that we don’t see the good in what we already have. A counselor can help you both see that good while working together to bring more good things to the relationship. I truly hope it works out.

rooeytoo's avatar

And if you don’t like the first counselor you see, find another. Counselors are a dime a dozen and it is hard to find a good one, so don’t feel badly about shopping around. You have to find one that you are both comfortable with, however, if your wife won’t go, that should not prevent you from going. You can learn where you might have gone wrong and avoid similar situations in the future, plus it can help you get through this if you must.

Garebo's avatar

There’s too many reasons to even to begin to fathom-it could be something rather simple to change on your part that could drastically improve the situation, assuming you are the detrimental factor in the relationship. If she has some serious issues then you can do things to still improve the relationship, but it is a whole lot harder. Then the question, is it really worth it. Maybe, you have outgrown her, or her you.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

This is really sad and I can only relay my opinion from experience but when someone says this, they’ve usually been thinking about it for a long, long time and have finally gotten to the point to voice it. What often prompts the voicing for a divorce is an outside infatuation or affair. Going to counseling is good because couples feel safer to unload “what’s really been going on” to a third party than directly to each other or concerned friends and family.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Tell her you want to fight to save the relationship, because you love her so much. Suggest counseling. Ask her what she thinks would make it work. Make sure you also tell her that no matter what she decides, even if it ends in divorce, you will accept it because you respect her and love her. Make sure she knows that because you love her so much you would never want her to be forced into something she no longer wants. In loving someone, your biggest concern should always be their happiness.

Good luck, friend. I wish the best for all involved.

cookieman's avatar

I can’t really add anything more (although I agree with DrasticDreamer and Jeruba) but to say I’m truly sorry you find yourself here in life.

I hope you have someone you can lean on and confide in. Even if your wife won’t go to counselling, perhaps you should go anyway.

Best of luck. I hope you can work this out.

augustlan's avatar

[Mod says] Off-topic content removed.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@cak @drClaw @Stanley @chyna She will do counseling, but right now I’m 6000 miles away. =(

@nikipedia I’ve been brutally honest with her and I think it, in fact, did put her on the defensive. Now I’m trying to step back and just listen, let her have space. I’m just afraid it’s too late.

@eponymoushipster I actually wrote her a song. She didn’t say a word about it. Not thank you, not that sucks… nothing.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’ve told her I’d do anything.. and I would. She doesn’t believe me I guess.

@charliecompany34 For 10 years I concentrated on the bad things in our marriage. Now that I’ve woken up… all I can think of is the good.. and it hurts that much more now that she’s thinking of giving up.

@asmonet Thanks.

@daloon Much harder. But not impossible. I hope you’re right.

@Dr_C Thanks. I hope she can trust me again some day.. very soon.

@MissAusten Thank you. I would never be able to stop contact unless that’s what she wanted. I love her too much. I hope she will believe that I do.. that I always did.

@rooeytoo Right now I’d take any counselor it took. I used to think counseling was stupid.. that was part of the old me.. the part my wife doesn’t like.

@Garebo I have definitely been detrimental. I’d give anything to change my history.

@hungryhungryhortence I’d give anything to take it back. Anything. I’m a changed man.. but she doesn’t believe me. I understand why.. but it doesn’t change my sincerity. This is my worst nightmare.

@DrasticDreamer I don’t even want to think about it not working out right now.. I know you’re right but… that would be like dying for me.

@cprevite I thought I had someone to lean on. I leaned too much. While it opened my eyes to a lot of things… I’m afraid the cost of that mistake might be too much to repay.

@all Thank you for all the responses. I would get offline and talk to my wife but right now she wants space.. no matter how much I want to talk to her.. I have to give her that. If there are long time jellies here you probably know more about this situation than I’ve said in this thread.. it all plays a part of course. It’s funny…. I’d rather take my squad into a house full of terrorists than feel this pain right now..

Darwin's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater – I am very sorry to hear your marriage is at this point. Is there someone who could hear your wife’s side of things and communicate it to you so you can start to approach her? Perhaps a chaplain or someone from a base clinic?

I, too, suggest counseling.

I wish you both well.

augustlan's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater I hope things work out for you. When will you be home again, and able to talk face-to-face?

Dog's avatar

[Edited by self because I am an idiot.]

Thanks for the heads-up @augustlan

Actually the military is pro-family and there is counseling available.
When will you be on leave?

augustlan's avatar

@Dog I think he’s in the military. I don’t know if they grant emergency leave for things like this, but they should.

Jack79's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater seems to me she’s been building up the divorce on her own for quite some time while you were unaware. This is the biggest part of your problem. She’s probably made up her mind already.

The good side is that, if she’s been patient this long, she probably loves you enough to try and make it work if you show you you really mean to try. A divorce is never easy, and even though women nowadays tend to ask for it everytime they get a bit bored of household chores, in fact they are a lot more scared of it than men are. And they’d be willing to go back and make things work if they feel there’s a chance. Men are more clear-cut about such things. It’s hard to make such a choice, but once it’s made, we don’t turn back. So, even though I don’t know your wife, I think that somewhere deep inside her, there’s still a glimmer of hope for your marriage.

Yes, give her space, but not too much. That’s the tricky part. If you give her too much space, she’ll forget about you and find someone else. You have to be there, but be discreet. And try and physically move close. It’s a bit hard to make things work when you’re 6000 miles away. Whatever you do, get back home asap.

I don’t want to bother you with this now, but another tricky thing is what happens next. I’m not going to say “forget about her and just get the divorce” or “some people are just not meant to be together” or cliches like that. I was married to the worst bitch in the world and I still wanted to make it work. We did counselling and split up 6 months later anyway. The biggest problem you’ll face if you do eventually manage to overcome this obstacle, is trust. Not to mention that you’ll have to be on parole forever and the balance in your marriage will be tipped. But trust is a very serious issue, and lack of it in a marriage is fatal. But we can talk about that later.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@Darwin I suppose I could find someone for her. But I don’t know if she would do it. =/

@augustlan @Dog I won’t be home for another 5 months. The only way for me to do leave would be to somehow get emergency leave.. which I have already used this year for a death in the family. No days left. Lovely year. Yes, in the Army.

@Jack79 I would gladly do parole if it meant I had a chance to make this right. I wouldn’t do it forever.. but if it meant a start.. I’d love to.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

(thinking up all kinds of crazy schemes to try and win her back… I think I need to go do something.. anything.. to get my mind off of this..)

Dog's avatar

Can you press upon friends to help you in the states?

For instance if you send a packet of love letters is there some one you can trust not to open them but to randomly slip them to her one at a time unnoticed?

cookieman's avatar

@Dog: Ooh. I like that.

wundayatta's avatar

The military has a variety of programs to help marriages. This is from an article:

In response, a full range of programs—from support groups for spouses of deployed troops to weekend retreats for military couples—aims to help military families endure the hardships that military life often imposes. These programs are offered through the services’ family support, chaplain and mental health counseling networks. For example, the Army’s offerings include:

* The Deployment Cycle Support Program, which includes briefings for soldiers on how their absence and return may affect their family relationships and how they can cope with the inevitable changes;
* A family support group system that provides both practical and emotional support for spouses of deployed soldiers;
* The Military OneSource program, which serves as a clearinghouse to steer soldiers and families to resources to support them;
* The Building Strong and Ready Families program, a two-day program that helps couples develop better communication skills, reinforced by a weekend retreat;
* The Strong Bonds marriage education program, which focuses specifically on issues that affect Reserve and National Guard couples; and
* The P.I.C.K. a Partner program (Premarital Interpersonal Choices and Knowledge), which helps single soldiers make wise decisions when they choose mates.

Is your wife in a family support system group?

There are other problems your marriage faces, that indicate that communication may not be the issue. This is from a law firm that handles a lot of military divorces:

“There’s a huge difference between typical divorces that we see on a daily basis and the military divorces that we’re seeing,” says Janet Fritts, a divorce attorney with Rosen Law Firm. “The majority of civilian couples we deal with have stopped communicating somewhere during the marriage, but military couples have been communicating in more ways than ever before.”

Divorce experts say young military marriages, co-ed military units, financial decision-making, and the bureaucracy of being a military officer’s spouse are just some of the factors contributing to the already established problems of spousal absence and combat stress among military families.

Do you email her all the time? Do you video conference? Have you been in combat? Do you have kids? Are you dealing with difficult financial issues? Is she tired of military bureaucracy (uh, duh)—ok, is it really getting to her?

Do you have support services where you are to help you deal with these things? It’s not an issue of winning her back, I don’t think. It’s an issue of working her back. Identifying what is bothering her, and working on solutions to all the problems, one at a time. I believe the best thing she can see is your commitment to the marriage (ladies?). If that doesn’t sway her….

chyna's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater I would love if someone had written me a song. That was very sweet.
@jack79 Why is it the mean, bitchy women get all the guys? I swear I’m tempted to turn into a bitch.

Jack79's avatar

@chyna…because it’s the jerks that get all the nice girls. I don’t believe in generalisations, but yes, I know what you mean. First of all, people need a challenge, and a difficult person makes the relationship interesting (though I personally am sick and tired of that, and so are most of the men I speak to). Secondly, opposites attract, and you actually need two different people in order to have balance. Thirdly, people have different sides and what we fail to see as outsiders is both the good elements of those “bitches” and “jerks” (who may be very compatible with their partners) as well as possible problems in what seems to us to be a perfect couple. And finally, we all are what we are, chyna. You can be tempted, but deep inside you’ll still be yourself. Which means all you need to do is find someone who likes you for who you are (easier said than done, I know, but they seem to always show up when you’re not looking).

Garebo's avatar

Sounds like you did something you wish you didn’t, sorry about that, It took me awhile to get it, what can I say I am slow.
In that case, like others have said, you better lay it all out; how you feel about her and what she means to you.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@daloon Do you email her all the time? Do you video conference? Have you been in combat? Do you have kids? Are you dealing with difficult financial issues? Is she tired of military bureaucracy (uh, duh)—ok, is it really getting to her?

Do you have support services where you are to help you deal with these things?
A friend of mine is a pastor who is also in the military. He’s about it. Military chaplains aren’t of much use to me. I am committed. There’s no doubt about that… it’s just being committed in an effective way that’s the hard part.

@chyna After 10 years of marriage it’s the only one I ever wrote for her. That’s part of the problem I think.

@Garebo Sorry for being vague.. I’m just…. ashamed I guess.

ru2bz46's avatar

I’m really sorry to hear this @NaturalMineralWater. I’ve been trying to save my marriage for the last six years (until recently when I noticed I don’t care anymore). When we saw a counselor after the first time she cheated, the first thing he told us is, “if one of you is to the point of no longer caring if your marriage works, then it’s over already”.

Obviously, you care. If you honestly believe that she also cares, please see a good couples counselor; otherwise, you may want to look at the benefits of being single (I’m finally seeing them, myself).

wundayatta's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater—I wasn’t questioning your commitment at all. I’m just trying to think of realistic resources to help you. These things are hard to do at a distance, I think. Even if you are in daily virtual contact. It’s not the same as being there in person. Sometimes you have to hold each other to communicate.

Anyway, if the Chaplain can’t help, and you can’t get leave, and you’re ashamed, so I guess you can’t talk to your superior(s) about this—I don’t know. You’ve got to get help in this matter. It’s too hard to do on your own. You’ll have to be really lucky to succeed at doing it on your own. All I can think of is going back to your pastor friend (or a Chaplain) and asking him for referrals. Either that, or becoming your own counsellor by researching this stuff on the internet.

punkrockworld's avatar

If she said that, and you don’t want a divorce… try to win her back because once a good girl turns her back on you, she’s gone forever. You say you love her, now you have to prove it.
Spend time with her and try to rekindle the flame if there ever was one.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@punkrockworld I would love it if I could spend time with her. Right now she wants space. I’m giving that to her but I just want to talk to her… it’s making me paranoid that she has found someone else. I can’t describe how empty I feel.

Garebo's avatar

Evil as it is, if you can’t get her attention don’t give her any-she may start wondering why the hell you aren’t acting so crazy for her any more; then, she may start wondering does he still love me- I don’t know where you are stationed. The thought you have met a nice Fraulein, or whomever, you may become much more valuable to her.
What I know is when my guts were torn out by a woman I loved, and when I finally expected she was no longer part of my life-she always mysteriously showed up to renew things and wondering why I gave up on her. On both occasions I finally realized it was the best thing we stayed apart the bloom was off the rose so to speak. The opposite has happened to others I have known that have rekindled their love for each other with more intensity then before.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


A fabulous testimonial. Thank you for that… very powerful.


If daloon’s suggestions are not possible, as I understand that she doesn’t want open communication currently, then consider the meantime… meaningful time.

She is comforted by her emotions right now, and does not want that castle disturbed. She must see the change in you for herself. She needs to see some immediate visuals, but ones that are based on you… not her (she’ll see right through that). Plus, you need to occupy yourself with things that make you look strong to her. Worrying looks weak, and women hate weak men. Women love strong, independent men.

Suggestions include:

Start a morning walk/jog routine, without her. She will ask to join when she’s ready and remember that people always want what they cannot have. She can’t have it unless she asks.

Tear up the kitchen floor and replace with new. Pick her favorite style but don’t tell her it’s for her. Just do it without asking her opinion. Women love seeing men work in the kitchen, it shows thought about the future, and it shows you doing something else besides worrying about the relationship.

Get a blender, or a juicer and start a new lifestyle routine that is so loud and visual that you don’t have to say a word about it. Let her ask and share your knew knowledge with her. Make the practice regular and consistent. This will build her confidence in you.

Anyway, you get the idea. Buy a used telescope and star charts (complete with mythical legends). Set it up and explore the night skies with some groovy music and a nice bottle of wine… ALL BY YOURSELF! She can’t help but be curious, and you’ll have lots of stories to swoon her with about the BIG DIPPER…

Be consistent, and fresh with all things.

As well, clean out your closet with old shoes and clothes to the Goodwill. Don’t do this in front of her as she will think it a trick. Let her notice that parts of your old life are gone. Let her notice this on her own.

If you are consistent, then she will eventually notice without your guided tour. She wants you to be strong, so find strength and be strong with or without her. She’ll figure it out. And so will you.

Happy Trails… That’s the only one you’ll get her to follow you down.

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