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Is Your Wife Really Finished With Your Marriage? Part 1

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Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

To every husband who hears his wife say, “I am finished with this marriage,” do not take her words at face value. Even if she expresses herself sincerely at the moment, those sentiments can change rapidly given you understand how to apply the power of love to her heart. The first step is to stop talking. Try to really listen to her heart. The foundational question for a wife is, "Do you really hear me, understand me, accept me and love me?"

If you cannot achieve this on your own, invite her into a setting with a pastor or Christian counselor who will help you listen to what she is saying.

In those initial conversations, you may feel that she overstates the case by using phrases like, "You always...!" and “You never...!” Everything in you will want to rise up to inform her that she misspeaks. You will feel dishonored and unjustly accused.

I get it.

But in those first several sessions, keep your mouth shut except to express sorrow for failing to hear and understand her.

Today and tomorrow, I am going to share with you a series of emails I received from a soldier whose wife told him their marriage was over and that she planned on divorcing him. Your situation may be different than what this couple experienced, but I have no doubt you can learn something from what you’re about to read.

As you read through our correspondence, I want you grasp this simple truth: a wife says things dogmatically and she means them at the moment, but her feelings change rapidly when she senses her husband is authentically and humbly changing.

He writes in his first email:

My wife and I started drifting apart emotionally before I was deployed. She has been stuck running the house, raising a 5-year-old and an infant, and working part-time. She is very stressed and just recently mentioned that divorce may be an option.

I started attending a Baptist church here and accepted Christ into my heart on December 14th. I love my wife dearly and do not see divorce or separation as the answer to any of our problems.

I have been reading your website and most of the articles sound exactly like our relationship, I could almost insert our names into the stories!

I meet with a Chaplain, but he recommends physical separation.

My reply:

Thanks for sharing your heart with me. What is your wife saying is the primary reason she wants to end the marriage? What is her stated reason?

Your heart is in the right place and the Lord is obviously using this in your life. I am uncertain why the Chaplain is encouraging physical separation unless violence is an issue or potential violence. I look forward to a fuller explanation.

The soldier continued in a second email:

[My wife] and I started drifting apart before I was deployed with the military. The demands of raising a child, my full-time job that came with a lot of overtime, and her part-time job were putting a lot of stress on us.

She is afraid of becoming like her mother. Her mother and father did not have a good relationship and her father broke most of his promises to the children.  My mother-in-law has told my wife that the only reason they stayed together was for the children. Her father is now dead and her mom says she wishes she had done something different.

Now that I have been gone for so long, my wife has become much more independent.  Since she has had to take care of the home and children, she likes the woman she has become. She has given herself permission to reject me and keep her anger inside of her.

As of last night, she is saying that she pretty much just wants a divorce without even trying to work on our relationship first. She is trying to rationalize to me (and to herself) that being divorced while remaining friends will somehow be better for the children.

To me, it seem that going straight to divorce (which I am totally against) and not taking every possible step to work on the relationship will make it very difficult to remain "good friends."

She and I have never learned real communication skills or coping skills. Neither one of us had great parental relationships that we could model our marriage after. I believe we owe it to ourselves to try to figure out who we are as individuals and as a couple.

I have been doing a lot of soul-searching while I have been away from home. I realized that I had become a person that seemed bored and uncaring about my family. I did not have the skills to engage in an argument and disengage gracefully. Oftentimes, I would walk out of the room and not validate my wife's feelings--I did not know how to give her what she needed from me and our relationship. I did not know what I needed from my wife and our relationship.

I am finally learning about myself and my shortcomings, but my wife is convinced that everything I say to her now is just a last ditch effort on my part. She can't/won't let herself believe that true change is possible. I know the only way for her to see me in a new light is for me to show her when I get home. That is why the idea of separation is so difficult for me. I am excited about the possibilities for our relationship like I have never been before.

She is coming close to giving me an ultimatum about us. Right now I know she is leaning heavily towards just going straight to divorce. She has said she does not want me in the house. I’m not sure if she even wants to try to fix our marriage.

I am feeling very lost and alone right now and do not know what to do. She has said that she still loves me, just on a different level. She said I can move out and we can go to counseling, or I can move out and just get divorced.

There has never been any violence or have we even come close to violence. We don't yell and scream in our arguments. We just have never learned how to disengage in a healthy way. 

I know you are a busy person and I appreciate the time you have given me. I know my wife would like to hear from you, also. I know she is hurting and stressed out by our current circumstances, but at least she is still willing to talk to me and with me. She is also willing to listen to third parties.

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow where I give my second response and continue this conversation. You will discover what the Scriptures have to say about marriage, divorce and the effects of both on the family.

You will also hear from the soldier again, and I will give you a hint, the ending may surprise you.

-Dr. E

Questions to Consider