What to Do If Your Spouse Wants a Divorce and You Don’t

If your spouse wants a divorce and you don’t, it’s one of the scariest, most painful situations in which you can find yourself.

What to do if your spouse wants a divorce

You may find yourself panicking, acting out of desperation, and taking drastic measures to save your life – as you know it – from crumbling around you. While such a reaction is understandable, it’s often not the best move in the long run. The more effective plan of action is to focus on yourself and your role in the relationship.

As you ultimately can’t control your spouse or the decisions he/she will make, you can take the focus off him/her and see what ripple effect your positive efforts can have on the marriage.

Here are three steps you can take when your spouse wants a divorce, and you do not:

  1. Don’t beg your spouse to stay– While you shouldn’t just give him “carte blanche” to leave, don’t beg him to stay.
    If your spouse wants a divorce, it’s unlikely this decision came about overnight, so it is doubtful your pleading is going to make him reconsider.
    If anything, it may push him further away, especially if one of his chief complaints is that he wants space.
    I have seen many a spouse in such a situation play “hard to get”, by not appearing weak or needy.
    It is quite difficult to do, but by remaining strong and not pursuing, your spouse will likely be surprised, intrigued, and may give the marriage a second thought as he sees you doing the opposite of what he was expecting.
  2. Stop pointing fingers– As you hear her gripes, it’s tempting to get defensive and blame your spouse for the impending demise of your marriage. While you may have legitimate complaints, at this point, you can be right, or you can be in the relationship. Forget about who is to blame and focus on doing what you need to do to be the best spouse possible. No relationship collapse is entirely one person’s fault. Despite your best intentions, both contribute to the dynamic that leads to disconnect. You probably don’t feel like taking stock of your role, especially since your spouse is initiating divorce, but if you want to save this marriage, the only thing that is in your hands are your choices and how you decide to “show up” in the relationship. Start becoming more self-aware, take ownership, and commit to being your best even when your spouse isn’t.
  3. Cultivate faith and Be Courageous– When faced with the prospects of divorce, it takes a lot of strength. Turning to God as your source of strength provides comfort in knowing that the result is not ultimately in your hands. You can make your best effort, but you can’t control the outcome. By having faith, you won’t have to feel all alone during this lonely time. You will have the courage to wait things out and not act out of pain, with the hope that sometimes all that’s needed is a little time for the situation to straighten itself out and for your spouse to be interested in rebuilding.
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While it would be ideal if your spouse would be willing to make one last effort to save your relationship by looking for an emergency intervention such as couple’s counseling or a marriage retreat, but if they choose not to, you can find healing for you. Preserve your dignity by not begging, pleading, or pointing fingers and develop your faith and inner strength; you’ll be better equipped to weather this tumultuous time and, God willing, achieve a more committed and healthy relationship.