save your marriage if your spouse wants out

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It’s a helpless, frustrating feeling that consumes your mind and ravages your heart. It steals your sleep. You desperately want to know how to save your marriage, but you have no answers. You don’t even know if it’s possible to save your marriage if your spouse wants out.

Especially when your spouse repeatedly says that it’s over. He gets furious when you try to talk about it. Sometimes he yells it, other times he displays no emotion, but the message is always the same, “You’re making it worse and driving me to leave faster when you try to do anything to save our marriage.”

You don’t know how the person that you love, who once so deeply loved you, can now treat you as if you are the enemy. You long for any sign of affection; a hug, a smile, even a kind word. Every day, you pray that it will be once again what it once was. You ache in a way you cannot explain, a pain that never subsides during the day and that wakes you at night if you can fall asleep at all.

You want to know how to save your marriage. Maybe you constantly worry, “What can I do? Can I say the right thing or find some miracle that will save my marriage? I know people tell me to stop trying, but I don’t want to give up.”

What makes it worse is that the spouse who wants out is right when she says that you’re trying to save the marriage pushes her away. It usually does. If she wants out of the marriage, she will get more aggravated with you, become meaner in what she says, and find a faster way out if you keep trying.

Does that mean there is no hope? Should you give up and accept that it’s over instead of continuing to ask how to save your marriage?


“Well,” you might be thinking, “If there is hope and I shouldn’t accept it’s over, are there magic words or some amazing thing that I can do that will suddenly and miraculously change my mates’ mind?”


Did I contradict myself?

Allow me to explain.

What Won’t Work To Save Your Marriage When Your Spouse Wants Out

1. Giving Up on Vows

You can give up. Some of your friends, maybe even your counselor, may tell you that’s precisely what you should do. Though I spend my life helping people salvage what others consider hopeless marriages, I agree that there is a time to accept the inevitable and start moving on with your life. If your spouse leaves you and moves on, there can come a time to accept that your marriage is over and find the path to a different life and a new relationship.

However, in my experience working with couples, giving up usually occurs far too early. There is a definite consequence when you accept that it’s over and emotionally, mentally, and physically disconnect from your spouse. But, unfortunately, that won’t bring them back to you.

2. Clinging and Begging For Your Spouse To Stay

You can push harder, demand, cling, beg, and do all sorts of things to pressure your spouse to stay. Most people tend to do that because they love deeply and desperately want to save their marriages.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work.

In actuality, it drives the other person from you even faster. Think of it this way; attraction draws people together, repulsion drives them apart. No one is attractive when they fall apart emotionally, cry, whine, or beg. While human compassion generally drives us toward helping a person in pain, it also forces us away from a person whose pain is caused by us when we have no intention of stopping the action causing the pain.

Though the emotions you feel that lead you to these actions are powerful, they are ineffective in helping you save your marriage.

3. Allowing Yourself to Be Manipulated

You can give in to all your spouse’s demands and let them determine the path you follow. Unfortunately, I regularly see it with spouses who refuse to seek help or yield to every demand. The departing spouse becomes angrier, threatens to take the children, or brings about financial penalties.

Somehow the mate longing to save the marriage buys into the idea that if they go along with everything, the departing spouse will come to their senses and renew the marriage.

It doesn’t work.

The manipulation through anger or threats serves the purpose of freezing you into inaction so that the departing spouse can get do things to leave with the least amount of difficulty.

How To Save Your Marriage If Your Spouse Wants To Leave

4. Hang in There a Little Longer

My experience over twenty years with thousands of couples tells me that most people who give up do it too soon. I don’t blame them for reaching a point of pain where they don’t want to go further. Yet, I’ve witnessed the success of those who hung on a little longer. But that success came only if they did the right things. In other words, staying just to stay may have a positive effect, but staying and doing the right stuff, especially for a married couple, has a far greater chance of saving your marriage.

5. Work on the PIES

No, not literal pie. PIES.

P = physical

I = intellectual

E = emotional

S = spiritual

Those are the four general ways that we are attracted to another person.

Physically attractive is easy enough to understand.

Intellectual attraction means that we have enough in common that we understand each other and stimulate each other’s minds.

Emotional attraction happens when a person does things that evoke emotions that we enjoy feeling. For example, they make us laugh, feel special, feel safe, or any other emotion that we enjoy.

Spiritual attraction doesn’t specifically mean religion, but a person’s beliefs and values. Unless we are rebelling in some fashion, we tend to gravitate toward people we perceive as having beliefs and values similar to ours; Or beliefs that we may perceive as better than ours. When rebelling or “acting out,” that tends to be just the opposite.

Rather than begging or whining, work on yourself.

It doesn’t matter what age you are or your body type. Your spouse was attracted to you physically at one time, so make yourself as physically attractive as you can at your age and situation in life. You can’t be 21 again if you are 42, but you can be the best 42-year-old you can be.

Stimulate your mind by finding new ways to learn. Take a class. Get in a book club. Read the magazines that honestly make you think and expand your mind (maybe one specific to an interest such as science, culture, etc.). When talking with your spouse, engage them in discussions involving both minds rather than discussing your problems with empathy. (This means you are not in any way talking about marriage or relationships, or you may find your spouse doesn’t want to be in the discussion.)

Remember what you did that evoked positive emotions in your spouse, and do those again. However, do NOT do anything you feel they may see as manipulative. (Don’t bring flowers to her if she wants to leave you; that will backfire.) For example, if he used to like walking with you, ask him to go for a walk in the park with a simple promise that you won’t bring up anything about your problems: It’s just a walk to rekindle the romance and remind each other why you fell in love in the first place. Actively working on the PIES (Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual) in your marital relationship, including supporting each other’s personal growth, can make a huge difference in how you respond to negativity and improve your overall connection.

Live up to your spiritual state from the time in your life when you best liked what you believed and valued. Don’t parade it. Be the best you that you’ve ever been.

6. Be as Understanding and Accepting as You Can Be

The key to love is acceptance. When a person feels accepted as they are – rather than having to live up to someone else’s expectations – they feel truly loved. Unfortunately, your spouse wanting to leave is something that you don’t accept. However, it is important to practice forgiveness and let go of grudges in order to avoid resentment and further conflict. If you can accept what they feel without arguing or explaining the error of those feelings, you can begin to understand the root cause of their desire to leave and work towards rebuilding a happy marriage again, even if there has been emotional abuse present in the relationship.

I witnessed a wife do this so effectively as her husband made plans to depart to be with his lover. Then, finally, he came to the point of telling me that the only two people who understood him were his lover and his wife. He said that his wife was becoming his best friend, and they were rebuilding their relationship with true pleasure and intimacy. He could talk with her about anything, including his desire to be with his lover.

Admittedly, that’s a VERY tough thing to do on the wife’s part. However, it worked. Though she never indicated any acceptance for his adultery, her incredible strength in accepting him brought him back into a relationship with her. As a result, he ended his affair, asked and received his wife’s forgiveness, and together they made their marriage good again.

7. Be Willing to Forgive and Learn to Love Again

I’ve personally witnessed people doing the things above for many years, and those actions led them to get their spouses back. That didn’t immediately solve all their problems; they had more to do to make their marriage what it should be. It’s a process, not a magic pill. However, the process works if you love enough to do what it takes to change the course of your spouse’s intentions.

Will the things I suggest above always work? We both know that it does not. However, it works most of the time. So how can you make it work for you?

Find Your Way Back: Resources for Struggling Marriages

Whatever issue your marriage is facing, it did not occur overnight. And in a short article, I cannot explain all the nuances of saving your marriage. I can’t explain the points above that have evolved in your marriage. But I can offer you this: hope.

No matter the situation, I have seen many people save their marriage from the direst circumstances. What set these people apart from those who headed towards destruction? They had hope, and their hope propelled them to do all the right things to save the marriage.

If you wish to know more about how to save your marriage if your spouse wants out and are willing to do what it takes to salvage it, I offer two courses of action. The first is for those whose spouse is having an affair. Click here to find what we offer to help you.

The second is for everyone and is the most helpful thing I’ve ever encountered for salving seemingly hopeless marriages. It’s our intensive three-day workshop for marriages in trouble. We can help you save your marriage even in cases of infidelity, loss of trust, anger, sexual problems, your spouse wanting to leave, and other issues. (If you think your spouse would never come, contact us by phone or the form below, and we’ll tell you what others who felt the same way did to get their spouses there.) Of course, we will keep everything you tell us completely confidential. Our motivation is to help you determine if this workshop is suitable for you and your particular situation.

The best option is our Marriage Helper Workshop. But if you and your spouse cannot attend a Marriage Helper workshop or your spouse refuses to get any marriage help, there is still hope. We have further resources if you contact us here.

For Marriage Helper weekly videos, visit our YouTube Channel here.

What are some practical steps to rebuild trust in a marriage?

To rebuild trust in a marriage, start by being transparent, consistent, and honest. Communicate openly, show empathy, and follow through on your promises. Seek counseling if needed and work on understanding your partner’s perspective to create a safe and secure environment for rebuilding trust.

FREE ONLINE MINI-COURSE on How TO Get Your Spouse Back

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