So your wife left you. What can you do to get her back?
There are no guarantees, but the best bet is to start by letting her go. Yes, you read that right – the best way to get your wife back is to not try and get her back right now, and to not try and get her back for a while, maybe for quite a while.
Your wife left you. That means you are probably a wreck, a hot mess, a basket case. You want her back, you can’t believe that you made the mistakes you did and that now she’s gone.
Well, it’s exactly because you are such a mess right now that you can’t be trusted to negotiate for her to return and rejoin your life. You are too busy feeling sorry for yourself, or you are still in angry denial about your part in the separation, or you’re too drunk or too despairing to handle the delicate, deft diplomacy that will be required to get her back.
A Break From The Marriage
So the first step is to take a break – a pretty long break – and allow yourself a chance to get back on an even keel. Give yourself the gift of some time and some rest. It also gives your wife a chance to cool down, as well. Arguing with each other while you’re both still angry about your problems is not helpful.
By “take a break” I don’t mean “do nothing.” Sure, if you need a couple days to catch up on sleep, that’s fine. But then you have a whole lot of work to do.
What I mean by “take a break” is a break in communications and interaction with your wife. This break can help keep your estranged wife from becoming your ex-wife, so take it seriously.
The best advice I can give you is to immediately begin a minimum thirty days of no communication. That means no texting, no calls, no emails, no visits, no letters (as if anybody sends actual letters anymore!), no telegrams, no contact on social media, no instant messaging, no nothing!
The only thing allowed, and even this should be just in emergencies, would be some kind of necessary “housekeeping” communication – about bill paying, perhaps, or dealing with your children, if you have them. But those kinds of messages must be kept short and strictly business – do not say anything beyond the bare minimum required. “Just the facts,” as the cops used to say on TV. And beware, because even a simple, factual message to your estranged wife can become a kind of emotional weapon (“look how pitiful I am”) or moral boasting.
Become A Better Husband
During this thirty day quiet period, you should focus exclusively on yourself, on your own problems. During this month off, both you and your wife will have a chance to cool down and let go of some of your anger and self-righteous fury and frustration.
Even just that change of perspective will make a huge difference. Negotiations with your wife will always go better when both of you are calm, cool and collected. So take that break.
Another important activity during the quiet period is to improve your own situation. You have a lot of anger and angst to deal with, so it’s important to find a healthy way to do that.
Exercise is one of the best outlets for rage and frustration, so get to the gym or get out and take a run or bike ride. Vigorous exercise will change your perspective on just about any problem.
Exercise can also help you get into better shape – not just physically, but emotionally. When you work out regularly, your body produces endorphins that change the chemistry of your brain, putting you in a better mood and making you more confident.
That confidence shows up to other people around you, making you more attractive and interesting to them. Eventually, when you resume contact with your wife, this improved state of mind will make you more attractive to her and give you a better chance of getting her back. She isn’t nearly as likely to take you back if you’re a pitiful, blubbering wreck.
Time For Reflection
You need to also use your quiet period to think about how you contributed to your wife’s departure. It has to be serious thought – you need to be honest, at first with yourself, later with your wife, about the part you have played in this disaster.
Did you neglect or nag your wife? Did you cheat on her? Abuse her in some way? Do you have some problem with your temper or drinking or drugs?
Eventually, when you make your case to your wife that you should get back together, you will want to be able to show her that you’ve acknowledged your mistakes and that you’ve taken steps to change things. A bad temper can be addressed through anger management courses, for example, while substance abuse can be helped through a 12-step program or medical treatment.
It’s also important to take care of your mind during the quiet period. Study or learn something new, some subject that keeps your brain healthy. Read a book or see an interesting movie. Take a trip, even a short one, to a new place.
Study a language, visit a museum, learn to cook – anything intellectual and creative. This is important because your intellect is an important and attractive part of you. You should be able to have an interesting, educated conversation with other people, and with your wife, when you finally meet her again.
Remember, if and when the two of you finally meet again, when you are ready to make your case that she should come back, you want to be in good shape – you want to be taking care of yourself and getting on with your life, learning new things, having new adventures.
If you’re just sitting around crying and feeling like a victim all the time, why is your wife going to want to get back together? She wants a grown up relationship with a functional adult.
You need to take steps to become a more functional adult if you are to have a decent chance of getting her back. There are no guarantees, but this will give you the best shot.
Next up, you have to be vulnerable.
“I want you back”
I know you’ve probably thought it a thousand times, but you need to actually say it out loud. Don’t beg, plead, or cry. The next time you see your wife, take the time to sit down and lay it all out for her.
It may seem obvious to you. I’m sure it’s basically all you can think about. But she needs to know that you don’t intend on losing her and that you’re going to do everything in your power to get her back. Tell her how you’ve felt during your time apart, how important she is to you, and why you want to be together.
The harder this step is for you, the more important it is. This is because being vulnerable and open is extremely powerful and transformative. If you don’t often talk about your feelings then this will show her a new side of you.
“What did I do wrong?”
Additionally, if you’re still in the dark on your breakup, now is the time to get clarification.
If you can’t figure out what happened, this should be your top priority. Talk it out.
You can’t know what you need to fix if you can’t say for sure what went wrong. Your time apart has given you both the chance to cool off and now you’re going to be more able to have a frank and open discussion about your shortcomings, mistakes, and resentments. It won’t be easy but if you both put your cards on the table you’ll be able to move forward and start rebuilding.
Commit To Change
Your time apart allowed you to begin addressing your mistakes. If you’ve done this correctly, she’ll see that you’ve already changed. But it’s important to say it out loud as well. She needs to hear that you know what you did wrong, you apologize, and you’re taking steps to better yourself.
End The Separation
So you’ve gone through a period of no contact, you’ve apologized and committed to change. What now?
This is the most uncertain period of separation as the ball is in her court. It’s up to her whether you reunite but it’s still up to you to take positive action.
Fulfill the promises you made about changing and make sure she sees it. If you had let yourself go, begin exercising and eating better. If your lack of drive or passion was what tore you apart, take positive steps in your career or personal life. If you didn’t take enough time for her and the kids, spend some quality time with her.
Words are one thing but if she can see you’re making effort to change, she will know that you’re taking this seriously.
See her as much as possible. Don’t be pushy, things are probably still tense, but create opportunities for you two to spend time together. Show her that you two can still have fun together and that you can still be her rock.
Be romantic! If the two of you are on good terms and she seems open to possible reconciliation, then you should be courting her like you were when you first started dating. Keep things light, fun, and exciting and try to woo her. She’ll love the attention and it will relight the spark of your marriage.
If you’ve made an effort to change, apologized, and given her space and she is still firm that she doesn’t want to see you anymore then you need to try to move on. I know it’s a difficult pill to swallow, especially since you put in so much work to be a better husband but it wasn’t wasted.
You know that you did your best to win her back so you don’t have to wonder about what might have been. Taking this action has given you closure whether you realize it or not.
Plus, all the changes you’ve made to yourself and how you view your relationship has made you a better, stronger person so you can make it on your own and more easily attract someone else going forward.