Your marriage was plugging along until recently.
Then came a conversation that changed everything.
You learned that your spouse is seriously considering divorcing you.
Your world has darkened. What’s going on and how do you salvage what you considered a good-enough marriage?
We’ve invented a term for your situation: a leaning-in spouse. And your spouse is leaning out.
Unfortunately our world is mostly filled with advice for the leaning-out spouse, not for the ones who don’t want a divorce!
Statistically, more leaning-in spouses are men, but if you’re a woman, it’s no less panic-inducing. The reason there are more leaning-in husbands is that 2/3rd of divorces are initiated by wives.
You are likely having some or ALL of the following emotions. You know that many of them aren’t helping the situation but you can’t shake them and they’re pulling you in different directions.
Common feelings for a "leaning in" spouse:
Your dilemma is that if you keep silent about how you are feeling, you become distant from your spouse. And if you open up with your feelings, your spouse gets defensive because he or she is the one who has propelled you into these awful feelings. You’re in a catch-22: damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
So we suggest something radical: starting not with expressing your own feelings but with trying to understand what might be going on with your spouse.
Here's what we know from research and clinical practice about what your spouse might be experiencing:
Okay, once you are focusing on where your spouse is coming from, there’s one other perspective we can offer you here.
(We can offer you a lot more beyond blog posts.) It’s some perspective on phases of the awful process you’re in.
The shock of divorce being a possibility. (As we said, this may be combined with relief on your spouse’s side.)
Is on mostly on your shoulders: listening to what has led your spouse to leaning out of the marriage and take seriously how you have contributed to the problems. We have ideas for how you can do this difficult but powerful work for your marriage in our First Step Guide. It's available immediately. Material for leaning in wives is being developed.
To assess, with your spouse, if there is still hope. For the majority of couples the answer is yes. (That’s what the research shows.) As we said, even if your spouse says it’s over, our research shows that this feeling may not be permanent, so don’t give up. After our First Step Guide, we walk you through your next steps in our Gameplan for Husbands.
If your spouse is open to exploring alternatives to an immediate divorce, is seeking help together. Our online material is designed to get you to Phase Four or, best case scenario, get your marriage out of "brink" territory and on to its own healing path if you are able to create new conversations that lead to new insights and change.
Is Your Wife Talking Divorce?
Two Forms of In Person Help
a specialized form of couples counseling designed for marriages where one spouse is leaning out of the marriage (and not sure about whether to work to save it), and the other spouse is leaning in. It’s a brief form of counseling that leads to a decision either to do serious marriage counseling, with divorce off the table, or to move towards divorce. We have trained discernment counselors around the country.
which is appropriate when your spouse has decided to take divorce off the table for now and to work with you to revive your marriage. We have a vetted list of couples therapists we trust for your marriage.
If your spouse is leaning towards a divorce that you don't want, you're like a stranger in a strange land.
We know it’s terribly hard.
And we know that it’s up to you to provide leadership now to save your marriage, despite how upset you are.
It’s time to bring your best self forward.
Husbands should download the First Step Guide.
(Material for wives is coming soon.)
Is Your Wife Talking Divorce?