What should I do when my wife wants a divorce out of nowhere? Does she really mean it or should I still try to save our marriage?
There are probably countless thoughts running through your head right now.
This article aims to help you make sense of them all. And to work out your next best steps.
5 things you need to know when your wife wants a divorce out of nowhere
1) Nothing comes out of nowhere
I say this tentatively, as I’m not trying to be a smartass. I just want to highlight that this is unlikely to be a snap decision that your wife has made.
Instead, this will have probably been on her mind for quite some time.
Sadly, it might be the case that you were oblivious to these thoughts and feelings that have been brewing.
Has this genuinely come out of the blue or can you see the difficulties you may have in your marriage that have caused this?
Either way, if the news she is thinking of divorce has come as a total shock, give yourself time to let it hit you.
You might be feeling a whole range of emotions — everything from sadness and panic to anger.
Perhaps you feel annoyed that you have been blindsided.
You are perfectly justified in feeling that your wife should have said something long before getting to the point of wanting a divorce.
She absolutely should have, so that you could address your issues together as a united front.
But unfortunately, she didn’t. And so what matters most now is where you go from here.
2) Reasons “why” are rarely straightforward
If you are married then you don’t need me to tell you that real love isn’t like it is in the movies.
Whilst those first flushes of romance can be intoxicating, and even last for many years, it never lasts forever.
The deeper and more enduring love that the foundations of marriage rest on is always going to be less compelling.
As marriages settle into this rhythm of daily existence, plenty of couples start to feel as though they love their partner but are no longer “in love”.
It can feel like you are just two people cohabiting, rather than lovers. But getting past this point can be just another one of the ups and downs relationships face.
Stress, depression, a lack of connection to a partner, feeling neglected, feeling lonely and isolated, a lack of intimacy — all of these types of feelings and scenarios might lead to a woman saying she wants a divorce.
You may well be grasping for clear answers as to why your wife wants a divorce. But people are complicated. And so marriages are complicated too. The reasons are usually multifaceted.
3) You have communication issues
The reality is that the overwhelmingly vast majority of relationships have some communication problems.
And for good reason.
It’s not easy to communicate effectively. A lot of us learned bad communication habits from a young age.
Even the most perfect communicators are going to struggle as soon as emotions are involved.
Feelings make us vulnerable. It can make it difficult for us to truly say how we feel, what we think, what we need, and what we want from someone else.
Why do people get a sudden divorce?
Because the communication has broken down to such an extent that they didn’t talk about what was going wrong.
Instead, they waited until it got so bad they felt like the only option they have is to walk away.
Research shows that poor communication is still one of the main causes of marriage breakdown.
That can include things like:
- Not spending enough one-on-one time together to talk and listen.
- Brushing problems under the rug rather than discussing them.
- Expecting your partner to mind read.
- Expect your partner to see things the way you do.
The very fact that this came out of nowhere to you suggests you have some much deeper communication problems in the marriage.
But the good news is that communication rifts in a relationship can be healed.
4) Both of you have contributed to the problems in your marriage
There are rarely ever clear-cut heroes and villains in a marriage.
One isn’t the victim, whilst the other is the perpetrator of all that is to blame in your relationship.
Even when mistakes have been made, two people are in the relationship and so two people need to take responsibility for it.
Of course, we can only ever take responsibility for ourselves. So for that reason, it’s helpful to reflect on your role in the marriage problems.
This isn’t about blame. It’s bigger than that.
If you fall into victimhood, things will just get worse. You have to choose. Do you want to be “right” or happy?
Because if you become stubborn and refuse to look at your own behavior in the marriage you won’t resolve anything. You can paint yourself as the powerless victim or you can take self-responsibility.
Overwhelmingly, women are more likely to end a marriage than men.
In the US some figures estimate as many as 70% of divorces are instigated by wives.
Some reasons for this can include:
- Feeling a lack of love or affection (emotional support)
- Feeling like they bear the brunt of the cooking, cleaning, or childcare
- Differences in the bedroom
- Conflict and arguments
- Growing tension and frustration (wanting change that doesn’t happen in the relationship)
A little soul searching is going to be useful. Ask yourself some honest questions about the problems you currently have in your marriage, and reflect upon your part in them.
5) Your marriage is not over yet
Perhaps you’re at the point where “my wife wants a divorce but I still love her”. Well, your marriage is not over yet.
I know that may offer little comfort when your head is currently spinning from the news your wife says she wants to split.
But saying she wants a divorce does not mean she really does.
She could simply feel at the end of her tether and not know what else to do.
This might feel like her last resort after a long time of feeling undervalued, disregarded, ignored, unheard, or even invisible.
But in many cases, there is still a real chance to still heal the wounds that have led to this breakdown.
If that’s what you want then I would recommend checking out a course called Mend the Marriage.
I know firsthand that it can be a really effective tool for someone in this situation.
One of my closest friends turned to this course last year when he was on the brink of divorce. He found it so useful that he even attributes it to why he is still married today.
If you feel like your marriage is worth fighting for, then I’d suggest at the very least you watch this quick video from relationship expert Brad Browning. It will teach you everything you need to know about salvaging your marriage.
In it, he’ll talk you through the 3 critical mistakes that most couples make that rip a marriage apart.
And importantly you’ll also learn a proven “Marriage Saving” method that’s actually quite simple but, as my friend has proved, can be incredibly effective.
4 things to do when your wife wants a divorce out of nowhere
1) Don’t neglect yourself
I know it’s tempting to become totally preoccupied with your wife right now and your relationship.
I can completely understand why. But you need to take care of yourself right now more than ever.
This huge emotional strain will clearly take its toll. Remember to cover the basics.
Take care of your appearance, and your health. Try to exercise and get enough sleep. Avoid alcohol or substances that will only mess with your mental health.
These simple things will help keep you in the best head space during an incredibly difficult time.
Try to stay busy and be proactive. Do anything you can that will make you feel good during this stressful time.
It’s also going to present the best image to your wife. A man that has his sh*t together.
Now is also a good time to do some self-reflection.
Ask yourself what you honestly want. How do you feel about the relationship? What are your wants and needs for the future of your relationship and yourself?
2) Avoid these things that will only make the situation worse
Feelings are bound to be running high and your stress levels may be off the charts.
But all that raw emotional energy can end up being channeled in a way that only makes the state of the relationship worse.
You have a right to express yourself. And you’re going to both needs to if you are to work through things.
But you also need to put your strength into doing it in the right way.
And that means avoiding:
- Name-calling or criticizing
Try to keep it civil. Make an effort not to assign blame. Try to keep your cool when you talk about your problems.
- Bad mouthing her or gossiping about things
It’s healthy to talk to someone about what is going on and how you feel. We all need support. But be careful this doesn’t spill out into bad-mouthing or inappropriate sharing. That isn’t going to help your frayed relationship if it gets back to her.
It’s going to be very easy to put walls up right now. It’s a normal reaction to protect ourselves. But try to remember that pride is useless in this situation, so try your hardest to put it down. You can still carry yourself with dignity and self-respect without needing to get defensive.
- Shutting down
You cannot ignore the problems you are facing or the situation. As vulnerable as it is, you have to keep the lines of communication open. That isn’t going to happen if you or your wife handle things by shutting down.
- Begging or pleading
Unfortunately trying to pressure your wife into changing her mind can end up pushing her further away. Often the more desperate we behave the more someone will pull further away.
- Looking for magic fixes
Turning into Prince Charming overnight and seemingly doing a 180 in your behavior is likely to come off as insincere. Whilst you might think you are showing a willingness to change, attempting to buy gifts or going overboard with gestures could seem as though you are glossing over deeper problems.
- Threats or manipulation
Of course, emotional manipulation or threats aren’t the way to go either. Try to stay respectful, and fair and avoid acting out.
3) Talk openly about your problems
You need to come together to discuss the future of your relationship.
What are the key problems for her? Really listen and try to understand.
Agree to not interrupt one another when you are speaking. Be sure to allow space for both of you to speak and both of you to listen.
Ideally, try to find a way forward together that you can both agree on. This will most likely involve some give and take.
For example, she may want space and time, whilst you might want to resolve things as soon as possible.
See if you can agree on what happens next.
Regardless of whether you manage to solve things or not. It is going to be easier for both of you if you can agree on a plan of action.
4) Get support
The breakdown of a relationship can be one of the most stressful, loneliest, and isolating times.
It’s really important to get some support. Both as a couple and for yourself. You might decide to see a couple of therapists together. But seek out support for yourself as well.
That might be as simple as a forum online or talking to a trusted friend or family member. But it can be very helpful to seek out a professional.
Relationship Hero is a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations, like facing divorce.
Personally, I have used Relationship Hero several times for dealing with tough patches in my own relationship. The reason I prefer a relationship coach to a therapist is that I find it more proactive.
Yes, they listen, but they also help you gain valuable insights so you can take practical action to change the state of your relationship.
I’ve always been blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful the coaches have been.
If you would like to check them out too, you can click here to get started.
Basically, in just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.