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Hello,

I am seeking reconciliation with my estranged wife. She still lives in our house but we sleep in separate rooms, we have two young children. She says she is initiating the divorce proceedings soon. We had had a bad relationship before she told me about the divorce, to which I said I would agree, although, of course I do not want it -she knows I do not- as I love her dearly. I am using all the techniques they list in these sites: stay cool, do not plead, agree with her, no recrimination, give her space, do not talk about getting back together, etc. The bad relationship was mostly my fault. When she told me she wanted to divorce me, it was all shouting, hatred and resentment on her part. Curiously, at present we are getting on pretty well, mostly due to my change in attitude, which was very bad. We are now talking in friendly terms, but on her side it could be that she wants to part in good terms. I am trying to pick up signals that hint at her willingness to consider reconciliation. She would not admit to it so I do not ask her and I have to try and guess. Apart from the plans she tells me she has for her life after us, she also does other things that surprise me. Some of these may seem trivial to you but they signify a change for me after her bitter, hurtful and angry announcement that she wanted to divorce me. They are:

1- She laughs at my jokes.
2- We reminisce about the events that led to the birth of our daughters.
3- We have long conversations at dinner time, about everything and anything.
4- She now seldom gets annoyed with me.
5- She comes to my (home) office with anything trivial to talk about, when she hardly did it before.
6- She sometimes mentions the plans that we had for the future.
7- We talk about things we did as far back as 10 years ago, especially if they were fun.
8- She smiles a lot more to me.
9- She asks me to help tell our daughters off, if they had been naughty, which she never did before.
10- She asks me for advice on the things she wants to do, like getting a job.

Like I said, I do not want to read into it in a too optimistic way, when she is telling me about her plans for her future life without me at the same time. I am sure she has spotted my moves to win her back: some of them she does not mind (like friendly approaches), others she objects to (like presents).
 

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Fred,
I am not seeing any signs of a desire to reconcile in what you are saying. To me it sounds like she is just keeping the peace until she can get out of the home. She may also want to part on good terms to avoid any feelings of guilt. When a woman starts talking about plans for the future without you, she is done. In her mind she has moved on emotionally an is envisioning a life without the albatross of "you" around her neck. Having a peaceful home is better than being at war with a spouse all the time. My STBXW and I are quite close and we do all the same things listed above in your post but make no mistake about it, we are NOT getting back together, my choice.

Right now I would recommend you start concentrating on yourself and prepare yourself mentally for a life without your wife in it. By all means be civil and friendly with her but don't have any expectations for the future. Based on my personal experience you are heading for divorce absent some miracle. You just don't know the time line right now. Work on yourself and try to figure out why you treated her like crap all these years so you don't make the mistake again for the next Mrs Fredmila. Best of luck.
 

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I see signs of softening.
1. If she laughs at your jokes she is enjoying your sense of humor. Thats a good sign.
2. She is engaging and reminding herself of the good times. She still sees those good times untainted by anger or disappointment. Thats a good sign.
3. Long conversations mean both of you still have an appreciable amount of compatibility. Thats a good sign.
4. She seldom gets annoyed with you... Perhaps you are no longer doing or saying something, or not doing or not saying something, that triggers her anger/disappointment. Thats a good sign.
5. She is seeking you out to engage with you. That is not a woman who is distancing herself. Thats a good sign.
6. She has not completely walked away from your future together if she still talks about those plans. Unless it is to cancel reservations.
7. Same as number 2.
8. She smiles more because she is happier. Thats a good sign.
9. She is partnering with you, bringing you in on important relevant tasks. Thats a good sign.
10. She is seeking your input. This is also a potential mine field depending on what your original marital problems were about.

Encourage her to grow and expand her knowledge of her strength and capabilities with out fear that her growth will leave you behind. Continue on the same path because what you are doing is working. She is relating to this new you.
 

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Married in VA,

I am sorry for you, you sound very bitter and that is what I am trying to avoid in myself by salvaging my marriage, even if I fail. I will be more bitter if I know I did not try my very best to get my wife back instead of admitting defeat in the early stages of the divorce.
 

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I also noticed another thing: since I became less hostile and desperate-looking (I am actually desperate but hiding it), she approaches me more often. It stands tol reason.

And another thing, she is testing me on my reactions to particular things she did that triggered anger in me. I spotted this very clearly, the other day, when she told me something that would normally upset me and then she watched me closely to see my reaction. Of course this time my reaction was almost like I was on Valium.
 

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I think the only real positive sign is the willingness to do counselling. Have you approached her for the kids sake?

You can always preface with no pressure that if she ever gets the thought that you would be willing to go to MC. Agree you will pick one that you can both agree upon or keep looking. Make sure you get one who is Pro Marriage.

Just my humble thoughts. Wishing you well.
 

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I think the only real positive sign is the willingness to do counselling. Have you approached her for the kids sake?

You can always preface with no pressure that if she ever gets the thought that you would be willing to go to MC. Agree you will pick one that you can both agree upon or keep looking. Make sure you get one who is Pro Marriage.

Just my humble thoughts. Wishing you well.
Thank you, but people who say that MC is the answer need to understand that there are people who will just not go to one of them, because they do not want strangers involved in their very private matters, because they think they should resolve their problems themselves or for other reasons. My wife is one of these people and she will not go. She hardly opens up to me on her deep emotions, let alone to a 'stranger'. She constantly talks to her mother and close friends about it but then I am not there to participate.
 

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I see signs of softening.
1. If she laughs at your jokes she is enjoying your sense of humor. Thats a good sign.
2. She is engaging and reminding herself of the good times. She still sees those good times untainted by anger or disappointment. Thats a good sign.
3. Long conversations mean both of you still have an appreciable amount of compatibility. Thats a good sign.
4. She seldom gets annoyed with you... Perhaps you are no longer doing or saying something, or not doing or not saying something, that triggers her anger/disappointment. Thats a good sign.
5. She is seeking you out to engage with you. That is not a woman who is distancing herself. Thats a good sign.
6. She has not completely walked away from your future together if she still talks about those plans. Unless it is to cancel reservations.
7. Same as number 2.
8. She smiles more because she is happier. Thats a good sign.
9. She is partnering with you, bringing you in on important relevant tasks. Thats a good sign.
10. She is seeking your input. This is also a potential mine field depending on what your original marital problems were about.

Encourage her to grow and expand her knowledge of her strength and capabilities with out fear that her growth will leave you behind. Continue on the same path because what you are doing is working. She is relating to this new you.
Thank you, with feed back like this I can get ideas to work on all these things (but in a sincere way)
 

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I agree with AP that you are already seeing good signs. Continue to be the husband only a fool would leave... but don't be a pushover who agrees with everthing she says. She may want a nicer you, but she also wants a strong confident man who she can respect.

Another signal that she is reconsidering D would be passed deadlines for moving out/moving on, or filing for D. I've seen this in my own sitch. W told me she would look for a place of her own after getting through her 'busy' period at work. That was last Sept. and she's still here and hasn't shown any signs of moving out. Apparently, I may not be the one holding her back from happiness after all.
 

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It could be a cry for help. That things are working out. It could also be her efforts for a peaceful exit. You know her better then we do.

In my particular case. I saw a couple of these signs. But I didn't sense anything genuine. You are doing better then I did so keep it up. Remember though the 180 is about detachment. Don't give up.
 

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Thanks for the support.

Yes, early this month she told me that she would move out and start the D immediately. Then I told her about motherly love so now she says she will get a job and stay 6 months. So, in principle it is for the children.

Funnily enough, with the signs I listed above, we are getting on better than at any time in the past 5 years and yes, I am being a better husband than at any time in the past 9 years (my bad temper has gone completely) but I am not assuming anything.

Just one thing about 'treating her like crap' as somebody said above. Even though I was not kind a lot of times, she is a strong woman and she gave as good as she took, so I never felt I was abusing her. A couple of times, when we had bad fights (not even physical), she called the police to get me out of the house, even though we were both just as bad in the fights; still, good on her she did that.
 

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Thanks for the support.

Yes, early this month she told me that she would move out and start the D immediately. Then I told her about motherly love so now she says she will get a job and stay 6 months. So, in principle it is for the children.

Funnily enough with the signs I listed above, we are getting on better than at any time in the past 5 years but I am not assuming anything.
As ironic as it sounds. What if she just wanted a job? Tired of being a SAHM? Women are complex creatures. Just like men, some communicate very clearly, others, not so much.

She may find out in due time that she cares deeply for you, and even loves you as a husband. Just remember if she wants out. She doesn't have to stay either, neither do you need to tolerate disrespect.

I leave you with one more positive response. Sometimes marriages need to be redefined to succeed. A roll needs to change. If you can be the man you are now and better the next six months. You will at least succeed in making her understand that you are a good man.
 

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Yes, early this month she told me that she would move out and start the D immediately. Then I told her about motherly love so now she says she will get a job and stay 6 months. So, in principle it is for the children.
Great! That gives you six months to show her what a new marriage with you can be like. Continue to quietly work on yourself... actions speak louder than words.

No more trying to convince her, or using the kids to guilt her into staying. Matter in fact, you want to avoid any relationship talks for now.

For your marriage to work, staying has to be a choice she makes on her own, because she wants to be with you.
 

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A side note. (Do not answer if you are uncomfortable with it.) Are you intimate? I do not refer to sexual, but are your conversations intimate, (it sounds like they are)? Are you holding hands, kissing, hugging?
 

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One of the things I warn people of during times of high marital anxiety is to not read too much into a retreating spouse's behaviors. Positive or negative I believe you are. Your wife has disconnected from you emotionally, lives rent free in her home for an indefinite time and does not need to provide any of the support, intimacy, sex or respect a spouse should. If you are following the rules of not discussing R and keeping your cool that is good but I fear you are simply treading water at this time. If she is unwilling to go to counselling inform her that you intend to go alone and not for the purpose of R but to try and understand how to make the divorce as easy on the kids as possible. Become emotionally cool towards her so she understands you are clearing the road for her to leave. Read Dobson's Love Must be Tough to understand how pursuit actually drives her further from you and strength in indifference can pull her back. And OBTW I am not a jaded and bitter spouse. My marriage survived my wife's emotional departure partly due to LMBT.
 

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A side note. (Do not answer if you are uncomfortable with it.) Are you intimate? I do not refer to sexual, but are your conversations intimate, (it sounds like they are)? Are you holding hands, kissing, hugging?
None of that I am afraid, we agreed to a kind of separation. As I said we sleep in different rooms. Although, yesterday she was feeling rough, I went and felt her forehead to see if she had a fever and she did not mind the brief contact.
 

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Although, yesterday she was feeling rough, I went and felt her forehead to see if she had a fever and she did not mind the brief contact.
This is not intimacy, it is tolerance at best.
 

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I do not go after her that much, just the same as she approaches me. I take an interest in her job hunting, getting her driving licence, her health and other things. She asks me how my business is going, the results of my eye tests and small things like these.
 
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