By Leslie Cane
I recently heard from a wife whose husband had told her that he wanted a divorce about six weeks before. The husband had not yet filed for divorce. He told the wife that he wanted to wait until the summer when the kids were out of school. He didn't want for the divorce to upset the children and affect their grades. However, in the weeks since he had told the wife that he intended to divorce her, the two of them had actually begun to get a long better. The wife had started to harbor a tiny little bit of hope that the husband might be changing his mind, but she didn't dare ask him. She didn't want to push too hard when things were still so fragile between them.
She said, in part: "is there any way for me to tell if my husband is going to change his mind about the divorce without directly asking him? Are there any signs to look for? Is there a certain way that he will act if he's wavering on the divorce? How can I tell if his mind is changing? Should I just ask him?"
Many of these questions are quite tricky. Because it's not uncommon for a couple to actually get a long a lot better when they've decided to divorce. Since a decision has actually been made and the elephant in the room has been addressed, a lot of the tension has disappeared, and there's no longer any indecision. And often, both people will be on their best behavior because they are trying to make the process as easy as possible for every one involved.
With that said, sometimes during this process, one or both of the spouses find that they are actually changing their mind (or shifting their perceptions) about the divorce. They begin to look at each other with new eyes. And, as they realize that they actually can get a long again, they begin to wonder if the divorce is actually the right decision or if perhaps they are moving too swiftly. But, how do you tell the difference between this situation and the situation where the husband still wants to get a divorce but is just trying to get along for the sake of the family? Well, the signs that you will see will depend upon the person. However, below are some behaviors that you may see if your husband is changing his mind about the divorce.
Some Behaviors You Might See If Your Husband Is Reconsidering The Divorce: Of course, the first tip off is usually that you're getting along much better. But as I said, often people actually do improve their interactions when a divorce is on the table. So often, you'll need to see a little more than just not fighting as much. You might also notice him bringing up happy or pleasurable memories. You may notice him making an extra effort to spend more quality time with you discussing or experiencing things other than the divorce. He may talk about a future that includes the both of you still together rather than the two of you being single.
He may also actually begin showing you the physical affection and attention that you have long missed. He may even start to question you or attempt to understand (or potentially work through) some of the issues that caused talk of the divorce. He might even mention counseling or ask you if you're willing to compromise or further discuss some of the topics that have divided you. I've even had wives tell me that their husbands have told them that he was sorry for some of the mistakes that he made in the marriage or regretted some things that happened. Sometimes, he may even elude to making these things right.
In the instance that I discussed above, the wife wasn't noticing all of these behaviors. She couldn't deny that she and her husband were being much more kind to one another, but she wasn't seeing any affectionate behaviors and they certainly weren't having any discussions about their marriage. She wondered if this meant that he wasn't changing his mind. I wasn't sure that this was the case. As I said, men show their emotions and their thought process in a variety of different ways. I suggested that she very slowly and very carefully try to build upon the improvements that she was seeing.
Should You Ask Your Husband If He's Changing His Mind About The Divorce?: The wife was very tempted to just come out and ask the husband what he was currently thinking about the divorce. She hated having to guess and, she felt that if she was able to determine that he wasn't going to change her mind, at least she wouldn't waste her time getting her hopes up. I've had a few women tell me that this strategy worked for them, but I find that more women report that it actually made things worse because the husband felt pressured. I would suggest saving this strategy for when you aren't having to guess about his thoughts.
Sometimes, it's pretty obvious that he has changed his mind because he's actually pursuing you, being incredibly loving, and has completely changed his attitude. If this is the case, it might be safe to ask the question (assuming that you already know the answer.) But if you aren't sure, I would suggest waiting either until you have more information or until he himself brings it up. This actually will shift the power your way, as I learned the hard way.
How To Increase The Chances That Your Husband Will Change His Mind About Getting Divorced: Since I suggested that the wife in this example hold off on directly asking her husband about the divorce, I wanted for her to balance this by taking full advantage of the changes that she was seeing. I felt that she should absolutely continue to try to improve her interactions with her husband. The two of them really were connecting in a new way so instead of worrying about what next week was going to bring, I felt that she should continue on with what she was doing so that things would hopefully continue to get better and better.
Sometimes, it really does help to focus on those positive things that you can control. If you constantly worry about what's going to happen in the future, then you lose track of today. And today can be very important. Today, you can reconnect. Today, you can show your husband the loving, upbeat, presence that you used to be to him. Today you can have some fun with your husband. Yes, this can be difficult when you know that he has brought up divorce. But it's better than the alternative - which is to allow the threat of divorce to continue to deteriorate the relationship until it's obvious that divorce is inevitable. And this wife wasn't yet in that situation. She had some hope. So to me, it was better to continue to focus on the hope rather than to thwart her progress by demanding answers that the husband might not yet have.
As I alluded to, my own husband wanted a divorce. There were times when we were making some progress and I suspected that he might be changing his mind, but I forced myself to not bring it up prematurely. Ultimately, this was the right call because at the end of the process, my husband was very open about how he changed his mind and we were able to save the marriage. If it helps, you can read that very personal story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com/