Many of the wives who contact me about finding a way to save their marriages realize that they had some part in the marital collapse.  I often hear comments like: "we grew apart," or "we didn't make an effort to stay connected."  Another example is "things just changed between us and the spark is gone."  Even though these are vague phrases that could mean any number of different things, most wives understand their role in whatever has happened. Many admit that they weren't exactly a good wife in the past, but they want to change.

Sometimes though, I hear from a wife who is willing to shoulder all of the blame and who has a very specific reason that her husband left and wants a divorce.  And often that reason is either the wife or her behavior.  I recently heard from a wife who deeply regretted that same behavior, was sure it was the reason that her husband left her, and insisted that she was a changed person as the result of losing him.  She wanted to know how she could make her husband see or believe that she'd changed in the hopes of getting him back.

She said, in part:  "my husband left me last month.  A mutual friend just told me that my husband confessed that he left because he was tired of me constantly putting him last and being so selfish.  He told our friend that he never felt like he was the most important thing to me, that I took him for granted, and that I treated friends or colleagues better than I treated my own husband.  Hearing this devastated me, but once I calmed down, I realized that these things were true.  Looking back, I was often very selfish and I put my own needs ahead of his.  I neglected him, ignored his needs and wishes, and wasn't home nearly enough.  I always placed him last because I assumed he would be there no matter what. And he was too nice of a guy to make a big deal out of any of this until he just couldn't take it anymore.  I deeply regret the way I treated him, and if he was to ever give me another chance, I'd prove to him that I'd never treat him that way or take him for granted again.  But, he told our friend that he intended to file for divorce because he wants to move on with his life and start over.  How can I convince him that I've changed and that he should take me back before it's too late?"  I'll try to address these concerns in the following article.

Focus On Showing Him You've Changed Before You Focus On Trying To Get Him Back: Some of the most difficult things that wife was going to need to overcome was the husband's feelings that her changes were "too little too late" or that they were only manufactured to get him back for the short term, at which time she would probably revert back to her old ways.

It's common and understandable for a husband who has left (or who is getting ready to file a divorce) to doubt any sudden changes that never happened the whole time that you were married.  So, to avoid him doubting you, you'll need to move very slowly and take this process one step at a time.   In my observation, wives who place their focus only on trying to get him back have a much higher failure rate because the husband has his doubts and he doesn't like feeling manipulated.

One way around this (which has a much higher success rate) is to first focus on showing your husband that you've changed before you even make the suggestion or let him know that you'd like to have him back.  Now, he may figure this out on his own or have his suspicions, but the more that you can place the focus on showing him changed behavior and allowing the process to work, the more genuine and believable this is all likely to feel to him.  It's often very important that your husband believes that he's made his own evaluations and decisions.  No one wants to feel as if they are a puppet on a string being controlled by someone else because this usually makes them want to avoid, reject, or doubt the other person.

One way to start the process in a way that might feel very genuine is to reach out with an apology (without anything else) in the beginning.  She might say (or write) something, like: "I really just wanted to apologize to you for my behavior for much of the time that we were married.  I do and did love you very much, but my actions and behavior didn't always reflect this.  I was selfish and I took you for granted.  I wish that I had realized this while it was happening so I could and would have stopped, but I'm only realizing it now.  I hope that one day you can forgive me and I want to stress that my behavior was not indicative of my feelings or of you as a husband.  You were a wonderful partner and you didn't deserve to be treated the way that I treated you.  I just wanted for you to know that I'm truly sorry, that none of this was your fault, and that I understand your getting frustrated with me.  I would feel the same way if the roles were reversed."

A statement like this is going to do many things for you.  It validates your husband.  It allows for him to realize that you are fully aware of your mistakes and deeply regret them. And, by holding off and not asking for anything in return, you'd be showing him a profound change in you.  Because in the past, the wife might have apologized, but she would have immediately placed the focus back onto her and what she wanted (to get him back.)  Instead, she's placing the focus on him and not asking for anything (at least not yet.)  I believe that this approach is much more likely to help her to get him back in the right way and at the right time so that their marriage has the highest chance to succeed.

Figure Out Which Behaviors Most Drove Your Husband Away And Focus On Changing His Perceptions About These Behaviors In A Very Methodical Way: Of course, the apology that I described above is only the beginning.  At that point, you would have only opened the door.  Over time, you must pinpoint which behaviors were most problematic and then address them one by one. For example, the wife kept describing herself as a self-centered person who took her husband for granted.   So, she might first focus on showing her husband someone who is generous and concerned about others before herself.  Once she had some success with this, she might then attempt to show her husband how much she notices, understands, and appreciates the special things he said and did.

As you might suspect, this process isn't immediate and is often gradual but, because of this, it allows the greatest chance for the husband to actually notice and believe the changes that he's seeing so that he eventually wants to come back.

When my husband got tired of being taken for granted (and my selfish behavior) and walked out, I did not understand these principals and I made many mistakes and participated in behavior that only made things worse.   Needless to say, he not only resisted but didn't believe for a second that I had changed.  Thankfully, I was able to change course using the tactics discussed here and save the marriage. You can read that story on my blog at

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