I often hear from women whose husbands are hinting that they want or intend to file for a divorce. Sometimes, though, there is a more dire situation. I hear from wives whose husbands have just filed the paperwork to set the divorce in motion. Such was the case yesterday. I heard from a wife in an eight-year marriage. Things had been difficult for the last several months and she knew that the marriage was in trouble, but never in her wildest dreams did she think he would go ahead and file for the divorce without discussing it with her first.

Nonetheless, the husband had her served with divorce papers despite the fact that the two of them weren't fighting and hadn't spoken of the same. The wife said, in part: "This came on suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere. He's actually filed for a divorce and I don't want one. What can I do, if anything, to change his mind or stop the divorce?"

Before I go any further, I have to tell you that I'm certainly not an attorney or legal specialist. This article won't focus on any legal aspects of a divorce. Instead, I'll try to offer some insights on how to best handle it when you're trying to prevent a divorce using nonlegal measures. Sometimes, you can focus on the relationship (rather than on legalities) with surprisingly good results.

I Know It's Difficult To Take Your Focus Off His Filing For Divorce, But Sometimes This Is The Best Call: I know that you likely feel that you are running out of time. It's normal to worry that the divorce will be final soon so that you really only have so much time to make any real progress before you'll be divorced. But, at least in my opinion, there can be a real danger in placing your focus solely on the timeline.

First, your husband is likely going to know that changing his mind or stopping the divorce is your primary focus. As such, he may be equally determined that he is not going to change his mind no matter what you do or say. In this way, you're actually making your job a bit harder. So, in my opinion, you are sometimes better off placing your focus on what you are able to control. You have absolute control over where you place your focus and how you react (at least as far as what you are showing him.) Often if you place your focus on improving the relationship and the way that you relate to one another, this may have some effect on the divorce. (This is a simplified version of how I did it. More on that here.)

Focus On Short Term Improvements Rather Than Clinging Too Tightly To The Long Term: Many women in this situation make the mistake of constantly asking the husband what it would take to change his mind or if he will reconsider. And some women will use legal tactics to stall or dissuade him from moving forward. Their focus is firmly on the long term. They are trying to stop the divorce in any way that they know how, and this is quite understandable.

But, often they can't see what is right in front of them because they're only focused on scarcity. And while they are fixated on this, they are usually doing more damage and making the situation worse. The husband is actually pulling further away as the result of the wife's actions rather than coming in closer. And of course, you want him closer. One way to do this is to focus on the short rather than the long term. It may seem backward, especially when you have a perceived time limit, but sometimes taking small victories will gain you more ground in the long run.

Understand What Your Most Important Obstacles Really Are: Many women in this situation think that time is really their most important enemy. This often isn't the case. It's really not the divorce becoming final that is your biggest obstacle (although you should obviously always be aware of deadlines.) It's whatever damage to the relationship drove him to file the paperwork, and it is the current perceptions that you must overcome. Because right now, it's likely that your husband acted because he thought that the marriage could not be saved or he chose not to save it. So, it's not the legal process that is the problem - it's the issues or perceptions about the relationship.

When you look at this way, the issues may seem very large. But that's why you'll usually do better if you take very small steps. The first one would just be to improve your interactions. The next would be to start changing perceptions and so on. The whole idea is that you build on each success until your husband comes to realize that he has changed both his mind and his perceptions about the divorce.

But first, cut down the volatility but taking a deep breath so that you don't panic.  Don't focus so much on the idea of running out of time.  Use the time that you have.  Improve your interactions so that your husband believes that there is no hurry.  And methodically go from there.

When my husband wanted a divorce (but I desperately want to save my marriage), I did everything that I could to stop it. I made many mistakes born out of frustration and fear. I was so worried about a perceived deadline and the idea of running out of time. Of course focusing on scarcity made things worse. I decided to approach things from another angle and this eventually worked. You can read that story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com/.

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There are links to more articles about saving your marriage at http://isavedmymarriage.com/.