Force The Issue Before You’re Done

Every January I hear from a man, or more than one, who is shell-shocked because his wife has “suddenly” left him “for no reason” and “with no warning.”

Force The Issue Before You're Done

Of course, the real situation is usually far different than the man’s honest perception of reality. Most of the time the truth is his wife has been unhappy for years. She clearly expressed this to her husband, at least in her mind, many times. She feels there is no way he could not know how she feels. However, nothing changed, and eventually, she stopped complaining. Bitterness set in, and resentment built. Gradually divorce became the only option she could see. She planned, and she waited for her time. Doing it over the holidays seems wrong, especially if they have kids, so she hung on. Then when the holidays were done, so was she.

If you’ve reached this point, I know nothing I or anyone else says will make a difference. This post is for women who have not gone that far. Maybe you’re still complaining, maybe you have stopped, but you haven’t decided you must leave him. If that’s you, I am begging you to make a really big deal about this with your husband. I don’t care how sure you are he knows, please get in his face and tell him in no uncertain terms that the current situation is unacceptable and that it will end in divorce.

You owe it to him, to yourself, and to your kids to slap him in the face if there any chance you will leave him over your ongoing marriage problems. Yes, I’m telling you to give him an ultimatum; it’s the right thing to do.

Along these lines, we have a new survey out. Will you be divorced in a year?

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I hate divorce!

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26 Comments on “Force The Issue Before You’re Done

  1. Quote ‘ please get in his face and tell him in no uncertain terms that the current situation is unacceptable and that it will end in divorce.’
    Please, oh please tell me HOW to get in his face when he just gets up and walks out of the room?
    Then the next thing he’s being passive/aggressive and putting me down over the most trivial things. I can deal with it most of the time (after all we’ve been married 50 years) but when I’m tired like after Christmas it reduces me to tears. His father was the same and I see the same behaviour in my married son.

    • @Exdancer – This post is aimed at women who will end their marriage in the next year if nothing changes. It doesn’t sound to me like you are in that situation.
      I’d say he has learned you will complain but that’s it. He can keep doing what he’s been doing, and you will keep doing what you’ve been doing.
      If you can’t or won’t take it any longer, then leave him a short letter telling him you will file for divorce this summer if he doesn’t make a real effort to deal with the things you can no longer take.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Let’s Make 2018 The Year of Margin!My Profile

  2. Agree here, but also:

    1) The reverse can be true for men.
    2) Put it in writing, clearly and succinctly, stating that if nothing changes, that the divorce will happen. Put a date on it, and directly hand it to your spouse. And, make a copy. That why, when they feign surprise and confusion when you leave, you can pull out the copy and say “See, on this date, I gave this to you. It clearly says what the problem is, and the consequences if it doesn’t change. If you didn’t read it – thats on you. Nothing changed, and now you get the consequence.” And then follow thru.

    • @John – I agree written is often a good idea (I just suggested that to Exdancer above.) Succinct is critical, it can’t be a long list of things, it needs to be the few that must change.
      And yes the genders can be changed. The link in the post is to something I wrote for men years ago.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Let’s Make 2018 The Year of Margin!My Profile

      • Does the slapping advice work both ways too? Sounds like abuse to me but oh well.

  3. I don’t think you’re the only person who hates divorce, I hate it too and what it does to families, especially the children involved.
    My divorce became necessary but that doesn’t mean I took it lightly or it was easy or had no affect on anyone. But you see, no matter how much I got in my ex-husband’s face about his abuse toward me and our boys, tried to make him do counseling (which was a total joke and waste of time) and got our pastor and other church members involved (which didn’t go well for me), he basically let me know that he would never ever consider divorce because the problem was really me, and being such the godly man he was meant that he considered divorce a sin and he would never be the one to file. When I finally did file he would make comments like, “well, since all you want is a divorce” or “since you just want YOUR divorce”, when in reality what I had really wanted was for him to stop his destructive, abusive behavior and actions. And I tried taking the steps but always to no avail, because he never would acknowledge his problem.
    Interestingly, he was telling people that I kicked him out of our home when in fact he packed up his stuff and left, and he further told people it was him that was basically blindsided by me refusing to reconcile and then choosing to file for divorce.

    I think what we need to hate more than divorce is the CAUSE of divorce. We need to hate the reason for divorces happening, but we also need to understand it is never black and white.
    Yes, some people flippantly throw away their marriages because they suddenly grew apart or are not attracted to one another anymore, but some people think long and hard about doing the ‘right’ thing because they see marriage as a God-given covenant not to be broken easily or taken lightly.

    I’m always leery when hear these stories of men or women being taken by surprise that their spouse suddenly wants a divorce, it often makes me wonder if that’s just their way of hiding the real reason behind it.
    Amy recently posted…Speak the truthMy Profile

    • @Amy – Please don’t think I’m putting down those who find it necessary to divorce. My wife was in that situation with her ex. I’m convinced she did the right thing, even the necessary thing. But even though it was right it hurt her and it hurt her daughter. I’ve watched how those wounds have played out for three decades. I wish it could have been avoided.
      I agree the real problem is the causes of divorce. Some of that is selfishness and pettiness. Some of it is how easy divorce has become, and the fact that the church isn’t doing a very good job of showing the collateral damage divorce causes (probably to avoid hurting the feelings of those who have divorced.) Then there are those Christians who oppose all divorce, regardless of why. They are promoting something contrary to what Jesus said, and that’s adding to the problem. When I hear someone say “Divorce isn’t in our vocabulary” I cringe because I know plenty of divorced folks who said that years ago. The whole “Divorce will never happen” thing can cause us to ignore issues we should deal with in ourselves. It can also cause us to put up with things in our spouse we shouldn’t put up with. All of that festers and grows till it explodes. Then one spouse no longer cares what anyone thinks, they are going to divorce and they will cut off contact with anyone who dares to suggest they should not.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Let’s Make 2018 The Year of Margin!My Profile

  4. Hi Paul,

    I trust your advice to “slap him in the face” is figurative not literal. If I’m wrong, and you did mean to advocate physical slapping, could you defend why that’s a good approach?

      • Thanks, Libl. Maybe my comment was unnecessary. But it was bothering me for a while after I read the post whether it could be read literally by anyone, so I decided to make a quick comment to ease my conscience. No offense intended.

        • I think this just goes to show how one passage can be interpreted differently. Like with the Bible, two people read the exact same words and come to two different conclusions.

  5. If nothing else works, leave him. I don’t mean permanently. I realize that it is drastic, and it may cause serious negative repercussions, but it can also be a very strong wake-up call. It says in an unmistakable way, “I’m really unhappy, and there are some very necessary changes that need to be made.” Then begin talking and negotiating from a distance. If you move back too soon, there is an extremely likely possibility that you will lose your leverage. He needs to realize what he as lost and want it back.

      • Sorry!! I thought that we were talking about the nuclear option. It sounded to me like we were already discussing what to do with the person that was dead to reason.

      • I revisited your article, and would like to make an additional comment. My idea of leaving is a method, not an end. The purpose is to show that he isn’t listening, and that the wife values the relationship enough to take drastic measures. From the beginning she states that she wants to work on the relationship, but she needs his attention.

  6. Your final question in the survey is missing the time parameter (“in a year”), which seems kind of important to collecting the data you’re looking for.

    (Just letting you know so that maybe you can fix that question in the survey.)

  7. My dad did this to my step mom 4 years ago. Just up and left her. It was shocking to say the least. He stonewalled her for over 20 years and got sick of her. She wasn’t without fault but a lot of her issue was his stonewalling. It was so sad.

  8. The problem for me, I am not in a position that I can leave. And he knows it. Anything I say, any letter I write, he finds 1)offensive and 2)childish. Even our sons see it. My option is to take them to my parents house and rely on their generosity until I can support us, as I would ask nothing from him, except our clothes. He wasn’t this bad when I married him, or love is blind. But it has gotten much worse over the years. And its all emotional/verbal abuse. Not physical or I’d be gone. And to actually leave would end it for good. It would not be a wake up call to change. I’m just not ready to give up hope for good. But I know we can’t continue like this. I can’t anyway.

    • Henri,
      I’m so sorry for what you are enduring in your marriage/family, whether physical or psychological abuse, abuse is abuse.
      I stayed for 20 years because I didn’t think I should take our boys from their father no matter how abusive he was. And while there was no physical abuse, although he came close many times, the mental, emotional and verbal abuse was so damaging not only to me but the boys as well. It’s taken my boys and I a good many years to find healing and repair our own relationship with each other.

      Please take steps necessary to protect your boys and yourself. If your parents are willing to have you live with them until you can get on your feet, take the offer. Sometimes just that separation can help you see more clearly what is happening, his abuse, and what you need to do.

      Writing letters and trying to talk it out rarely work in cases of abuse. Leaving may be the only thing that works in your case as a wake up call to your husband. Unfortunately, most abusers do not change their ways but you have to take care of you and your children, and let God take care of your husband.

      Praying for you. Feel free to contact me if you want just to talk.
      Amy recently posted…Time to let go?My Profile

    • @Henri – Leaving is always a dangerous choice. Sometimes it works, but I’d say the majority of the time it results in divorce.
      I know women, and men, who only have bad choices in their marriage. I hate seeing that, and I’, sorry it’s where you are. I have seen marriages that seemed hopeless miraculously change, so it can happen. I pray that will be the case for you.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…You Can’t Beat the OddsMy Profile

  9. Henri, I am so sorry for the circumstances you find yourself in. If it there is abuse happening in your home, it is better for the children to not be raised in such an atmosphere, no matter their age or sex, and no matter the type of abuse. Verbal and emotional abuse is still ABUSE. A consistent effort to control or manipulate or diminish another person’s value or self image is abuse. A history of financial, spiritual, or sexual threats used to punish, control or manipulate is abuse. It has been found in many studies of both religious and secular entities that non physical abuse is actually worse than physical abuse and has great affects on a child’s psyche in the present and future. There have been several studies that have shown that children raised in a home where they see abuse are far worse off than children whose parent leaves the abuser and raises them in a single parent home. I understand. I stayed for 25 years because I thought it was my only choice as a Christian because he didn’t actually hit me. It is not your only choice either. Some choices are very difficult and the way they change a person’s life and their childrens’ life can be daunting. But a child’s life in the presence of abuse is profoundly altered anyhow; it’s just invisible. You can’t protect them from the effects of the abuse no matter how hard you try or how well adjusted they seem.

    Someone said “It’s better for a child to be raised in a broken home than to be broken in an intact one”. (maybe Dr. Phil?) Regardless of who said it, numerous studies and countless stories from children bear witness to its truth. You have my empathy and my prayers.

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