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Stella’s Success Story: Attracting Him Back when He Wanted Out

By Stella, Empowered Wife

I’d been married to the man of my dreams for 22 years. Our marriage seemed idyllic to others, but the cumulative pain of having the same arguments again and again was overwhelming us both.

On the worst days, when I most wanted him to comfort me, he would avoid me. I would sob in my bed for hours. I was so lonely in my happy-looking home, and so sure he was to blame.

Then, one summer day I found affectionate notes between him and an old girlfriend on a messaging app on our home computer.

I was devastated, he was sorry, and we started counseling.

After a couple of months, it was abundantly clear that verbally bashing each other and bringing up hurt feelings for an hour every other week was doing more harm than good, so we quit.

Here’s what the therapist didn’t tell me about how to attract my husband back.

At Thanksgiving that year, gathered in his mother’s kitchen, I overheard him talking to his brother, discussing wife frustrations. Then his brother grinned and said, “Yeah, but you still love her, right?”

They didn’t know I was nearby. I saw my husband merely shrug.

Now, not only was I devastated, I was desperate. Surfing the net night and day for solutions, I found the first chapter of The Surrendered Wife, and my mind was blown.

I felt like Laura Doyle had microphones in my house, as I’d been the perfect shrew for at least 10 years. My husband had been pleading with me to listen, to understand how deeply he was hurting, all the while trying desperately to please me while I criticized him for it.

I had believed my friends and pop culture, which told me he just needed to put on his big boy pants and do it my way. But I had misunderstood: “Bitchy” and “strong” were not synonymous. It was my actions, my words, that were the slow poison killing my marriage, so only I had the power to change it.

I enrolled with a Laura Doyle coach with hope in my heart, and things soon got much, much worse.

In January of the following year, alone in my bathroom, I found texts that showed he was in love with another ex-girlfriend, and they’d been seeing each other some weekends. She was recently divorced, full of advice, and gave him the respect and understanding I had not. When that happens to a man, he usually can’t help but fall head over heels.

Sitting side by side on our bed on a cold, rainy day, he asked me for a divorce.

I kissed him on the cheek and told him lovingly this was not what I wanted but I understood. By then I’d had enough coaching to know, as Carl Jung said, “What you resist persists,” and I promised I would not stand in his way.

I also decided that I would not pave his way.

In other words, if he asked me for a specific action or piece of information for the divorce proceedings, I cooperatively provided it, but I did not volunteer anything, nor make any legal arrangements myself.

In the meantime, I dove into the pleasures of my self-care.

In my kitchen, two playlists were constantly on: music to lift me up and music to make me scream and cry. Most of the time, it was the “I <3 Me” playlist, which got me dancing around the room and banging air drums with wooden spoons. But when it was safe, l let the anger and grief fly, screaming along with bitter classic rock lyrics.

The waves of emotion engulfed me in the safety of my empty home or car, but I now had the self-care skills to come up for air. This way, my emotional waves didn’t crash uncontrollably all over my husband, my kids or my coworkers at awkward times.

I found my inner girl of fun and light! I wrote, colored, lit candles, took dance classes, went to art galleries with coworkers and enjoyed a few Bollywood movies–things I’d never done before! Daily scented baths were a must do. I smiled nearly all the time.

As our teenage kids and I made our weekly plans around the kitchen island one spring Saturday, our 18-year-old son said to me, “Mom, you’re a lot more interesting since Dad moved out.”

I just smiled.

As my husband continued his weekends away, living outside our main home in the garage bonus room, it was simultaneously the most joyous and most painful year of my life.

My emotions did not cancel each other out but coexisted. As the poet Khalil Gibran wrote, “Your joy can fill you only as deeply as your sorrow has carved you.” I was living both.

And I flirted like crazy!

I lit up when he walked into the room. I flaunted new lingerie in the kitchen. I touched his hand in conversation. I referenced all kinds of shared happy memories, inside jokes, and lines from books and movies we both loved, like Star Wars.

I also chose faith over fear. I knew I had skills and his other did not. I believed she would become the typical controlling harpy I had been, while I continued to soften, let go of expectations, discover more of my own life, and grow in gratitude for his loving actions.

Never had I appreciated more him just showing up and taking out the trash! It meant that he was there, in my house, helping me.

It took a long time. It was fall before I saw any positive attention from him. Slowly, slowly, the scales had to tip from his association with me as a source of pain, through more neutral territory, wobbling back and forth for several months, and eventually into flirtation.

We started dating! He would invite me upstairs to watch TV or suggest lunch out on the weekend. I received graciously!

He was testing the waters to see if he could trust the changes in me.

On a bright October afternoon, after sharing drinks on the patio with coworkers, he wandered into the kitchen and planted a big fat kiss on my lips, with a suggestive look in his eyes. I responded in kind, and things got steamy!

We started to share physical intimacy often. By then, my ability to experience pleasure had grown so strong through self-care, I was enjoying it more than ever! I was staying in the moment, with no future expectations.

By Christmas, there were dinners and movies and flowers and cards. The compliments flowed. I don’t know if the other was still in the picture or not, but I knew what I had: my man in my arms, hanging out with me and enjoying every minute of it.

It wasn’t until May–nearly two years after the initial crisis–that he finally felt comfortable enough to move back into our bedroom.

On a lovely spring day, in the intimately mundane setting of our bathroom as we rinsed our toothbrushes, he looked at me and said, “I love you.”

I gave him my best Han Solo sly grin and said, “I know.”

He grinned back and his eyes shone with deeply renewed love for me.

By Laura Doyle

Hi! I'm Laura.

New York Times Bestselling Author

I was the perfect wife--until I actually got married. When I tried to tell my husband how to be more romantic, more ambitious, and tidier, he avoided me. I dragged him to marriage counseling and nearly divorced him. I then started talking to women who had what I wanted in their marriages and that’s when I got my miracle. The man who wooed me returned.

I wrote a few books about what I learned and accidentally started a worldwide movement of women who practice The Six Intimacy Skills™ that lead to having amazing, vibrant relationships. The thing I’m most proud of is my playful, passionate relationship with my hilarious husband John–who has been dressing himself since before I was born.

14 replies on “Stella’s Success Story: Attracting Him Back when He Wanted Out”

Thank you for sharing your beautiful story, Stella. Who’da known respect and understanding could make a marriage so steamin’ hot?

What a great story. I love how she just started living her own joy and from that everyone in the end benefited. Her son noticed she was happier, even in the midst of a separation. The whole energy of her home was changed for the positive when she took the practice on to start find her own happiness, regardless of her outside circumstances. It’s almost as though her husband coming back was a byproduct. Even if he hadn’t chose to, she and her children were bathed in her healthy and positive transformation.

Thank You! This is amazing, kind and patient story, little bit know in this myself, I had 8 month intimate skills beyond , today big big flowers and candy got from my husband. He is with mistakes, of cource, never say that I love you etc, but his acting show, I am the only one who he see. Gratitude!

I am so happy for you. At the same time, I am so sad that I did not have access to the skills so many years ago; now I live alone and my family is broken. Things for sure get harder and worse after divorce even though I thought all my troubles would be gone if I left my husband. It just is not true; the heartache and brokenness is ever present at holidays, birthdays and every day in between. Wives, please keep your families together. I did not value my family back in the 80’s and I left my husband in 1991. There were so many divorced at that time; it was like an epidemic. Somehow I have to accept what I have done because I did not have Laura Doyle’s books at that time.

Dawn, Your words are very moving and accountable. I’m confident you did the best you could with your marriage with what you knew. I remember being there myself, so confused and not having the information I have now. I almost divorced too. My biggest weakness became a great strength, and I believe the same can happen for you.

I appreciate you speaking from experience and adding your voice to encourage others in their marriages. Thank you.

How does one begin to do anything when the other person has closed you off completely? We have a temporary order in place, divorce is delayed only due to backups. My husband hasn’t called, emailed, text nor have we seen one another outside of the court hearing (once in 4 months) and not even visited with our child who is a teenager so there’s that as well. I’ve gotten a new job, live as though he’s gone and am trying to move forward but secretly wishing he’d do something besides continue living and loving another. Do I just finally cut the ties and move ahead or stay stuck in limbo of sorts? Any advice from anyone would be welcomed. I’m not ready to date, only go out with my friends, trying to take care of me as well as my daughter. On the brightest of sides, my daughter and I are even closer!

I’ve been trying these 6 intimacy skills. When I stick to them it seems to work, but then anger sets in and all the hard work I’ve done goes away. Back to square one. My husband certainly does not trust me emotionally. I’m mad one day, happy the next. I can’t control my emotions. I’m sorry for your situation, it’s hard since he moved out from you I’m sure. Pray that all will work out as it should. That’s my prayer

Thank you for sharing. I am going on one year since my husband and I lost intimacy. He thinks I have cheated on him and he says he lost feelings for me. He is the love of my life and I have never strayed. We have been married 20 years. I am just starting self care now. I pray for patience and for my husband to come back into my heart. I am so lost without him but feeling stronger every day

hi, I got madly in love with my husband since the beginning of our relationship, since 3 years ago our marriage was like the book said we were good and bad, last year in December I found out he was cheating on me with his hr director, we fight, he never apologized, he started to drink very heavy, he moved out, finally now he is living with her and her daughter, he doest even come to see our kids (1.7 yo, 7mo), when he comes he stay for maybe one hour…I paid the lawyer 2 months ago but so far I didn’t give her any document…I don’t know why…I don’t know what I’m waiting for…sometimes I want him back other times I hate him…im lost I don’t know what to do I’m raising my kids on my own holding all my anger sometimes is just hard that I scream and yell and my kids start doing the same…I start reading the book but I kind of try to do it but he’s not even here and when he comes he doesn’t talk or he looks upset, also is very upset that he is so in love of this person, I see the bank account and I see how they go to restaurant movies take pictures on those booth camera things … I said to myself…why you want him back is like my head says divorce and my heart is wait wait hope for a miracle…I do feel guilty because I did treat him back in the last 3 years…but that is not reason to cheat…mmmm idk…I really don’t know what the hell to do…

You can assure yourself that what you are experiencing is totally normal. I felt like I did want to be married, and I certainly didn’t want a divorce, but I didn’t want or deserve to be married to a cheater. I wanted the miracles in the book, but he didn’t deserve to have me make all the effort and do honest self care while his ‘selfish care’ was being with some woman who had no respect for marriage or another woman (or herself for that matter).
I vented and fought with him and it did no good. If you can muster the strength, (for your kids if nothing else), try to focus on yourself! Make yourself gorgeous and irresistible. Limit contact with him to polite conversation and try to be distracted by what you are doing. Try new and interesting things, join groups that care about people and reach out to the community. Prove you can make it without him and soon you will have the choice if you want him back or not. It is strsnge, but when you back off, he will pursue you.

It is a wonderful thing for couples, to come back again, because, both of them will have releases their mistake and adjusted, and this will boost their closeness

Hi Laura,

I bough the intimacy skills over a year ago and I can say that they really work. I saw changes on my husband almost immediately and since then I have been lovely taken care, cherish, flowers, gifts, frequent Saturday night dates. Unfortunately my husband also started drinking more than before and some days wouldn’t get home until next day morning. That caused short fights that didn’t escalate and we made up right away. Something I noticed in the last 6 months is that he had new sexual requests that I didn’t like and were completely out of my comfort zone. Long story short, he completely broke down on April 1st and confessed that he has been in touch with a woman he had met at a bar several months ago. We were what it seemed and Feeley to me the perfect Copley until that night. He moved into the basement and I haven’t stopped treating him with respect and smiling at him and with my self care, that it has been my refuge these days because it makes me happy. Last night we talked for long hours and he confessed that the reason of his change while being intimate is because he is into same sex sexual attraction and he has being into that for sometime. At this point I feel devastated, confused and I just want him out of my life. I haven’t showed any changes on my behavior towards him but I feel no respect or love towards him anymore. I cannot recognize that man. He told me that feels loved and safe to open up his deepest desires with me and he wants me to be his wife for life and at the same time that I can learn to accept his new ways and enjoy them with him which is nonsense. What should I do?

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