I can’t think of anything more painful or heartbreaking than hearing your husband say “I don’t love you anymore. Maybe I never did.”
Or “It’s over. I’m in love with someone else.”
Or—maybe even worse—to discover those things without him saying anything.
It’s only human to be angry with him for being such a thoughtless jerk. It’s natural to want him to hurt the way he hurt you.
Unfortunately, there’s no real comfort in making him suffer, even though it’s more tempting than a Cinnabon.
There are, however, specific things you can do to give yourself real relief from that continuous ache and to put your family back together.
You can put everything right again but only if you do things very, very differently than you’ve been doing them.
Everything I’m going to suggest will sound counterintuitive. But these radical measures are what I’ve seen breathe new life into broken marriages for thousands of women in your distressing situation—and what I did to revitalize my own broken marriage.
Here’s exactly how to recover the good you had with your husband in the very beginning:
1. Suspend his sentence temporarily
Whether he moved out or found someone else or both, that was an incredibly painful betrayal. It was the worst!
I would never diminish how hurtful that is. But he didn’t do it to hurt you. He did it because something was missing in your marriage. You’ve felt it too but didn’t know what to do about it. He didn’t either.
He was vulnerable because your marriage lacked oxygen. It doesn’t make it right, it doesn’t make it okay. It just makes him human.
If you can set aside his crime for the moment and stay focused on the worthy goal of saving your marriage, you’ll give yourself a huge advantage.
If you’re having a visceral reaction to this idea right now, it’s not the end of the story. It’s only the beginning, and the story will get much, much better.
2. Get happy
While it may seem impossible when you’re in the most heartbreaking pain of your life, it’s imperative to make yourself ridiculously happy right away.
Do whatever you have to do to make yourself laugh, feel inspired, delighted, self-expressed, alive, and loved by family and friends.
Yes, you’re in shock and grief. It sucks! It feels like your life is on fire, but you can reclaim it by deciding to have some pleasurable moments every day.
I can’t stress this one enough. It’s an indispensable step to reclaiming what’s rightfully yours: a gratifying life with a monogamous, playful, passionate marriage.
You may one day look back and think of that Dickens book that starts, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
It’s already the worst of times. What can you do today to make it the best of times?
3. Keep it short
You probably have lots to say to him, but consider keeping it as short and as sweet as you can.
The longer the conversation, the more likely you’re going down the wrong road.
It may feel strange to keep those critical thoughts to yourself when he seems so richly deserving of hearing about the pain he’s caused you. It may seem only fair to tell him how you’re feeling.
Making the choice to be reserved and dignified in your talks with him will pave the way for a brighter future than complaining–no matter how justified–ever could.
4. Listen big
Instead of telling him how hurt and upset you are, consider being on the quiet side and giving him the space to talk by providing emotional safety—no anger, judgment or tears.
For a whole evening (or at least one hour), just say “I hear you” or “uh-huh,” and nothing else.
One woman did this at her marriage counseling sessions, and her husband said, “I keep waiting for you to interrupt me but you’re not!” She just smiled. It wasn’t long before he moved back home.
5. Clean up your side of the street
You have been wronged, and he’s the one who’s behaving badly. But there’s enormous power in inspecting your side of the street for messes you regret and want to clean up.
Look for ways you were critical or controlling. Say, “I apologize for being disrespectful when I…”
Watch your dignity return.
6. Get pleasable
If your husband tries to make you happy in any way, big or small (and in my experience, he will), do your best to receive the gesture and convey your pleasure at his efforts.
You deserve those efforts, and he’ll feel good knowing he was able to please you.
7. Thank him
With so much going wrong, it will feel strange to look for what’s going right. But if you thank him—for continuing to pay the mortgage, for picking up the kids, for asking how you are—you’ll be focusing on the things you want instead of the things you don’t. And what you focus on increases.
8. Skip marriage counseling
I dragged my husband to marriage counseling thinking the counselor would fix him so I could finally be happy. It didn’t work. No couple ever got happier by complaining about each other for an hour a week.
That doesn’t mean you have to navigate this breakdown by yourself. Instead, get a relationship coach who has been in your situation and made her marriage playful and passionate again to guide you.
9. Smile at him
He’s going to expect anger or tears. What if you freaked him out by smiling when he sees you?
You may not feel like he deserves your smile, but what if this were more about you than him anyway? What if you manifested your commitment to having a happy life, regardless of what your husband is doing?
If he asks why you’re so happy, you can acknowledge that his recent decision reminded you that life is short and you decided to pay more attention to your happiness. He won’t think you’re happier without him so much as he will notice how attractive you are when you’re smiling.
10. Stay off the fence
There will be days when you think it’s not worth it or that it’s hopeless and stupid to try to save your marriage. When your husband says he is done, of course you’ll get discouraged, but your vision of being a happy couple is worthwhile and possible.
When you find yourself on the fence about your marriage, find the people in your life who support your vision and let them remind you to jump onto the side of love.
11. Flirt with him
Flirting signals that you feel attractive. You might feel far from that, but here’s a shortcut for getting back there.
Bring your playful self to your interactions with him.
Send a silly text. Do your happy dance. Laugh when he’s funny, and reference the inside jokes you share.
Flirt and you’ll trick yourself into feeling confident instead of insecure. Feeling confident is the same as being confident.
12. Make every meeting a date
If you see him—even if it’s at the divorce attorney’s, the marriage counselor’s, or just to hand off the kids—pretend it’s a date.
Dress up and doll up. Let him open the door and thank him with a sweet smile. Have some fun with it.
13. Seduce him
This is your husband we’re talking about, so even if he’s being intimate with someone else, he’s yours, not hers.
You might be tempted to retaliate by locking him out of the bedroom, but when you’re trying to restore intimacy why not start with physical intimacy? It’s a great springboard.
14. Get Cheerleaders
You probably know plenty of people who will tell you to throw the bum out or figure out where all the assets are in preparation for a divorce.
But every great come-from-behind-and-win-the-game story has cheerleaders. You’ll need yours too. Find the friends, coach or chat group that supports your vision.
I, for one, am cheering for you not only to save your marriage but to make it magical again.
I’m not saying it will be easy, but it will be worth it to feel desired, cherished, and adored by your husband again.