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How to Stop a Divorce When You Want to Save Your Marriage

By Leslie Cane

I often write about avoiding a divorce and saving your marriage instead. I often get emails from folks asking for what really is legal advice or strategies meant to thwart, slow, or cease the divorce. I'm talking about things like dodging being served, being late on answering legal documents, or "contesting" the divorce to ensure that the whole ordeal is a drawn out, slow process.

I understand that this strategy is meant to buy time in the hopes that your spouse changes their mind. However, I think that there is a far better way to stop the divorce from actually taking place - a way that focuses on the positive rather than the negative. Because what so many people don't understand about these tactics is that they paint you in a negative light and your spouse begins to only see you as someone who is blocking him from getting what he/she wants - someone who is ensuring that he has to deal with negative issues longer than he would like to. And with each negative experience, he is going to feel more distant from you. So, knowing this, how likely do you think it actually is that he will change his mind?

Know That The Incorrect Way That Most People Deal With A Divorce Kills Any Positive Feelings That May Remain

I firmly believe that, at least in the beginning, many people have doubts that linger about whether the divorce is the right call. This is even true for the person who wanted the divorce. But, the process of ending a marriage is often so bitter and dividing that it's so common for the two parties to really dislike one another before the marriage is finally over. The process pits you against your spouse and ensures that each party feels as though he or she has lost something to the other.

It really doesn't have to be this way and if you want to save your marriage, you have to ensure that you don't let things go in this direction. Make it very clear to your spouse (and to your lawyer, if you have one) that although you'd like to save the marriage, you don't know what the future holds, but are going to control what you can. To that end, you don't want to participate in any behaviors or actions that will drive a wedge between you two. Make it very clear that, at the end of the day you want to be proud of how you are handling things and you want to part on good terms--no matter how things may end.

Many people understand the reasoning behind this tactic but are afraid that it's "giving up." It's not. I need to make one thing clear. To save your marriage (and to subsequently prevent a divorce), the first thing that you need to happen is for your spouse to see you positively. Eventually, you need for him to begin to doubt that the marriage is broken and to doubt that you couldn't make him happy or give him what he wants. The only way that these things are going to happen is for him to repeatedly see you in a positive way. This cannot happen if you are fighting or are debating with him all of the time.

Understanding And Giving Him What He Really Wants

Often when I ask people why their spouse is pushing for a divorce, I'll get very vague answers like "he says he fell out of love with me," or "there was just too much stress and distance between us," or "we just fought all the time." These answers really do nothing to help you pinpoint why your marriage is ending (and how you can save it), so you'll need to be more specific than this. Here's a blatant hint. Most divorces can be traced back to one thing; the end of the intimacy between you. I'm not just talking about sex. I'm talking about the close bond that you once used to share - when you could probably complete each other's sentences and when your spouse's happiness and well-being mattered a great deal to you.

Because once this intimacy begins to wane, the little things that previously didn't matter so much now become huge issues. And spouses begin to lose their empathy and affection toward one another. Or worse, people begin to think of themselves as an individual rather than as part of a pair. With this breakdown the core problems become amplified and seemingly insurmountable. Even to begin to rescue the marriage, you must get back to this place. And the first stop on that journey is determining what your spouse really wants, but thinks that he can no longer get (thus the divorce.)

You'll have to be very honest with yourself to determine this, but I can tell you that many husbands (and sometimes wives too) tell me that the divorce often stems from feeling disconnected. Often, they feel as though they are at the bottom of the to-do list, like you don't really hear them anymore, or that you don't value or understand them. So, figuring out what they really want, and then providing it (always in a positive way), is going to a go a long way toward convincing them that they've made a mistake, that all is not lost, and that the marriage is worth the effort to save it.

Remembering What's Attractive And What's Not

Usually, people understand the concept of restoring positive feelings or interactions, but they go about this in an almost desperate way which only makes them appear more unattractive to their spouse. Think long and hard about the qualities your spouse first fell in love with and make sure that you are showing them these things.

It's highly unlikely that way back then, you were combative, needy, demanding, or appeared desperate in any way. I'd be willing to bet that you were confident, busy, patient, understanding, laid back, and light hearted. These are the things that you want on display right now. This transformation almost always makes the divorcing spouse pause and re-evaluate. Often, they'll initiate contact because they are curious about why things changed. Take this slowly and don't push too quickly. Remember the person you want on display (your best self) and be very careful not to revert back to or show them the person whom they wanted to escape.

When my husband initiated a divorce, I did not understand these principles and I went about saving the marriage in the completely wrong way. I stooped to negative behavior that only drove my husband further away. Thankfully, I soon realized my mistake and decided to approach things from another angle and this eventually worked. You can read my very personal story on my blog at

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I often write about avoiding a divorce and saving your marriage instead. I often get emails from folks asking for what really is legal advice or strategies meant to thwart, slow, or cease the divorce. I'm talking about things like dodging being served, being late on answering legal.


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