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[thrive_text_block color=”light” headline=”Chapter Summary”]This chapter is all about the future. How long will it take to turn your marriage around? What do you do if you’re facing divorce right now? How do you know when your marriage is truly saved?[/thrive_text_block]
Now that we’re almost finished with the course, it’s time to start looking into the future…
What do you need to know to put everything you’ve learned into practice? This chapter addresses some of the most common questions and problems that men have run into as they actually implement the lessons and strategies taught inside Manly Marriage Revival.
This chapter doesn’t really need too much introduction, so let’s just go ahead and jump right in…
First Things First – How Long Will It Take?
The single most common piece of advice I’ve had to give men Inside the Haven is only two words long:
I know that patience is much easier said than done. Whether you’re facing separation, infidelity, or even divorce, being patient is a very difficult task. Inevitably, when I tell a guy to be patient, the natural follow-up question is, “How long does this take?”
On Average, It Takes At Least 6 Months to Turn Things Around
Obviously, every marriage is different. Every relationship is different. Every wife is different.
That being said, I’ve seen a common trend emerge among the ‘success stories’ I’ve received from men Inside the Haven:
On average, it takes 6 months to get your marriage back onto solid ground from the moment you start working on husbandly leadership to the moment that your wife is no longer actively wanting to leave.
Hopefully it doesn’t need to be said that this is a massively over-simplified estimate. Sometimes it’ll take longer; sometimes it’ll take less time.
One of the most inspiring success stories I’ve ever received was from a guy named Kurt (who I mentioned earlier). From the moment Kurt took responsibility for his marriage, forgave his wife for her affair (which she was still having), and actively took on the role of husbandly leader, it took over a year to turn things around. But, today his wife is more in love with him than ever. She loves him as her leader, even though she’s an A-type woman who originally NEVER would’ve admitted to wanting a leader for a husband.
On the other hand, the shortest timespan for a success story that I’ve ever received was from a guy who turned his marriage around in just 8 weeks or so. And again, that’s from the time he started working on husbandly leadership to the time that his wife had stopped wanting “space” and was involved in the marriage again.
The takeaway here is:
Plan on it taking at least 6 months from now for you to turn your marriage around. It could take longer, it could be shorter, but plan on at least 6 months.
No matter how long it takes, it will be worth it!
But Jacob, My Wife Wants Divorce NOW!
If your wife is already talking about divorce, then six months sounds like a very long time. You’re probably thinking, “It would be a miracle if I’m even still married in six months! Much less back on solid ground with my wife.”
If this is where you’re at right now, then remember this:
Rebuilding attraction and reversing a desire for divorce is a slow process with many ups and downs. It takes time, patience and consistency.
This means that if divorce is truly imminent in your marriage, your goal is NOT to completely save your marriage or change her mind right this instant.
Instead, your goal is to make immediate changes in your own behavior and mindset to start living up to your potential as a leader.
There’s no way you can convince your wife to stay in the marriage with words, but if you start working on yourself and becoming a better husband for your wife, then the changes you’re making will likely intrigue her. Your goal is to catch her attention JUST ENOUGH to slow down the divorce and make her not 100% dead-set on ending the marriage. Then, over time, you can consistently start to rebuild your relationship through attraction, affection, leadership, forgiveness, etc.
Does that make sense?
Ultimately, this is all about focusing on what you can control, which is what we’ve been saying for several chapters now.
Is there any way at all for you to convince your wife to change her mind about the divorce? Is there anything at all you can say to get her to give the marriage another chance?
Honestly, probably not.
But, what you can do is SHOW her that you haven’t given up on the marriage. Instead of worrying about getting your wife back, worry about getting yourSELF back. Then, trust that once you get control of yourself and begin progressing as a leader, she’ll notice it and like it.
Remember, even if she wants to move forward with the divorce right now, divorce is a slow process. A fast divorce would still take at least a couple months. Most divorces take 6 or 9 months to complete. My own parents’ divorce was very amicable, they both had good, understanding attorneys, and they pretty much both agreed on everything… But it STILL took nearly a year to finalize.
So, even if she’s ready to start the paperwork, you’ve still got some time. In fact, I’ve even had one guy Inside the Haven who got divorced, but then a few months later ended up finally getting his wife back and they got remarried. And then there’s Brad’s story earlier who started dating his wife again even after they got divorced. This is why I truly believe it’s NEVER too late to save a marriage.
Just remember, focus on yourself, and actions speak louder than words.
The Power & Pain of Patience
Knowing that you should be patient and actually being patient are two very different things, as I’m sure you will learn very soon.
Patience is another one of those things that sounds really simple on the surface – after all, it’s just being able to wait, right? – but the more you actually try to do it, the more you realize how deep patience really goes.
Patience will be painful.
Waiting is painful. It takes a lot of effort.
There will be many times where you feel like you should be doing something more to fix your marriage, but you won’t be able to. And that’s not even the hardest part of being patient.
The hardest part of patience comes when you think you’re starting to see progress. Your wife might say something nice about you. Or maybe she will have an affectionate moment with you. I cannot tell you how many distressed emails I’ve gotten from men who’ve had a positive interaction with their wife, but then a week or a day or even an hour later, she goes right back to being cold and distant.
I’m going to tell you this right now, even though I know that you will have to experience it for yourself for it to really sink in:
There will be ups and downs as you move forward in your marriage.
There will be days where your wife seems optimistic about your relationship. There’ll be days where she wants to spend time with you, or where she seems regretful about her decision to separate, or where she seems guilty about her affair. And you will get your hopes up.
And then, not long after that, she will go right back to how she was. Cold, distant, perhaps even hateful.
When this happens, don’t lose hope! Don’t give up. Just remember to keep focusing on what you can control, and keep being patient.
Celebrate the small victories, yes, but at the same time don’t invest yourself in them.
1. Be Patient With Your Own Mistakes
I have never heard a success story in which a man didn’t make at least a couple mistakes somewhere along the road.
Part of being patient is also being able to be patient with yourself.
Remember, the goal of husbandly leadership is NOT to become a perfect husband.
Remember all the way back to the Marriage Scale you created for yourself back in Chapter 7? Your goal wasn’t to score a perfect 10/10 every day on your Marriage Scale. Your goal is only to get closer to 10 than to 0.
This speaks to an important concept about marriage in general. A healthy marriage is not perfect. A good husband isn’t perfect. But! A good husband STRIVES for perfection, even though he’ll never reach it.
In other words, husbandly leadership is all about trajectory. It’s about creating an overall direction towards being a perfect husband and putting in the effort to become that husband, even though you’ll never reach it.
I’m not a perfect husband. I make mistakes. I do stupid stuff. Sometimes my wife gets mad at me.
My wife knows that I care about her, and I care about being a good husband. My trajectory is going in the right direction, and so our marriage thrives.
So, don’t freak out when you make a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. Instead, recognize that what’s done is done, and now your goal is to learn from it and move forward. It’s okay to make mistakes, just as long as you are moving in the overall direction of husbandly leadership.
2. Anticipate Depression & Hopelessness
No matter how optimistic you feel right now, I guarantee you there will be days where you feel like giving up. There’ll be days where you wonder whether or not you’re making a difference in your marriage. There will be days where you question whether or not this whole leadership thing even works, or whether it’s worth all the effort.
It is okay to have days like this. In fact, it’s expected. This is another part of being patient.
Remember when I said there will be ups and downs on your journey towards a happy marriage?
Well, those “downs” don’t just come from your wife… Many times, they come from you and your own attitude.
It’s okay to get depressed and it’s okay to have bad days. It’s okay to have days where you just can’t get yourself to feel confident. Just get through it, take it one step at a time, and focus on what you can control.
In the end, you are going to be happy no matter what, because you are a man and a leader, and you know what is yours to control.
3. Be Patient With Your Wife’s Inaction
Finally, perhaps most obviously, you need to be patient with your wife.
I’ve had many men email me in a similar situation. They’ve gotten through the worst part of their marriage… She is no longer actively pushing you away, she’s not actively engaged in the affair, and she’s not constantly talking about separation… But at the same time she is making literally ZERO effort to repair the marriage.
If your wife is not making any effort to save the marriage, keep being patient. Keep being the sole driving force behind your marriage. It will pay off eventually. We’ll talk a bit more about why her progress can come so slowly later in this chapter.
Coping With Jealousy
Jealousy is insidious… Many times it will show its face in sneaky ways. You may be dealing with jealousy and not even know it until you reflect on your emotions and get to the root of them.
Remember Brad’s story from the affair chapter?
Well, this exact scenario presented itself in his marriage. Here’s how jealousy caught him by surprise:
My wife came home last night after not responding to my text for 2 hours. I did not handle it well. I got angry and wanted to see her cell phone, but she had no clue why… She had simply forgotten to respond because she couldn’t answer the text immediately when she saw it. She had planned to text me back a few minutes after seeing the text, but just forgot about it.
Funny thing is that I realized this was an emotion I didn’t think I was dealing with because I could not imagine it hitting me in that way… I was dealing with jealousy!
I thought jealousy was something that wouldn’t apply to me because I am past the affair and rarely even think about. I have completely forgiven my wife, and I am not jealous of the other man. But, I had become jealous of time and attention. I had become jealous of her constantly texting other people while we are together and not responding to my texts in the same way.
I was floored by my own realization.
After realizing what was happening, we were able to talk and she has finally started really communicating. I could actually see the worry starting to leave her body. The past week has gone very well and I can see her caring more and more each day. For the first time her commitment is coming through in a way I can see, giving me real hope for the first time rather than me having to force optimism.
I cannot remember if you mention this anywhere inside MMR or not (it’s possible I just glanced over it), but I think it’s very important to understand that jealousy is not just of another person. Being jealous of attention was tearing me down until I could finally see what was happening. I had never even considered that being jealous could form such a destructive road block, and I’m glad I realized what it was.
So, what do you do if you find yourself struggling with jealousy?
We’ll talk a bit more about this in Appendix B when we discuss what to do if your wife is constantly texting or messaging another man, but for now, here are a few tips to help you cope with jealousy:
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As a husband, it’s GOOD to be jealous of your wife. Think about it… If you didn’t want to be the center of your wife’s love and attention, something would be wrong. So, the fact that you feel jealous is a good thing, but you CANNOT let it control your behavior. Until your wife is at a point where she actually cares about making your life better, you must keep control of your jealousy. Which brings us to our next point…
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Can you control what your wife does with her time? No. Can you control who she talks to or how she talks to them? No.
Can you control how you respond to her actions? Yes. Can you control how you let your jealousy show itself to your wife? Yes. So focus on the things you CAN control and do your best to ignore the things you can’t.
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… But only if your wife has already started making progress back to the marriage.
In Brad’s case above, his wife had already stopped her affair. She was on her way back to the marriage. Brad did exactly what he should have done – he didn’t let jealousy fester under the surface; he told her about it and fixed the problem head-on. If your wife is still actively involved in an affair, or she otherwise isn’t ready to care about your jealousy, then find other ways to express your jealousy.
Here are a couple suggestions for coping with jealousy:
- Get a punching bag. Or go to your gym. Just let out all your jealousy onto that punching bag. Exercise is probably the best way to get negative emotions under control.
- Write it down. As I mentioned in an earlier chapter, when my wife and I were dating, there were times when I got jealous of her time. My way of coping was to write her a letter just to get everything out of my system. Afterwards, I had a clear head and was able to get rid of that gut-wrenching heat that characterizes the jealousy emotion.
Jealousy is very hard emotion to deal with, especially when you’re powerless to stop your wife from doing the thing that makes you jealous. But, how hard it is doesn’t matter; all that matters is that you DO deal with it and keep it under control.
Trust Your Gut & Breaking the Rules
Over the past few chapters, you’ve learned a number of different rules and recommendations for dealing with the different problems you’re facing in your marriage…
As of right now, I am officially giving you permission to break all of them.
Manly Marriage Revival is not meant to be a rulebook. Instead, the whole purpose of this whole entire course is to give you a framework for husbandly leadership.
My deepest desire for every man reading this is not that you would follow every single guideline in this course. Husbandly leadership is not defined by a set of rules. Instead, husbandly leadership is defined by the state of your heart.
My deepest desire for you in reading this is that you will learn what husbandly leadership looks like, then adapt it to your marriage in your own unique way. In other words, as you learn what you can and can’t control, I want you to learn to be independent and trust your gut!
Remember what we talked about all the way back in Chapter 2? The reason that husbandly leadership is REQUIRED for a marriage to work is because leadership is how your wife knows you love her. The whole purpose of leadership is to love your wife!
So, when is it okay to break the rules outlined in MMR?
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How do you know when it’s okay to break one of the rules outlined in this course? For example, when is it okay to DO one of the Don’ts that we covered in Chapter 16?
When making any decision, there are 3 criteria to keep in mind. If you can check off each of these three criteria, then you should be good to go on whatever it is you want to do:
1. No Ulterior Motives
We talked a bit about this back in Chapter 16 when I gave you the example of Nathan wanting to text his wife, “Have a good day,” every day before work.
Basically, whatever you do, make sure you do it out of a genuine desire to make your wife’s life better; NOT out of a desire to control her or convince her of your worth.
2. No Impulsive Decisions
Remember how we said there will be ups and downs during this part of your marriage? Especially when you find yourself in one of those “down” periods, you need to be very careful to avoid impulse decisions.
Decisions that you make when you’re feeling depressed, frustrated or impatient cannot be trusted. As a general rule of thumb, if you want to institute a new habit, behavior or strategy in your marriage, give it at least 24 hours before you take action on it.
Now, sometimes you’ll have an impulse to do something that you really believe is the right call, but the circumstances won’t allow you to take 24 hours to evaluate it. In those moments, you have to trust your gut.
3. Is It Worth It? (ie. Risk vs. Reward)
Finally, before you do whatever it is you want to do (such as texting something to your wife, or asking her a potentially sensitive question), ask yourself, “Is this worth it?”
In other words, evaluate the pros and cons…
- What will you gain by doing this thing that you want to do? In what way will it help your marriage, your family or your wife?
- What could go wrong if you do this thing that you want to do? What are the potential negative reactions you may get from your wife?
Again, I’m not saying that you can’t ever take a risk in your marriage. You can. In fact, sometimes taking a big risk is worth it, provided that the potential reward is even bigger.
But! Even if you’re taking a big risk in doing something, you need to make sure you know those risks ahead of time so that you can deal with them if they end up happening.
To recap here, every marriage is different. Your wife needs different things than someone else’s wife. Your separation will be repaired in a different way at a different pace than someone else’s.
As you move forward, allow yourself to trust your gut. Trust yourself. Trust your ability to evaluate the problems and obstacles you’ll face in your marriage and to make the right decision to overcome them. Identify your own unique strengths and weaknesses, and learn to use your strengths while controlling your weaknesses.
Use the framework of husbandly leadership, but don’t be a slave to the individual rules.
Good Signs for Your Marriage
We talked a lot about measuring progress back in Chapter 7, so here we’re going to talk a bit more about specific things you can look for as you make changes to yourself and your marriage. These are things that, if you see them, signal that your marriage is improving and that progress is being made.
Measuring progress is actually very difficult in a broken marriage. The reason is pretty simple…
Your Wife Needs to Make MASSIVE Internal Changes (that you won’t see)
Right now, if your wife wants a separation or if she’s having an affair, then there are MASSIVE internal changes that need to happen before she will be ready to come back to the marriage. Massive. She has a very long way to go until she’ll be ready to see herself with you or feel attracted to you.
So, this means that if you see ANY external changes at all – no matter how small or how short-lived – then you are making progress! Which brings us to the next point…
Celebrate the Little Moments
I know we just got done talking about how important it is to be patient, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate these small little victories… The purpose of being patient is so that you’re not disappointed when these little victories don’t turn out to be big ones. But again, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate them.
For example, if your wife has a brief moment of affection, that’s awesome!
If she has a brief moment where she tells you she’s noticed the changes you’re making, that’s awesome!
Hold onto those little moments and value them, and recognize them as a good sign for your marriage.
But, at the same time, when you see these small signs that your wife is making progress, don’t push too hard. Remember that any external change that you notice is actually an indication of MASSIVE internal changes. For you to see anything at all on the outside means that very big things have already happened on the inside.
Instead, if you get one of these small victories, just keep doing what you’re doing; don’t ramp up the pressure or suddenly change your expectations. Just keep doing your thing – whatever you were doing before she had her good moment – and trust that over time you’ll get more and more of those moments.
“Best Friends” is a Good Thing
If your wife ever says something along the lines of, “You’re my best friend, but I’m just not in love with you,” or, “I love the person you are, but the romance isn’t there,” or even something like, “You’re a good husband and a good father, but I just don’t ‘feel it’…” These are all good things for you.
I’ve had a number of men send me distressed emails because their wife is ‘only’ friends with them, when really, this is a good sign!
Because being friends with your wife means that she is willing to spend time with you. And if she’s willing to spend time with you, then you have more opportunities to demonstrate your leadership and rebuild attraction. And getting more opportunities to rebuild attraction makes it a lot more likely that you actually WILL rebuild attraction!
So, if your wife tells you that you’re her best friend, but that she’s not ‘in love’ with you, don’t be sad. Take that as a good thing!
Trust me; there are lots of men reading this who would give anything to have a friendship with their wife. Friendship is a sign of progress. It can serve as a gateway to bigger and better things. And, friendship is a vital part for a happy marriage anyways, so keeping that friendship alive and thriving is a good thing.
Projects Around the House are a VERY Good Sign
Perhaps the best sign of all that your marriage is turning around – and one that is surprisingly common in many of the success stories I’ve heard – is when your wife wants to start a new project around the house.
Whether it’s picking out a new bed frame, putting up new curtains, painting a room, planting a garden, or even just reorganizing the living room, these projects are a great opportunity for you to get involved with your wife and show her your leadership.
Here’s a perfect example of this from Kurt’s story – the guy I told you about earlier whose wife took a full year to come back. This moment is when he knew that he had his wife back:
Then it happened…
She wanted a new bed and some new items for the house. I engaged deliberately in every aspect of this situation. I worked with her on what size, style, color, etc. bed we should buy. Should we get an air type mattress or a memory foam? As in all of my other interactions, I engaged with her on every piece, including where to buy and how much to budget.
The night we received the bedframe, I was putting it together when she decided to join me by handing me fasteners and the screw gun or wrenches, depending on what I needed. As I was finishing up, down on all fours, wrenching one of the last nuts, she climbed on my back like my kids used to do, wrapped her arms around my neck and asked me how much longer until I was finished… Whatever you are imagining, it was better than that!
Yeah, I was very excited for Kurt when I read this email. But his story isn’t the only one that includes a house project…
Here’s another example of this same milestone being reached in another rebuilt marriage. This is from another guy who read MMR – his wife had an affair, and a house project was when he knew that she was finally ready to come back:
The fact of the matter is she has been so consumed by guilt she said she felt like she did not have the right to speak. After reading your section on communication, I resolved to help her communicate and start to face what was in front of her. The caveat to this is I had to wait until I felt she was ready.
She has been in a good mood at home for over a month and has actually been sleeping well for the first time in months, if not years. Her actions show that she wants to be there in many ways. We finally painted walls at home, hung curtains and put up family pictures all over the house.
She initiated it in the beginning by showing me curtains she liked. I took the lead after that and continued with projects I knew she wanted. If she really wanted out, she would not invest in plans like this. That is how I knew she was ready to move forward.
And this story really hits the nail on the head…
If your wife wanted out, she wouldn’t care about projects around the house. If she’s willing to invest her time in a project around the house, this means that she sees herself being at home in the future.
Another important element in both of these men’s stories is that once their wife demonstrated a desire to start a project, they took the lead and actively engaged with her to get the project finished.
This second story also brings us to another important point to remember as you move forward in your marriage…
Help Your Wife Rebuild the Marriage
That last example above illustrated an important point about what your wife is going through right now. The fact is, you’re here reading through all this stuff and learning what a healthy marriage looks like. You’re learning about communication, forgiveness, love, affection…
And that’s just from this one course.
You’ve probably spent WEEKS, if not longer, learning about marriage and what it takes to make a marriage both fulfilling and enjoyable.
Chances are, your wife hasn’t done any of that.
She doesn’t have anyone teaching her about marriage. She doesn’t have anyone showing her what good communication looks like, or what forgiveness looks like, or what unconditional love is supposed to do.
What’s this mean for you? It means it’s up to you to eventually teach her all the things that you’ve learned.
This isn’t something that you will do right now. Your wife probably doesn’t have any interest in learning about these things right now. It may still be months before she’s ready to learn all the things that you have the share. This is another reason why it’s so important to be able to trust your gut and ‘read’ your marriage.
In the meantime, lead by example. Even if she isn’t ready to learn what a healthy and happy marriage looks like, you can SHOW her what it should feel like with your own example.
- SHOW her what good communication looks like.
- SHOW her what genuine affection feels like.
- SHOW her what unconditional love can endure.
In other words, be the change you want to see in your wife and marriage. Do unto others as you’d have them do to you – that applies to your wife too!
The One Rule to Rule Them All
Actually, there are three. These three rules should become your mantra moving forward. If you could catalogue all the emails that I send, these three sentences would be the three most common things I say to men facing separation, infidelity or divorce.
These are the three rules to rule them all:
- Focus on what you can control.
- Be patient.
- Trust your gut.
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- Plan on it taking at least 6 months to get your wife back in the marriage.
- Facing imminent divorce? Your goal isn’t to save your marriage; it’s to focus on yourself and mastering husbandly leadership enough to pique her interest.
- Be patient with your wife. Even once she stops pushing away, it will take time for her to re-engage in the marriage. You’re carrying this relationship for now.
- Be patient with yourself. The ups and downs won’t just come from your wife; they’ll come from your own emotions and mistakes too.
- You don’t have to be perfect… Husbandly leadership is about overall trajectory, not perfection. Your wife doesn’t want a perfect husband; she wants a husband who tries.
- Trust your gut. It’s okay to break the rules because husbandly leadership is a framework, not a rulebook. That being said, the decisions you make in your marriage should pass these three questions:
- Do I have an ulterior motive?
- Am I making a poor impulsive decision?
- Is the reward worth the risk?
- Celebrate the little things. Any external change you notice, however small, is a sign of massive internal change in your wife. Particularly good signs are:
- Small moments of affection
- An acknowledgement of friendship; she likes who you are
- Projects around the house (very good sign!)
- Help your wife recognize what a healthy marriage looks like. Lead by example until she’s ready to actually talk about it.
- Remember the big three rules:
- Focus on what you can control.
- Be patient.
- Trust your gut.
[thrive_link color=’blue’ link=’https://inside.husbandhelphaven.com/chapter-20-putting-leadership-into-practice-other-closing-thoughts/’ target=’_self’ size=’big’ align=’aligncenter’]Go to Chapter 20. Putting Leadership Into Practice & Other Closing Thoughts[/thrive_link]