From Separated To Reconciled In 7 Steps
By: Stephen Waldo
Hello! Welcome to Husband Help Haven – the place for men trying to save their marriage.
If your wife wants out of the marriage, and you want to get her back, this is the right place to be.
I encourage you to grab your beverage of choice and try to read through this guide in one sitting. Don't skim it - this will be 15 minutes of reading you won't regret.
By the time you’re done reading, you will have a much better understanding of what needs to happen to get you from where you are now (marriage crisis) to where you want to be (reconciliation).
If you do happen to miss anything, don't worry... This guide lays the foundation for a series of powerful lessons based on my experience helping thousands of men get through separation. You’ll get these lessons delivered straight to your inbox over the next few weeks.
Let me start by asking you a simple question…
Which car takes longer to stop?
Two identical cars are driving down the road…
- Car A is going 10 miles per hour
- Car B is going 60 miles per hour
If both cars slam the brakes at the same time, which car takes longer to stop?
Pretty obvious, right?
Car B is going faster, which means it has more momentum, so it takes longer to stop.
Just like a car, your marriage has momentum
Once it starts moving in a certain direction – whether that’s a good direction or bad direction – it’s much easier for it to keep going in that direction.
Right now, for most of you reading this, your wife is driving 60 miles per hour towards divorce…
It feels like every day, every week, she digs her heels in even more. She becomes ever more certain that divorce is the only path forward.
If you’re facing divorce or separation, stopping the car isn’t enough.
We need to turn that thing around, and start driving back towards a happy marriage!
What steps needs to happen for the “car” (aka. your marriage) to turn around?
Just think about it - if you’re driving on the highway and you want to turn around and go the other direction, three things need to happen:
- The car needs to stop going the wrong way (divorce)
- The car needs to turn around
- The car needs to start going the right way (marriage)
Your relationship with your wife has a lot of momentum in the wrong direction, and you need to slow it down. Then, once it’s stopped moving in the WRONG direction, you need to find a way to get it moving in the RIGHT one.
What I'll describe in the rest of this guide is exactly what those steps most often look like during separation.
But first, you might be wondering, where did these steps even come from?
If that's you, let me tell you a little more about me...
Where did these steps come from?
I'm not a marriage counselor.
I'm also not a pastor or psychologist. In fact, I have zero university training in any of this stuff.
So why should you listen to anything I say about getting your wife back?
What I lack in traditional education I’ve gained in experience. You can read my full story here, but the TL;DR is that since starting Husband Help Haven back in 2011, I've corresponded with, coached, or advised literally thousands of men (currently around ~2,900) going through separation.
These are men with whom I’ve personally spoken, exchanged emails or met to hear about their separation and help them navigate through it however I can.
The men I've helped have been HHH readers, students, clients, neighbors, friends and friends-of-friends, men in my church, and more. Some of these men I helped just once or twice; some I helped and followed along with for years.
All that to say…
- I've seen inside a lot of separations.
- I’ve seen what works.
- I've also seen what doesn't work.
Separation is hard even when you know the right things to do. When you don’t, it can feel downright impossible.
As a subscriber inside Husband Help Haven, my goal is to help you skip the hard part and get straight to the most important lessons and concepts that you’d otherwise have to learn through trial and error.
Yes, every person, every marriage, and thus every separation is different... However, there do tend to be common themes. Common behaviors. Common emotional patterns.
The path you’ll learn in this guide takes you from "separated and things are getting worse" to "working on it and things are getting better".
And really, as you'll see, it just makes logical sense.
There are certain things that must happen between where your relationship is at now and where it needs to be in order to get back together.
So, with all of that out of the way, let’s start looking at the 7 steps that will take you from separated to reconciled with your wife.
With that out of the way, let's get into the actual steps:
You stop making things worse
When most men first arrive at Husband Help Haven, they are doing all the wrong things.
Have you done any of these things since your wife told you she wanted out of the marriage?
- Repeatedly begged for a second chance
- Tried to guilt trip her about what she's doing to the family
- Repeatedly argued with her about why the separation is wrong
- Yelled at her
- Become overly emotional
- Reached out to her friends or family to try and get them to advocate for you
- Insisted on marriage counseling
These are a handful of the most common mistakes I see men make.
Each of the behaviors above have one thing in common...
Everything on that list^ is rooted in desperation and fear.
For example, even though there's nothing morally wrong with begging your wife to stay in the marriage, your wife knows that you're trying to manipulate her into changing her mind… Especially when you beg her over and over and over again.
She knows that when you guilt trip her or beg her to stay, you're desperately trying to control her and make her do something she's already decided she doesn't want to do - work on the marriage.
Your fear will never be the thing that keeps her in the marriage.
I’m not blaming you for this. I’m not here to make you feel like you’re doing a bad job. I’m just here to help you understand your way forward, and it starts by putting a stop to bad decisions.
Don't worry - the next email you get from me will be all about putting a stop to the most common mistakes men make.
Our goal right now is simply to learn the overarching steps that need to happen between where you're at now and where you need to be for your wife to come back to the marriage.
Her determination to get out fades
Step 2 is a natural result of step 1.
Just think about it...
Which can you push harder against: a brick wall, or air?
Obviously, you can generate more force when you're pushing against a brick wall.
You can push much harder when you have something to push against.
Similarly, when you stop doing things that constantly remind your wife that she wants out of the marriage, she doesn't feel the need to push quite so hard to leave. Therefore, things tend to calm down a bit.
- If you're still living at home, this might mean things start to feel a little closer to normal.
- You and your wife aren't at each other's throats
- The chaotic, emotionally-driven conversations about the end of the marriage become less frequent
- If you’re already living separately, this looks like overall friendlier interactions and less fighting, whether about kids or money or the relationship or something else.
As a general rule, the more that your wife feels accepted and understood, the less likely she is to aggressively push for out-of-house separation or divorce.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but the more comfortable you can make your wife in this separation, the less need she will feel to press forward with divorce.
The less you try to convince her to stay, the less she feels the need to prove to you she really wants out.
Of course, there is a delicate balance here. Because there may come a point where she does need to feel some of the consequences that will come with divorce, but for most of you, that time is not right now.
Important to note, just because things slow down does not necessarily mean your wife has started changing her mind about the separation. Assume that even if you're hearing it less, she still fully wants to leave the marriage. She just feels less need to remind you.
When it comes up, she probably still seems every bit as dead-set on leaving as she did before step 1. The difference is that it's not as constant. And because you're not constantly facing rejection, you are able to start doing step 3.
You start making things better
As things calm down just a little bit and the roller coaster starts to flatten out, you can start to look around and take some responsibility for the state of the relationship.
There are a variety of motives that often lie behind a woman's desire to separate. We will talk more in-depth about those motives in an email you'll receive later.
The important thing to note in this step is that no matter why your wife wants to leave, your job is to take an honest look at the marriage and examine the failures that you are responsible for.
Even if it seems irrational or if you feel like her decision to leave is unfair, you can still be honest with yourself and acknowledge that a two-person relationship very rarely fails because of one partner alone.
Yes, that goes both ways – your wife surely has responsibility in this too. But, for now we're looking in the mirror…
Where have you failed as a husband?
Answer the question, then make a decision - "I'm going to do better".
Figure out exactly what you need to do to live up to the man you want to be as a husband, even if your wife isn't yet ready to see those changes
You'll be amazed at how you feel once you start implementing some changes in yourself. Success breeds success, and seeing small positive changes in yourself - even if your wife doesn’t see them yet - will encourage you to keep going even in the face of rejection.
Plus, these small changes often result in some little positive moments with your wife. It's almost like by acting differently or more confidently, you're piquing her curiosity – which is exactly what we want!
She tests your changes & You stay consistent
It’s one thing for your wife to see a positive change in your behavior.
It’s another thing entirely for her to believe that it’s a permanent, lasting change that will stay even after she comes back.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that as soon as your wife starts to notice the work you're doing on yourself, she's going to challenge it.
This is key:
When a wife wants divorce, it’s because she does NOT believe you can truly change.
By the time she wants divorce, she’s already seen again and again and again that you won’t change for her. Divorce is her last resort in her own pursuit of happiness. It was not a decision made lightly.
Many men reach out to me asking what to do since their wife doesn’t believe the changes they’re making, as if that’s something unique. This is ALWAYS how it starts!
To get past this point, two things need to happen at the same time.
Step 4A. She tests your changes
Let me say this clearly…
A separated wife will NEVER believe her husband's changes when she first sees them.
Her first instinct is to NOT believe that you've really changed anything. She will tell herself that you're just doing it to get her back, or too little too late, or some other reason why what she's seeing isn't actually true to what's happening behind the scenes.
Here are some of the ways she will test your changes:
- Pick a fight
- Discourage you
- Weaponize the divorce
- Repeatedly tell you she doesn't believe your changes, they’re fake
- Tell you it’s too little, too late
… All to try and break you and make you show your "true" colors.
Remember, you’re the only one interested in changing the momentum of the marriage… Your wife feels she’s already made up her mind about divorce, therefore she has no desire to see the good things that you're doing.
Getting her un-entrenched from that position is a challenge. It’s not impossible, but it is very difficult and it takes TIME.
Chances are, in some way you've already trained her to be skeptical. If you've made any of the mistakes we talked about in step 1, then guess what? You have PROVEN to your wife that you are willing to manipulate her to get her to change her mind.
Step 4B. You stay consistent
What do you do in response to her testing?
Keep your changes in place!
Stay the course and be patient.
She will believe the truth and goodness of what you're doing eventually, but it will take some time. Don’t put too much weight in the things your wife is saying at this point… If you know what you need to do, do it.
And whatever happens, don’t give in. Don’t let her prove herself right.
Recognize that the burden of the marriage is on your shoulders right now, and make a conscious decision to bear that burden happily for the time being.
Again, try to keep things moving slowly, keep improving yourself, keep trying to make yourself into the man you know your wife wants to be with.
Try getting a life of your own… Go out and be social. Do whatever you need to do to weather this first phase, which is always extremely difficult, and to enable your wife to cool off and stop actively pushing away.
Again, testing is one of the biggest struggles men face during separation. We WILL be talking more about this in future lessons.
She believes that ONE good thing is real
You’ve turned yourself around. You’ve made changes in yourself. You’ve proven time and time again that no matter how discouraged you feel, those changes aren’t going away.
Finally, one day, your wife believes that you’ve changed.
The moment she asks herself, “Could this man actually change for me?” is when the door back to your marriage has officially opened.
- Maybe it's after months of stepping up as a father, she finally watches you with the kids and something clicks.
- Maybe it's after you tell her that you're ready to accept her need to divorce, and that you won't stop her anymore.
- Maybe it's when you repeatedly make sacrifices to help her, even though you're living separately.
- Maybe it’s when you keep loving her, even when she’s made herself near-impossible to love.
To be clear, sometimes you'll notice this moment, sometimes it will happen completely behind the scenes.
Step 5 may need to happen multiple times, depending on what else is going on in her life and what things were like in the marriage. For example, getting to this step looks a lot different when your wife is having an affair compared to when she’s leaving because of resentment.
I want you to notice something here...
This is Step 5 of the process. We are more than halfway through the journey you must go through to save your marriage. And yet this is the first real proof that change is happening in the relationship.
You can get all the way through Steps 1, 2, 3, and 4 without feeling like anything much has changed in the relationship. You might not even realize you’ve even completed them.
But Step 5 is usually different.
Even if you don't notice it directly, when you hit Step 5, you can almost always feel it. Something changes in the dynamic between you and your wife, in a good way.
The reason this is important to know is to highlight just how big a win this step really is.
Get her to believe *one* good thing is real… It sounds simple, sounds easy, but in practice it requires massive movement in the momentum of the relationship.
Through her testing, she will do everything she can to take away your belief that the marriage can be saved.
When you persevere in showing your wife the husband you WANT to be instead of the husband she EXPECTS to see, she will have no choice but to question her perception. Eventually there comes a moment where she just can't help but be impressed.
THAT is when we’ve paved the way to Step 6…
She lets herself second-guess leaving
Remember the car analogy?
If your wife was driving 60mph away from the marriage, this step would be akin to pulling off at the next exit so that she can check her GPS.
This does NOT mean that she's starting to turn around yet, but it does mean that she's starting to re-evaluate her destination.
There are often two sides of this re-evaluation:
- She realizes that life outside the marriage isn’t as good as she thought it would be.
- Now that she believes your changes (Step 5), she allows herself to start liking them more and more.
Your wife starts to see that the grass ain't greener on the other side of the fence, and that it's actually quite a bit greener than she thought on the side she wants to leave behind.
Maybe she’s had time to experience life alone. Maybe she’s experienced a bit of life without you by her side. She’s glimpsed what life might be like after the marriage, and she found it lacking.
On its own, disappointment with separated life probably won’t change anything. But when it is paired with a growing awareness and appreciation of your value as a husband, then her decision to leave starts getting more and more difficult to maintain.
The more she lets herself like the changes you’re making in yourself, the less appealing those benefits of post-divorce life become.
When her mind believes the man you’ve become is real and permanent, the next step is for her heart to desire that man in her life. That’s exactly what’s starting to happen in Step 6. Her head and her heart are starting to align.
However, while Step 6 is a very important step, I do need to warn you:
WARNING: As your wife begins seriously re-evaluating what she wants, there will likely be days or even weeks where she attempts to re-convince herself that divorce is the right decision.
Oftentimes, this feels like regression. It feels like you’ve taken one step forward, two steps back.
What do you do when this happens?
Just like you did back in Step 4, you persevere. Keep going.
Let her work through her feelings and keep showing her that the man you want to be, the man you’ve worked to become, the man you’ve taken responsibility for living as – he’s not going anywhere, whether she wants him or not.
Ultimately, you can't control her choice, but you can control how consistently you present her with a strong incentive to stay in the marriage. The rest is up to her.
She chooses to lean back into the marriage
This is it. This is almost always where reconciliation begins.
What does that look like in practice?
- She finally says “Yes!” to that date night.
- She starts making plans that include the word “we” instead of the word “I”.
- She asks you if you still want to work on the marriage for a while longer
- She starts spending more and more nights back at home
- She puts her wedding ring back on
No matter what it looks like, this is the step where the momentum has fully turned back towards the marriage.
She’s not moving towards divorce…
She’s not re-evaluating the right choice…
She’s making an active choice to start leaning her heart back towards the marriage. There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel.
Notice the key word in this step – “chooses”. The only way your wife will ever come back to the marriage is if she makes a freewill CHOICE to return to it.
You can stay at Step 6 forever if your wife never chooses to open up her heart.
On the flip side, you can fly from Step 3 to Step 7 if she chooses to give you the benefit of the doubt.
There’s no hard and fast rule for what this step looks like… It’s one of those things that you just know in your gut once it’s happened. I’m willing to bet that you know your wife well enough to tell when she has opened up.
When you can sense that she has truly opened up to you...And when she's opened up not just once, but consistently for at least a couple weeks...
THAT is when you'll know that you're starting to head back to a happy, healthy marriage with your wife.
Your 30-second Homework Assignment
Now that you've read all the steps, here's your assignment...
Don't worry, it's super duper easy.
Answer these two questions:
- How many of the steps above have the word "She" or "Her" in them?
- How many of the steps above have the word "You" in them?
Basically, you're looking at which of the steps are largely driven by you, and which steps are largely in your wife's hands.
Seriously. Scroll up and look. This is important.
When you're done, keep reading and I'll tell you the answers.
Answer to question #1:
The steps that are mostly hers to control are Steps 2, 4, and 5 through 7.
- Step 2. Her determination to get out fades
- Step 4. She tests your changes & you stay consistent
- Step 5. She believes that one good thing is real
- Step 6. She lets herself second-guess leaving
- Step 7. She chooses to lean back into the marriage
Answer to question #2:
The steps that are yours to control are Steps 1, 3 and 4.
- Step 1. You stop making things worse
- Step 3. You start making things better
- Step 4. She tests your changes and you stay consistent
There are four steps that have to do with your wife, two steps that have to do with you, and one step that you both do simultaneously.
Your Job Description During Separation
Since there is so much of this process that's out of your control, we can basically break down your job during separation as follows.
Work on each of the three steps we answered in Question #2 above, but then there is one additional thing you need to do:
You must release your wife to do her part at her pace.
Remember what we said at the start…
This guide is an overview of the steps between where you’re at now and where you need to be to save the marriage.
But, as you can see, more than half of this process is out of your control.
This is why anyone who claims that they can 100% GUARANTEE that you will save your marriage is lying to you.
The reality is, a marriage requires two willing participants. Unless you have mind control or magic powers, there is no way to make your wife come back to the marriage.
Instead, my goal here on Husband Help Haven is to teach you how to make the most of what you can control, and to make peace with what you can’t.
Where do you go from here?
Over the next two weeks, I’m going to send you a series of email lessons that will teach you exactly that. You’re going to learn how to:
- Stop doing things that push her away
- Understand the true reasons why she's leaving
- Do everything you can to enable her choice to come back
- Survive all the challenges and testing she will throw at you
"For men who want to move fast..."
Hopefully by now you can see: I purposefully make my free stuff better than everyone else's paid stuff because I'm serious about helping as many men as possible save their marriage.
And this guide is only the beginning... The email lessons I'll send you over the next few weeks will give you a very strong foundation to survive your separation with focus and confidence, hopefully saving your marriage in the process.
But, if you really want to move fast and you need to start making changes in your situation ASAP, then I can't recommend a better resource than my starter course for men facing separation called Separation-Proof Mindset, Today. Click the button below to learn more:
Each and every one of these is much easier said than done, but with more in-depth guidance you will soon feel empowered to take back control of your life, and with that control you will regain confidence, and with that confidence you will maximize your odds of reconciliation.
Give yourself a big ol’ pat on the back. You are now one step closer to getting your best possible shot at saving your marriage.
Check your email tomorrow >>
Learn the top 5 mistakes that will push your wife away
In other words, I'm going to teach you more about how to do Step 1 of this process. By avoiding the most common mistakes, you will also stop making things worse with your wife.
So, stay tuned, check your email tomorrow, and I'll talk to you again then.
Much manly love,