Hey brother, if you’re reading this as a man experiencing marriage trouble, I want you to know that I’m for you! I’m on your team and want the best for you.
That’s why I’m sharing these words with you. Words that might sting or pinch a bit, but words that might help you ultimately achieve the desired outcome.
Let me get right to it.
If you’re a man hoping your wife will change her mind… about you, your marriage, a life together that ends happily ever after, your changes… I want to encourage you to stop.
Stop? Yes… stop!
“Sven… are you saying I should just give up? That doesn’t sound like you!”
I know this is going to be confusing to hear at first.
I’m not telling you to give up on hope. In fact, contrary to many mentors and coaches, I love hope! Hope is a superpower, but only in some circumstances, which I hope to articulate below.
“So if you’re not telling me to give up hope, why are you telling me to stop hoping she’ll change?”
Brother, the problem isn’t that you hope or what you want. It’s that you’re conflating the outcome you wish for with the strategy you think will make it happen. Then you’re fiercely hanging on to both, strangulating the hope with your sucky strategy.
Your strategy sucks because it’s built upon a foundation of a change rooted in your wife, and it’s a strategy that never works.
Men that go through relationship conflict with this kind of strategy find themselves in gridlock, limbo, and feeling a lot of frustration, resentment, anger, and ultimately – pain.
It’s no wonder! They placed their hope for the life they wanted – a story that has the power to create change – into the care, responsibility, power, and authority of someone else. In this case, a wife. Not just a wife, but a wife who is almost undoubtedly busy enough trying to sort her own life, heart, and story out.
But that’s not the worst of it.
In doing so, we also committed the cardinal sin of relationships… ignoring the story of our partners as we insist that our perspectives prevail.
Notice I said “we” and “our .”Yep, I did this too.
And this refusal to honor her perspective is why she wants the divorce. To her, it’s an utter act of betrayal and not just a one-night-stand but a way of life she’s concluded you’re not willing to put down.
Because you’ve been doing this a long time, every man does. Every man begins the marriage journey accustomed to living a life rooted in his perspectives and interpretations.
“But why didn’t she just tell me?”
Just assume that she tried to tell you whether you noticed it or not. She told you in ways every female would understand but few males would comprehend. She did her best.
And brother, I know you did too! So don’t get hung up on the past. We aren’t here to seek our fault and lead you to shame. We’re talking about this, so understanding how you got these results can guide and empower you to gain wisdom on how to build something better.
Part of any long-term relationship journey is the struggle to gain awareness and appreciation of our partner’s perspective.
Because at first, they scare the shit out of us! Not directly, mind you. But indirectly.
“Yeah, but… I’m not scared! … She’s just wrong!”
When a woman walks into the room and looks at you with a stare that could melt ice and then unleashes a tirade of angry sentiments and accusations, here is the natural reaction of most men. Quickly look inward, compare her words to their understanding, and assert their perspective defensively.
Our brains present stories of future pain and suffering to us in a flash. Stories where if she doesn’t see me differently and continues to see me as the bad guy with bad intentions, she might withhold things I want, need, and desire! Love, affirmation, validation, and a general sense of well-being.
So, you can keep thinking it’s about being right. It’s not. It’s about your need to be right, and that, my friend, is insecurity.
Thus, believing ourselves to be in danger of loss because of her story, we seek to change it as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
How to understand what is going on.
Most arguments and relational conflicts follow this pattern in some way in marriage, with partners asserting what I’d call “perspective dominance.”
And will royally foul up your marriage!
Guess what? A man can entirely stop doing while maintaining epic boundaries and self-respect for himself and still substantially improve the relationship.
As I mentioned, the real problem isn’t her story or perspective but our deep-seated insecurity producing a fear of loss and the resulting defense.
I’ll come back to that in a minute.
Stop waiting for her to change her mind… or anything!
First, let’s talk about why hoping she changes her mind will lead to divorce.
A separated man or a man facing divorce who holds this idea is experiencing this same pattern from arguments, just without the fight.
He’s continuing to assert his perspective as the dominant and correct point of view. The view that he believes his partner should have. He thinks he knows the story that would fix her. The way of seeing things and being that would make her better.
This behavior is still perspective dominance. It’s just at a distance, without the same emotional intensity experienced in arguments.
It’s more than insecurity
A man who behaves this way hasn’t figured out that aside from minor children, all our beliefs about what others should do in their lives is judgment.
He hasn’t yet figured out that a man can have his perspective while also appreciating and supporting someone else with a different perspective.
But failing to recognize, appreciate, honor, and support a woman’s perspective of her experiences is why most women in this spot believe their husbands are “narcissistic, controlling assholes.” It is because they feel this judgment.
Women hate this. It makes them feel unsafe. How can they ever find acceptance about the deep recesses within their hearts if we can’t even respect the perspectives they share about the little stuff?
“Yeah, but, I really am a great guy! Everyone tells me so, except her!”
Now listen, I know that’s not true! After talking to hundreds of men like you, I know that you’re almost certainly a great man! But she can’t see that because all she feels is your immense pressure to “change her mind” and your lack of acceptance of herself.
For a woman, that’s not only felt as pressure but regarded as judgment. A judgment that her feelings are invalid and if her feelings are, then so is her heart.
She can’t figure out then how to rectify these feelings with your “I love yous” and desire for sex with her. She can’t imagine why a man who doesn’t accept, honor, and supports her perspective would want to have sex with her aside for one reason – to use her. Allowing this to happen makes her feel like sex is either coerced or a service she provides.
Neither is an option that promotes a sense of value and self-worth but would lead her to feel degraded. Do you want your face on her story of degradation? I know you don’t!
How, despite being a great man, your neediness and judgment make her feel yucky and unsafe.
But it’s these feelings that lead her to tell you she feels used, unseen, unappreciated, and unvalued. But you probably did what we all tend to do in our woeful misunderstanding. You gave her a few more hugs and compliments while shrugging off her comments as primarily her misunderstanding you.
A woman cannot feel emotionally safe with a man she believes sees her feelings, heart, and core being as invalid no matter how many compliments, hugs, flowers, or even date nights he employs.
So back to your hope for reconciliation
A man still asserting to his partner that the right thing to do is come back to the relationship is to her just the final nail in the coffin of feeling invalidated, dismissed, and ignited. To her, such a man sees even her ability to have her perspectives as inadequate. This is one reason women lose hope and leave.
Do you understand this yet?
She feels your insistence on the outcome you want no differently than a nation feels about another country wishing to overtake them, displace their culture and way of life and rule them. It feels like war.
Fortunately, there is a better way than dominance and a war of perspectives. Let me tell you about it.
When a man ends his quest for perspective dominance by addressing the root problems, he’s left with raw truth.
That what he wants in life is only possible in a story where what he hopes for are things he can independently bring to pass without dominating anyone but himself.
This man begins to refine his perspective into a shape that no longer requires “other nations” to consent, comply, or change.
Instead, he begins to see that to have true love, they must be free. Free from the threat of domination. Free from hostility from neighbors. Free to engage or disengage.
Love can only flourish in a land where the citizenry is free not to love.
A man who develops this clarity begins to look at things differently. He encounters the invigorating and terrifying truth that self-reliance is the path to what he wants. He begins to think about what it would be like to build a story and life and kingdom where he could embrace ownership and responsibility for securing everything he wants, needs, and desires.
He begins to build that life, no longer focused on what others should think, feel, or do. It’s no longer a concern for him because he now sees his sole concern and focus as what he will build, and he’s now intoxicated with the invigorating life of power and agency over self.
He begins to feel expansive. He discovers that he can build infinitely upward without ever encroaching on his neighbors’ or separated partners’ territory. He learns that he can make a broad, generous, and benevolent domain for himself without taking or demanding anything from those around him.
His kingdom starts to become pleasant. A delightful aroma begins to rise out of it; a mix of freedom, joy, acceptance, love, and openness. It’s an intoxicating smell that evokes a ravenous appetite in those who encounter it.
Like any strong odor, it carries on the wind far and wide. Smells are like that. They float through surrounding territories and have the power to repulse or to invite.
Time for a hard truth.
Your kingdom and the aroma coming out of it hasn’t invited her. It’s repulsed her.
The significant parts of each haven’t escaped her attention. She smelled your desire for a life together. She enjoyed the fragrance of your dreams for the white picket fence, traveling the world, and raising kids together. She truly did, and a lot about the aroma rising out of your kingdom appealed to her. This is why she married you!
But she also smelled and experienced a lot of other unappealing things. The blame, the judgment. Neediness. The incessant need for validation or affirmation. Insecurity. Fear. Coldness.
At this point, a lot of men get angry… really angry.
“Yeah, but… didn’t she see all the good I also do?! I want a woman who’s on my team and doesn’t give up.”
Yeah, I thought that too. I didn’t realize the sheer immaturity in my perspective as well.
Like that guy, I, too, wanted easy.
Eventually, I realized how believing that was working against me and this wanting an easier wife was the path to a weak, mediocre, sexually depolarizing life.
Easy does not make good men. It creates weak ego-driven men who blame women, eschew responsibility, and experience very little intimacy.
What makes strong men? Challenge.
Most men want easy because they’re not entirely confident they can build a great life independently. The is one additional reason such men cling to their suffocating strategies of hoping they can get her to change her mind.
“Yeah, but… what can I do then? I don’t want to get a divorce. Won’t she just keep moving away if I focus on me?”
This “yeah, but” is perhaps the most challenging part for a separated man looking down the barrel of divorce… to let go of trying to prevent it. But it’s necessary.
The sobering truth, brother, is that there is almost no hope for what you hope to achieve without fully letting go first. You need both hands to create the kingdom of freedom, love, and fullness that is worth living in for either of you.
Your wife is unlikely to ever return to you without such a kingdom that produces an aroma of open-hearted acceptance, love, and appreciation.
She must first feel the safety and trust of something new. She must reliably and consistently encounter the aroma of a kingdom created by a man secure in his skin, confident in perspectives, and who freely accepts those of others.
As it turns out, a fair amount of men who build such (the majority I work with at least) can get not only what they want but far more. They not only find reconciliation but an entirely new and life-giving way to live,
“What do I do Sven? Is there any hope of turning things around?”
Yes! things can turn around, but not until you start with a new and more effective strategy that begins with yourself.
If you need help loosening your grip, releasing judgment, overcoming your fear, and ready to create a new strategy for the life you yearn for, I’m eager to help brother!
Click here to schedule your complimentary no-bullshit clarity call today, and let’s start building something new.