I Want a Divorce But My Wife Doesn't

I Want a Divorce But My Wife Doesn't

Divorce specialist Natalie Maximets
Natalie Maximets is a certified life transformation coach with expertise in mindfulness and sustainability. She is a published author focused on the most progressive solutions in the field of Psychology. Natalie helps people go through fundamental life challenges, such as divorce, and build an entirely new life by reframing their personal narrative.

There are so many reasons why a husband might want to divorce a wife. However, it can get complicated at times because there are two people who are taking part in the process of separation, and sometimes a spouse might simply be unwilling to end the marriage. What should you do if you want a divorce but your wife doesn't?

Did you know that most men need approximately two years to decide whether they want to file for divorce? They need a lot of time to weigh the pros and cons of the decision; this is why it takes so long from when the thought about separation first came to their mind to the eventual separation. Men tend not to make the decision to split up with their official partner on impulse. Thus, you probably have robust reasons to divorce your wife.

Suppose you’ve finally decided to tell your spouse that it’s over – what's next? What if she refuses to divorce you and doesn’t even show up in court? How should you react if she makes desperate attempts to save the marriage, but your love is gone? What if your arduous conversation ends with a fight? Or, if you’ve already talked to your wife and found out that she hates the idea of separation – what steps should you take to get a divorce?

In this article, we’ve prepared an ultimate action plan for men like you whose wives are unwilling to get divorced. However, before you read all the tips on how to handle this situation, we suggest that you double-check your intentions to part ways.

Did you know that both women and men tend to be unrealistically optimistic about their expectations regarding their marriage? According to research conducted by Lin and Raghubir in 2005, this is indeed the case. Expectations that are too high can lead to disappointment, but this isn’t necessarily a reason to part ways.

What’s more, you might also fantasize about being free again, but once it happens, you feel so lonely that you totally regret your decision. Sometimes you just need to put in a little bit of effort, like having an honest conversation with your spouse to make your marriage work, even if you think it is over.

So, what went wrong from that time where you were fond of each other's company 24/7? Let's deal with the most common reasons why men usually want a divorce.

10 Most Popular Reasons Why Men Want a Divorce

1. Your Wife Doesn’t Take Good Care of Herself Anymore

There are cases where a woman might put on some weight – after pregnancy, for instance. She might also have less time to look after herself the way she did before giving birth to a child. Furthermore, women get older, but changes such as new wrinkles usually don’t scare men off – unless the woman lets herself go completely.

Indeed, there is a significant difference between being slightly overweight and becoming like Rosie O’Donnell. It's quite predictable that a man might physiologically react to such changes and lose affection towards a woman who doesn't take good care of herself. Some men also find themselves steering clear of the bedroom when their wife stops waxing or doing her nails, doesn’t dye grey roots or wears old pants. A lot of people might say that appearance is not important if you’re in love.

But take note! Sherry Amatenstein, a therapist for couples in New York, claims that most men take it personally when their wives don't attempt to look good. It happens because they subconsciously think that the woman doesn't care about them. So, don't put the blame on yourself if you no longer feel sexual desire for your wife due to the factors mentioned above. Neither on your wife. Nevertheless, this is not necessarily a reason to divorce your wife right away.

How to Fix It

Firstly, make sure not to blame your wife for letting herself go, and do some research before you talk to her. Think about her daily routine – maybe she needs help with the household chores or is tired of looking after the children? Or maybe your wife is suffering from postpartum depression and could benefit from consulting a therapist?

What you can definitely do is have an honest conversation with your wife to find out what's going on. But whatever the reason, please don't address this issue bluntly until you've tried softer approaches. Your number one goal is to help your spouse open up and tell you sincerely what's up with her. So please avoid being too straightforward, as it might hurt her feelings and spoil your relationship.

It's essential to treat your wife with understanding and love if you want to see changes. Maybe she lacks your attention due to being busy, and you just need to spend more time with her. However, if you directly blurt out how you can’t stand her hairy legs, she might be embarrassed and even take offense. Remember, the main goal is to find the reason and help – only if she wants that help.

If you want your wife to look great again, don't criticize her but compliment her instead on any attempts in a positive direction. Tie in physical health and activity, because these things are intimately tied with looks. For example, go on a morning run with her or praise healthy meal choices that she makes.

However, if your spouse doesn't seem to acknowledge the issue in spite of your little hints, it's time to be completely honest with her. Tell her that your sexual interest has gone down due to her appearance, but still ask whether she feels bad or needs any support. Remember, women rarely stop caring about themselves without a good reason, so be compassionate!

2. Your Wife Is Too Critical or Acts Like a Mother

Men tend to think about divorce when their wives view their actions in a negative light and complain about life too much. This kind of woman can easily become a “killjoy” because it may be hard to have fun with her.

Numerous husbands also find it challenging to be constantly having to fulfill idealistic expectations from their wives. As a result of negative feedback from their wives, the men end up dealing with low self-esteem issues.

What’s more, some women take on the role of a mother who teaches, criticizes, shows you the “right” way, and punishes. She might be overly protective as well or take too much care of you, as though you're a fragile snowflake rather than a man.

It may be hard to maintain healthy feelings for this kind of woman due to psychological reasons. The fact is, men subconsciously avoid having sexual contact with women like this, above because they remind them of their mothers. After all, no man wants to feel like a child that needs guidance or too much protection.

How to Fix It

If you've noticed that your spouse often behaves like a mom rather than a romantic partner, talk to her directly. Explain that you are a grown-up person who is capable of making his own decisions and bearing responsibility for his actions. Your wife might be unaware of her behavioral patterns so once she realizes them, she might attempt to change.

Moreover, it's crucial to ask your spouse whether she feels resentful or neglected, and what the reason is. Also, ask her whether she wants you to do something that you might have forgotten about. Sometimes, women don't clearly state their expectations but they can become more hostile because they still want you to fulfill them. This might also happen if you don't always keep your promises.

Additionally, you have to act differently to evoke a totally new reaction on the part of your spouse. Simply don't let her judge and criticize you next time she starts a big thing. Be patient and stay respectful to her and yourself by outlining personal boundaries that shouldn't be crossed. If this doesn't help, consider family therapy before splitting up officially. It might help you restore balance in your relationship.

According to Tracy Thomas, a psychologist from San Francisco, men aren’t likely to consider divorce when they feel valued and wanted in their relationship. If you’ve lost that feeling, ask your spouse how you can contribute to the well-being of your family and help her personally, provided that you want to revive the marriage.

Rosalind Sedacca, couples therapist from Florida, claims that security and confidence serve the basis for any marriage. However, she says that men tend to lose connection with their wife once she compromises their self-esteem. Thus, if you realize that your relationship is entirely toxic and full of disrespect, it's better to leave.

3. You Have a Bad Mentor

Is there anyone who you consult whenever you come across serious issues in your marriage? Well, your unmarried friends might sometimes take a wretchedly selfish point of view. They might confuse you by telling their single-life stories full of adventure. Nevertheless, when you truly need mature advice, they might mislead you because they don’t have this kind of experience. Actually, no one does. Only you know what your experience is and what’s best for you.

How to Fix It

Get yourself a good mentor (this does not necessarily have to be a therapist!). It can be a male or female friend who has been married for a long time and can give you some wise advice. A friend like this will never tell you what to do, but they can suggest a couple of options so that you can make your choice.

Don Nations, a relationship coach from Florida, claims that men also need a married buddy who will listen attentively and be able to offer good suggestions on how to mend the marriage. However, men generally tend to avoid talking sincerely with each other on sensitive matters because society often frowns upon it.

You don’t have to be that man who never cries. On the contrary, you have the right to feel what you feel and ask for advice if you truly need it! If you don't have a reliable and mature mentor, you can subscribe to a relationship blog for men, see a therapist or visit a discussion group or a marriage workshop.

Maintaining a good relationship with other couples that are happily married will also help you and your spouse learn how to enhance your relationship without making radical decisions.

4. Your “Spark” Is Gone

A lot of men mistakenly think that their marriage has reached the point of no return when they lose the “spark.” However, the “spark” is just a state, and it can thus go away and then come back again. It's quite normal not to feel attracted to your wife from time to time, so don't be afraid if it's not there – your relationship is probably going through an important phase. It's crucial to find out the true reason why there is no “spark” before divorcing your spouse.

The fact is, your relationship transforms over time, especially if you have children or bear mutual financial responsibilities. Sometimes both the man and the woman can be so focused on their careers that no energy is left for romance. Even household management can put out the spark, but is it a valid reason for divorce?

How to Fix It

Try not to put the blame on yourself or your spouse. Ask yourself instead: “would I feel different in different circumstances?” If so, might you be able to initiate changes and offer your wife a more romantic setting to revive your attraction? What does your spouse like and what would make her happy?

Reflecting on these questions won't take much time but the answers could become game changers for your entire marriage. So don't let the daily routine loosen your family bonds – many couples go through the same issues you’re facing at the moment, and they get through it!

It would be also a huge mistake to think that a woman should be the one who always “takes care” of the relationship. We live in the twenty-first century and often split numerous responsibilities, including household chores and finances. Therefore, if you were the first one to notice the absence of a “spark,” don't hesitate to act. Your wife will be grateful if you put in some effort to make your marriage stronger and healthier. After all, you had the “spark” at some time before, so it's only a matter of time before you enjoy it again.

5. You Argue Over Money

There are a million reasons to argue over finances in a couple, but there are common root causes that might affect your relationship. For instance, you might have different comfort zones regarding financial security. Another reason can be spending too much money on things that one of the partners doesn't approve of. Thirdly, one of you might simply disapprove of contributing financially to the family due to your cultural background or personal beliefs. Your wife might also accuse you of earning too little. However, avoid making secret purchases or pretending that everything is okay. Those aren’t good options, as they will eventually ruin your relationship.

How to Fix It

If you are facing one of these conflicts, it won't be easy to reach an agreement, but you should definitely try. There isn't a panacea for all the situations described above. Nevertheless, you should sit and talk with your wife on financial matters, like business partners.

Ideally, it's better to reject or at least question beliefs or superstitions that you inherited regarding gender roles. The most important thing is to decide how much money your family needs to prosper and what each of you can do to reach this goal.

What’s more, you should discuss common goals that both of you are interested in. This might be buying a bigger house or an RV to travel full time – it depends on your specific preferences. Don't limit yourself only to practical purchases – dream big!

But in any case, be straightforward and put all the issues on the table. Your wife should understand the true state of things and be aware of the opportunities you can explore together to achieve your goals.

Being open-minded and accepting that the world is full of opportunities is much better than constantly arguing over money. Those are the criteria that comprise a growth mindset that the two of you can develop, if you don't possess one yet. But make sure that your wife is eager to be your partner and is ready to accept the challenge instead of blaming you.

Please also mind that splitting responsibilities correctly can immensely help restore your marriage. For instance, even if your wife doesn't work, she can optimize her household chores so that she can spend more time with you. This will make you feel more empowered, and you'll be able to bring money to the family.

Just make sure that you reach a compromise where both you and your spouse feel at peace with the mutual decision you’ve made. Last but not least, consider consulting a financial advisor if you find it difficult to reach an agreement regarding financial matters.

6. You Can’t Stand Her Style of Raising Children

It's hard to predict what style of raising children your spouse has until the kids are actually born. However, when they appear, it’s too late to argue about the best way to raise them. It would be so much more productive to focus on splitting parenting responsibilities efficiently rather than quarrel.

Nonetheless, if you are getting by with joint parenting but still argue over the best way to bring up your children, look into the “ideology” behind it.

You might be a proponent of strict discipline and think that kids ought to value what they have and shouldn’t be given too much money. Or you might be a softie who thinks that giving allowances won’t spoil a child. In either case, if you’re quite passionate about how things should be, this is a red flag that you lack flexibility. Try to be more open-minded instead!

If your wife doesn't do anything that would hurt your children, the problem likely lies with you, in that you are able to accept only one side of truth; there are tons of other approaches to how you can raise a happy and healthy child.

How to Fix It

The first thing you should do is to ask yourself what beliefs make your point of view the right one. Once you've done that, think about where these beliefs are rooted and who in your life has told you that they were true.

Did you blindly trust that authority or make those decisions based on your life experience? If so, is your child going to repeat your life scenario? If you don't want it, what other approaches can you apply to raise a child who would be happier than you used to be? Please ask your wife those questions, too, if she has a rigid approach towards raising children.

Additionally, what are you afraid of when you see how your wife treats children? Are those threats real? If so, discuss them with your wife and ask for her opinion on how to deal with them. Furthermore, does your wife's approach have positive sides in addition to the negative ones? If so, what are they? Can you make a compromise by applying the best features of both approaches? What other methods can help you enhance your parenting experience?

You'll be surprised that there are more viewpoints and options to make your children happy without going to extremes. All you need to do is just address all the concerns, beliefs and fears that you have regarding your controversial parenting styles. And if both of you are willing to compromise, divorce will no longer be an option.

7. Your Wife's Kids from Her Previous Marriage Hate You

Parents are attached to their children no matter how complicated their divorce was. Your current relationship might be threatened if your wife's kids don't like you or if you quarrel about them with her.

It's not always easy to build a smooth line of communication with children who would rather be seeing their dad instead of you with their mother. However, it's worth the effort, though it might take a great deal of time.

How to Fix It

There is one thing you should never do if your wife's kids express antipathy towards you. Never ever attempt to take their father’s place, and avoid blaming him in front of them. It would be better to play on the safe side and remain either neutral or emphasize all the positive things their father does.

Additionally, avoid criticizing your wife for having to meet her ex due to parenting responsibilities. It's anything but a reason to be jealous – after all, your spouse stays with you. Moreover, it's great that your wife and her former husband were mature enough to find common ground and give their children enough love and care without starting big fusses or even applying for court. If you still have some second thoughts, discuss them with your spouse – maybe they are the result of miscommunication or lack of trust on your behalf.

The situation might be slightly different if your wife blames her former husband in front of the children and you are unable to stop her. If this is the case, remember that it's not only her bad habit or a lack of mindfulness – it’s also chronic emotional pain that needs to be addressed.

If you consider your wife’s behaviour inappropriate, have an intimate talk with her and suggest that she visit a psychotherapist. Explain that children should never choose between two parents, as they love both of them unconditionally. For this reason, they might be going through enormous pain each time she badmouths their father.

8. Your Wife Cheated On You

Bradford Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project in Virginia, claims that 14% of official wives are cheaters. Infidelity often brings terrible consequences to couples and often results in divorce. However, the context and the reason for cheating are key to determining whether you should forgive her and stay together or split up.

Some women might be lacking something important in a relationship and thus look for other ways to get it. Others might be looking for emotional support that they aren’t getting from their husbands. Although cheating is an awful way to solve problems in a marriage, it's still possible to restore your relationship afterwards.

How to Fix It

You should be well-prepared to talk to your wife about cheating, so it's better to consult a therapist before confronting her. You might experience the fear of losing your significant other, ruining your marriage or unloading tons of negative emotions on your partner or the person she cheated with. A therapist will help you deal with those hard feelings and get ready for a difficult talk, so that you address the issue with a cool head and avoid acting on impulse.

Cheating is a particularly heartbreaking experience, but you have to address it and find out why your wife did it and what's missing in your marriage. Although it is possible to save the relationship, it will be really hard to overcome stress without a therapist. Family therapy is highly recommended for couples who have suffered from a breach of trust, as it will help both partners deal with frustration and emotional pain to regain ?onfidence in each other.

9. You Met Someone Else

There are cases when a man feels that he and his wife are not close anymore due to her excessive criticizing or different interests in life. He might meet another woman with whom he shares common interests and feels really good. If this has happened to you and you're quite sure that you want to have a relationship with that woman, do everything possible not to hurt your wife or your new girlfriend.

How to Fix It

Before you file for divorce, make sure that you’ve done everything possible to restore the damaged relationship with your wife. However, if it's too late and there is a great woman by your side that you want to be with, don't hesitate to make things official.

Please consider that you might face trust issues with your lover in the future, because she was the one who you cheated with and thus knows you're capable of it. Long-term infidelity isn’t a suggestion in this case, as it would significantly hurt both your wife and your new girlfriend. It's better to visit a therapist and proceed with legal divorce as soon as possible to eliminate the damage to the mental health of your wife and your new female soulmate.

10. You Think You’ll Be Happier After Divorce

Will you be happier after divorce? People sometimes overestimate the desired consequences of their possible divorce and think that freedom will bring them more benefits than staying in an unhappy marriage. Nevertheless, the National Survey of Families and Households shows that in most cases, those estimations are wrong.

According to the survey, 645 partners out of 5,232 married people labeled their marriage as unhappy. In 5 years, many couples separated and were asked whether it helped them to overcome depression or increase their self-esteem. Surprisingly, divorced couples didn't get any emotional or psychological benefits from the separation compared to how it would be in an unsuccessful marriage. Their assumptions proved wrong – these people were no happier than the ones who didn't divorce.

Other surprising results show that 3 out of 4 people who weren't happy with their marriage had partners who were totally satisfied with it. 86% of people dissatisfied with their marriage claimed that there was no violence or abuse; they had other reasons to file for divorce.

What’s more, 2 out of 3 people who didn't want to divorce but had to do it happily remarried in 5 years. At the same time, only 1 in 5 people who were unhappy with their previous marriage were able to happily marry someone else in the following five years.

Although it's only an assumption, the survey might indicate that some people blame their spouse for things both partners are actually responsible for. It might also be a warning sign that many people shift their responsibility onto their partner or external circumstances. They ought to acknowledge this instead and act like grown-ups, not children.

This can also mean that a lot of individuals run away from problems and prefer separating to dealing with issues and saving their marriage. Otherwise, there wouldn't be so many people unhappy with their divorce decision – a decision that gave them the freedom they so craved.

How to Fix It

As mentioned above, numerous individuals overestimate their future happiness once they set themselves free from their marriage. And you don't want to be a person who ends up being lonely and broken inside, do you? So here’s a simple mental exercise to figure out whether you're ready for divorce. It’s very important to do it now, before you make a decision that would change your entire life.

Firstly, make sure that you're doing it with a level head, so calm down to think clearly. Now imagine your life without your wife and your home (even if you stay in it, it will never be the same after divorce!) What does your life look like without them? What can those things be replaced with, and is it worth the effort?

Now mentally take yourself out of your current relationship – what do you feel? Try to avoid thinking about your wife but focus on yourself instead. Do you feel relief, emptiness, satisfaction or, maybe, fear? Do you feel secure enough in a state where you no longer have a wife? Are you ready to bid farewell to the parts of life that are strongly associated with her?

Please also note that you and your spouse might be unable to part ways completely due to mutual responsibility or children. So it's crucial to imagine right here, right now whether you are at peace with the possibility of dealing with your ex-wife after divorce on friendly or neutral terms. If so, separation might be an option. However, if you are eager to split up with your spouse due to the emotional trauma she has caused you, it's not the right time yet.

Psychologists say that it is only when you feel peaceful while thinking about divorce that you are truly ready for it. On the other hand, if you’re overwhelmed with negative emotions so much that it slowly chips away at your sanity, don’t rush to detach. It's essential to work through your emotional state, because you'll be able to think straight again and make rational decisions only after you cure your pain. This easy exercise will help the two of you separate your emotions from the real state of things.

Here are answers to frequently asked questions that can help you learn about ways to divorce your wife even if she is unwilling to separate.

FAQ: How Can I Divorce My Wife Even If She’s Against Separation?

If you went through all the above-mentioned steps and realized that there is no hope for marriage revival, it's time to deal with the divorce hurtle. But let's be optimistic here – even if your spouse refuses to divorce you, you can still do it without her, despite the widely-held belief that it's impossible.

1. What is the Least Harmful Way to Divorce My Wife Against Her Will?

Unlike marriage, divorce does not necessarily have to be a mutual decision. If one partner files for divorce, the marriage will end after being granted by the courts. You'll have to go through the necessary financial issues and get all your paperwork ready for divorce.

Although your wife is unwilling to split up, you can still get by without a lawyer, especially if you want to make the divorce as friendly as possible. In this case, you can significantly benefit from mediation, as it will help you:

  1. Shift the perspective from the past to the future for both of you.
  2. Build a line of communication between you and your wife to reach a mutual agreement.
  3. Act in the best interests of your children.
  4. Come up with a win-win solution on how to separate without causing much pain to each other.

An experienced mediator can help you treat each other peacefully and get your divorce done cheaper and faster than it would be if you hired a lawyer. So, take your time to convince your spouse to participate in mediation in order to decrease the stress caused by divorce.

2. How do I Convince My Wife to Divorce?

You have to understand how your wife feels before you begin convincing her to separate. Don't forget that it was you who thought about splitting up for the past few years – your spouse didn't! This news is hard to accept and process, because it literally means the end of a relationship that she probably worshiped. In other words, it’s the death of her hopes and dreams, so she might find it extremely difficult to cope with the fact that you are going to split up.

Give your wife as much time as she needs to acknowledge that it's impossible to avoid divorce. Make her understand why you no longer want to stay together, and don't be too hard on her. Even if you want to separate as soon as possible, hold on, be patient and let her accept the reality as it is; otherwise, you could seriously hurt the person who you’ve spent so much time with.

Sometimes a woman might think that her husband isn't serious about divorce, which is a sign that she is unable to cope with the truth. In this case, suggest visiting a family therapist or a marriage counselor who could help get your message across to her and assist both of you in overcoming the crisis. You should also be compassionate, so don't steer away from the emotional turmoil, no matter how tiresome it may be. Remember, your wife might be extremely scared of the possibility of being left alone and dealing with the things you used to take care of before.

3. How do I Convince My Wife to Do It Without a Lawyer?

Even though your wife might be unwilling to end your marriage, there are still ways to convince her that it will be better for the both of you. If you are dead sure that divorce is inevitable, tell her sincerely that you won't change your decision but you hate the idea of hurting her. If you have children, say that you don't want them to suffer as well. Their mental health could be deteriorated by time spent in a lawyer's office or a courtroom. In fact, your children are likely to suffer from the long-lasting consequences of separation, and this could affect their relationships when they grow up.

Even though your wife might be reacting emotionally, she will get your point and will probably consider giving you her consent. Nevertheless, you shouldn't use children as a tool to manipulate your spouse’s decision. Don't put too much pressure on your wife if you see that she just isn't ready to talk yet and it's hard for her to accept the bitter truth.

4. What Should I Say to My Wife Before Divorce?

There are things that you must tell your spouse as early as possible before you split up.

Firstly, tell your wife that the children will remain your biggest priority despite the circumstances, and that you are going to take care of them and support them regardless.

Secondly, tell your spouse that you will help her handle the new responsibilities she will have after the divorce. Assure her that you will be there to provide her with advice on how to take care of the car and solve any financial issues until she comes to terms with doing it herself.

So, make sure that you aren't leaving your wife totally unprepared for the changes, and that you are helpful and supportive. This will increase your chances of getting a divorce without a lawyer.

5. What if My Wife Doesn't Arrive in Court?

If you were unable to persuade your wife to go through with an amicable divorce, you’ll have to prepare for court. Consult a lawyer to get the necessary documents and be ready for trial. However, your wife might not show up in a courtroom if she is reluctant to sign the divorce papers.

In this case, the judge will still proceed with the divorce, but you mustn’t think that you can get everything while leaving nothing to your spouse just because she didn't come. The judge will decide who gets what and finish the procedure according to the law.

Hopefully, you'll succeed in making your divorce as friendly as you can if it's impossible to avoid it. May your future life and the life of your former wife be filled with joy and happiness!

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