Reconciling with a Wife Who Has Hardened Her Heart
“I’m trying everything I can, but my wife just doesn’t want to reconcile our marriage.”
“I’m doing all I know how to do, but my wife still wants a divorce.”
“My family is split apart, but my wife says ‘no’ to working on reconciling.”
Those are just three of many statements we’ve heard here at Marriage Missions, where the husband is seeking to restore and rebuild their broken marital relationship, and yet the wife will have no part of it.
They ask us for help and to be perfectly honest, we often aren’t sure how to help them. First off, Steve and I are not Marriage Counselors —we’re Marriage Educators. And many of these types of couples need more help than we can give them. When you’re talking about deep-seeded problems, which are complex and have been going on a long time before they approach us, it’s seldom something that can be resolved with an obvious solution.
But I’ve done some digging into trying to come up with at least SOME type of “answers” for husbands, hoping they will be a good starting point. When a person feels they are drowning ANYTHING of any substance is better than nothing, at least for the immediate moment. And that is what I’m offering here —something of substance to help you in your immediate desperation.
It’s a starting point, where you and God will work through this journey together and as see how God helps you to unravel this complicated situation. It may or may not end up with the result you desire. However, who knows? It may end up better. I don’t know. But when God is invited in, you can be sure that you will find a place of peace somehow, at some point in time. And it will be the best solution that you can grasp, given the fact that we live in a fallen world. However, with the Holy Spirit as your “Wonderful Counselor,” you have more going for you than any other way you could ever go.
That doesn’t mean that God won’t use other human counselors and advisors to help you at some point, but as the familiar term goes, “He’s got your back.”
The Bible says in Proverbs 30:21-23 that “Under three things the earth trembles…” One of those three things is “an unloved woman who is married.” Now you may be screaming out that you are WANTING to show her love and are willing to do what it takes to give her abundant love, but for some reason —one you and I may not understand, her availability to receive your love is slammed shut.
I don’t know if it is your fault, her fault, the fault of “the perfect storm” of emotions all tangled up, sin run amuck, and/or someone else’s fault. But whatever it is, it is. It’s best to work with what is, rather than look back, trying to wish things away —wish they never happened. They did. And now you work with what you CAN do, rather than what you wish you could do.
I’m going to present an article for you to read, to pray over and consider. It may or may not be for you (it may be for the next husband reading this, or even wife, because many of the same principles pointed out can apply to husband’s whose hearts have hardened) or there may be parts, which the Holy Spirit may use to speak to you. It’s the gleaning process, in action.
When given the opportunity, please read through it and ask the Lord to help you to keep your mind open to what He wants you to come to know. A good prayer for you to sincerely express to God may be:
“Search me O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me
and lead me in the way everlasting.”
But the first thing I want to point out is that there is a reason your wife’s spirit is closed off to you. It may be one or many or all of the reasons I pointed out earlier, but you need to know that it didn’t happen overnight. It may seem to you that it did because of how it all came down. But in reality, it has been closing off to you for a while and it just now came to a final closure —one that opened your eyes to the final door slamming shut.
A number of years ago, I heard Dr Gary Smalley talk about the process of how a spouse’s spirit closes. He showed an open hand with all of the fingers splayed wide apart. He likened the heart being in the place of the palm of the hand. It’s the soft part of who they are and very vulnerable when nothing is protecting it.
And then he gave examples of different “events,” which can cause a spouse to close a protective finger here and there, over their heart because they felt too vulnerable to being hurt again by the “offending” spouse. Sometimes confession and repentance opens the fingers again. But sometimes, the offended spouse never opens up in the same way ever again.
He then showed that sometimes a spouse has been hurt so much over time, that he or she will completely close off in spirit, from the other spouse. The hand looks like a closed fist. There is no part of that “heart,” which is open and vulnerable to the way you can approach it. And sometimes it never opens again.
In his book, Winning Your Wife Back Before It’s Too Late, Gary Smalley writes the following:
Although there are probably hundreds of ways to offend your wife and close her spirit, we consistently see several that top the list. You can close your wife’s spirit by:
- speaking harsh words
- telling her that her opinions don’t matter
- being unwilling to admit when you are wrong
- taking her for granted
- making jokes or sarcastic comments at her expense
- not trusting her
- forcing her to do something that she’s uncomfortable with
- being rude to her in front of others
- dismissing her needs as unimportant
Your wife could probably make up her own list of the things you’ve done to close her spirit.
At our office in Branson, Missouri, we consistently get calls from men all around the world who are desperate because their wives just walked out the door. The most devastating part is that many of these men fail to realize that little by little, their actions closed their wives’s spirits. Because this happens internally, many men don’t realize they’ve offended their wives.
And one day the husband comes home to find his wife’s spirit rolled up in a tight ball, like a sow bug. You may not always be aware of what you do to deposit anger into the life of your loved one. However, when it comes to relationships, a preventative rule of thumb is this: whatever dishonors another person usually closes her spirit!
If you have been wondering why your wife left or perhaps why she resists your efforts at reconciliation, the answer is usually found in a closed spirit. The sad reality is, the more a man steps on the spirit of his wife, the more resistant she becomes to him.”
Gary goes on to then state the following:
“Our purpose in writing about a closed spirit is not to make you —who may find yourself with a closed sow bug, instead of an an open wife, feel guilty. It is to provide hope. I have done many things to close the spirit of my wife and the key to reconciliation is to learn how to reopen her spirit.”
I realize THAT’S what you are trying to do. Dr Smalley’s book gives you some ideas, which you may find helpful. They have worked for some husbands. They haven’t worked for others, but you never know until you pray, read, and see if God is leading you that way, so you may want to obtain the book to consider his advice.
I want to give one more illustration, before I move on from this point. I’m hoping it will help you to see what could have happened with your wife. It was written by someone named Camain, who asked for prayer on the Internet for his wife’s hardened heart. Referring to his wife, he wrote the following,
“Someone said that she is really hurt, and you’re right, she is. I may not have hit her, or degraded her, or anything like that, but it’s the little things that have added up over the years. Each of those little things was a brick in a wall, and little by little with time being the mortar, that was has gotten big and hardened.
“At first I tried to bang myself against it, repetitively hitting it. I can’t break this wall down though. The only thing that can is time, Gods help, patience and perseverance. I have to be patient, loving, and humble. I’m trying hard to find and identify all the issues that have caused harm to my marriage, no matter how big or small, and try to ask for forgiveness of them, and stop doing them.”
I can’t help but think of “the earth trembling” because of a wife who feels “unloved” so she closes her spirit, walled off from being open to her husband again —at least, not at this point.
True, we don’t know the circumstances. And true, sin is involved somewhere —you can count on it. But nonetheless, her spirit is closed.
I came across an article, which I referred to earlier, believing you will benefit from reading it. None of what has been said, nor will be said in this article, excuses sin. If it is the husband, the wife, and/or others, which sinned in some way, so the spirit of ANY spouse is closed off, it is wrong.
But hopefully, at least SOME of what the author, Reb Bradley has written will help in some way. At the end of this article, he offers additional resources. I need you to know that I don’t know much about Reb or his resources, so I can’t really recommend them. That is up to you.
All I can say is that I saw a lot of credibility in what I was able to glean and recommend you prayerfully consider all God shows you, which is important for your situation. Please click onto the following Familyministries.com link to read:
Above all, I hope that your ultimate goal is not ONLY to reconcile with your wife. If that is the case, your “solutions” will be most likely be temporary, when and if you do. Ultimately, I hope your ultimate goal is to go to GOD and make sure your life is clean —that you do not give your wife added “excuses” as to why she could remain closed in her spirit in reconciling with you.
Also, realize that giving forgiveness and reconciling the marriage are two separate steps. Your wife may have much, which she needs to forgive you for, and much she needs to surrender to the Lord. But that does not mean that she will have to reconcile with you in the way you desire, living as husband and wife again. If she doesn’t feel safe for some reason (whether it is physically, emotionally, spiritually, and/or emotionally), she may decide to forgive you, but she still will not live with you.
I can’t account for her actions, and neither can you. This is between her and God. And you will need to come to the place where you will live for God, EVEN IF your wife doesn’t join you in marriage again. Are you a man of God who can live like this? Are you a man after God’s own heart?
If you are, and you are sincere, then it seems to me that there is more hope for you that you can be reconciled to God AND to your wife. But I don’t know what your wife will do.
I do know though, that God wants to work in and through your life, whether your wife comes back or not. It is my sincerest hope you will participate with Him in this mission.
This article is written by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International.