Marriage Missions International

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.”

Iron heartThose 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.
(Psalm 139:23-24)

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:

RECONCILIATION WITH A HARDENED WIFE

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.

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Comments

193 Responses to “Reconciling with a Wife Who Has Hardened Her Heart”
  1. Altie from United States says:

    After 17 years of marriage my wife has decided to separate and divorce me. I allowed her heart to be hardened by the things I did, pornography, drinking and lying about it, disrespectful to het, but not in public. I did what I wanted to versus doing what God ask of me. I ran after her the best way I knew how, but obviously it was my way and not God’s way.

    We’ve been separated for two months, and in those two months she never wore her ring to work. I would tell her that she is opening up something that could be potentially sinful and hurtful toward me. Last week she told me she had been seeing a “friend”. It’s a man, and she now is in an emotional affair. I did all the wrong things when I actually caught her. I called her every bad word I could think of to describe a cheating women. Unfortunately, I was wrong and have repented to God for my actions.

    Worse than that she has justified it to our kids, saying God wants me to be happy. It gets worse, he is a very wealthy man that says he’s a Christian, but she tells me they talk regularly about the reason why she should divorce me. She says he’s completely on her side (why would he not be on your side!) My wife does have an emotional void that she has always given to God. She is not the same person I talked to 3 months ago about fighting for what God wants for our marriage. I told her that I choose to fight for our marriage until God released me from that. She said “I dont want to be married to you; get that through your brain, I’ve moved on!” I told her that’s fine in a calm voice, and I understood, but move toward God versus humans.

    • Anna from Canada says:

      ” I called her every bad word I could think of to describe a cheating women. Unfortunately, I was wrong and have repented to God for my actions. ”

      Did you apologize to her? I mean, you insulted her, not God and you just repent to God? Where is it written in the Bible that repenting only to God is enough? Even God tells us to go ask for the forgiveness of the person you hurt.

  2. Jeff from United States says:

    I’ve been married for 13 years and I’m saddened to say that my marriage hangs by a thread. Like many men on this board my wife’s heart is now closed to me due to many years of mistakes and selfish behaviors on my part. We have two wonderful children who are impacted by our current situation. Three months ago my wife told me she had enough and wanted a divorce. I broke down in private and immediately called out to the Lord who answered me. What He said was that I may get to keep my wife but there was a good chance that I would not. He said to me to put that out of mind and that I must behave a certain way; not only towards my wife but in my life. In short I am to be strong, kind, gentle, and seek God with all my heart. In seeking the Lord I was told not to make it conditional in any way (i.e. just to regain my marriage).

    Lastly he told me to go home and ask my wife if she would allow me to stay in our house for 30 more days as long as there was no conflict. I asked her if we could pray together for those 30 days. She agreed to those terms. The good news is that I have been faithful to God’s instructions for those 30 days and it has now been approximately 80 days since we made that deal.

    We’ve never discussed the fact that our initial timeframe has been exceeded, I simply thank God for each new day. The bad news is that my drastic changes have caused my wife to become very conflicted. She is extremely sad and feels guilty about what she wants to do (leave me) versus what she feels she should do. Our house is peaceful but we’re still totally disconnected and live as roommates. It saddens me deeply to see my wife so hurt and upset. We haven’t even so much as hugged or touched hands in over 3 months.

    I’m asking for your prayers during this difficult period. I have to stay steadfast despite the fact that my wife’s heart continues to remain shut-off from me. Please pray for me and my family as I pray for each of you. Thank you and God Bless.

  3. Richard from United States says:

    Where to begin? 13 years ago I married the love of my life who had two kids, a boy and a girl. Now keep in mind at that time I had no idea what the role of a step father was until now so I advise to all of the men out there who are considering marrying a single mother with children YOU HAVE NO PARENTAL RIGHTS! Now having said that for the life of me, I don’t know what I did that was so bad for her kids to disrespect me and hate me so much because all I asked of them during the duration of the marriage is keep their rooms clean and pick up after themselves. So when I asked to help with the chores around the house the reply I would get is F.O. and my wife would allow them to treat me like that during the entire marriage and this is a family that came from Baptist roots.

    This went on for 10 years until the daughter found her husband and moved on, then the son got a full scholarship to Baylor. Then one and half years later he loses his scholarship and moves back home. So for the past year all he does is sit on his butt and does nothing and while I try to motivate him to get some ambition in life he pretty much tells me to F.O. and of course his mother takes his side. IF ONLY PEOPLE COULD AND OR WOULD KNOW WHAT IT WAS LIKE BEING SO ALONE IN THIS WORLD AND FEELING LIKE A PERSON WITH NO IMPORTANCE, LIKE AN OUTSIDER. Marry a single mom or dad with children and you’ll join the club for lonely people, you will definitely know what it’s like being second or third on the priority list.

    Two years ago I had an affair with another woman because I had a breaking point with the stepson, the wife sits by and does nothing and then I got caught via E-Mail. Because I was felt so alone I was vulnerable (I really can’t explain the why’s for my actions). After I committed the ultimate sin, I was so ashamed of myself that I didn’t make love to my wife anymore because I was so messed up in the head I really didn’t know how to fix what I broke and of course the love of my life didn’t know how to either, just complain about it.

    A year goes by and she finds another man with three children, files for divorce and moves in with her new romance and maybe just maybe she’ll know what it’s like to be in my shoes by being a step mom. Now there is just God and I and with his help hopefully my life will get back in order. I sure hope he forgives me because I never intended to have an affair but it happened and life goes on. Hope this helps someone out there.

  4. Walter from United States says:

    We’ve been married for 23 years and have known/been together for 31 years. She is the love of my life and we have two children boy 13 and girl 11. Over the last 6 years she quit her job, and we’ve been living at my gross wage. We’ve lost money in a company she started and in day trading. I was reaching the end of my rope for some time, and had pretty much thrown myself into work and was distant.

    I drank, drank alone at night but at times my frustration came out. I tried to give up drinking and had slowly gone back to it. On 1/1 we had a huge fight, and I was thrown out. She now say she wants a divorce and there is no chance of reconciliation. My lawyer says that this is one of the worse contested situations he has seen. Her parents (which never liked me) are one of the loudest advocates for the divorce.

    While there was one of physical abuse (grab her wrists, she would hit me, etc). There was no control being forced on my part. I didn’t even know the passwords to the financial accounts, and she came and went as she saw fit. I worked and handed over my check and got an allowance. There is definitely something evil that has happened.

    In mid-December she wanted the marriage. I have learned that I was not the husband I should have been, have been going to AA, praying, church, etc. I want to restore my marriage, not as it was, but as one in which is glorifies God. I know she’s hurting, that her pain and lashing out is all a result of the hurt she feels, that some of it (the sheer hatred?) is a result of listening to those who profess life will be better. I read the statistics, and life rarely gets better (unless there was sexual abuse, violence, controlling behavior).

    We were in a slump. She went days without showering, and the house would stay in a disaster from day to day. I should have been more encouraging, and I thought I was; I thought you would start gentle, then progessively increase the ante in order to get attention of what the issues were. Now I’m losing everything. My kids are suffering from PAS (they hate me), and blame me for destroying their world. I don’t know what to do. I’m losing faith in God, and lawyers and our mental health/ counselling system. Everyone supports divorce, no one supports reconciliation.

  5. Christy from United States says:

    I am that closed spirited wife. The sad thing for me is that I warned my husband for years that he was making a terrible mistake with his attitude. He wasn’t abusive…it was just comments he would make toward me and my 2 girls from my first marriage. We showed him all the love and giving one person could possibly receive. I even looked over how he would speak toward my girls at times, but it slowly started festering.

    We have been married for almost 7 years. Our daughter is 5 now. My daughters have moved out, so that brings me peace that they don’t have to deal with his attitude anymore. He has really been repentant the last year because he can see how shut off I am. I keep telling him I’m trying, but I just don’t feel anything for him. I certainly don’t want him to touch me in any way. I want so much to get my love back for him. I want it to work. I want to “feel” again, but If it wasn’t for our daughter and how she loves her daddy…I would’ve been gone a long time ago.

    I don’t know why I’m writing this. I just want husband’s out there to see that you may think it’s “cute” being the “man of the house” with a dominating attitude, but she will get tired…and when she does…I don’t think she’s able to come back. I can’t.

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