Marriage Missions International

Reconciling with a Wife Who Has Hardened Her Heart

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Image credit: gettingtotruelove.com

“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.
(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

134 Responses to “Reconciling with a Wife Who Has Hardened Her Heart”
  1. Selwin from India says:

    Hello. I am Selwin from India. My wife has forsaken every limit of rebuking and disrespecting me to the heights. Just for the reason that I went out more for God’s work, which later I was ready to change, but now she is telling me the thing, which I am unable to do.

    I have left my job and career for the sake of the call of missions work, which God gave me last year before I could actually step into the mission field. My wife left me saying she is no more a missionary with me. She wants to work in the secular field. I can’t leave my call.

    I have to stay alone and do ministry wherever the Lord leads me. But I have decided not to stay with her while she is doing a job that I cannot do as missionary in a distant mission field, as my mission board of Indian Evangelical Mission sends me… But now they also cannot send me unless I am with my wife…

    I am stuck like I never have been in my life. Please I need your team to pray for me. The Fireproof film gave me many learnings. I am ready to reconcile but not at the cost of my calling… She is telling me to minister in the city area, which is not my call.

    • Steve Wright from United States says:

      Selwin, It’s great that you want to be engaged in God’s work, but when you married, your first ministry became to your wife, as mine did to my wife. That’s what you can read about in 1 Corinthians 7. Please read it carefully… as an evangelist of the Gospel, you need to pay attention to what God tells us there.

      If you wanted to have the freedom to minister without considering the needs of taking care of a wife, you shouldn’t have married. That’s why the Apostle Paul warned those who marry that they need to realize that they “will face many troubles in this life.” And one of those “troubles” is that you take on a different calling when you marry. You don’t have the same freedom you can have otherwise. But because you DID marry, your calling changed the moment you said the vow “I do” to your wife and to God.

      From that day forward, you must then step up and be the man of God and the marriage partner you vowed to be. It’s not that you can’t minister, but your marriage relationship should not fall victim to ministering to others because of it. You have to consider your wife and her perceived needs first.

      Also, what do you do with the word of God that says, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8)? And what about Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3, which talks about your taking care of your wife as Christ loves the church and gave himself up for her? 

      There is so much more than this in the Bible that I could point out because the Bible talks compares marriage as a covenant relationship where the husband is compared to the Bridegroom (Christ) and His bride, the church, is compared to the wife. It’s a living picture for the world to witness, as to how the husband is to take care of his wife. The question is, as others see how you take care of your wife, do they see her being well cared for, or neglected? And if she’s neglected, what picture does this paint in their minds as to how Christ will care for them?

      Selwin, I encourage you to go into the Topic, “Pastors and Spouses” on this web site and read the articles you feel led to read. One that I especially encourage you to read is titled, “The Ministry of Marriage for the Pastor.” It will point out a lot of things you need to consider –that every husband (including me) needs to realize so we adjust our lives accordingly so God is glorified. Neglecting your wife does not glorify God. Please know that.

      • Chad Ayers from United States says:

        Thank you Steve Wright. I’m currently trying to save my marriage as my wife feels that she should never have gotten married. She feels that the Lord didn’t want her to and that a divorce is the only way to fix things. Your words are encouraging to me. I am being as still as I can as I pray for the Lord to restore our marriage. God bless you!

  2. Angelo from Guam says:

    I pray for reconciliation with my spouse who walked out on me. I have hurt her so bad and have realized that I never really met her need when she needed me. She has hardened her heart towards me. I now am praying that the lord will touch her heart and bring her back to him, and to also soften her heart towards me. I really love her and would like her to return home. She wants to return home because she misses the kids ages 29, 28, 18, 13 & 10, but she wants me to move out of the house because she does not think I can tolerate her wanting to be single and going out with whom she would like.

    I have prayed for her to return home to the kids, and that I would move out. The Lord has answered this prayer and I’ve made the decision after praying and counseling with my pastor that I’ll move out so that I can show her that I’m willing to make her first –that I am not that person I was before. I ask for prayers from all, that the Lord our God would continue to change me –to put God first before anyone. I also ask for prayers for reconciliation of my marriage.

    • Ed from United States says:

      Angelo, I have seen your post, and brother it hurts me to know that you are going through what you are. Your situation and mine sound similar in some ways, and I just wanted you to know that I am of the opinion that whatsoever you need in your own life if you pray for it for someone else when their need is similar or the same, you will get what you pray for, for yourself. I hope I am not wrong about that.

      I believe that God answers when two or more on earth agree as touching any one thing. I am praying for you now as I write this and will some more.You have said some of the same things that I have said, I must change, and be the change I want to see in her. When she sees it in me first, there is a strong chance she will soften her heart toward me and get on board where working to save the marriage is concerned. I pray for reconciliation to come by way of God’s explicit intervention. May you find the strength and stability you need at a time like this. A brother in the Lord, Ed

  3. Ed from United States says:

    Ed from United States says:

    July 11, 2014 at 4:36 am

    January 25th of this year, My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. They performed a lumpectomy, removed twenty five or more lymph nodes, but say they have gotten it all. For that I’m ecstatic, as I know she is. Immediately thereafter however, she began to talk of divorce. It was bad enough that I was still reeling from the whole cancer thing, much less to hear these other tragic words! I can’t honestly tell you that I’ve stopped spinning yet. I’m at a total loss. I knew that we were anything but the perfect match, she’s country, I’m city.

    We dated roughly 10 years off and on before getting serious. It’s now been 14 years of marriage. Eleven years ago we became the caregivers of her elderly cousin whom she barely knew, and of course I didn’t know at all. This had a dramatic influence over our personal finances as she offered us the old farm homestead directly across from her place, rent free and ours to live in for the rest of our lives, etc..

    I told my wife it was a bird nest on the ground, though it needed remodeling badly. As an integral part of her original offer, her cousin said she would pay me to remodel it and pay for everything. And that, by the way, was my profession for 39 plus years. What was not discussed was that I too was going to be saddled with the duties of mowing the seven acres, tree trimming weed eating, turning over the rather sizable garden, seeing to it that it was weeded, watered, and harvested, etc. It took so much time away from my remodel work that that is now not done, even after 11 Years.

    I’m pulling my hair out, and my wife is citing this fact along with various other disappointments, as resentments, which have built up over the years and are now factoring in where her desire for divorce is concerned. Plus the fact that cancer, chemo, etc. have all put her in touch with her own mortality, and what’s really important in life. I concur wholeheartedly with the things she says are suddenly now important to her; I always have. I’ve been aware of those things for years, and I just can’t see her argument that these are reasons for making me the scapegoat for all of her life’s unhappiness, and or disappointments.

    We all have them. I could go on and on about the disappointments I too have had for the past 14 years. But I never saw that as a reason to throw in the towel. Marital problems should be worked through, and talked about. Communication is tantamount to success. And one of the very first things I did when we first considered marriage, was to go to her and stress that she could always come to me about anything, talk to me, and I would never make her feel ridiculed, foolish, or unsafe to do so. I feel she shot herself in the foot when she didn’t, and is now laying all of this on me. I’m not sure I have the constitutional, or spiritual strength to continue the fight to save my marriage. I feel as though I have indeed been thrown under the bus. I don’t understand her thinking. I need your prayers because I realize that I can’t do this alone! And I’m not sure anymore that I even have it in me to want to, even though I know it’s the right thing to do! Help!, is all I can say, I don’t know what else there is to say, just HELP! I will be thanking you in advance. Please Reply.

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Ed, I can see why you feel like you have been “thrown under the bus” so to speak. I can also see why you’re confused… who wouldn’t be, given all you’ve been through together and now with these recent actions on her part? After having been through so much together, you’d think it would draw you closer together, rather than farther apart. But sadly, that’s not what often happens. Life-changing events often turn marriage “partners” against each other, if they both aren’t very intentional in finding ways to draw closer together. That’s what appears to have happened here… there seems to be some kind of disconnect emotionally, on your wife’s part and why, I’m not sure.

      In today’s world it’s a continual need to fight FOR your marriage, because there are so many pressures, temptations, and the feeding of so much faulty thinking that fight against couples to split them up. The search for the feeling of “happiness” in all the wrong places is such a draw for people today. Way too often perseverance in marriage –fighting through the tough times to get to the better times falls behind the pursuit of the “I’ve just got to be happy” syndrome that people give into.

      Ed, I wish I could say that your marriage will come out of this and grow stronger. I just don’t know. I hope so and pray so. But I don’t know you or your wife, or the thoughts your wife fed herself with to get to the point of having a “desire to divorce.” I DO know that sometimes couples can be on the verge of divorce, and sometimes even be going through a divorce… other times they do get a divorce and somehow, they are able to get it back together and rebuild. If you go into the “Save My Marriage” topic, and go into the “Testimonies” part of it, you will find many, many testimonies of couples who are able to make their marriage work when it looked hopeless. Perhaps viewing some of them might give you hope. I don’t know if it would be hope that you should grab onto or not, because again, I don’t know all the variables. But God does, and at this point in time, it seems that it might be wise, because maybe it might help you to persevere and hang in there, despite what it looks like right now.

      God won’t MAKE your wife come back to you to work on your marriage again, because He gives us each a free will (which you have, as well). But I do know that He can give you wisdom as far as how to proceed, as you walk with Him through this journey. And even if your wife never listens to the Lord, as you pray for her and God speaks to her, He will help you to do what you need to do each day to get your life together –work on your own issues, and rebuild your life in a good way, no matter what the circumstances. I know that isn’t what you’d want to hear. I sure wouldn’t. But it’s true, none-the-less. You can’t MAKE your wife jump back into your marriage. But you can pursue God to help you be and become a person that she might want to unite with again. And even if she doesn’t, you are still much farther ahead than if you didn’t go with God on this and work on your own issues (praying she will eventually join you).

      I cry for you Ed, and I pray for you, and so is my husband praying for you. We wish we could help you more than this and what we offer you on our web site. But that’s all we have for you. As human beings, our hands are shortened. But please move towards God in this. He is your one true hope to be able to put one foot in front of the other –one who knows what it’s like to be rejected by someone He loves –one who can eventually infuse hope into your heart that you will eventually experience better days –ones that will bring a smile to your heart. I hope you get there and pray you will feel His presence and will grab His wisdom, as you ask for it.

  4. Robin from United States says:

    Hi! I’m a Christian, my husband is not. I’ve been married 33 yrs. Ten years ago he wanted out of the marriage because we’re more like sister and brother. I did my best to show him and tell him it’s not true. (I work days he works nights and it has been this way for most of our marriage.) I would not cooperate with his ideas, like sleeping in my daughters room and my daughter sleeping in our room, until the house is sold, then he would help find me a house or place to live. I told him, he would need to find an apartment, he could not stay here and I do not believe in divorce. I will not sign. He spent the night in a hotel, thought it through and said, “it’s a crisis he’s going through he’s sorry for putting me through that.” I took him for his word.

    Ten years later my daughter had an addiction and I’ve been staying by her side for 5 of the ten years. We had different ideas on how to help her. I’m considered the enabler. I agree now, she has manipulated and used me. I still love her and I’ll always be there for her, just am wiser to the addict’s ways. She is now in a program, which has woken her up and turned her back to God.

    I came home and thought I was robbed. It was my husband who left a note saying he had planned on leaving when our daughter turned 18 but because of the addiction problem stayed for our daughter’s addiction. He thought he could help, but saw he couldn’t, the rest he says is our marriage. I didn’t see this coming. I took him for his word ten years ago. He said, “he stayed because he didn’t want another man telling his daughter what to do.”

    He is in an apartment and came to the decision he doesn’t want to be in a marriage. He isn’t looking to divorce as of right now and he isn’t looking for another relationship. I ran back to God asked for forgiveness. I love my husband. I will always love him. I see all the things on the list above and I believe some pertains to me as a wife.

    The line of communication is open between us. I forgive him for abandoning our marriage. I ask God to forgive me. I also have asked my husband to forgive me. He doesn’t want to work on the marriage; he doesn’t want to even talk about the marriage. I believe he is angry with me and hurt. I’m staying in communication with God asking God to open his eyes, ears and soften his heart. I’m being patient, but I have to be honest I have bad days. The Bible says, if your husband leaves, and he is not saved it is O.K. for you to divorce, same for the wife. I don’t want a divorce. I want my husband back. I know God has a plan. How long will this last? He has now purchased a trailer in a 55+ community. Is it over? He does text me and asks questions when he hears from our son my car is acting up. The last text was did I drop the car off at Par Automotive. He also text me Happy Fourth. Is this a sign he has not completely closed the door?

  5. Pastor Jeremy from United States says:

    Hi my name is Pastor Jeremy. I am 30 years old. As of this July 4th me and my wife have been married for 8 years. As of February of this year she told me she wanted a divorce, I talked to her about it ‘frustrated as I was at the time’ and she decided that we could, as she put it, ‘work this marriage out’. I also found out around this time that she was having a second emotional affair online. She made an intentional decision to cut off all contact with him.

    However a few months later my sister-in-law who lives with us started going out really late at night with my wife and she was not telling me where she was going. Most of the time it turns out they where going to a bar downtown even though they kept claiming they where going for a walk. Thankfully she also stopped doing this as well. However, she has now got into an online game called 3D Sex and she is on it all day long, she talks to all these guys on it and never lets me know what they are talking about.

    Just like she does with her about 3 or so facebook pages I can’t have any contact with her at all on any of them even though she’s always talking to guys about who knows what on there. I love her dearly and have started trying to simply treat her lovingly and respectfully despite the fact that the only time she seems to want to talk to me is when she wants something to eat or wants me to find something. Through all of this I have grown in my faith tremendously. I am a more gentle, more gracious, more merciful, more loving person, more committed, and more trust worthy person than I have ever been since I became a born again child of God at the age of 19.

    She seems so emotionally distant from me now, not that that’s anything ‘new’ but when we where first married and before that going out we used to do all these things together and hold hands and hug and kiss and such now she acts like that’s something dirty. She says she is a Christian as she always has claimed but the things she believes and the things that are in scripture are completely incompatible. She even purposely misplaced her ring about 4 times and now is wearing a strange ring that doesn’t even look like a wedding ring.

    I love her dearly and I want our marriage to grown strong and healthy like so many other peoples marriages I have seen, but it’s so hard when she see’s no need to change or to even act like I’m her husband ‘well except when she’s with me at church then she puts on a mask like she’s someone completely different’. I have been meaning to get in contact with the Pastor of the church we are going to but it’s just so hard to figure out how to tell him I need to talk to him when he’s busy so often. God willing I will try to get a hold of him soon, his wife is also a very godly woman and I’m sure would be more than willing to gently mentor and disciple my wife since they have grown to be good friends as of recent, which is no coincident since I prayed for her to be surrounded by godly friends. :) Please get back to me with any suggestions thanks and God bless.

    P.S. I’m praying for ya, and have added you and your ministry to one of my prayer lists; Your brother in Christ Pastor Jeremy Hicks. :)

    • Tim from United States says:

      Pastor, it appears you are in a stage of your marriage where there is still hope to gain her attention and turn the tables. This sounds really harsh what I am about to post here in the link, but I know for a fact that if I had done this in the earlier stages of my problems with my wife (and we were SEPARATED and living apart), we would be together now. It felt impossible for me to do what the “180″ suggested, and I did some of it but not consistently.

      I firmly believe that even if you do SOME of the stuff in the list CONSISTENTLY, then your wife will realize the error of her ways and will want to work on your marriage more than ever before.

      Please do this “180″ that is suggested, and you will definitely get her attention and make her wonder why she ever has had thoughts of leaving you or betraying you. http://www.loveshack.org/forums/breaking-up-reconciliation-coping/separation-divorce/406628-critical-readings-separation-divorce

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