Reconciling with a Wife Who Has Hardened Her Heart

Adobe stock Gefangen“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.

Good Starting Point

But I’ve done some digging into coming 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. This is true, at least, for the immediate moment. And that is what I’m offering here —something of substance to help you in your immediate desperation.

You will need to work through this journey together with God to see how He 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, 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. 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:

Under three things the earth trembles…” One of those three things is “an unloved woman who is married.” You may be screaming inside that you WANT to show her love and are willing to do what it takes to give it to her. But for some reason —one you 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 work in denial of the truth. It’s important to work with what you CAN do, rather than what you wish you could do. Denial will take you to a dead end, as far as getting any positive results.

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 and help you. It’s the gleaning process, in action.

Start With Prayer

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)


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. However, 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.

Closed Spirit

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 over their heart. Because of these events, 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. The result was 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.

He wrote:

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.

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 many husbands. They haven’t worked for others, but you never know until you pray, read, and see if God is leading you that way. For this reason, 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. Little by little with time being the mortar, that wall 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, I’m trying 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.

A Helpful Article

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. Whether it’s the husband, wife, and/or others, which caused the spirit of ANY spouse to close off, it is wrong.

But hopefully, at least SOME of what the author, Reb Bradley has written will help. 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. Below is the link to this article.

Please read:


Above all, I hope that your ultimate goal goes beyond reconciling 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. 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 in living with you as husband and wife again. If she doesn’t feel safe with you (physically, spiritually, and/or emotionally), she may decide to forgive you, but she still will not live with you.

Live For God

I can’t account for her actions, and neither can you. This is between her and God. 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.

Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.

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Filed under: Bitterness and Forgiveness Save My Marriage

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383 responses to “Reconciling with a Wife Who Has Hardened Her Heart

  1. I was suddenly divorced against my will. I accept my part. I thought I was open. I did not name call. I asked forgiveness for my part. Their heart was still hardened. I’ve prayed and cried many many tears. I miss my spouse greatly. There was someone else …they refused to come clean about it and just continued to blame me for all the problems. No one is innocent but I was the rejected person. Add infertility, their lack of respect for our privacy and sin. A sin unconfessed is hard to deal with.

    1. I am so sorry for your pain. So sorry. I pray that our Lord surrounds you with people that will walk with you and comfort you.

  2. My wife left me suddenly right before our anniversary. She had become hardened in the year prior and I suspected her having improper dealings (at least an emotional affair) with someone else. Worse, she also began to have frequent angry exchanges with her father and that anger became directed at me.

    I know my part in her hardening, I started working long hours and spent most of my free time either sleeping, worrying, or trying to take care of sick relatives (especially my elderly parents). In the beginning of our marriage my heart was closed and I often was withdrawn. But the more I started opening up to her the angier and more resentful she became. Then when I started sharing my emotions and feelings, looking for understanding and support, my wife really started lashing out and ridiculing me. There were times where she would have me near tears because her berating and anger would overwhelming.

    As man I felt ashamed and I kept all of the trauma to myself. My wife, the social butterfly who went to church regularly and was always “positive” was suddenly filled with so much hate and anger when returned home.

    We were a dynamic professional couple with a large and beautiful home and no kids, but my wife was constantly jealous of what others had (particularly friends and coworkers) and always lamented to me that she “missed out” and was “imprisoned” because of our marriage. My belief and relationship with God was at its lowest point. How could a Christian woman who grew up in the lap of luxury, reads the Bible and prays every night, and is so nice and positive to others be so resentful and angry to the person that loves her the most?

    By this time my family and friends had stopped visiting our home regularly and my wife was either always away, out with friends, or her friends/family were visiting. My family knew something was wrong, but they stayed away and I never talked.

    Then my wife just disappeared and stopped returning my calls. When she finally did answer, I received nothing but anger and viritol. When I reached out to her family and friends worried that something horrible happened no one would tell me where she was and she started angrily demanding I stop contacting them.

    I later found out that she had been building a story about me that made me out to be some crazed monster and that she had to flee for her life. Every intimate thing I shared with her or our marriage counselor in confidence was repackaged by her and shared with the world. Every disagreement or fight was retold and respun to make her the victim. Then the false allegations of abuse started filtering back to me. Worse the evidence of an emotional affair or worse started becoming more clear.

    I was devesated and dumbfounded, I became angry with God and even cursed him. How could a person I saw as my queen to cherish and protect all of these years do and say such things? I married her in the faith, and even though my faith faltered, her’s was supposedly strong. How could a Christian woman lie and take up against her husband?

    Eventually she started demanding money and divorce. Worse, random acts of vandalism started occurring around our once beautiful and peaceful home. When she would come by periodically to pick up clothes that I neatly packed, I was met with nothing but anger, demands, and rage. It got to the point where I no longer felt safe around her as she kept making more demands, allegations against me, and was increasing her contact.

    Eventually I filed for divorce and served her with the paperwork. While all contact and vandalism magically ceased, the hurt and hardening of my heart towards her grew. I realize the woman whom I gave my heart to was now out to destroy me. I went from wanting anything to have her back to now fearing any contact from her.

    While I cursed God initially, I realize that he put a lot of loving and good people in my path. Old family and friends that I have not talked to in years have come out to pray for and support me. Colleagues, old rivals, and even strangers have come out to lend a helping hand. I have gone from being an “island” to having a whole community of people support and love me. That is all because of God’s work.

    I do not know what is next and I’m still worried about the future. Money is tight and I have an angry woman I’m divorcing that seems possessed and filled with hate. I’m not sure what God wants me to do, say, or see, but I continue to hope for peace and love.

    1. Sometimes we meet people to learn a lesson or two. Based on your text above, which I suggest you read again, clearly is not the half you are missing. Years ago when my girlfriend dumped me I thought the world was coming to an end and was very bitter toward her. And then I met my wife. Turns out she is far superior to my ex girlfriend in every shape or form. And I couldn’t be happier. So what did you learn from this? Don’t feel bad about your situation and something better will happen?? Wrong !!! You do not know what’s in store. Learn to accept the present with dignity, be supportive and maintain a balance in your life. The rest will fall in place as it should. As hard as it sounds, real simple to implement if you realize there’s no better way. Its not the end my friend. Good Luck. -a

    2. I’m the wife. My husband and I have been married for 23 years. I was sweet and naive when we met. His bad decisions, that he never intentionally meant, affected our life so much that it’s been extremely hard on me and since he’s ill it falls even harder on me. What I am trying to say is sometimes we become bitter and hard because the other person does not want to admit that because of their selfishness and wanting things the easy way and never considering the spouse in making decisions has done this to their spouse.

      His selfishness caused a horrible ripple effect in our marriage that the hardship lands mostly on me. I’m trying to straighten it out now but I don’t know if I have the energy. However he acts like such a nice guy that people think I’m the “bad guy,” so make sure you are being clear in your stories men and women and not leaving out the most important information. You are only lying to yourselves when you do. I’m sticking it out because I should have been more cognitive of the decisions he made with our future and not trusted him; plus I have nothing and nowhere to go. I’m a good looking woman who still attracts men but I have children and grandchildren and they would be devistated if we split up – so I made my bed.

  3. My wife and I have been married a little over a year now, but we’ve been together for 8. We have 3 beautiful kids. I have to be honest, I put my wife through so many things emotionally and physically. Exactly 1 year into our marriage she decided she had enough and called it quits. This has been the toughest weeks of my life because I know I did wrong and I admit it. None of my begging or crying in front of her has helped and she told me she wants to start with someone new. I don’t know what else to do but leave it in God’s hands.

  4. I would like to ask is there a way that my wife who has left me can be encouraged by some means or someone to visit this site? I would love to hear about how that could be done. If I recommend for her to see this site she will most certainly not. Can someone help this process? If I can get her to see this site she may discover that coming back to me, the man who loves her with all his broken heart, would be worth a try.

    Presently she is adamant in never coming back. Most hurtful is that I don’t know why she left. I SUPPOSE she held a lot in and it was building for some time but whatever it is can be fixed because I will do anything to make it better. TWO LITTLE and Brilliant CHILDREN 11 AND 7 are hurting. Please help me. Please pray for me. Thank you in Christ’s name.

    1. Paul, How I wish I could say that we could do that for you, but for many reasons, we just can’t. How I wish we could, because that is our heart. But I do recommend that you contact the ministry of Focus on the Family – Canada at: They have contact info on their web site that would make it so you could ask them this question. They are a GREAT ministry. We have a lot of respect for them and they would be able to give you the best advice on this, and possibly help in some way. Please contact them. I pray the Lord helps you and your children, and your wife –to reunite as a family. May you be blessed!

  5. The problem I have with this article is that it seems everything blames the man. I mean if we’re believers in Christ there’s a way both husband and woman are supposed to act and do and both have to submit to God. If a wife has a hardened heart it’s her fault; if it’s hardened that’s what the Bible teaches a person wants a divorce due to their hardened heart. I don’t understand why that’s not being said. Both husband and wife have to do their roles – first, both have to trust God. It just seems like in situations like this a wife is never responsible for their hearts or actions which they actually are in alot of ways. If we’re believers we have to both be responsible for our own hearts and actions. No one can Gardner our hearts but ourselves or God.

  6. From a wife’s perspective…. If you have a plant and you fail to feed or water it for years….decades…and the plant dies, how much water and plantfood will it take to Revive the plant? When you work 14-16 hours a day 7 days a week and don’t give the wife and the children any of your time even though you could choose to do so and the wife eventually stops asking you to, how is it not too late after her waiting and trying for 20/30 years?

  7. I am the spouse who has hardened my heart. After being walked out on and etc. 5 times, my heart has failed. My spouse wants to again reconcile and even tells me that he loves me more then ever after a God experience. But I find it more difficult now to accept the love they offer because of the 5 past rejections.

    I believe they are sincere, but like an open wound that has scabbed over Hard to protect the healing trying to go on inside, my heart finds little joy in hearing I love you right now. I lost who I am because I tried to be a pleaser to keep them. Now fear of repeating the past rejection keeps me from opening my heart again, even though they may be a changed person. Time will tell…

    1. Monica, sorry to hear about your issues. It is a little hard to comment without knowing why your spouse walked out. It must be a hard thing to forgive someone that many times, & I can see why your heart is hard. A spouse, especially guys, will go to extremes to get you to take him back. You may consider group counseling as part of the deal. Also deal with the cause of the walkout. If you say yes, please take it slow. Make him prove himself. And you are not a meal ticket when he gets hungry.

  8. I thank you for the chance to be able to express myself about this whole situation about me and my wife and where we’re at in our marriage. I thank God for the direction he has given me as in giving him the honor and the glory and not putting no one before him and now I have a real understanding about God as a jealous God and that you’re not to put no one or nothing before him. I know my wife was moved from me for a reason because she had become a distraction for me and I was not doing as I should in the Lord. I was moving away from him because I was trying to cling on to her; I love her with all my heart, but I love God more and I’m just hoping and praying that God would reconcile our marriage to place the love that I have in my heart in my wife’s heart as well so that we could love each other and continue on in this marriage in serving God together side by side. This is all that I would really hope for that God would work in my mind and my heart to be a better husband to my wife. To God I give the praise, amen.