Reconciling with a Wife Who Has Hardened Her Heart

Reconciling Adobe stock Gefangen“I’m trying everything I can, but my wife just won’t consider reconciling 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. Despite their outreach to her, 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, 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 for Reconciling

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 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 in reconciling with her again.

I’m going to present an article for you to read, to pray over and consider. It may or may not be for you. 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. Then ask the Lord to help you to keep your mind open to what He wants you to know. A good prayer for you to sincerely express to God is:

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)

Next:

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 when you:

• Speak harsh words.

• Tell her that her opinions don’t matter.

• Act unwilling to admit when you are wrong.

• Take her for granted.

• Make jokes or sarcastic comments at her expense.

• Show that you do not trust her.

• Force her to do something that she’s uncomfortable with.

• Act rude to her in front of others.

• Dismiss 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 on Reconciling

I came across an article, which I referred to earlier, believing you will benefit from reading it. I’m hoping that 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. As a result, 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 read and glean. I encourage you to prayerfully consider all God shows you, for your situation. Below is the Familyministries.com link to this article.

Please read:

RECONCILIATION WITH A HARDENED WIFE

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 that she needs to surrender to the Lord. But that does not mean that she will seek reconciling 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 there is 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. He wants to do this whether your wife comes back to you 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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429 responses to “Reconciling with a Wife Who Has Hardened Her Heart

  1. I’ve heard this over and over. Forgive but not take back. It’s a lie to believe you’ve forgiven someone when they’ve changed and done everything right to reconcile. When you make a vow to God it shouldn’t be broken. The person really isn’t forgiving; they remain with a hard heart or fist as they use. To forgive someone is to not hold them accountable for what they did. Just like when Christ forgives us. These lies are corrupting the church to the point to where divorce statistics are no different. God help us.

      1. The church and it’s leaders have been the biggest hindrance to our marriage. More so than anything else.

        1. We pray God leads you to those who will help your marriage, and not hinder it! That should be our mission within the church–to encourage, and support and NOT hinder!

          1. There’s a lot of wisdom here but there’s one thing that seems to be dangerously overlooked. A lot of the advice circulating among Christians condones and promotes bitterness, which is SIN.

            There comes a time when a believer, even if deeply offended and sinned against, must forgive, just as he or she was forgiven. Yet too often these days, wives are given a pass on that. They are encouraged to nurse bitterness even while husbands do anything and everything to demonstrate that they are sincerely repentant…but to no avail. This is an ungodly, wicked situation but far too common among believers.

          2. You are right. Bitterness is never something we should embrace in any way. We are told not to “allow bitterness to take root.” This article is not all-encompassing. It doesn’t give every bit of advice that it could/should, and possibly would if it was much, much longer.

            Too many wives (as well as too many husbands) ARE given a pass on nursing bitterness. And some are given a pass on sinning, where it accommodates sinful behavior. We are not told that we have to reconcile with someone who has hurt us, but we are told not to embrace unforgiveness and bitterness. We are to forgive. That can open up the possibility to reconcile. But it doesn’t mean that they HAVE to reconcile (and it would be unwise to do so if it is an abusive, and/or a possible repetitive situation because the offender never really repented… and/or has a propensity towards repeating the same sinful behavior). But yes… you are right; Christians have no right to holding onto bitterness. It is a sin.

    1. The church and it’s leaders have been the biggest hindrance to our marriage. More so than anything else.

      1. We’re so, so sorry that you have found this to be true in your marriage. That should NEVER be! We should be encouragers, not discouragers. We should be supporting, and helping spouses to grow the best marriages. That is God’s desire. Marriage is a living picture of Christ’s love for the church. So, it is God’s heart that we do all we can to help spouses grow in their love for one another. I hope you eventually find that help within the church and with it’s leaders. May it be so, Lord. May it be so!

  2. I am a wife and I have read all of the above and that is exactly how I am feeling right now. It has not happened over night or in a few weeks; it has happened over 9 years of going through the same thing and me forgiving him and it going back to the same thing all over again. I have been accused of cheating, been embarrassed in front of family, friends, and church members, people on my job and most of all my three girls who are growing up in a home that is broken.

    I have made up in my mind that I cannot continue to live this way with him. I love him, YES, but love isn’t enough to heal the hurt and pain I have had to deal with, nor what he has had to deal with. My part comes from the deep hurt that I received from him. I had no right to do what I did at all. But I recognize my fault in it as well, spoke with an ex boyfriend about him to get advice, spoke with friends to get advice (girls), and I just gave up on our marriage. I would get filled with so much hope and it would crumble back down.

    I stopped cooking for him. I fell out of love with him, fell back in love with him and tried my hardest to work it out and to look forward and move forward with our marriage. I have talked until I couldn’t talk anymore. I felt so unappreciated I just stopped and became very depressed and didn’t know what to do. I prayed and gave it to God because I knew I couldn’t handle it anymore. I told him how I felt and he wants to try and work it out again and I had to tell him that I can’t give him my heart anymore; I just can’t. I am doing the right thing for me and my daughters?

    1. No, it’s never right to sin, sister in christ, it’s as simple as that. You know it. We all know it as Christians. It’s in the bible. All thats written about sin is never right. We are never to be wrongly closed. Never-to be wrongly closed is to commit sin. Sin is wrong. It says in the Bible the few biblical grounds there are for divorce. Yet in the case of sexual infidelity the wife or husband is still to forgive, be rightly open, and let God heal them of their pain, their wounds, and if possible seek to stay together as a married couple. And even when they divorce (or separate without divorce) they can still let God fix their marriage, unless of course one spouse (or former spouse) is unrepentant and still having an affair (or having a a lover if they are divorced). In which case, if the offending spouse (or former spouse) is unrepentant and is still being sexually immoral habitually then and only then does the offended spouse (or former spouse) have the biblical RIGHT to CHOOSE to NOT stay in marriage with their spouse.

      And if they’re already divorced then the offended former spouse likewise has the RIGHT to CHOOSE to NOT get re-married to their former spouse, BECAUSE OF THE UNREPENTANCE of the offending person, and their HABIT they STILL HAVE of sexual immorality. But another thing is if the two people have divorced and one or both of them marry another person, or have done so since getting divorced then they CAN’T BIBLICALLY get re-married to each other again, BECAUSE it would then be ADULTERY-as the Bible makes clear. So it is simple. It is clear.

      So when a Christian sins and tries to pretend they have the right to sin they KNOW they are LYING. Sin is NEVER right. What is not CLEAR about that??? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING… NOTHING… Instead it’s crystal clear. We all know it!

      My parents divorced when I was 2, or 3. Then dad, a Christian, wrongly married a Christian woman and it was wrong because he was divorced. So when they married it was ADULTERY-SIN-WRONG. I knew it even then, aged about 6. It was just before I became a Christian and God showed me I’m designed to marry… to be a helper to my own husband when I have one. And that includes staying with him. STAY, don’t LEAVE. My mother left my dad. It broke his heart, my heart, my sister’s heart, her own heart, and broke God’s heart. But I forgive, And I’m healed by God. But I have ‘SCARS’… and an intense, right passion for biblical marriage, and for husbands and wives staying together… until death do they part… or the rapture of the church parts them. Unless they have biblical reason to divorce, even then some could get re-married to each other as I’ve described above.

      I am 53 years young and am still waiting to get married. I thought I’d be married aged 18 or 19, 20, or 21 tops…HA HA!!! So much for that theory! GOD is in control. He will get me married in His perfect timing. I have prayed like mad to stay together as long as it’s God’s will for us to do so… and hopefully we WILL. But even if we didn’t… well, GOD would help me with that, and help the man with that. “THE LORD IS MY HELPER.” That is a Bible quote–God’s Word, Amen.

      When we sin as Christians we have guilt, until we confess and repent of it. So even if you have confessed and repented and don’t sin then you are still obligated by God to BE WITH your God-given marital spouse. Open heartedly, open in your mind, will, heart, soul/spirit/emotions/body/sexuality. Plus if you have sinned you must confess, repent, be RECONCILED with your God-given marital spouse-unless there’s the valid reason NOT to, as described in the BIBLE. So you’re pretending otherwise. Why? You’re choosing to sin, rebel, be selfish.

      All sin is in some way SELFISH. The devil was the first to sin. It was selfishness, combined with pride. Since then whenever anyone sins it’s really some form of selfishness, combined with pride. It is a hardening of the heart, of the spirit, of the will, of the conscience, of the emotions, of the sexuality, etc. It’s simple and clear. All sin is trying to sinfully make up sinful so-called “excuses” to sin. And it is therefore a filthy, filthy scam — a scam, rebellion, and wicked.

      So, if your husband, or former husband (if you’re divorced by now) is willing to be married to you and neither of you has married to someone else since you got married to each other then you should be married to him and open rightly in every way, whether he’s open or not, whether he’s being obedient properly to God or not. We are NOT victims anymore. “SIN SHALL NOT HAVE DOMINION OVER YOU, FOR YE ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW, BUT UNDER GRACE” — a Bible quote, God’s word, amen.

      “WHAT GOD HAS JOINED TOGETHER LET NOT MAN (OR WOMAN) PUT ASUNDER” -Bible quote, God’s Word, Amen. So pray, get in fellowship, get true wisdom if you lack it and use it, plus the spiritual armor (as told in Ephesians) with a controlled tongue and temper. Be forgiving consistently. God has shown me who I’m to marry. But the red native Indian man is not a Christian yet. But he will become one very soon, and then God will get us courting and then married.

      Yet already I’m truly so deeply in love with him, and long so deeply for him that I can hardly stand it. I’ve been in love with him for about 25 YEARS. That’s a long wait… a hard wait. As a woman I have to wait for him, Gregg, to be caused by God to pursue me, and propose, after he becomes a Christian. So there’s more waiting ahead of me and for Gregg too. And when we finally marry I don’t want either of us to make the mistakes my parents did.

      So please pray. I hope you get reconciled with your man, your husband. He is your “Adam.” You are his “Eve.” God rightly hates divorce and all sins, as do all of us Christians. Don’t play the victim. We are VICTORS. STAND in FULL VICTORY therefore, amen, HEAVENLY FATHER, AMEN TO THAT. I’m not being unrealistic. I’m being truthful. God gave me true wisdom in 2004, and spiritual maturity. Both make a drastic difference when used properly, yes, properly. ….Love, Jane, a CHRISTIAN WOMAN, unashamed, victorious, a warrior/soldier for Jesus Christ

  3. It has been close to 12 years since something stopped my wife wanting to be intimate in any fashion with me and she cannot provide a coherent reason but says we just grew apart. She praises me as a good and loving husband and provider but cannot understand my love for her since she “has not done anything to earn that love” in 12 years.

    She wants to move back to her hometown in DE, we live in KY, where her friends and some of her relatives live where she says she will be happy as she is not happy where we live now or happy with me. Our youngest is still in college so I must still work to provide for her and to try to pay off significant debts accrued from my wife’s failed business.

  4. Please pray for Me and Ashraf. Please pray that God re-unite us and make our love and bond stronger for each other in the mighty name of Jesus. Father God, reconcile us if it be your will. Father God, help us to forgive each other if we ever did or said anything that offended each other. Amen

  5. Family, I always ask couples if they are willing to let God heal their marriage. It isn’t always the wife who has a hardened heart; men do it to. Every rocky road we travel is an opportunity for God to work in our lives and for us to be Triumphant in Christ over the darkness that invades not only marriage but families also.

    The beginning of healed marriages is letting God’s will, not our will/desire, be done. When it is stated “I love him/her but am not in love with him/her anymore,” we are saying; we never had unconditional love for him/her. Because of errors in our walk, does God lose His love for us? Praise God that He doesn’t.

    Granted, there are times the hardened heart won’t be softened no matter the quantity and quality of prayers. At that stage, the one who wants the healing needs to pray for patience for God’s will to be done. The one with the hard heart should be praying for the Lord to soften their heart so that the Lord will be honored.

    Remember, in heaven we aren’t given in marriage. The sinner who prayed for forgiveness was justified, not the Pharisee. When an individual is justifying themselves by what they have done in the marriage or by the pain and suffering they’ve gone through, they’ll have a hard time being at peace. Most relationships lose their peace and joy, which becomes harder to get back, when their will/desires are at the forefront of their hardened heart.

    First, let God teach you how to love Him with all your heart, mind, and soul! Stay in grace and may the peace and joy in your lives not be stolen from you.

    1. Don, we couldn’t have said it better. Thanks, Brother for sharing your heart, your wisdom and your passion. We hope you come back often to post on our web site. Blessings! -Steve and Cindy Wright

      1. Steve and Cindy, thank you for your kind words. My background is heavily dealing with cults. There are many similarities with cults and broken marriages. I’d love to do a snippet on “recovering from a broken marriage, whether it is healed or there is divorce.” Biblically centered, that surprises people. I have had the honor of teaching (one on one, with my wife) many women and girls how to profile men.

        With many believers, the remedy for healing is simple but it is the application that is the issue; think tooth ache.
        Ravi Zacharias said his brother never knew the woman he was going to marry. So Ravi asked him how can you love and marry her? His brother said ” Because I want to love her!” Awesome thought.

        Anyways, I retired from the work force this past November, as the Lord has allowed me extra time in the ministry. Enjoy your walk, for we are ambassadors of Christ; novel thought and honor.

  6. I am reading this article in this time of lockdown due to the Covid 19, under a time of reflection. I have been separated (There’s no divorce law yet in my country) from my wife for the past 10 years. I have been consistently trying to reconcile with my wife but somehow, my desire to do so has diminished. A lot of sermons and pastoral advise that God is not pleased with divorce, only makes me feel condemned. Now I realize that I can still serve God (who loves both me and my wife) in many other ways even though I’m separated. I have stopped forcing the issue of reconciliation and I am instead placing everything in God’s hand. Thank you.