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)


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

  1. I couldn’t even read this whole article. Please don’t write Biblical truths and then twist it to make the man the bad guy here. Clearly written by a woman if she hadn’t even said it. Totally blamed the guy.

    1. And there you have it. It doesn’t matter if this is written by a man or a woman. I certainly couldn’t tell. The truth is, these things do close a woman’s heart. They would do the same to a man as well. Nobody is nourished with harsh words and criticism. The same rules could apply to anyone going through a situation like this.

      It is good for us to know how our actions break the heart of our spouse, so we can consider our sins. We can ask God if there is an area we need to change. Undoubtedly, there is always an area of our lives and behaviour, which God wants us to bring to Him, so He can help us be the people He created us to be. It hurts and sometimes we just want the other person to change. However, the only person we can change is ourselves. I’m sorry if you are going through hurt.

    2. It is painful but also a joy to know honouring actions could bring hurt to our spouses, for that is the only way we can begin to heal and restore what was lost. We can only change ourselves, not other people. We look at the speck, rather than the log.

  2. I am going through all of this and it hurts. My wife wants a divorce and is planning on filing one and has talked to her attorney. I am very miserable. I understand this maybe inevitable but I do not want to give up on this. I wake up in sadness everyday since we got into our last argument. I really do not have the will to move on and I don’t what to do.

    1. I’m sorry you are going through this. Take one day at a time and pray, pray, pray. If I were to give advice, it would be to honour your vows and keep the hope until the divorce comes through. Keep a single minded focus on prayer and reading the word. God is for you, He is for us all and He sees what you are going through. Depending and trusting in God never brings regrets and He will bring you through, whatever the final outcome is. I pray you are restored in your marriage, but it’s not an easy road and with God you can come out of it whatever happens.

  3. I’d like to thank the Lord before anything else. I’ve been separated from my wife and children 2 years ago. My wife came from an abusive relationship before me. She always said that I’m even worse than her former live in partner. I just realized lately that it is true given that there were several times I hurt her physically during our 10 years of marriage; she even got into a relationship but I was able to forgive her.

    Every now and then I get depressed and right now I would want to reconcile with her…I even thought of several bargaining moves but I said to myself that since we are a married couple a reconciliation should happen because we are put together by God. I hope God uses you to help my family in this journey.

    1. I pray the Lord talks to both of you. There are obviously some deep issues here. Both of you have dealt with abuse issues from the other and need to work on your own stuff so all of this dysfunction stops. We always tell people that you can’t change your spouse but you can change yourself. When you have issues going on within you (ESPECIALLY abuse and adultery issues where you are hurting your spouse), you need to work on those issues with the Lord–even if your spouse won’t work on theirs.

      Please pray, ask for God to lead you, and perhaps talk to your spouse about all of this and see how you can each work on your issues so your relationship is healthy and loving, as the Lord would have it. Plus, you are teaching your children some very toxic behavior as to how they will deal with future relationships. That is also problematic. Please work on your issues! Pray, look around this web site to see if we have anything posted that can help you and do as the Lord shows you. “May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)

    1. Praise God! Thank you for sharing this with us. It brings a smile to our hearts. We pray you both grow closer and closer together as you lean upon Him! “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ —to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11) “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” (2 Peter 1:2)

  4. I am currently going through a separation with my wife. She said she doesn’t want a divorce but also has no interest in reconciling. My heart is devastated and I am lost without her. I was mad, couldn’t understand how she would want to end our marriage; we have been going to individual counseling and I want so much to work it out.

    Then it finally hit me, it was a very hard decision for her to leave, she didn’t want to but it was me who pushed her out the door. She married me and trusted me with everything, to keep her safe and feel secure but I failed to do that, was not abusive but I brought a bad habit of pornography into the marriage and destroyed her trust and self worth.

    I have since put that habit behind me for over a year thanks to God and a commitment to my wife but my wife’s heart hardened and I am working very hard to soften it but still at this point nothing is working.

    I realize now how bad I hurt her and wish I could change what I did but there is no way to go back in time. I pray daily to God for his strength and guidance and today I found this website. It helped me understand the damage I was doing and did to my wife and made me take responsibility for my situation. I feel terrible for what I did to my wife and will do everything I can to help her heal and hopefully be open again to a reconciliation.

    1. I’m so proud of you Rod that you have been working on breaking free from the bonds of pornography. It has had to be especially difficult because you had to do this without your wife’s support. But it’s the right thing to do even if your wife doesn’t draw closer to you (at least at this point). It’s a matter of integrity of the heart, even when, and especially when no one else but God is looking.

      I’ve seen it happen where the wife is totally resistant for a long, long, long time and it all looks hopeless. But as the husband stands strong and lives a life of integrity that reveals the heart of Christ, the softening happens. It’s just that it’s not visible on the outside (perhaps because she’s protecting herself from being hurt that deeply again and also because it takes a tremendous amount of time to rebuild trust). But eventually, something happens and the softness comes to the surface. We’ve seen amazing things happen with some couples (some who have even been divorced a number of years) who eventually come back and rebuild great marriages.

      I can’t promise you that this will happen in your marriage. But it’s not out of the realm of possibilities. Just keep seeking the Lord, live a life of integrity and love–giving grace and compassion, and see where God takes this. Even if your wife never opens her heart again, you’re still doing the right thing. And God will reward you for that. Prayerfully, your wife will be involved in your “reward”. I can’t help but think of Galatians 6:8, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

      I pray you won’t give up. I pray for extra doses of strength for you. Again, I’m really proud of you. It’s so wonderful to see people turn their lives around. It may be late, but it’s never too late to do the right thing. “May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5) And, “May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” (Jude 1:2)

  5. This is really despicable. The wife is the bad person because she won’t give in and give the husband what he wants? Some offenses, like abuse, are not forgivable. How about you do a piece on accepting the consequences of your own actions and recognizing that they destroyed the relationship with the woman you vowed to love and cherish for the rest of your life!