5 things to do when your spouse says, “It’s over”

5 things to do when your spouse says, “It’s over” June 1, 2015


My wife Ashley and I have been working with married couples for years, and one of the most heartbreaking scenarios we encounter is when one spouse wants the marriage to work, but the other spouse has made up his or her mind to leave and pursue divorce. This often leads to the question, “What am I supposed to do when my husband/wife tells me they want a divorce?”

If you are in this situation right now, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. I’m sure you’re feeling a mixture of conflicting emotions, and you’re probably not sure what to do next. It’s very possible that this difficult time of your life is the most painful challenge you’ll ever endure, but you will get through this! Don’t lose hope.

Every situation is unique, so not all of these action-steps may apply in your marriage, but I believe these five actions could help you get through this storm and possibly save your marriage as well.

1. Keep loving your spouse.

Don’t pick fights or give ultimatums. Just love them. Pray for them. Serve them. Be the best husband or wife you can be to them for as long as you remain their spouse. Try to diffuse the tension with love. Even if they’re being hateful towards you, love them in return. God loves us even when we’re acting “unlovable,” and we must do the same for each other.

Dave Willis quote quotes treat people the way God treats you

2. Be careful where you turn for comfort.

When you’re hurt and confused, you’ll naturally want to find comfort. The problem is that we tend to make our worst choices when we’re hurt and confused! Don’t turn to self-destructive behavior to numb the pain. Surround yourself with accountability and support from people who love you AND love your spouse too.

Dave Willis davewillis.org quote surround yourself with people who strengthen your character remove compromise

3. Be willing to take drastic and immediate actions to save the marriage.

You obviously can’t force your spouse to stay married to you, but do everything in your power to encourage reconciliation. You can find some great resources to help couples in struggling situations at SaveMyMarriage.com.

Dave Willis davewillis.org quote being frustrated with spouse no divorce kids adoption

4. Have faith!

In the Bible, Jesus promised that we would have troubles in this life. The good news is that we’ll never face those troubles alone. You might feel alone right now, but Jesus has said, “Never will I leave you or forsake you.” God can and will carry you through this difficult time.

Dave Willis davewillis.org quote faith isn't a feeling but a choice to trust God bridge

5. Protect the kids (for those who are parents).

If you have children, this whole ordeal could be even harder on them than it is on you. Do everything in your power to protect your kids and shield them from the tension in the marriage. Don’t say hurtful things to or about your spouse, because your spouse will be part of your life for the rest of your life (either as your spouse or, at the very least, as the mother/father of your kids). Be a calming, reassuring force for your kids through this time.

For more tools to help you build (or rebuild) your marriage, check out “iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage which is now also available on iTunes as an ebook download for iPhones, iPads and all Apple devices (by clicking here).

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Don Rodgers

    As someone who suffered through a divorce when I didn’t want to give up on the marriage, I couldn’t agree more with any of these. They are all much easier said than done, but in the end at least you can say that you honestly gave your all. Your spouse will either change or not, but you can’t change them and you can’t control their behavior, only your own. The hardest part is switching gears from not giving up to having to protect yourself and the kids legally. I would add to find a good solid Christian lawyer if you can. Most non-Christians (and many who claim to be) will push you hard to file and get it over with. You don’t want to give up hope, but you also need to have good sound legal advice and make sure you’re protecting yourself. Finding good advice early on can be an invaluable help.

  • Kim Valentine

    This was us 2 years ago. My husband left and bound for divorce. Only by God’s grace and putting into practice each of the above points was our marriage healed. Was it easy? Not at all. It was the most painful time of my life but I wouldn’t change a thing for the lessons learned were invaluable.

  • MyRedSandals

    My husband has been unfaithful multiple times during our 40 years together, as well as developing a serious addiction to porn. When he left me to pursue his most recent affair, I requested that he attend marriage counseling with me. In the end, he fired 3 different therapists because they wouldn’t agree to blame me for our marital problems and he couldn’t stand it when they tried to hold him accountable for his actions. He finally bailed altogether and said he wanted a divorce. So that’s the path we’ve been on for the last 2 1/2 years; our court hearing is scheduled for mid-July and then it will finally be over. I spent more time than I can count on my knees in prayer, asking God for His will to be done; apparently, His answer to this sad story does not include repentance and reconciliation but rather, the death of our marriage. I’m so grateful that our 3 children are grown and successfully living their own lives and can process this reality better than they might have if they were younger and still living at home. I’m also praising God for walking through this with me… protecting me, giving me strength to get up each day, healing my broken heart and giving me hope that I might actually find love again. He is so good!

  • katta

    What, when you can’t give your spouse the love she needs and craves anymore? What if the only feeling you have is that of friendship?

  • z–man

    People say it’s far too easy to get divorced today. While that may be true, I think it’s far too easy to get married.

  • Kim Valentine

    It seems you have been deeply hurt GoodDad. Prayer and brokenness healed us both. God worked on us individually. We both had our sin. It takes two.

  • z–man

    I’ve never heard of a pre-nup which stood up in court. Having “lady-parts” is 90% of the law these days.

  • MyRedSandals

    Good Dad: You’re right, you don’t know our personal situation, so to make assumptions about what might/might not have transpired or how much I did/did not “put out” isn’t fair or appropriate. In fact, the therapists we saw consistently asked BOTH OF US — together and separately — deep, probing questions and considered ALL aspects of our situation. In the end, they each came to their own independent conclusion as to the root cause of my husband’s behavior and told me, “This is not about you”. Since it seems you already know what must’ve taken place behind our closed doors, I’ll just let you fill in the missing pieces as you see fit. It still won’t change “what is”.

  • z–man

    “It’s best to avoid marriage altogether (at least for males)”….. You know, these days, I’d have to agree with you. It makes me sad to say so, but there it is. I know so many men who have sworn it off, as they see more potential for bad than good to come from it. In many cases, they’re right.

    The other thing that’s going on is there’s this trend of American men seeking foreign women for marriage, because they believe that American women have been wrecked by progressive ideas, they’re too much of a PITA and not worth the trouble. Again, in many cases they’re right.

    About 15 years ago, a buddy of mine decided to take some time off work (and his everyday life in general) and he spent six months riding his dirt bike all over Central and South America (I’m not kidding). He met a very sweet, attractive young woman in Costa Rica whose family is descended from Spaniards……the light-skinned ruling class….and they have MONEY, let me tell you…..fantastic villa right on the beach, the works. He came back to work for about a year, kept in contact with her and then he took another six months off and spent a good amount of that time in Costa Rica. They ended up getting married, had a couple of kids and today they live in Boulder, Colorado. From what he tells me, they couldn’t be happier. He calls her a “Latin June Cleaver”. Perhaps that’s a bit offensive to any woman reading this, but I don’t care. It’s just too bad that she didn’t have a sister…

  • z–man

    Absolutely. You have to be careful, even with foreign women. I know a chiropractor who is a big fat man, kinda ugly and gross. Several years ago, he brought a woman from Thailand to the US and married her. A couple of years later, she left him, divorced him and took half his assets. He lost his practice and most of his patients because of it. He is a sad and bitter man, only now beginning to recover after being emotionally and financially destroyed.

    As for the “lovely Christian wife” aspect, I couldn’t agree more. I know another guy who was in a “Christian” marriage, he walked the walk, talked the talk, etc. After 10 years and 4 kids, his “lovely Christian wife” divorced him…….and married their pastor!!

    As for me, I remain happily single, child-free and I intend to stay that way.

  • Kim Valentine

    Sorry I still agree and can testify to everything in this article. No amount of negativity regarding marriage will ever change my view. God resurrected my dead marriage and we have recently celebrated 20 years married and we have never been happier. Our relationship it is about being obedient to Christ first and foremost.

  • loretta

    So it’s only us Christian wives that get fat crabby and won’t have sex with our husbands?