We all work very hard to make our marriages work. But sometimes things happen and before we can even realize what has happened, we are looking back at a broken marriage and a trail of regret.
There are no easy answers as to how to ensure that your marriage will be among those on the “successful” side of relationship statistics. No one can assure you that your husband will not some day turn out to be an ex husband.
But what if your guy was actually a good choice, with a big heart. And whatever happened….happened….and now you are sure you want him back. What could a woman in such a situation do so that their ex husband regrets letting her go?
Or on the flip side, should you be fishing to catch him in a net of regrets? Maybe, just maybe you would be better off with another approach.
I recently heard from one of my clients whose name is Callie and she detailed a situation similar to what I am talking about.
She told me…
Chris. I think it is time for me to retool my thinking about what is best for me. My ex husband and I enjoy a happy marriage, most of the time. He does a lot of the little things that I appreciate and when I needed him most, he is usually there for me. We have known each other since college. I can honestly say we started off with a good sense of what we wanted in our life together. I know you probably get all kinds of sob stories so I will cut to the chase. He left me. It seems to happen with regularity. We have been married for 18 months but he will freak and start saying things like he is not ready for this and just needs alone time. Like I said, he does this ever once in a while. He goes off and does his thing and then we end up back together again. I know something is going on with him and I can’t yet get to the crux. I know he will regret leaving me. Like I said, he has gone through theses phases before. Ans I write this I am thinking I really want him to miss me badly. I want him to rue the day he left me. I want to do something to make him so afraid to ever leave me again. I know I am still angry and that is why I am reaching out to you for help. I feel so attached to him and also so upset that he quit the marriage, yet again. This on/off patterns is familiar to us. It just seems so stupid for a 25-year-old guy to think he can simply bail out of our marriage, thinking he will not have regrets or miss me or want me back. I know I am good for him. The sex is good and we party with friends a lot and he likes my friends. I think he goes through these insecure times in his head where he is afraid to be tied down. Since we got married, I rarely can get him to talk about any meaningful concrete plans for the future, like having a family or buying a house. We talked about this problem earlier when we were dating and I thought it was nipped in the bud. He kept saying that we will grow into it and that we are still young and enjoy just being carefree. Doesn’t 18 months count for something in a guy’s head? Look, I know this will take some time, but I really would like to know what you can offer up to me that can make him realize that he is blowing it with me and it I am not going to keep putting up with these walk offs. I miss him terribly and ache. I am afraid that the longer we are separated, the worse it will be for our marriage. I am so upset. He acts like a child and right now I am having a lot conflicted feelings. Sometimes I want to scream at him. What is the point of forgiving him if he does this again and again. I have invested so much to make this thing work. So tell me, Chris, what can I do to make him regret leaving me? Should I start seeing other guys? He is a jealous type. His mother called me because she knows he is blowing it with me and wants to help make things right. Should I use her to get him back? I do love him and know he has insecurities and hang ups. I fear that as more time goes by, it will lead to my husband possibly meeting someone else or retreating deeper into his man cave. He can tend to be impulsive and act upon feelings that are not very well centered. Part of me knows he will be back and another part worries about it happening again. I am so tired of this already. Help!
Well, as you can see it can be quite difficult when you become attached to your husband emotionally. The sex you enjoyed with each other acts as a bonding agent. All of the things you are accustomed to doing together create a comfortable routine. Take all that away and vulnerability can set in. So being so connected has its downsides.
Don’t get me wrong. Being emotionally and spiritually attached to your lover can be a healthy thing so long as there is balance in one’s life. In the case above, there have been warnings signs of a frayed relationship going back to the period even before the couple was married.
Each of us have different attachment styles. Some women (or men) can become so invested in their husband, despite all of his shortcomings or lack of commitment to the marriage, that when things go south it can feel to them like their entire life is a wreck.
And I don’t mean to minimize the reality of how awful it will and should feel if a marriage starts breaking down. One should feel bad and will feel broken for a period of time.
In marriage, most couples become very much invested in making the relationship shine. We invest much of ourselves into bettering the marriage and making it work on many levels because we hunger for a special union. When it falls short of our aspirations, we can feel let down. And if our lover acts in a way that makes us feel they are lesser invested, it hurts.
With Callie’s situation, we have a woman who loves her husband even though he has left her once again. She feels attached to the idea that their marriage is worth saving. It probably is. But sometimes, we can’t help ourselves, unless we get out of our own way.
Right now, Callie is filled with emotions and wants her husband back in her life. She reasons that if she can find ways to make him regret ever leaving her, he will “see the light” and come running back to her.
As you probably noticed, Callie’s state of mind is far from balanced. It is fair to say she is battling a lot of conflicting emotions. And who could blame her. On one hand, she is terribly angry with her husband for leaving her. The angry side wants to fill her husband with every emotional regret she can muster up. And I confess, this approach can sometimes be an effective play. If you try to do things to accelerate the mountain of regret you would like to see grow in your husband’s mind, you indeed might be successful in the short-term.
But one has to be careful with what they create. In other words, the notion of making your husband regret that he ever let you go may actually work. But what do you do next? Do you just slide right back into the routines of the past? Are both parties really ready to carry on like nothing really happened….like the break up never occur ed.
My experience with couples is that more often than not, something close to that is what usually happens and the core marital problem (whatever it is) does not get addressed. Or the perceived “problem” gets a lot of lip service, but no real progress is made in drilling down to the core problem and getting therapy or some kind of help.
This is usually the pattern behind a typical couple’s on/off breakup pattern. In fact, psychologist have assigned a name for this kind of phenomenon.
Beware of What is Called “The Insecure Attachment”
Couples who break up, then come back together but still have the same problems are usually driven by what psychologists call the “Insecure Attachment” Problem.
This is what is happening to Callie. She is clearly attached to her husband who repeatedly goes off on these personal walkabouts. He just up and leaves her. Clearly, her husband has an emotional attachment issue.
The wife’s emotional response it to find ways to increase her on value and attractiveness . She is talking about employing jealousy tactics to make him regret ever leaving her.
Her own insecurity of being separated from her husband is playing on her wants and needs. And if she is successful in roping her husband into a “jealousy play” such that he come running right back into the dysfunctional relationship, she will in effect be playing on his anxiety of potentially losing her forever.
But bear in mind, this kind of approach comes from a place of an engineered emotion. And while emotions play a role in every marriage reconciliation, attachments based wholly on manipulation are usually not long-lasting.
Let’s talks about this phenomenon in a different way to help you make some sense of it, because I think there is something useful here for you to be aware of.
Usually a marriage split up or relationship breakup happens because the couple was experiencing considerable conflict. Something repeatedly happens and it usually is not a good thing.
In Callie’s case, she points to her husband’s habit of periodically walking out of the marriage. Her husband’s behavior has become so common that it has become part of the landscape of their relationship. In the wife’s mind, she is fairly confident he will be back. She knows that he is going through a sort of emotional freak out period.
But it is more than that, isn’t it? Let’s separate symptoms from the actual ailment. The husband’s behavior of repeatedly leaving her is the symptom. What Callie needs to discover is the root cause. And the crux of the problem doesn’t appear to be so much what Callie is doing or not doing, but lies with some psychological issues her husband is wrestling with.
You can see that she really wants to reunite with her husband. This is a perfectly normal way of reacting to the situation. But coming back together again so soon, in light of her husband’s track record, has all the earmarks of what is characterized as an insecure attachment.
Certainly, there is not a lot security around investing oneself into a relationship in which one of the parties has a pattern of “freaking” and going off on his own.
Rather than falling back into the pattern of accepting her husband back with open arms when he finally gets his act together, I advised her to spend an extended period away from her husband.
A No Contact period would allow Callie not only to recover and heal from the wounds inflicted by her husband who once again has decided to go on one of his “walkabouts”, but it would break the pattern of Callie trying to cling and grab on to her man.
I suggested a 30 day no contact period. If you wish to learn more about the No Contact Principle, you can read about it in this post I wrote a while back.
But I warned her that her emotions (and his too) can cause her to break the no contact period and dive right back into the marriage without taking meaningful steps to identifying and solving the core problem.
In most cases, the problem needs correcting (or at leas addressed) before the couple agrees to resuming the marriage. There needs to be a high degree of confidence that the pattern of behavior which is contributing or causing her husband to abandon her has been addressed.
Like I said, let’s dig a bit deeper into this notion of “insecure attachments“.
Sometimes a marriage can end abruptly because of the discovery of a betrayal. While this does not appear to be the problem with my client’s situation, just know that cheating while married is front loaded with great potential for relationship chaos.
Sometimes things end abruptly because one or both parties to the relationship were immature and not ready to be a couple.
Sometimes things end abruptly because one of the partners is just downright mean or cruel.
Or perhaps the husband is selfish or flighty.
But most of the time, a relationship comes to an end after the couple have struggled off and on, for a meaningful period of time.
An “insecure attachment” can form when you are in the No Contact Period and anxiety builds to such a level that you miss your partner terribly.
It is not unusual to fear that the forced separation triggered by the No Contact Period is the cause of your problems. This same principle can also hold true even if you are not engaged in a brief chilling out period.
Like in Callie’s situation, you can fear that the more time you spend away from your husband, the greater things can get twisted up. But often, it is the opposite effect that holds true. If you rush back into the relationship, you can find yourself back on the breakup merry-go-round.
It is entirely possible that in your haste to try to patch things up with your husband, as you are bombarded by the feelings of anxiousness and even panic, you decide it is time to contact your man. This is where mistakes can happen. I have seen some women so stricken with fear that their guy may never return, they end up capitulating and assuming all the blame for the breakup.
Your Emotions Can Hold Sway Over Your Relationship Decisions
I have to frequently caution my clients who are in the midst of a breakup or separation situation to be wary of being betrayed by their own emotions. When you are in a vulnerable state of mind, you will almost jump at any rationale to contact your lover, with the hope you can make things right.
Some of my clients have told me about elaborate and intricate fantasies they construct in their mind about how all the post breakup actions will unfold. They become convinced that if they do not act with haste, they will lose their husband (or boyfriend) forever.
In some of these cases, a contact is made with the husband (or ex boyfriend), who ironically may be suffering in a similar way. Both parties offers reassurances that all can be made well if they just forgive each other and give it another go.
You may both start feeling supported by hearing each other’s voices. You may meet up and the strength of being in each other physical presence and visibly seeing each other can bring back all of the good memories. Maybe sex gets worked into this chemical cocktail of emotions and feelings. Without realizing it, you both fall under the spell of what I call the Pied Piper of Insecure Attachment.
And this force has a unique and powerful sway on your emotions and physical needs. The way our mind and bodies work in response to being with our ex lover, particularly in the early moments after prolong separation, can throw a monkey wrench into the entire way our “reasoning minds” should operate.
This is the problem with making important decisions with far too much influence from our right side brain (i.e. the emotional center).
You are just doing what feels natural your reason to yourself. It feels right.
Except what you don’t realize is you are answering to a part of the brain that is highly addicted. That part of the brain, like an addict, will do almost anything to get those chemical juices flowing. It can cloud your better judgement in the short-term.
So when a wife and husband have had a serious breakdown in their marriage, leading to one of them walking away, be assured that for a period following this event, you will be vulnerable to what I would describe as a premature reconciliation. And the villain that leads you down this slippery slope is often your own biological responses.
This kind of premature re-attachment with your husband usually does not last because it emerges from anxiety and insecurity.
The problems that plague a relationship must get addressed if a couple ever expects to avoid the on again – off again break-up cycle.
So if you are still wondering what steps you should take to make your husband miss and regret ever letting you go, then the center piece of your strategy should revolve around spending some time away from your husband.
I know. It sounds backwards, but it tends to work more often than not.
During this time you can rebuild your own sense of who you are and what you really want. That is not going to happen in a few days or weeks. Don’t be in a hurry to get right back in the saddle. This does not have to be done in a cruel or impersonal way. You should inform your husband that you need to take some time for yourself. You can do so by letter if you wish.
During this period of No Contact with your husband, seek to become the best version of yourself and allow your husband to wrestle with the notion that he indeed may have made the biggest mistake of his life.
In Callie’s case, her husband has become accustomed to her initiating the actions and discussions the ultimately lead to reconciliation. I think she should tack in the opposite direction. She should make herself scarce. That will increase her husband’s sense of her value and also cause him to examine the impact of his behavior. Making herself too readily available, given the trend of the past circumstances that have unfolded, is shortchanging her value.
But bear in mind the most important actions you will want to accomplish is having a genuine and honest conversation about the root cause. But before you get there, the husband or boyfriend needs to have a paradigm shift in how they view your worth and the repercussions of their irresponsible actions.
In most relationship breakup scenarios, scarcity creates demand. Eventually, that is what will lead to the husband regretting his actions. And it will help prime him to have the serious discussions that will need to take place so that the problems leading to the breakup are properly addressed.
I am going to conclude this post here. But I am far from through with talking about this topic. Feel free to explore my website for more insights. And if you are trying to draw closer to a how you can strengthen a marriage that is prone to problems, then take a few minutes and read about what I consider are the critical elements in every successful marriage.