Win Wife Back

Q: My wife and I have been married for 24 years and have two children, and out of the blue she wants to break it off. I want to work it out. What steps can I take to win her heart back? Her excuse is we have grown apart and I have not shown her enough attention for some time. -- Mike

Dr. Susan: These things are never as "out of the blue" as they seem to the more oblivious mate. That's what's gone wrong here, Mike: you've stopped noticing your wife as a person and she's bored of being taken for granted. It's possible she's been unhappy for years, and that she met someone else who showed her attention, and now she's not about to go back to feeling like part of the furniture. If you're lucky, she hasn't yet allowed herself to fall "in love" with someone else, which would make it very difficult for you indeed.

Let's assume she retains a shred of feeling toward you. Beg her to join you in reviving your loving feelings. It's going to take both of you. As for you, you can begin by talking to her. Ask her what she misses most about your early years together. Share your own fondest memories (without slinging blame about who stopped showing affection first). Ask her for a dream list of what she'd like from you. Above all, tell her (if it's true) that she's the great love of your life and you'd be desolate without her, that you really and truly don't want to lose her and throw away everything you had together, and that you're willing to do whatever it takes. And mean it. One man I knew said those words to his about-to-leave wife, but when she said he needed to stop drinking (he was an angry abusive drunk), he said, "No way." End of marriage.

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