He'll Do Anything to Get Her Back

Q: After six years of marriage, my wife filed for a divorce last month. We are now living separate places and she is determined to proceed with the divorce. I want to do whatever it takes to win her back. I'm writing a letter of apology to her for all the neglect of the past. What else can I do to make her change her mind about our marriage? -- David

Dr. Susan: Poor David, it may be too late. I assume your wife let you know she was quite unhappy long before she filed for divorce, but sometimes these things do come as a shock regardless. I wouldn't hold out a lot of hope that a letter of apology is going to magically change her mind. Have the two of you tried couples counseling? Can you suggest it now? The problem is, once a spouse has already made up her mind, the odds are against her coming into therapy open-minded, even if she'd agree at this late date to give it a try. Perhaps you could suggest she attend a few sessions with you, purely as a generous favor, just so you can get clear on what you did wrong and both of you can learn about your dynamics so you can both do better in subsequent relationships. (And maybe something will click and she'll see you're a prince deep down after all.) Other than that, let her know that you'll do "anything," and if she comes up with "anything," then don't make excuses. Just do it. In one couple I know, the departing wife said, "Okay, stop drinking altogether," because he was an angry drunk and that had been a small part of their problem. Well, the husband wouldn't agree to that! And she left and eventually found someone else. I wish you better luck.

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