How to Win Back Your Husband or Wife

Couple on motorbike

If Anything Works, This Will

“You actually want to stay married to this guy?”

She didn’t hesitate a moment. Yes, she wanted to save her marriage. She and her husband were 40ish, married about twenty years, with a couple of children. One evening he told her he was in love with his assistant, that he already had a lawyer, and suggested she procure one for herself.

At least that last part was different. Often the abandoning spouse tries to convince the other that he will be nicer in the divorce – and they each could save a lot of money – if she would agree to let his lawyer handle everything. It’s a way to manipulate the outcome and many spouses fall for it, thinking that keeping him (or her) calm provides better opportunities to potentially salvage the marriage.

Not so.

Making the path to divorce easier may keep the abandoning spouse calmer, but keeping him or her calm shouldn’t be the goal. In my work with marriages over nearly twenty years, I’ve learned that rather than making divorce easier, anyone who wishes to salvage a marriage should make it harder. Much harder.

That’s what I told Sally.

“If you really want this marriage to work, I’ll guide you through a step-by-step process to save it. If anything works, this will. Understand me clearly, IF anything works, this will. I can’t guarantee success but it works more than 75% of the time.”

Before sharing with you the steps I guided Sally through, I’ll give you the good news; it worked. It wasn’t easy and didn’t happen overnight, but by doing the right things she created a climate that ultimately led to the saving of her marriage. Her husband abandoned his lover, returned home, and worked on falling in love with his wife again. That was nearly twenty years ago. They’re still together and still in love.

For the last dozen years I’ve been teaching the same principles to couples who come to my intensive workshop for marriages in crisis. I’ve seen it work with just about any situation you can imagine, not just adultery but also marriages plagued with anger problems, a controlling spouse, disrespect, disinterest, and more.

So what advice did I give? What works if anything will? Here is the short and simplified version. We provide a much more detailed and customized version in our workshop.

Accept the Person but Not the Actions

Never accept the sinful actions of another, but try to understand and accept what is behind the sin. What led the person to those actions? Was it pain? Feelings of neglect or disrespect? Even if you consider it imaginary, accept what your spouse sees has his/her reality and be very open to the possibility that you played a part in causing your spouse to feel the way he/she feels. That doesn’t make you the “bad guy” or the other person the “good guy.” It simply makes each of you human beings.

Be Ready to Forgive

I regularly see people who work hard to save their marriage and as soon as the spouse turns, the anger overwhelms the spouse trying to save the marriage. At that point he or she doesn’t want to forgive. I’m warning you, don’t try to save your marriage unless you intend to follow through by learning to forgive. That doesn’t make the hurt instantly go away; it makes it possible for it to go away. That also doesn’t mean that you aren’t entitled to know who, what, when and where but that is a delicate matter for each of you that we’ve found often needs a third party or at least a constructive plan.

Such a plan is outlined in my article, “How to Confess An Affair without Losing Your Spouse.” It’s written more for the straying spouse, but it will likely help you understand that this type of conversation needs the right mindset, environment and forethought (maybe even professional help).

There are steps that the other person will need to take in order for you to be able to do this to the level necessary to save your marriage long term. But in the short term, while your spouse still wants to leave, you need to find a way to forgive them using a broad stroke. If your spouse feels he/she is just going to be punished by coming back, it’s very unlikely to happen.


The next steps are about strategy. In some ways, they’ll act as your secret weapon in winning back your spouse. But you must be confident that they’ll work so that you’ll stick with them even if you feel the urge to do the things you shouldn’t. Like I said at the start of this article, if anything will work, this will.

Don’t Pursue

If you beg, whine, cling, or try to manipulate your mate into staying, you push them away faster.
Give the other person space to breathe. If you don’t leave them alone, you aren’t allowing him/her the opportunity to miss you. You probably need to take a step back in order to create a vacuum that the other person will see and feel. Don’t be rude or mean but don’t make them feel that they are all you’ve got. Make yourself scarce. That’s one of the keys to attraction and that leads us to the next step.

Do the PIES

Make yourself attractive physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Do it for you but it also will affect the other person.

I’m not telling you that you have to compete with your spouse’s lover. Simply attempt to be as attractive as you can at your stage in life. Get involved with a local gym, go for walks or bike rides, join a book club, and/or sign up for classes at church. Not only will those things help make you more attractive physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually, but they’ll give you things to do and new friends to enjoy to help you resist the urge to pursue or be clingy toward the straying spouse.


No seriously. If you mope around and sound like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, your spouse is not going to want to come back to you. Do you want to be around people who are constantly complaining, whining and negative? Do you feel attracted to those types of people? No you don’t.

Let your spouse see you having fun. By that I don’t mean that you go over the top or fake it. Go out with your friends (preferably of the same gender) and have a good time. Go see a comedy at the movie theater, go to the mall, go to concerts-just have fun. Even if your spouse is not there to see, it’s possible that he/she will hear about it. Or maybe they’ll call about something and you’re too busy having fun to talk (that’s a good thing because it shows them that you have a life and a world that doesn’t revolve around them). At the very least you’ll be making yourself a more fun and attractive person.

One final thing to keep in mind on this strategy step is that if you’re having fun, you’re probably doing the other things right too.

Do the Work

It isn’t easy to put a marriage back together, but the LovePath works. If you do the things mentioned above to stay on the path, you’ll likely pull your spouse back to walking the path with you.

It’s important to limit your panic. Do your best to stay cool, calm and collected so that you can focus on what you need to do to apply the strategies mentioned in this article. There are other strategies that I might be able to provide in future articles but because of their complexity, I don’t have the space or time at the moment.

If your marriage is in danger of separation or divorce, call us at (866) 903-0990 to speak with someone or use the form below to request more information about our Marriage Helper 911 workshop for troubled marriages. Our success rate over the last decade is saving three out of four marriages, even when adultery, porn, anger, or other things have deeply hurt the relationship! (If you’re thinking your spouse would never come, contact us by phone or the form below and we’ll tell you what others who felt the same way did to get their spouses there.) We will keep everything you tell us completely confidential. Our motivation is to help you determine if this workshop is right for your particular situation. We also offer solutions for couples who can’t attend the workshop.


  1. zameka koroma says

    My spouse is back for a year now,everything seems to be normal, but sometimes when we pray before going to bed he will thank God, our family mentioning names including his lover as his wife also.this hurts me but i dont re act.

  2. Kathy Richardson says

    Do these strategies work even if he is very angry and threatens to “play hardball” if you do not let him handle everything in a divorce? He does not want me to get a lawyer and says he is not coming back and is moving on with his life.

    • Kimberly Holmes says

      Yes, these strategies do still work. However, it could be that your husband believes that he can manipulate you into getting what he wants. It sounds like he may be trying to control the situation if he is demanding that he handle everything without you being able to have any input. We talk more about this in our Marriage Recovery online video series as well.

      • Kathy Richardson says

        Thank you, Kimberly. I do feel the manipulation, but am trying to stay focused. I did find the video series helpful.

  3. Allie says

    My husband left me and our 6 month old daughter at the end of last month. I was and still am devesated. He said he fell out of love with me and that we were no good for each other since all we did was argue and fight. He then changed his story before he left saying he would come back for us after 2 weeks of working and saving up and move us all down to flordia to live so we could raise our daughter without my family’s meddling in our business. Well once he was down there I found this wasn’t true. He told me it was over and that he wanted to sign his rights away to our daughter and he wants to divorce. He claims he is very happy down there and I am happy for him. Turns out I found from one of his friends that he had no intention of coming back and he said that stuff so I wouldn’t over react and cause a scene. I miss him so terribly much..we’ve only been married since Septmeber 2014 and he’s about to turn 21 next month and I am 22. My family says it’s his age that caused this and that he’s scared. I’ve prayed to god every single night to be there for him and to help him grow up and understand what it is he’s doing. Meanwhile my’s not feeling broken like it first was..yes I’m sad and miss my husband terribly but it’s like my heart is full of hope..even after us bickering on the phone 2 days ago I still feel hope that things will get better and we can save our marriage. I’m asking for advice on what I should family is no help..they think that I should ignore him and his mother and wait for him to contact me since he’s the one wanting a divorce but I’m not sure that’ll work except drive him away. Please someday email address is

  4. Shane says

    What do u do when u have all this alone time and have nothing to do but miss her? How do I stick to these strategies?

  5. Shane says

    How do you fight the urge to run?

    • Mark says

      Shane, what you do is seek God first. I know people (especially if you aren’t spiritual) don’t want to hear this, but trust me it is true.

      My wife had an affair and wants a divorce and has even seen a lawyer a couple months ago. I decided to not make any of this easy for her while still showing that I loved her and forgave her. If I had just come out and said, fine, I’ll divorce you under your full terms if that will make you happy, then went out and filed, it’d be over right now. As of today, we are still sleeping in the same bed, even if we aren’t “with” each other in the sense that I’d like to be.

      Grace and time. Unconditional love. These are the things you learn if you seek Him first. Then through His power you can find strength to get through. You have to realize that everything is going to be OK regardless of the outcome, and for me that took God.

  6. Mark bailey says

    Will this work after they been gone because my wife been gone for almost five months and we talk text and some times have sex she want to do a trail separating and found out it ends in June but she still don’t know if coming back she lives with a guy that a preacher and I’d married to and he brought her a ring to she was upset when he prose to her in front of his friends and she said right now it does mean much and I do beg to her sometime and have brought her lots of stuff and pay her bills and I asked why he didn’t she said she didn’t want to owe him more and even said she would pawn the ring and she does tell me she loves me and I think this will work but don’t know let me know

  7. Alan says

    My wife has announced a month ago that she intends to leave after 25 years of marriage. We are both early 50’s. I diont believer there is an affair, just fed up and tired and ready to move on. She is literally never home except to sleep and communication is practically non existant. I believe the only reason she has not moved out is to build up enough time of sleeping in seperate beds ( part of me “giving her space” ) or bedrooms at this point. she just seems to want to be free.. There is not much angry but I believe she is very abgry and has made up her mind, calm and calculated.
    How do I practice the PIES when she is out of the house for 16 hours at a time ( on purpose) what do I do to win her back and get her to check back into the marriage?.
    I WILL do ANYTHING.. its hard for me to be scarce when she has beaten me to the punch.. HELP!! .

  8. jennie says

    What do you do when your spouse is convinced you had an affair, but you never did. Never would and it never would cross your mind?

  9. sdream says

    My husband loved me so much and I never expected he would leave me one day. He left me last month because we fought a lot and he couldn’t handle the stress any more and never talked to me since then. I found he had booked his trips traveling for a month in next January and he is working in remote places most of this year. Basically we haven’t had communications since he left and will not have much chance to see each other. I don’t know what to do to get him back to me. He moved most of his stuff out of our rented house. We don’t have common children because our marriage is the second one for both of us. I want to tell him I love him and miss him so much but I didn’t. I don’t want to show him my weakness but I want to ask him to try with me because I realized how important to just have each other. What should I do?

    • sdream says

      We have been married for 7 years and I moved to Canada from China. He asked me to become a nurse just like him so we can work and travel together and I worked hard on it. Now I just graduated but he left me and I don’t even know how to move on by myself.

  10. Anthony says

    Well my wife came back from being with our daughter and her first baby. New grandma and all. When she returned after being home for two days informed me she was going to Texas for a job and had to leave that day . As I figured the story she gave did not add up and left for Texas to be with another guy. I believe it is an x-husband. All she told me was she needed to clear her head and needed time away. Packed up the car with clothes and left and she left everything behind including our 14 year son. She has been gone since July. In the first two weeks we spoke once and text. After two weeks she does not answer the phone and she does not answer text. So there has not been a word from her in over a month. I do not even know where she is living. Not sure what to do at this point if there is absolutely no communication at all. I have been through all the emotions and I have done all the things you should not do. Now I am at peace and making a life for me and my son as best I can. There are days when my emotions kick in and I can barely deal with life. I guess at this point whats my next move sit and wait …hope that someday she calls or just call it quits..I want her back but how long can some just wait for the other person to surface again.

    • Samantha McCollum says

      I read your post and my heart feel your exact pain. I do hope she is back and you are working thru this difficult time. My Christian husband filed for divorce, went to court, forgetting to “mention” this to me, all the while still sharing same house, bed, normal night routine, etc. Day I found out (he hid the papers that came in mail) I filed an Emergency Hearing to set aside, then he states he can no longer be in the same house. I would love to chat more through emails. You and your spouse will be in my prayers tonight. God Bless and keep you,


  11. Tim says

    I have been married to my wife for 20 years and I am trying to save my marriage. I was caught by surprise that my wife was emailing another man behind my back and talking to him on her work phone so I couldn’t find any phone records of her doing so. She has had men friends before some I have know about as just acquaintances others she has text and talked to but didn’t let me know twice before this guy. This one was a little more upsetting to me because I actually saw some of the emails her calling him baby and him calling her angel and her saying she was becoming attached to him and her sending him a racy pic is what hurt too not sure it her talking to him hurt more than the picture she sent. It has only been maybe a month since this has happened and she did say she was sorry and that she didn’t know why she did it and that it was stupid of her to do this. She claims I pushed her into doing it because I kept making accusations and because I am controlling and obsessed and jealous. Which I have never really been like this until I found out about her texting and talking to other men behind my back about only God knows what it was only eight months from the last incident we had about talking and texting another man at her job but she claims it was purely just a friend thing. But this new one has really turned me inside out and it is fresh in my mind. She said she just wants to forget about it and move on. She was on the verge of leaving me here these past few weeks she claims she didn’t want to be with any one just wanted to be alone but now she is being loving and wants me to comfort her and hold her and treat her as if nothing ever happened but it is in my mind and heart there are days that I can give her that but I still have anger and hurt and if I ask or say something about the incident, because I still have unanswered questions that probably aren’t worth asking because it just causes us to fight and she will say see told you we shouldn’t be together. I want to save my marriage I want to get the emails and image out of my head I want to move forward but I am scared and angry that she is just pretending or playing the good wife as she calls it. Which I don’t understand that if she is just playing the good wife what is the bad wife or when is the bad wife going to show up again. There is a whole lot more behind this we have three children ages 18,10, 5. God doesn’t like divorce and neither do I but will I ever be able to trust her again and I am only human too I have made the same mistake but she doesn’t know about it and I just stopped because I didn’t want to continue to do that to her or my children or my marriage no physical contact on either parts of us so she claims they didn’t have any physical contact but only God knows and that is also eating me up inside not knowing.

    trying to go forward with my wife and marriage with hurt and anger in my heart.

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