How Do I Get My Husband To Give Us Another Chance?

A woman wrote me recently explaining that her ADHD husband had announced that he didn't love her, and possibly never had.  She is in the middle of a much-needed reset of her own non-ADHD behaviors - anger, belittling and the like, saying that reading my book made her reassess her own behaviors and that she was actively trying to improve herself with therapy and other hard work.  They have children, and she asks the very important question of "how do I get him to give us another chance?"

Things are complicated slightly by the fact that he had also an affair which, of course, always leads to a skewed view of what romance "could" be like.  Here is my response to her question:

"Affairs are tricky, in that they provide a completely fantasy-based view of what life could be like with another person.  In an affair you get unsurpassed attention and excitement with none of the day to day hassles of life.  It is possible that his "I never loved you" idea is based upon some of that comparison.

There is really only one way you can approach this - and that is to become the best person you can be.  See my chapter in my book about setting boundaries and resetting yourself.  You can't beg or convince him to stay with you - he must be inspired to be with you because you are interesting to him or, perhaps, because you have already had children together and he feels this is worth saving.  When you become the best person you can be you open the door for him to be able to see you as the person you are proud of.  You win whether or not he stays with you because he either says "yes, this is a person I could love" and he stays or he says "even when she is her best person she just isn't a person that I am interested in - it's not a good match" in which case you are better off without him.

The mindset is this - "I will be the best person I can be and my husband will either decide that's worth investing in, or not.  He'll either come along or not.  I have no control over his own behavior, only over my own."  When you focus on yourself, you provide the maximum amount of positive change possible to the relationship.  Whether or not he decides that you are "lovable" once you are the best person you can be is completely up to him and will not reflect on you (i.e. whether you are a good person) but rather on whether the two of you are a good fit.  Two really great people still might not make a good couple.

This is hard to hear.  It's not easy to genuinely understand that you have no control over other people, but there it is."

The question - how do I get my partner to give us another chance? - is a somewhat misleading question.  It assumes that you can "get" another person to do anything.  The reality is harder than that.  With the big things in life, at least, the only person you can "get" to do anything is yourself.  And so this woman needs to reframe her question to be more accurate:  "How do I make myself and my relationship as good as it can be?" and then wait to see what happens.  If you're a "do-er" this approach is hard.  Unfortunately, it's also reality.