“What should I write in my letter to my husband to make him stay?”

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dear letter

“What should I write in my letter to my husband to make him stay?” she typed into the search box.

She must be so sad and afraid. In her search for answers, she stumbled onto this place yesterday.

Maybe she found something that made her feel better. Probably not.

What should I write in my letter to my husband to make him stay?

If she had asked me, what would I say?

I don’t like imagining her sitting there so desperate for answers that she typed it into Google.

It wasn’t that long ago, I was asking questions a little bit like that.


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I can’t stop thinking about her question. If he wants to leave (because he wants someone else or because he wants the freedom to do as he pleases), there’s almost nothing she can say. He’s going to leave.

But, what if deep down he really wants the marriage to work too? What if his heart is in the right place? What could she write?

I’m not this woman’s husband. And maybe I’m not even like most men.

But something like this might work for me.


Dear Husband,

I am afraid.

I am afraid and I need you.

I am afraid you’re going to leave and we’re going to lose everything. All these years. Because all I’ve ever wanted since meeting you was to grow old with you.

This all feels so fragile. You’re the person who makes me feel safe, and you’re not here making me feel safe because there’s this wall now.

I know that sometimes I make you feel like you need to run away from me. Because I’m asking all of these things from you and it feels to you like criticism. Like I’m telling you you’re not good enough.

I know that I can be a mystery to you. That you’re pretty steady and consistent, and that I’m less so. That I can respond differently to the exact same event and that sometimes I lash out at you when things don’t go my way.

I am sometimes more emotional and sensitive than you to things that happen. I know that frustrates you. I understand and appreciate that I sometimes direct my anger toward you as a result even though you had no intention of hurting me. You don’t try to hurt me. And I sometimes make you feel as if you did try to.

I wish I could feel what you feel sometimes. So I’d know what it’s like to be you. Then maybe I could understand.

I always wish you could feel what I feel. So you’d know what it’s like to be me. Then I think you’d understand. I think WE would understand and we’d forever change the way we communicate and treat one another.

I really think everything would be different then.

I feel so hurt sometimes. So sad. So angry. And I just cry. And you’re not available to make me feel better. And sometimes I feel so hurt by you that I’m not sure you even could.

In those moments I wonder if my life would be better without you in it. Maybe with someone else.

We go through life giving our hearts to different people. Falling in and out of love. So happy at the beginning. So sad at the end. We feel so broken and we ask ourselves how we will ever love or trust again? Can we find someone to make us feel loved?

And that’s when it hits me.

The relationship cycle that all couples deal with. Over and over again. People sometimes believe the lie that everything will be different with the next person but it’s always the same because WE’RE always the same.

We think the grass is greener over there, but it never is. We just did a lousy job taking care of our own lawn. If I move over there and keep doing the same things I’m doing now, that lawn will look just like this one.

We can trade one another in. Find replacement partners and try to do this all over again with someone new.

But it all feels so foolish and wasteful.

I choose you.

Out of every person I have ever met or ever will meet, I choose you.

I am so sorry for making you feel like you’re not good enough or as if I regret marrying you.

There’s a little piece of me that’s broken. And maybe a little piece of you that’s broken, too. And it’s hard enough for the put-together people to make marriage work with all of the things that go on in life constantly driving a wedge between us.

But maybe if I work on fixing me. And maybe if I dedicate my life to helping you fill whatever’s missing in yours, we can make this what we always talked about it being.

You are smart and talented and capable. And when we’re not getting in our own way, no one makes me feel as good and whole and safe as you do.

I BELIEVE in you. That you can be and do and achieve whatever you want. I’m sorry I don’t say it more.

I APPRECIATE you. That you give so much of your time and effort to providing all that you do for me. I don’t say ‘thank you’ nearly enough. I am so grateful for you.

I FORGIVE you. Because I know you do not set out to hurt me. And I’m sorry that I hold grudges and put up walls with you when my feelings are hurt. It’s a defense mechanism and I’m trying to stop.

There are many people in my life that I love. I inherited almost all of them. Parents and siblings. Grandparents and extended family.

But I didn’t inherit you. I picked you.

I love you. Because I woke up today and said “yes.” And I’m promising you right here and now, as I did on our wedding day, that I’m going to wake up every day and say “yes,” no matter how I’m feeling.

My feelings are always going to change. But my choice on this matter will not.

I am yours. Always.

I don’t know what forever looks like, or how to get there. But I know that with you holding my hand, we’re going to find it.

Please say yes too.

Love, Me

Actions speak louder than words. But if I got this letter, I’d like to think I’d say yes.

Then keep marching toward forever.


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48 thoughts on ““What should I write in my letter to my husband to make him stay?””

      1. Thank you for the perfect words that I have been trying to come up with on my own. In this difficult time my brain and my heart are so full it is so difficult to sort through what i want and need to say. I am adjusting a few but no tmany and adding a few personal sentiments. I know its no guarantee but at least I can fully express how I feel. Thank you

  1. Actually, I think that I do know what to tell her. But she’s probably not going to like it. I know I wouldn’t like hearing it, but it is true. She can’t make him stay. It is HIS job to make himself stay.

    1. Rest assured, I agree. Everyone is in charge of themselves. However. Occasionally, if you worry about yourself and are self-aware, another person can be persuaded to want to be a part of that.

      I can’t back that up. I just think and hope it’s true.

    1. It’s what makes our partners so special. We love them as much or more than those we’re biologically connected to. But the bond is more spiritual by nature.

      I think it’s amazing.

  2. It’s a beautiful letter..but it was written for the wrong purpose. You can not convince someone to love you. You can however, impact their decision to come back and they realize they made a wrong choice. Sometimes, the single most loving thing you can do when you love someone, is to let them go and live the life that they need to feel fulfilled. They may choose to come back and you can choose to take them back, if you are in the same place at the same time. This woman can do nothing, say nothing…she can simply accept his decision with Grace.

    1. Please know I agree with you. I was moved by the search terms that led her to my little slice of the internet. I thought about this stranger for about 48 hours and felt compelled to write something about it.

      In the end, a relationship consists of two people saying yes. That’s the most basic of criteria. If one person doesn’t say yes, it ceases to be a union.

      Thanks for reading and weighing in. I appreciate you thinking about it.

  3. This is beautiful. But I guess maybe I’m cynical.

    She has her own story and I can’t pretend to know what it is. I know that in my situation, I wrote a letter to my husband, very similar to this. I begged him to love me back and to be there for me. He wasn’t a bad guy, but just not capable of loving me the way I loved him or needed him to love me.

    Maybe her husband needs to write her this letter. Maybe he needs to choose her.

    1. No one can know their hearts and minds.

      I wrote something that I would like to read or hear. Maybe some of that is applicable to other people too. But we can’t be sure.

      Everyone wants and feels different things.

      Being an adult is hard! But you know that already.

  4. I love this letter and appreciate how you touched on so many important areas of the relationship. Self-responsibility. The options of finding someone else, but not pointing fingers or placing blame. Making the husband feel needed, wanted and appreciated – all of which a man needs to hear from his wife. The wife’s willingness to change and also to work on helping the husband to find happiness. With this letter, one would think that the husband would at least think twice before he makes his final decision; if not change his mind all together.

    I feel bad for the woman who searched for that. Search terms can be very saddening sometimes, imagining the person’s situation. People always find mine by searching for “Why is his love turning to hate.” Very sad.

  5. I wrote a similar letter to my ex-husband. He replied with, ‘if we have sex every day I will love you again.’

    So we did.

    And he didn’t.

    Now I don’t either and I know I’m better for it.

  6. LivingsTheDream

    Lovely words 🙂 But too lengthy – men generally don’t have that long an attention span 😉

    1. Some of my most vivid conversations with my wife are ones we had driving home from somewhere late at night after observing some couple going through hard times. We’d talk about how some of our friends were going to start getting divorced, based on statistics. One of us would grab the other’s hand: “But not us.”

      You don’t know you’re doing it until it’s too late or you luck into some information.

      The break is slow. So slow we don’t notice until we’ve forgotten what it was like to feel young and happy.

      So many people stumble on this blog every day typing things like that. It’s a little bit devastating.

      Believe me when I say I know what you mean.

      1. The disconnect creeps up so slowly its a little like breathing polluted air or bad traffic. A person gets so used to it its hard to imagine anything else.

        Its interesting you mention the number of people stumbling onto this blog with similar searches. In the pre-internet days most people suffered alone. It has to be better for people to know they aren’t the only one going through a personal troubles.

  7. I wrote something very similar to my husband. His answer was simply NO. It shattered me. I don’t know if it is better or worse for me to have laid myself so bare open to him and asked yet. All i know right now is how much it hurts

  8. I wish I had this letter in Sept 2012. I tried to write something along those lines, but much less eloquently as I knew our marriage was in trouble, but in the end I was too scared to give it too him and I threw it away. I didn’t know that at the time I wrote it he had already been involved in an affair for a year. He told me about the affair in August of 2013. My world shattered into a million pieces. He moved on with her. It’s been just about 3 years now, yet I have still wondered many times it I had given my letter to him, if things would have turned out differently…for me, for him and for our two sons. When I said “I do”, I meant it. I would never have walked away, but once he made his choice, I had no other option. We were together for just shy of 22 years…14 of those married. And I can’t help feeling now that it was such a waste. Maybe I’ll get passed that at some point, but not yet. Then you get the well-meaning friend say, that it wasn’t a waste because you have two beautiful children as a result. People need to stop saying that. Of course, the majority of parents don’t regret their children. What I regret is my flawed choice in a partner who was and continues to take more than he gives…in all situations, even now dealing with the kids, what he wants is all important compared to what they want and need. I’m not sure he can recognize that flawed part of his personality or even want to do anything about it to improve in his second time around. I honestly hope he learns how to give more than he takes,,,I guess only time will tell.

  9. I just wrote my husband a letter, well an email not as eloquently as this one, but along the lines of why I don’t want him to “d” me. I stumbled upon your blog by typing into Google, “how to write a letter to husband who wants a divorce” after I sent my email and well…. I wish I stumbled upon this first. It expresses everything I want to tell him, so I will, verbally though.

    1. I should probably update this post. I think a lot of people find it via Google, and frankly, I don’t remember what it says. I’m going to make a note about that now.

      Wishing you well, Angela. Thank you for reading and for trying to save your marriage.

      Love is a battle worth fighting.

  10. Pingback: Writing a Letter Won’t Convince Him to Stay, and Your Life Won’t Be Better if He Does | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  11. I am going through a terrible depression. I have tried many drugs and therapy, and am trying to get ECT. My wife is tired of me and my depression, and never initiates any kind of affection or sex. Several times I have asked for more affection, she just yells at me saying I am always critical of her and that the no affection is my fault. I haven’t criticised her but for this.

    I wrote her a letter much like this one. She wrote back thanking me for the letter, that she didn’t have time to respond just then, and basically said me too. But, several days later, still no affection, still no written or verbal response to the letter, and at this point I know there won’t be any response. She knows how important this would be to me, and she isn’t going to do anything. I am beginning to wonder if she hasn’t always been like this and I am just now realizing it.

    I can text her I am having a bad day, again, she may text back “sorry”. And that’s all. No hug when I get home, no asking about it, if I ask for a hug I get a limp half hearted one. Forget about any kissing. I can’t help but feel she doesn’t want me anymore and won’t tell me because I might kill myself. But honestly I am dying already, every day. I listen to everything she says about her day, tell her how much I appreciate what she does, try to remind her about the good things that happen during her day. But she is just so tired of me and my depression she can’t hear about my day anymore. I have stopped even trying to talk about my day. She wasn’t ever really much for hearing about my day anyway, and now my depression has made it impossible. All I can think is that my depression has wrecked what marriage I did have.

    All this is only exacerbating my depression. I don’t know what to do. I can’t talk to her anymore because I will just get blamed and yelled at. I have suggested couples counseling, she isn’t interested. I have suggested she get her own therapist to help her cope with my depression, but she hasn’t done anything about that. Plus if I do get ECT and it doesn’t work I will only be that much closer to suicide.


    1. I’m not going to bad-mouth your wife, Mark, nor am I going to presume to understand your marriage from her perspective, but your marriage as described is what most bad marriages look like in role-reversal way.

      Your wife seems to be behaving in ways that looks and feels just like shitty husbandry.

      I’m really sorry you’re dealing with mental health issues AND life’s shittiest emotional battle at the same time.

      Not fair.

      Intentional mistreatment of one’s spouse wrecks marriages.

      Negligence or failing to rectify mistakes wrecks marriages.

      Being unhealthy is an obstacle to a fun, happy, feel-good marriage, but YOU DID NOT WRECK IT.

      You accept responsibility for everything you can control and you’re doing all you can to be responsible for trying to address your health.

      Mark. I mostly think and write about how much I failed my wife and marriage. I mostly think and write about all of the people and behaviors that cause marriages to fall apart.

      And you sir are NOT among those groups. While battle a kind of horror I can’t fully understand, you’re still thinking about others and trying your best.

      That’s hero shit, sir. HERO SHIT.

      And this world–and certainly the realm of family and relationships–can use a whole lot more of that.

      Thank you for bravely sharing. Thank you for giving what you can to your marriage.

      Thanks for reading and writing here.

      I really appreciate you, and hope we’ll continue to see you around for a long, long, long time.

      Thank you, Mark. Very much.

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