I’m guessing that very few men read my blog and that I might be preaching to an all-girls’ choir here, but here goes nothing.

If you are a man and your marriage is in turmoil or you are separated, and for whatever reason, your wife hasn’t been able to clearly tell you what she needs from you, I’m going to give it a shot. Now, every woman is different, of course, as is every marriage, but some things remain the same. And as I write, I’m going to make the assumption that something bad has happened or there is a long-standing unhealthy habit or sin (abuse of any kind, addiction of any kind, adultery, etc.). So, here are some thoughts.

The absolute first step is to stop doing the behavior that has driven your wife to beg for help or to leave. Stop drinking. Stop lying. Stop cheating. Stop abusing her. Stop controlling her. Stop whatever it is. In some cases, it’s as easy as stopping. In most cases, you’ll need help to do so.

The rest of these are in no particular order but are of equal importance.

Admit there’s a problem. One of my many counselors said, “If someone has a problem with your {fill-in-the-blank behavior}, then there’s a problem.” If your wife is crying all the time or has left you, dear man, there is a problem. You must look it in the eye and acknowledge its existence and the pain that it has caused.

Get help. Odds are, you will not be able to walk this road alone. You must open yourself up to someone else to speak truth into your life and to help you untangle the mess.

Repent. Jesus wants to help you live a whole life, and the starting place is to ask forgiveness for what you’ve done and ask for help in turning things around. This is one of those prayers that he’s just waiting on the edge of his throne to answer for us. He loves helping us become whole again.

Apologize to her. Has your wife hurt you? I’m sure she has. But this isn’t about her right now. This is about you seeing clearly what you’ve done and outright telling her all that you’ve done wrong (this is not the time to sugarcoat the situation…lay it all out there) and that you are so sorry. Don’t do it if you don’t mean it because she’ll know if your heart’s right. For instance, if there’s some kind of deadline like, “We’ll be separating by July 1 if you don’t get in counseling and admit what you’ve done,” and you come to her on June 30, boy, you need to examine your heart because she is going to question your motives up one side and down the other, because a move like that looks like you’re just trying to save your own hide.

A side note: don’t be surprised or discouraged if even after the most sincere of apologies, she’s either not buying it or not ready to forgive you. She’s working through an entirely different process than you are and it’s just as difficult.

Set up accountability. The only way change can be sustainable is if you let others in to help you keep walking the correct path.

Be patient. If after two months of doing the right things and say, you’ve had an affair, and you hear yourself asking your wife when you can move back into the bedroom, you are showing that you’re not ready and that you do not understand the depth of pain you’ve put your wife through. She gets to determine the timeline. You need to wait for her lead.

Restitution. If you were to rob a bank, I’m guessing one of your consequences would be to pay back the bank. The same theory applies here. If you have stolen years from your wife by being unfaithful or if you have spent thousands of dollars in alcohol to feed your addiction, pay it back. How do you pay back time? Creatively. I read of an unfaithful husband who loved to golf. In an effort to pay back his wife time he had stolen, he gave up his Saturday golf game until she said he could go back to playing, all to show her that she was more important than anything else in his life.

Ask her. Outright ask your wife what steps she wishes you’d take: counseling together maybe? A recovery group? Your openness and willingness will move mountains.

Listen, I know all this sounds harsh and time-consuming and difficult. But if you have hurt the woman that you covenanted to cherish, you have some major rebuilding work to do. Will this be an uphill climb? Yes. Is it impossible? Nothing with God is impossible.

Taking a few moments to sit quietly and focus your heart and mind on Jesus is one of the best things you can do for yourself spiritually, mentally, emotionally and even physically. Enjoy this free gift of guided meditations.

you're just moments away from calm!