After we've been in a relationship with someone for a decent period of time, we should learn a lot about their moods and the subtle cues they give off about what they're feeling (which a stranger or someone who didn't know them very well, would miss. ) This gives us an important “in" if or when the relationship turns sour or is headed for divorce.
Yet, so many people, (who were so very good at reading these cues while they were dating), completely miss them when the relationship or marriage is in trouble. Being able to read BOTH your partner's verbal and non verbal cues will help you gauge how you need to present yourself or communicate to your partner if you're the one wanting to save the marriage and need them to eventually be receptive to this.
Admittedly, this is harder than it may sound. Often, the unhappy partner will say one thing but will mean something else entirely. Sometimes, the unhappy spouse doesn't really know or can't accurately verbalize the true reason they want the divorce or want out of the relationship. They may say something vague like “I'm just not happy, " “I've fallen out of love, " or “I just don't feel it anymore. "
This doesn't mean they are lying to you. Most people who want to divorce are really just trying to verbalize the same thing: they've lost a feeling or intimacy and closeness and they don't know how to (or they don't currently want to) get it back. Sometimes, the partner is trying to deny or stifle feelings or is trying to appear more confident and / or unsure about the decision than they really are.
It's very important that you read your partner's non verbal cues when you have conversations about your marriage. Pay close attention to his or her lips, posture, eyes, and how he or she is holding his / her arms. Are the lips clenched, pursed, or relaxed? Is the posture slumping, stiff, or loose? Are their fists clenched or down by their sides? All of these things will help you gauge your partner's true feeling about, and conviction towards, the words he is speaking.
Now, I don't tell you this to make you think that you know your partner better than he or she knows himself (and by all means don't say this to them), but I do strongly believe that your instincts and / or close watch of non verbal clues will help you to more fully understand what is going on.
I highly recommend simply and directly asking your partner if they can share the events or feelings that lead up to talk or a break up or divorce. Pay very close attention to how they respond (both verbally and non verbally) and then gently and calmly verbalize this back to your partner. If it appears to you that your partner is upset, tense, unsure, or worried, tell them and ask (calmly) if there's anything you can offer to help. (They might say no or react in an undesirable way, but you've set the stage for open and calm communication in the future. ) If they reject this outright, just remind him or her that you are here and are willing to engage with an open heart when they are ready.
Reading the clues can give you very important information on where your partner stands on repairing or saving the marriage. If he or she shows defiance, hostility, aggressive determination, or stress, then you will need to present your case from a place or diffusing these emotions calmly. The tact would be different if you partner was exhibiting sadness, anxiety, or fear. Then, you'd present yourself from a place of reassurance.
This does't mean, however, that you should be a doormat. Putting yourself in a position of weakness does not save a marriage either. There's a delicate dance between an open heart and self respect and dignity. You need both. If you are desperate or powerless, it will show and may be very unattractive.
In the end, most partners are really just trying to tell you that, somewhere along the way, they've lost intimacy and a feeling or closeness. But, their verbal and non verbal cues and clues can tell you how they really feel about this and how receptive they are to saving your marriage, preventing divorce, and getting the closeness back.
I was horrible at reading my husband's cues when he first asked for a divorce, but through a lot of research and hard work, I became much better at it. Eventually, (though commitment and lots of effort), I was able to not only save the marriage, but make it stronger. You can read my very personal story of how I stopped the divorce (when I was the only one interested in doing so) on my blog at http://you-can-save-your-marriage.blogspot.com/