I’m often asked how to deal with a spouse as they’re seeking a divorce and trying to end the marriage. Should you back off and give them space? Should you shower them with gifts? If you’re afraid to do all the wrong things, this article will help you decide what to do based on where your spouse falls on the “Chaos to Purpose” scale.

Before we begin, one thing you might not realize is…everything your spouse is doing is based on how much pain they experienced in their first 10 years of childhood. THIS…is the driving force of their actions, emotional condition and how they react to everything around them.

The more childhood pain your spouse experienced, the more you must change the way you deal with them in their troubled emotional state. The Chaos To Purpose scale will help you identify what to do about your situation based on his or her emotional condition.  The scale goes from 0% at the worst to 100% at the best.

This scale describes the three zones of how parents handle the emotional development of their children. 

ZONE 1: Was Your Spouse Raised in the Purpose Neighborhood?

This is the 80% to 100% zone of the scale.  Here your husband or wife’s parents enjoyed each other and made your spouse feel important and valuable by actively talking, teaching and directing what the child was learning.

As a child, your spouse saw what a great relationship looks like… Mom and dad enjoyed each other.  A husband or wife raised in this zone is the most resilient and you’ll find they are more flexible in handling problems that come up in your marriage.

ZONE 2: Was Your Spouse Raised in the Twilight Zone?

The second zone ranges from 50% to 80%.  It’s here that your spouse was not raised with actively involved parents who taught and took an interest in their child.  Instead parents with kids in the “Twilight Zone” tried to survive by providing food, clothing and shelter to the children…“that should be enough” they believed.

In the “Twilight Zone”, mom and dad do not take a unique interest in the future of the child by consciously installing morals and values.  All of that is ignored.  This leaves the child growing into adult life without a moral code, for example “Under no condition will I cheat on my mate.”  Or a sound moral belief such as; “When my spouse is troubled, I will help him/her get to the bottom of it so we can maintain our connection.”  Twilight Zone kids just don’t have a dependable set of moral values to apply to their intimate relationship with you.

If your spouse was raised here, then you should confirm that’s the case and I will explain what you need to do with your spouse in this case in just a moment.

ZONE 3: Was Your Spouse Raised in Chaos?

This zone ranges from 0% to 50%.

I was personally raised in this zone. I often tell people I was ‘raised by wolves’ because myself and my siblings were left to fend for ourselves while my mother was out drinking and my father out gambling. Fortunately, I married my wife Marsha (who also grew up in Chaos) and after 27 years of a marriage made in hell, she pushed me to become the man I am today and we’re still married over 36 years.

The Chaos zone is the worst place to grow up and it is where your spouse, as a child, experienced some combination of emotional or physical abuse, divorce, abandonment and other traumatic events during those first 10 years.  If your spouse is raised in the Chaos Neighborhood, you must treat him or her very differently than you would a ‘normal spouse’ when they reach the point where they want to end your marriage.


If you married a spouse in the purpose neighborhood, that person has programs in their brain that cause them to believe an intimate relationship is based on honesty, openness, give-and-take, forgiveness, laughter and lots of other related positives.  That’s because people who are raised in this area of the Chaos To Purpose scale have seen all of these good things in their mom and dad’s  marriage.

If your spouse was raised in this neighborhood, and you’re going through a rough patch in your marriage, the thing to do is create a surprise event for him/her.

Do something like creating a giant card that says “Get Well”.  Inside it could say something like “The opportunity of a lifetime awaits as we mend our differences on February 24 and 25th having fun together at XYZ event.  Then attach the actual tickets to the card.  Pick a comedy show with a famous comedian, or a Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage seminar or some other event you must travel to together.  Make it a fun event you will both enjoy together.  This is the way to get your spouse’s attention.  The reason you do this is because a person raised in a better home is more flexible and more willing to solve differences in unconventional ways.

If your spouse raised in this Purpose home is a woman…

I can guarantee you that your wife wants you to make her life stable, make her feel personally safe (financially and emotionally), and finally she wants you to make her feel she is FIRST, not second in your life.  If you did not make her feel stable, safe and as your first priority, then you need to fix that as soon as possible.  Going to a happy and upbeat weekend event is a great way to do that.

If your spouse raised in a Purpose home is a man…

I can guarantee you that your husband wants you to tell him how good he is at all the things he does, give him free time for his selfish pursuits without guilt and make him feel that he fulfills you sexually (you pursue him sexually).  If you ended up putting all your time and interest into your children, career or social circle, then you need to fix this right away.  Get your husband to attend a fun, upbeat event to mend those broken fences in your marriage and set aside some special time for the two of you.


In sharp contrast to someone who grew up in the Purpose neighborhood, you need to do something quite different when you married someone in the Twilight Zone because of their childhood ‘source code’.  You must appear much less in his/her life instead of much more.  The fact that your spouse is holding previous behaviors against you means that they have reached an emotional endurance limit.

In the Twilight Zone, your spouse might have been programmed in their childhood to live one of three ways:

  1. To be a victim
  2. To be emotionally disconnected
  3. To be confrontational


A victim spouse believes that life is a deck stacked against them that can’t be won.  That means they want to give up and be victimized by forces that can’t be controlled.  The more you press with urgency about your future relationship, the more he/she will feel like the victim.

You likely never saw it coming – and without realizing it – you’ve just become the physical source of all of your spouse’s emotional pain.  You certainly are not, but it doesn’t matter because your spouse believes you are.


If your spouse was programmed to be emotionally disconnected, then you will have noticed in the past that it was difficult to get close before you noticed your spouse growing more distant.  That is the mark of a person programmed in childhood for emotional disconnection.  This is also the person who shuts down when there is any sign of conflict.


If your spouse was programmed to be confrontational, as in; “Prove you love me!  Fight back!”, then your spouse is being pushed from within to create conflict in order to prove there is love.

In his or her mind, conflict equals love. 

This is a person who would get mad at you in a variety of situations because the program in their brain tells them to.


No matter which of these three program systems your spouse has, I would encourage you to make yourself very scarce.

Don’t be so available for telephone calls, don’t text and don’t appear places where your spouse is.  Plan on doing this for eight weeks straight so he/she feels a real vacuum because you are missing.  There is no need to do anything legal regarding divorce and such.  Just don’t be so present.

I’m saying this because you have become the physical source of all of your spouse’s emotional pain which means that every time you speak or act, the pain will increase in your spouse.

Let’s summarize;

  • Don’t be so present in your spouse’s life
  • Keep your distance for 8 weeks.
  • Don’t keep checking on your spouse and never check cell phone records, and don’t ask friends for information.
  • If you are to give your spouse a real vacation from you, then be serious about it and find other things to do.  (If you keep reappearing, you’ll continue reinforcing that you are the source of pain.)


If you’re not occupying your spouse’s every waking thought, won’t they just forget about you? No, but this is a common question and fear I hear over and over when I give this advice to people whose spouses are running away. They try to involve themselves in their spouse’s lives SO MUCH for fear that the spouse will move on with life and forget all about them.

But by creating a sudden “You Vacuum”, your spouse (raised in the Twilight Zone), will start to realize and sense that even though you are gone, THE PAIN IS STILL THERE and it takes about two months for them to realize that.

These two months are not time to work on any kind of marriage.  You’re in no shape and your spouse is in no shape to work on your marriage.

Now is the time to fall back and retreat. 

After the two months is over, you can initiate a small amount of contact such as a single text with the line “Are you still there?  – Me.”  Wait for the response.  Even if it’s more than a week.  Don’t send any long messages during these two months.  Remember, you’re giving your spouse a complete vacation from you.

Look back in the recent past and you will see that one of you was gradually disconnecting from the other.  One of you was gradually making your “thing” (children, career, friends, etc.) more important than the person you married.  You may not have noticed it but that was going on.

If that person was you, now is NOT the time to smother your spouse with words of affirmation and affection.


Because this Chaos Neighborhood is so troubling, let’s look again at what your spouse experienced in those first 10 years:  “Some combination of emotional abuse, divorce, abandonment, physical abuse and other traumatic events during those first 10 years at the hands of some very troubled adults.”

I can promise you that dealing with this person is not like dealing with the other two I’ve described above.  In other words, if you are married to a man/woman who was raised in the Chaos Neighborhood, you are “Not in Kansas anymore.”

You are definitely in the land of OZ.  You are in an entirely new and strange surrounding with a whole new set of rules.  That’s because when this adult has his or her childhood come after them with a vengeance, you will NOT see the person you married. The point when your spouse falls prey to their ‘dark side’ and enters into a midlife crisis is when you see the sudden transition from the person you fell in love with to someone you can barely recognize anymore.

You will see someone else in the same body. You’ve married a Chaos Kid. A Chaos Kid is angry about their childhood and that childhood anger is now directed at you. YOU have become the enemy. Everything you do and say is a threat. It doesn’t matter how good or bad you’ve been as a spouse, if he was married to someone else, it would be the same story.

There Are 5 Rules of a Chaos Kid Husband You Need to Understand
(These are written for a woman, but this also applies to men)
  1. She says what she doesn’t mean and what she means, she doesn’t say.
  2. She believes HER needs are more important than your needs.
  3. She sells herself as somebody she’s not.
  4. Any good thing you do or say, she sees as a threat.
  5. She wants what she can’t have and what she has, she doesn’t want.

In this hostile environment, you must become you at your best to avoid pushing your spouse further away. Gifts, cards, kind words, notes and affection will only push your spouse further away from you and add fuel to the fire.


I would like to give you advice about what you should do when this person with a chaos childhood melts down but there are so many wild variables going on inside them that I cannot give you specific advice until I find out more details about your chaos kid spouse.

This is the reason I created my Environment Changer course.  It is a long course (eight weeks) because what I am teaching is preparing the person married to the chaos kid for a big job.  That job is to first  secure your own emotions and then to save your chaos kid from that monster within that is controlling all their behavior.

If you are serious about saving your marriage or have questions for, you can register for a private one hour call via the link below to see if my approach is a good fit for you. I will help you make sense of your situation and so you can understand how you arrived at this point in your marriage and what you can do about it.

Here’s how to get started…

Enter your name and email to watch a free video presentation. After watching the video, you can request a complementary private 1 hour consultation: for men here or for women here.