How To Tell Your Spouse That You Want A Divorce

You’ve decided to end your marriage.  You might put off telling your spouse until the “right” time.  Unfortunately, there is never a good time.  It is simply a very difficult – even painful – thing to do.

Perhaps you have children and think it might make sense to stick it out until they’re older.  And in the meantime, the more miserable and numb you might feel as you go through the motions of each day.

Until perhaps you visualize for a moment what it would be like to be truly happy.

You might even feel an undercurrent of excitement, of anticipation, towards something new, something very different than what it’s been for so long.

You know what you have to do – and the sooner, the better.

But first, recognize that how you tell your spouse that you want a divorce will most likely determine how the whole divorce process would unfold for you.

For instance, if you act insensitively and blame your spouse for the divorce, your spouse is likely to retaliate by refusing to cooperate in the divorce process, escalating conflict and legal fees.

And if you have children, remember that you will be tied to your spouse for the rest of your life through your children.  It therefore makes sense to begin paving the way for a future co-parenting relationship.

Start by keeping these 5 tips in mind:

  1. Be prepared. Practice what to say and how to say it.  You might say “I think you’d agree that we’re making each other miserable.  I’m concerned if we keep going this way we’ll end up hating each other.” If you have children, you might offer “Our kids deserve better. They deserve to have two parents who are each happy, and not be destined to model what we’ve been like in our marriage.”

Also, prepare yourself by first consulting with a lawyer about the likely outcomes and how you might resolve the issues out of Court by mutual agreement.

Prepare yourself for a variety of responses from your spouse such as anger or  attempts to manipulate you into changing your mind – how much it would hurt the children or destroy the family. 

  1. Be focused. If you have children, make arrangements for them to be out of the house.  Allow enough time for the conversation.  Eliminate distractions by turning off your cell phone.  
  1. Be sensitive. Be compassionate and respectful.  Understand that your spouse may not be on the same page in wanting to end the marriage.  Keep this in mind when communicating.   

Clearly convey to your spouse that you are committed to remaining respectful throughout this process and to reaching an agreement that works for both of you.

Avoid becoming reactive or defensive.  Do not try to convince your spouse that this is the best option.  In general, the more you try to convince someone to see things your way, the more they will find reasons to fight you on it.

  1. Be firm.  You can remain firm while being compassionate.  Avoid wavering which could give your spouse false hopes for saving the marriage.
  1. Stay in control.  Keep the conversation focused on the future, not the past, and who is at fault. By the same token, steer clear of engaging in talk about such specifics as dividing assets or paying support.  The time to address the legal issue will come later as your spouse adjusts to the reality of the divorce.

If the conversation turns toward fault or legalities, simply reiterate your commitment to remaining respectful of your spouse’s feelings and reaching an amicable outcome.  Then end the conversation by offering to give your spouse some space.

Thanks for reading.  Please share this post with others who might find it useful.

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