Many couples tend to put off divorce until after the holidays. And with the holidays now over, there’s the difficult task of telling your spouse you want a divorce. And you might wonder if the divorce can ever be amicable.
It’s important to recognize that how you tell your spouse you want a divorce will most likely determine how the whole divorce process will unfold. For instance, if your spouse feels blamed or disrespected, he or she is more likely to retaliate by refusing to cooperate in the divorce process, escalating conflict, and legal fees.
Therefore, before approaching your spouse, make sure you’re certain you want a divorce. And think of how your spouse might feel and what you might say. Prepare yourself for a variety of responses like anger or attempts to change your mind.
You can start with something like “I think you would agree that we’re making each other miserable. I’m concerned if we keep going this way, we’ll end up hating each other. I want a divorce.” If you have children, you might also say something like “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.”
It’s important to remain firm yet compassionate. Avoid wavering which could give your spouse false hopes for saving the marriage. And avoid becoming reactive or defensive. It’s also important to clearly convey your commitment to remaining respectful and reaching an agreement that works for both of you.
Do not try to convince your spouse that divorce is the best option. 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 dividing assets or paying support. The time to address the legal issues 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.
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