There’s no more difficult conversation than telling your spouse you want a divorce. How can you do it without triggering WWIII?
In a previous blog, we discussed 9 Steps for Telling Your Spouse You Want A Divorce. Here are 10 more tips to tell your spouse you want a divorce.
There’s no one way to tell your spouse you want out of a marriage. You need to tailor the talk to fit your situation, but here are ten tips on how to share the bad news with your spouse.
Be Certain You Want a Divorce.
Before you share the news that you want a divorce, be honest with yourself. All marriages experience rough spots. Don’t threaten divorce because you are angry, trying to get your spouse’s attention, or gain control of him or her. If you have doubts about getting a divorce, don’t decide to tell your spouse until you are certain it’s what you want because you can’t take the words back.
Does Your Spouse Suspect?
Is your spouse aware of how you feel? Is he or she also unhappy with the marriage? Understanding how your spouse feels will help you prepare for the talk about divorce. It might make sense to see a counselor and work through your own feelings before you talk with your spouse about a divorce.
Pick a Quiet Time.
Think about when and where to have the talk with your spouse about divorce. The best time is usually a week end when the kids are with their grandmother or at summer camp so there won’t be interruptions. Avoid discussing divorce when there are other significant events happening in your life, such as an illness or losing a job.
Be Kind and Firm.
This first conversation will set the tone for your entire divorce, so don’t start off being angry or blaming. Instead, be compassionate, kind, firm, and clear about your intention to get a divorce. Be direct but respectful of his or her feelings. You have likely spent considerable time thinking about divorce, but this may be the first time your spouse has even considered it. Don’t be surprised if he or she gets angry when you mention divorce for the first time. Be patient.
Don’t Discuss Settlement.
Even if your spouse is not surprised that you want a divorce and has been expecting the conversation, don’t begin discussing settlement details right away. Negotiating without proper guidance and advice from a qualified divorce attorney is dangerous and can come back to bite you later. Reassure your spouse you want to be fair but don’t go into details. You might want to mention the option of doing a collaborative divorce to save stress and money.
What If Your Spouse Is in Denial?
Don’t be surprised if your spouse is shocked and doesn’t believe what you are saying. Be patient and sensitive to his or her feelings. There are many reasons your spouse might be in denial, including religion, fear, or dependency. If your spouse is in denial, consider rescheduling the talk for another time after he or she has time to process the idea.
Make Certain You’re Safe.
Is there any chance your spouse will become violent when you tell him or her you want a divorce? If you are concerned, have the talk in a public place where you’ll be safe and bring someone with you when you break the news you want a divorce. Carry a cell phone if you feel in danger and let someone know where you are and what you are doing.
Just because you raise the issue of divorce doesn’t mean it has to trigger a fight. Resist the urge to strike out at your spouse. Blaming or being angry won’t accomplish anything. If your spouse tries to start a fight, walk away, call a time out, or reschedule, but don’t let the discussion get out of hand.
Plan what you intend to say in advance, outline the main points you want to make, and practice the talk until you are comfortable telling your spouse you want a divorce. Don’t go into unnecessary details and don’t tell him or her to move out of the house right away.
It’s Never Easy.
Telling your spouse you want a divorce isn’t easy and can trigger conflict. But it has to be done. If you inflict pain on your spouse, he or she will become angry and retaliate. Begin the talk in a calm and reasonable way.
Planning won’t guarantee your divorce goes well, but it can increase your chances of having a cooperative divorce so make the best of the first talk.