Thoughtful husband ignore wife thinking about break up — how to tell your spouse you want a divorce concept.

No one likes to communicate bad news, especially if it is surprising (but even when it’s not). Telling your spouse you want a divorce ranks up there as some of the most difficult news to break: it’s big, it’s life-changing, and it may be devastating. If you are thinking about how to tell your spouse you want a divorce, you should know that it’s likely nothing will make it easy—but planning ahead can help a lot. Carefully thinking things through in advance will not only make the conversation easier, but can lay the groundwork for a better divorce. Here are some tips for how to tell your spouse that you want a divorce.

Be Certain That You Really Want a Divorce.

Once you utter the words, “I want a divorce,” you cannot un-say them. Even if you retract them, the words will hang over your marriage like a dark cloud threatening a downpour at any moment. You’ve “gone there,” and divorce is on the table, even if you don’t mention it again. At best, your spouse may be uncertain of your commitment to remaining married. At worst, they may decide to consult their own attorney and strategize their own divorce plan, catching you off balance.

Individual therapy isn’t strictly necessary before asking for a divorce, but it can be helpful in sorting out your thoughts and deciding whether divorce is best for you. Do you want to stay married, but need some things to change? Do you want a trial separation while you and your spouse try to see if you can make your marriage work? Or are you truly, irrevocably done with your marriage? Once you are certain that you want to tell your spouse you want a divorce, there are other considerations.

Anticipate and Prepare For Your Spouse’s Reaction.

It’s hard to predict exactly how anyone will respond to such life-changing news, but you probably have a general idea of what reaction to expect. Do you think your spouse will be sad, angry, shocked, resigned, or even relieved?

If there is a history of domestic violence or any concern at all that your spouse will react violently to the news, prioritize your safety. The most dangerous time for a survivor of domestic violence is often when they try to leave. Speak with an experienced family law attorney before telling your spouse that you want a divorce to plan for your safety.

Think About What You Want to Happen After the Conversation.

What do you envision happening after you say the words “I want a divorce?” Do you want your spouse to move out? Do you plan to leave? How quickly? Do you want to share the house while you both plan your next steps? What will you do if your spouse orders you to leave immediately, or begs you to reconsider your decision? Have a plan for what you will do in the immediate aftermath of your announcement and in the days and weeks to follow.

Choose the Right Time and Place.

As a general rule, you want to avoid telling your spouse you want a divorce when something else major is going on, whether positive (a family vacation or holiday gathering) or negative (your spouse is struggling with a new job loss or health crisis). It’s often best to choose someplace private, where your spouse can have and express whatever emotions they are feeling, and a time when you will both have the opportunity to process what’s going on (five minutes before the kids are due home from school is a bad time).

Some people find it best to tell their spouse at home that they want a divorce. If you are in marriage counseling, the therapist’s office can also be an appropriate place to share the decision.

Be Direct, Firm, Calm, and Kind.

If you are having this conversation, you should be certain that divorce is what you want. If that is the case, do not waffle or backtrack. Do not agree to try to work things out or to a separation if you know a divorce is what you need. Don’t try to soften the blow by burying it in a lot of words; to some extent, this is a blow that cannot be softened no matter how it’s delivered.

Remember, you may have spent months thinking about, processing, and even grieving this decision. Your spouse may not be in the same place emotionally and it will take them a while to catch up. They may be furious. They may be devastated. They may beg you to stay, to go to counseling, or to consider other options. If you are certain, stick to your guns. Delaying the inevitable will only hurt you both in the end.

Plan What You Will Say Ahead of Time.

This is one of the most important conversations you will ever have; you shouldn’t wing it and hope that the right words will come to you. You don’t want to sound scripted, but make sure you know what you want to say so that you get your point across as clearly and kindly as possible, such as, “Our marriage is not working for me and I’ve realized a divorce is the only way forward. I wanted to tell you as soon as I was sure so that we can divorce in a way that is best for us.”

Listen to Your Spouse.

Whether your request for a divorce has been a long time coming or is a total surprise to your spouse, you can expect that they are going to have some feelings about it. You are entitled to stand firm in your decision to divorce, but you should recognize that as a partner in the conversation and the marriage, your spouse has the right to speak. Helping them to feel heard will set a foundation for a more respectful divorce.

Of course, that does not mean that you should allow yourself to be subjected to abuse, verbal or otherwise. If necessary or appropriate, remove yourself from the situation and offer to resume the conversation later.

In fact, since you will have more to talk about no matter how well your spouse takes the news, you should schedule another time in the near future to discuss next steps in any case.

Respect Boundaries — Yours and Your Spouse’s.

For years, you and your spouse were each other’s “person:” each of you was the one the other turned to in difficult times. Now, by telling your spouse you want a divorce, you have created a painful situation for them. You cannot be the one to comfort them out of it. You may be feeling guilty or sad. You cannot reasonably expect to be able to turn to them for comfort.

Do not send mixed signals to your spouse or create false hope that your marriage can be saved. You need to find other support systems and encourage them, gently and kindly, to do the same.

Speak to a Divorce Attorney Before Talking to Your Spouse.

Your spouse should not hear about your intention to divorce from anyone else, and under most circumstances, they should be the first or one of the first people you tell. An exception is your divorce attorney. You should schedule a consultation with a divorce attorney so that you will know what to expect from the process, how to prepare for divorce, and learn how to avoid any missteps in communicating with your spouse.

To learn more about how to tell your spouse you want a divorce, contact Strickler, Platnick & Hatfield to schedule a consultation.

Categories: Divorce