The Hardest Conversation: How to Tell Your Spouse You Want a Divorce
Divorce is one of the hardest transitions we have to face in life. It can be difficult to know how to broach the subject with your spouse and what to do once you do. Separating from someone you once loved and shared so much with can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. This blog post will provide a step by step guide to having the conversation with your spouse that will end your marriage, and hopefully move you closer to being happily and successfully divorced and onto the next chapter of your new life.
Make the decision that this is what you want
Once you've decided that divorce is the right move for your life, you must stand firm in your decision. Don't let guilt or pressure from others persuade you into doing something you don't want. You should always be sure that this is a decision that you are ready to make and willing to stand by. After all, It's not a discussion that can be easily resolved with another visit to the marriage counselor. If you are certain that this is the best course of action for you, it's time to start taking the steps that move you closer to your goal. This discussion is the first step. Once you are ready to move forward, it's important to trust your gut and follow through on your decision.
Choose the right time and place to have the conversation
When it comes to telling your spouse you want a divorce, timing and location are very important. You will want to select a time and place that is free from distractions and where neither of you will be interrupted. Avoid having the conversation in a public place, as it can make it more difficult to express yourself without feeling judged by those around you. It’s also important to think about your children and make sure they aren’t around when you’re having the conversation, so they don't overhear it. Consider having the conversation over breakfast while the children are in school, or maybe going on a coffee date away from home. Whatever the case, try to choose a setting that both of you are comfortable with and that provides you with some privacy.
Be prepared for their reaction
We cannot predict or control how someone might react to being told bad news, so it's important to be prepared for a range of reactions. If the conversation escalates out of control or you don't feel safe, it's okay to quit and try again later when tensions have calmed down. If your spouse cannot seem to handle the news of you wanting a divorce, you may want to have this conversation with a neutral third party present such as a counselor, trusted family member, attorney, or mediator.
Don't get drawn into an argument
It is important to remain calm, direct and focused when discussing divorce with your spouse. Keep your conversation brief and to the point. Present two specific options, such as "We can start mediation next week with the mediator I've chosen or you can do your own research and email me the name of someone you'd like to work with" and stick it. Do not get sidetracked by topics that do not move the conversation toward one of those two options. Avoid blame, accusations, or bringing up the past. Use "I statements" and phrases like "moving forward..." to stay on topic. If your spouse begins to argue, remind them that while you respect their opinion, this isn't a decision you made hastily and you'd prefer to continue the conversation in the context of a mediation session or with a divorce professional to help you stay amicable during the process.
Take the time to tell them why you are making this decision. Be honest and open about what has led to your decision, but remember to focus on facts, not feelings. Don’t bring up old arguments or issues from the past.
Be clear that the decision has been made and is final. This will help your spouse understand that you are not going to be swayed and that you are serious about moving forward.
Do not make any promises that you can’t keep or that you know won’t happen. This is not the time to negotiate assets or plan the custody schedule.
Remember, this is a difficult time for everyone involved, so be respectful and compassionate.
Remember that this is the beginning of the end
This is a difficult and emotional conversation to have, but you need to remember that this is just the beginning of the end of your marriage. It’s important to be aware that things will change, and it’s important to mentally prepare yourself for this transition and to set the tone of how things will look moving forward.
Your relationship with your spouse may look different in the coming weeks or months and it’s essential that you both respect each other's boundaries and communicate in a respectful way. This will help to create an environment in which you can both move forward with the least amount of stress or conflict.
Remind yourself that this is a necessary step towards you both finding happiness and fulfillment outside of your marriage. This is the start of a new chapter in your lives, and you can take comfort in knowing that, while it may feel painful now, it will eventually lead to a better future for both of you.