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3 Things Not to Do when Talking to Your Spouse About Divorce

David Scott, P.A. Aug. 20, 2022

Divorce can be overwhelmingly tense, and the mere mention of getting a divorce can send some into a downward spiral.

When Binh Ngo – a 46-year-old Sebastian, Florida, man – and his wife were arguing about divorce on the Fourth of July, he said, “I am going to kill you,” before pulling out a hunting knife and stabbing her in the chest.

Ngo’s wife insisted that her husband needed help, but he wouldn’t let her leave their bedroom. A neighbor said Ngo’s wife stuck her head out of the window and yelled something briefly before Ngo pulled her back in. Other witnesses said she later came out of an apartment screaming, “”Please help me. He’s trying to kill me.”

When the police arrived at the Ngo residence around 9:30 pm Tuesday night, Ngo’s wife was “sitting on the sidewalk and holding a blood-soaked rag to her chest.” The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office found Ngo in Vero Beach Wednesday morning staying with a relative and apprehended him.

While this situation is definitely an extreme reaction to a divorce discussion, it does bring up a good question: how should you talk to your spouse about divorce? What should you avoid?

Let’s look at three things you shouldn’t do, and then we’ll provide a better alternative for when you decide to broach the subject of divorce with your spouse.

Don’t just blurt out that you want a divorce. While it might seem like you can’t wait any longer, don’t start a divorce conversation unless you’ve prepared a little. Take some time to think about whether your spouse is going to see this coming or if it will be unexpected. Your spouse’s emotional state can give you insight into how you should bring up divorce and how they will react.

Instead of just blurting out at an inopportune time that you’re thinking about divorce, pick an appropriate time and place where the two of you can talk for as long as necessary, calmly and uninterrupted.

Don’t defend yourself. When one spouse mentions divorce, it’s a common reaction for the other spouse to get angry, critical, or even accusatory. Your spouse is in pain and very well may lash out at you, but you don’t have to lash out back. Don’t start listing your spouse’s faults, deficits, and behaviors that have led you to divorce. Instead, let your spouse react to the news however he or she reacts, and listen to what they have to say.

Remember, you had time to prepare for this conversation and your spouse didn’t. Give him or her as much time as they need to process this information so you can figure out the next steps together.

Don’t dismiss getting help. Divorce affects everyone in different ways. Whether you’re thinking about divorce yourself or your spouse brings up the subject, talking to a professional therapist, counselor, or divorce coach might help you confront and work through your feelings. It could be beneficial to discuss your emotions with a professional both individually and as a couple to ensure you handle the process maturely and with everyone’s best interests in mind.

There’s no right way to start the divorce conversation, but there is a better way. If you’re thinking about divorce, use these three tips to broach the subject and reach out to an experienced Florida divorce attorney to find out what your options are depending on your particular circumstances.