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The Right Way to Tell Your Spouse You Want a Divorce

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

The road to divorce is a long one, littered with tough decisions, sensitive conversations, and paperwork.

One of the first and most challenging steps in divorce is revealing your decision to your partner. Telling your spouse you want a divorce may be an emotional, scary, and exhausting experience, and the task should be approached with sensitivity and forethought.

If you are ready to discuss divorce with your husband or wife, it’s important to plan what you will say, how you will say it, and when you will begin the conversation. To get ready for the tough talk, review these tips on the right way to tell your spouse you want a divorce.

7 Tips to Remember when Telling Your Spouse You Want a Divorce

Anticipate their response. The right way to communicate your wish to pursue divorce depends largely on your spouse’s level of awareness of what’s coming. Will the news come as a shock, or is your spouse conscious of your unhappiness with the relationship?

If you bring up divorce seemingly out of the blue, your partner may feel shaken and attacked. Prepare for some resistance if you believe the announcement will come as a blow.

Practice. The way you initially ask your partner for divorce can set the stage for the entire divorce process. That’s why it’s essential to choose your words carefully and express your intentions clearly.
Before talking to your spouse, write down your feelings in a journal, or practice what you will say with a confidant.

Pick the right time and place. Avoid breaking the news during times of stress or other major life events, such as an illness or a recent job loss. When you are ready to begin the discussion, find a time and a place where you and your spouse can speak uninterrupted. Make sure your phones are out of sight and your children are away, occupied, and cared for by a relative or friend.

If you’re worried about safety, consider breaking the news in a public place, or in the presence of a therapist or mediator.

Be compassionate and clear. By approaching the discussion with compassion and openness, you can set the stage for a less stressful divorce process and—if you have children—successful co-parenting in the future. Make sure your words communicate your true intentions clearly, and tell the whole truth as best you can.

Do not get defensive. Your partner may go through the anger and denial stages of grief, and try to dissuade you, make accusations, or goad you into a fight.

Understand that these are normal reactions to shock and pain, and try to remain calm. Listen to what your spouse has to say without interrupting. Recognize that your spouse’s feelings and reactions may not be your ideal, but they are your partner’s truths.

Seek professional help. If you find that anger, denial, and other emotional obstacles are hindering negotiations and preventing progress, you may want to seek professional help. A marriage counselor or divorce specialist may be able to help you navigate the emotional complications of divorce and provide you with the tools you need to move forward.

Seek legal guidance. In the initial conversation, it’s best to hold off on discussing property division, custody arrangements, or other details. Discussing divorce terms without legal guidance can result in complications down the road, so you should hire a professional divorce attorney before diving into any settlement discussion.

We not only offer family legal help at an affordable price, but also a free initial consultation where you can discuss your specific situation. Reach out to us today.