How to tell your spouse you want a divorce

Deciding you want a divorce is a huge step, but finding the right time to tell your spouse can be an equally imposing hurdle. The timing will never seem right, and each discussion will be as unique as the individuals involved. Before you voice your decision to your spouse, it’s beneficial to be reflective and make sure it’s what you really want.

Are you ready for divorce?

The one goal of a divorce is to end a marriage legally. It is not a tool to begin healing a broken marriage. Nor can it be viewed as a platform to voice your unhappiness in a relationship.

There is a big difference between telling your spouse you want a divorce and telling them you’re unhappy in the marriage. Before you use the “D” word, ask yourself a few questions:

Are you ready to emotionally detach from your spouse?

The purpose of a divorce is to allow both parties to move on, financially, and emotionally. Ideally, by the time you’re telling your spouse you want a divorce, you’re already “emotionally divorced” from them in your mind. If there are still attachments and feelings, even negative ones, then perhaps you’re not ready to file.

Are you prepared to facilitate change?

Divorce proceedings will involve upheaval in all areas of your life, from finances and living arrangements to your children’s schooling. You will need to actively participate in facilitating these changes to proceed with a divorce successfully.

Having the Conversation

There is no good time to have this conversation, but there can be a “better” time to have it. A well-planned discussion in a neutral environment will have far better implications for the road ahead than an emotionally charged argument. Here are some considerations:

Time of day

Traditionally, all romantic and emotional events happen in the evening. Emotions tend to run higher in the evening, though, when exhaustion levels soar, and you are preoccupied with the events of the day. While it may seem harsh to have this conversation in “the cold light of day,” a neutral, emotionally calm environment will help set the tone for a more practical, and less reactive, discussion.

Free from distractions

It’s best to choose a time and place where you aren’t likely to be distracted by kids, relatives, colleagues, or other events. It may be tempting to have distractions as a handy excuse to exit the discussion and avoid awkwardness. It’s far better to see this first discussion through to completion to make sure both you and your spouse are on the same page.

Expect the Unexpected

As well as you know this person, you really have no idea how they’re going to react. You could meet with anger, resistance, passive agreement, or denial. You may not even see a genuine reaction for days.

It is unchartered territory, so be prepared for unpredictable behavior from your spouse and yourself. Talking about it may trigger internal reactions that you weren’t expecting or feel unprepared to handle.

Expect to have the conversation more than once

Telling your spouse that you want a divorce rarely marks the instantaneous end to a marriage. It is merely the beginning of lengthy divorce proceedings with many more similar conversations. If you’re ready for a divorce, you will be in a position to respect the emotional reactions of your spouse without engaging in them reactively.

In whatever way you choose to tell your spouse about your wish to divorce, it’s best to remain honest, transparent, and respectful of their reactions. It will set the tone for speedy and efficient proceedings, and a better outcome for everybody.

If you need more advice or information, contact one of our experienced divorce lawyers today for a free first consultation.

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