You’ve tried for years, but you can’t make it work, no matter what you do. You want out of your marriage. But how can you bring up discussing divorce with your spouse without hurting them or causing an all-out war? There is no “best way to ask for a divorce”.
Clients often ask how to keep things peaceful when telling their spouse they want a divorce. There’s no single “right” answer when asking for a divorce, but with preparation, you can make a tough conversation go a little more smoothly:
1. Prepare Yourself
Knowing ahead of time where your spouse is at emotionally can make a huge difference in how you bring up the topic of divorce.
Is your husband happily ignorant? Do you think your wife is just as unhappy as you are? Has the “D” word ever been brought up before or will it be coming out of the blue?
Understanding how aware your spouse is about the state of your marriage can help gauge how your spouse will react as you get ready to bring up divorce. You may consider talking with a therapist or couple’s counselor to help you sort through your feelings and prepare you for the discussion you’re about to have. They can help you ”role play” the conversation asking for the divorce and even offer suggestions about what to say.
2. Choose A Suitable Place and Time
Before initiating the conversation about divorce, be sure to choose the right moment. Knowing when to ask for divorce is critical.
Take into consideration where and when this conversation should take place and plan to speak when your children are not present so that the conversation can happen without any disturbances and without involving them in an adult discussion. There is no perfect time to announce that you want a divorce, but certain situations are better than others. If he or she has been struggling with personal challenges, such as a layoff at work or the death of a relative, you may want to wait until he or she has had a chance to work through those issues. Otherwise, you may receive a reaction that has less to do with your announcement and more to do with whatever else is going on in their life.
Also, choose a place where you can have a private, uninterrupted conversation with no time pressure. This might be at home, at a counselor’s office or at a quiet restaurant.
3. Keep Your Cool for Your Kids
Children can be traumatized by witnessing conflict between their parents. By letting them see that you can work together to peacefully end your marriage, you are giving them a solid head start on navigating what may seem at first to be an uncertain future. Show them that you support each other as partners in parenting so they know they will be taken care of rather than fought over.
4. Be Gentle, But Firm
How you tell your spouse that you want a divorce can determine the way the divorce process unfolds. If you bring up divorce while angry and frustrated, your spouse may not take your request as seriously as if you bring up the topic in a nice, calm, thoughtful, and respectful way.
Keep in mind — you’ve spent a lot of time considering and preparing for divorce. More than likely your spouse has not.. If your decision to file for a divorce comes out of the blue to them, they will need some time for the reality of your decision to sink in.
5. Listen to Their Perspective
Listen to them without talking. They may want to discuss counseling or ways to save the marriage. Give them an opportunity to talk and be heard. You don’t have to agree with them, but it will help keep the peace if they feel heard.
6. Be Understanding and Empathetic
They may not want this divorce. This may be scary or make them angry or sad. They may feel like you are giving up on the marriage. Actively listen to them and seek to understand their perspective and be empathetic. You’ve had time to think about and prepare for a divorce. They have not. They may feel blindsided because they haven’t had time to think about or prepare for a divorce. Showing some empathy and compassion for how they are feeling will help keep the peace.
7. Accept Responsibility for Your Decision
Use “I” statements (“I feel unhappy”) instead of “You” statements (“You make me unhappy”) in your conversation to avoid sounding like you are placing blame. Both spouses will likely experience a variety of emotions, but not necessarily at the same time. If he or she is not prepared to continue the discussion after you tell them you want to divorce, give them some time rather than forcing the issue.
8. Seek Professional Help
If you want your divorce to proceed as peacefully as possible, consider the collaborative process. To learn more, contact a communication specialist at Best Legal Choices today.
- Dillon, Joe, et al. “The Best Way To Ask Your Spouse For A Divorce.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 7 Dec. 2017, http://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-to-ask-your-spouse-for-a-divorce_b_7367650.
- “Telling Your Spouse You Want a Divorce.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/divorce-grownups/200911/telling-your-spouse-you-want-divorce.
- Amicable Divorce Checklist: Get Prepared for a Peaceful Divorce
- How to Have an Amicable Divorce with Children
- Tips to End Your Marriage Peacefully
- How To Divorce Amicably
Collaborative Divorce Is a Peaceful Divorce Option
Divorce litigation can be emotionally draining for you, your spouse, and your children. But it doesn’t have to be that way with collaborative divorce. The collaborative process can result in a less expensive, more efficient, and less harmful outcome for everyone involved. The legal, financial, and communication professionals at Best Legal Choices can help you navigate this difficult time in your life.
OUR PROFESSIONALS CAN HELP WITH THE COLLABORATIVE PROCESS IN ARIZONA!
The collaborative divorce process is designed to help people who are willing to work together to make an agreement that benefits the family. Resources that help parents communicate effectively during this process can help them model appropriate behavior for their kids. With love and support, children can more effectively deal with their parents’ divorce. Contact a professional with Best Legal Choices if you’re ready to take the first step toward starting your new life.
Heidi has been a family counselor for 16 years and has worked primarily with separating/divorcing and high conflict families for the past 4 years. Heidi’s goal is to help families reduce the need for future litigation, build resilience and healing, and help families focus on the best interests of the children and parents alike.