You can set the tone for the way a divorce is likely to proceed from the moment you announce that you’re ready to end your marriage.
If you handle things well, you could end up with a relatively peaceful, non-combative divorce. Handle things badly, and you could be triggering a no-holds-barred war to the bitter end — and after.
Tips on how to tell your spouse you want a divorce
You can’t “un-ring a bell,” so do a lot of soul-searching and make certain that you’re really ready for a divorce before you make your announcement. This shouldn’t be a rash decision. If you haven’t yet met with a therapist to discuss your feelings, it’s a good time to start.
Once you’re absolutely sure that you want out of your marriage, here are some things to keep in mind about breaking the news to your spouse:
- Accept that this isn’t going to be a pleasant conversation. Even if your spouse is unhappy in the marriage, too, you may both feel angry, frustrated or sad. If your spouse is really clueless about the trouble, they may also be shocked and confused.
- Choose the right place and right time. Don’t announce your divorce on your anniversary or your spouse’s birthday, and don’t tell them as they head out the door to work. While there’s no “right” time to make the announcement, there are “wrong” times.
- Pick a neutral location. Arrange for a few hours where you can your spouse can really talk, without distractions like being on somebody’s “turf.”
- Mix compassion with resolution. Hear your spouse out and try to be as gentle as possible with their feelings. This does not mean, however, that you should make promises you don’t intend to keep or agree to couple’s counseling if you’re already sure that you’re done with the relationship.
- Don’t blast the news right away. Talk with your spouse about how you want to let other people know what’s happening, and try to give your spouse a chance to adjust before the information becomes public.
Finally, it’s always smart to meet with an experienced divorce attorney before you have this conversation. That way, you understand your rights and options and can start negotiating from a position of authority at the very beginning.