It is never easy to tell your spouse that your marriage has officially reached its end. Preparing yourself for the emotional implications of breaking the news to your spouse is difficult on its own, and it is even more difficult to plan how to do it.
However, when you tell your spouse that you will be filing for divorce, it will set the tone for how your divorce process may proceed. For instance, it determines if you will continue having civil discussions. Therefore, the importance of proper planning cannot be understated.
When it comes to having this conversation with your spouse, there are a few general guidelines that all of the parties involved should try to adhere to. These suggestions do not vary, regardless of who your spouse is. In order to have more successful conversations from the get-go, you should always follow these basic tips when telling your spouse that the marriage is over:
1) Select an appropriate time and place to give your spouse the news.
Contrary to popular belief, the best place to tell your spouse that your marriage is over is not in the middle of a crowded restaurant. Rather, select a relatively private setting, and a time when you can talk without interruptions.
If there are children involved, see if a trusted friend or family member can keep an eye on them for a while. It will be more appropriate to talk when your children are not listening.
2) Remain calm.
There is no need to fuel the emotional fallout that can occur during this conversation. Instead, you should strive to remain calm and composed, even when it becomes difficult.
3) When you share that you want a divorce, be prepared for an emotional reaction from your spouse.
Particularly if your spouse is blissfully unaware that you have reached your capacity to endure the relationship, be prepared for an emotional response. This aspect may take more preparation on your part, but you should be able to remain stoic and calm, despite their emotional reaction. If you are struggling with your own emotions over this decision, seek guidance from a professional counselor in advance.
Common Spousal Objections to a Divorce
You must remember that you can still divorce your spouse, even if they initially object to this conversation. If you immediately file for divorce, it is definitely one way to end your marriage as quickly as possible, but it may not be the best solution. For instance, if you file for divorce despite your spouse’s objections, it could lead to a more argumentative future. If your spouse is not given the chance to come to terms with the divorce on their own, they may feel blindsided and betrayed.
Before you immediately head to the courthouse to file the appropriate paperwork, you need to give your spouse some space to adjust to the idea of a divorce. Particularly if they were shocked by the realization that the marriage was less than ideal, they may need a few days or weeks to accept that you do not feel the relationship is worth saving.
Once they do come to accept your stance, be sure to give them an opportunity to speak their minds. They should have the chance to freely voice their opinion on the divorce, but you will need to ensure that they are able to do so without an emotional response from you. To make sure that you can manage your own feelings, some intense work on your part will be required. In this situation, consider seeking help from a therapist or counselor.
Your spouse may have come to terms with your desire for a divorce, but that does not necessarily mean that they agree with your opinion. Take the time to actively listen to their concerns and hear their objections. Doing so will demonstrate that you are willing to keep the lines of communication open, which sets the stage for a more amicable divorce down the road.
It is relatively common to find a spouse that harbors objections about the demise of the relationship. In fact, there are a few responses that tend to be frequently used in these situations:
1. It’s better to stay together for the kids.
Some individuals truly believe that they should remain locked in a loveless or tense marriage, in order to spare their children the pain of seeing their parents split. Unfortunately, this situation rarely leads to the desired outcome: producing healthy and well-adjusted offspring. In fact, it can be detrimental to your children’s long-term emotional well-being.
This living situation may ultimately teach your children that it is okay to live in conflict, instead of taking the lead to enact positive changes in their own lives. The chronic stress that results from living in a tense, hostile environment can lead to more serious issues, such as depression and anxiety. In the end, separation and divorce could actually be better for the children than staying together.
You should note that this philosophy only holds true when both spouses are able to co-parent well into the future. They must be able to communicate amicably, particularly in the presence of the children. Do not speak negatively about your spouse, or engage in petty arguments when you are picking up or dropping off your children for visitation.
2. We need to work harder to repair the relationship.
If your spouse uses the need to work on the relationship as an objection to divorce, you might need to consider whether or not there is some truth in their statement. Evaluate whether you both put forth an effort to salvage the relationship. Before you ultimately begin the divorce process, it is always best to ensure that you have no doubt that the marriage is truly over. If there truly has been no (or very little) attempt to restore the relationship, attempting to salvage it can give you peace of mind, and honor your spouse’s objection. .
This situation may mean signing up for marriage counseling or getting the assistance of a third party. A marriage therapist can help both of you identify the root cause of the divorce. However, they may also be able to give you the space to have a conversation with an objective third party in a neutral location. The mediation of a professional can be highly beneficial for resolving conflict in any relationship.
Postponing the divorce until you are both positive that a valiant effort has been made to bring healing into the relationship may be well worth the wait. Even if the marriage is over, this last-ditch effort to save the relationship could lead to a more amicable divorce process.
You do not want to allow your spouse to use marriage counseling as an excuse to drag out the relationship long-term. Be sure to set an exact date, when you will both reevaluate how the work is going. Then decide the fate of the relationship at that point, if at all possible. You will need to move forward with your initial decision—when you can both clearly identify that the marriage is not working, or when the pain of staying surpasses the pain of leaving.
3. We do not want to be dragged through the courts.
It should be no secret that divorce is extremely expensive. Consider how quickly your attorney’s fees can add up to a hefty monthly bill. And this bill does not even begin to cover the expenses of maintaining two separate households, child support payments, and alimony. The cost of heading to court is a major concern for many couples, as is the time that this process will take. Divorce is grueling—mentally, emotionally, and financially.
Instead of creating an acrimonious litigation, suggest a less harsh method of divorce, such as mediation. You could agree on a divorce attorney that will help you find a settlement that is equitable to both parties. However, this more relaxed atmosphere allows you to do so with considerably less bitterness than a long, drawn-out court case.
Be sure to handle your spouse’s objections fairly, and make an attempt to hear their point of view about the key issues. You are ultimately attempting to set the stage for a more amicable divorce, which is less draining on you emotionally and psychologically.
With those guidelines firmly in place, you may also want to consider that having a conversation about the end of your union will look different, depending on whether or not you will tell your spouse.
For more detailed information about the best way to break the news, read the crucial tips below.
How to Tell Your Wife You Want a Divorce
Sharing the news with your wife can be an especially emotional ordeal. Before you begin the conversation, you should be certain that you have all of your points prepared and arranged. This readiness grants you a significant degree of control over the situation, and allows you to keep the conversation as brief as possible. By knowing exactly what you want to say in advance, you can stay on track throughout the conversation, and steer clear of your own emotional reaction.
It may help to ensure that you are not blindsiding her with this information. In other words, she should already be aware that there are difficulties and struggles within the marital relationship. However, excessive emotional distance in a relationship is not necessarily a clear indicator that the marriage is headed toward dissolution.
Men should be particularly aware of their tones of voice throughout the conversation. Make an effort not to sound gruff or hostile. Instead, strive to maintain a gentle tone that is clear and calm.
How to Tell Your Husband You Want a Divorce
Breaking the news to your husband can be an especially difficult conversation for wives to prepare. Remember, before you begin the conversation, you need to keep it simple. A short script that you have prepared in advance should focus on general unhappiness or primary issues within the relationship.
This conversation is not the time to bring up past hurts or betrayals. When you tell your spouse that you are planning to file for divorce, do not air out your grievances, as it could only make things worse.
Another key tip is to make use of “I statements,” instead of “you statements.” This tactic keeps your husband from feeling defensive, and building up an emotional reaction while you speak. By taking responsibility for your own feelings through your word choice, your husband will be less likely to feel like you blame him for the end of the marriage.
Consider curbing conversations about the specifics of the divorce until a later date. It will be far better to have a team of professionals help you navigate conversations further into the process. Particularly when it comes to negotiations, you will want professionals to help you get what you are entitled to, in order to secure a firmer financial future for yourself.
Keep the Conversation Simple
If you cannot handle the idea of telling your spouse on your own, consider enlisting the help of a third party, such as a therapist or counselor. With someone else present, it may be easier to handle the emotional responses you could face when discussing divorce.
This third party could be especially important if you have an abusive spouse. In situations when you are concerned about your safety, it is always best to refrain from telling your spouse in private (despite Point 1 at the beginning of this article). Ensure that you have a third party present, who can be a witness and assist during the fallout from the conversation.
Remember to be kind to your spouse during these conversations. Even when you are met with an emotional response, it is best to remain neutral, instead of becoming defensive. To reiterate, this conversation can often serve as an indicator for the future conversations you will have about the specifics of your settlement. So be sure to guide the conversation toward brevity and simplicity.