Your marriage hasn’t been going well for years. Recently, you’ve been thinking about what life would be like without your partner, and the notion of divorce has started to creep into your thoughts. Your relationship with your spouse is distant, and you’re probably not sleeping together anymore. Even if you’re able to maintain a civil discussion, the passion and desire for each other is gone. Commonly, couples that are in this situation are still together, due to their children. But, even then, most therapists agree that staying together for the children is not the best option. You’ve finally made the decision to get a divorce. Now what?
Telling Your Spouse
How you approach the subject of divorce and exactly what you say can be very crucial into how your divorce will play out. Here are a few things to remember when tackling this difficult discussion:
- Will he or she be surprised?
- Has your spouse also displayed unhappiness within the marriage?
- Are you able to find a quiet environment to have this discussion?
- Are you ready for a long discussion?
There are several ways to handle the initial discussion of divorce, but the most important factor is to be prepared. Chances are, your spouse has sensed the tension and unfulfillment in your marriage, but you may be surprised to find that they were not expecting this result. Think about the situations you know have occurred, and make your best assumption as to how he or she will react. Again, being prepared is key.
Make sure your discussion can happen in a quiet environment, free from phones and children. Be prepared for a lengthy discussion to occur after your statement, and also gear yourself up for more disagreements. Your spouse may not be ready to tackle the notion of divorce, and their first instinct will be to convince you otherwise. Their tone may switch to angry, and responses may become harsh, making this conversation even more difficult.
Don’t Get Defensive
The gut reaction towards someone who is angry towards you is to defend yourself. However, in this instance, it is important that you do not try and defends your actions, and do not accuse your spouse of their deficiencies. Take this time to listen, patiently, and actively work towards resolutions you can both accept. Allowing your spouse to feel heard and understood can make this difficult conversation more tolerable.
For the fist discussion, this should be all that is brought up. There will be several more conversations to follow, but you should not let this one linger too long. Reassure your spouse that your divorce will be civil, you can both come to agreements, and that it is important to take the situations that appear, one at a time. Reiterate what you have already discussed, reassure him or her that you have discussed enough, and that work will be done when it is ready.