If you’re reading this article, you are most likely unhappy and considering asking for a divorce. We’re here to help! Just want to get one thing clear first: 

Make sure you REALLY want a divorce and are not just angry with or wanting to threaten your spouse. Rarely do good things come out of acting on anger and impulse. Plus, if you and your spouse both end up angry, it could cost you a lot more in legal fees, court proceedings, etc. 

Ok, so you have thought about it and are sure that you really do want a divorce. How can you break the news to your spouse while surviving the anxiety?

First: planning to have the conversation

  • Make sure you pick a private place (but try to choose a neutral location). Not one with history and memories- because you don’t want to associate it with this conversation forever or create future triggers. 
  • If you have kids, plan for them to be elsewhere. This talk will go better if it is just between you and your spouse and there are no interruptions (especially ones that are very demanding of your attention!)
  • Don’t ambush your spouse. Make sure you preface the conversation, so they understand it will be difficult. Also, try not to schedule the conversation at a time when they are sick or crazy with work, etc. 
  • Come prepared! Write down your main points, and organize your thoughts before… the conversation is likely to get emotional, and you don’t want to forget the reasons why you’re doing this. 
  • Be gentle but firm. Explain why you want a divorce, and listen to their perspective. You may not be the only unhappy person in the marriage. Practice Empathetic Listening to show that you are doing more than just taking in their words-you are actively and compassionately communicating.
  • Maintain boundaries. Make sure you know how you want to proceed after this conversation, and don’t let your spouse sway you to regress or do something you don’t want to do. 
  • Line up support in advance! This will be a complicated conversation; ensure you have someone to lean on afterward. 
  • Engage professional help. Whether it’s legal counsel or therapeutic intervention, you don’t have to do this alone. 

Next: starting the conversation about wanting a divorce

If you read those tips and still feel lost, here are some talking prompts to start the conversation. 

  • Use “I statements.” 
    • Example: “I’ve been feeling lost/ hurt/ angry/ unhappy lately because…” “I feel like nothing we have been trying is working, and we keep ending up at this point…”
  • Stick to the Facts.
    • Don’t get too caught up in long-winded explanations and minute details; focus on the big-picture items.
    • Example: “My worldview on _____ differs so widely from yours that it is causing strife in this area of our lives…” “My need for _____ is continuously unmet in this relationship, and I can’t meet your need for ____. I have been thinking a lot about this and want a divorce.”
  • Validate their reaction.
    • Example: “I totally understand why you’re feeling that way…” “I can see where you are coming from…” “Thank you for showing me how you feel…”
  • Make yourself available to them.
    • Example: “Is there anything I can do for you?” “Do you need to be alone for a while?”
  • Set a clear intention to continue the conversation.
    • There is a lot of logistical preparation that goes into getting a divorce. This initial conversation isn’t going to tie everything up in a neat bow. 
    • Example: “I will give you some time and come back with options of when would be good for you to continue this conversation.” 

Steel yourself and take courage

It’s a LOT. I know. But you are making this decision for yourself and are taking a step to bring more joy and ease into your life. So, first of all, take a deep breath. Now pat yourself on the back for not just taking the easy way out!