Your marriage has not been working out for quite some time now. You and your spouse do not do anything together anymore. You barely even communicate. Evenings and weekends are spent in silence. You put all the effort into the marriage, while your spouse does little to improve the marriage.
Sound familiar? Many couples are unhappily married. Some couples are able to work on their marriage and be happy again. Others live in misery for many years until they decide enough is enough, and seek a divorce.
In many marriages, both spouses see that a divorce is imminent and agree with the decision. There is no use staying unhappy for the rest of their lives, after all. In some marriages, though, one person is blindsided by their spouse’s decision to divorce. They may have been in denial and thought the marriage was going great, even though the spouse constantly communicated his or her desires and lack of happiness. In these situations, the spouse who does not want a divorce becomes emotional. He or she may be angry, hurt and resentful at a surprise divorce.
So, if you are pretty sure your spouse does not want a divorce, but you do, what is the best way to tell him or her? A divorce is a huge decision, so how do you tell your spouse you want to end the marriage, without creating even more drama or conflict? Here are some tips to make the process easier.
Avoid Blindsiding Your Spouse
If possible, avoid surprising your spouse with a divorce request. If you have been unhappy, have you told him or her? If everything seems fine and you two never argue, then obviously he or she is going to be caught off guard. If you are not content with certain aspects of your marriage, then you need to let your spouse know so he or she can try to improve. Everybody needs a second chance, so communicate your desires. Put more effort into the marriage. Find ways to help your spouse become a better person. Go to counseling. Do what you can to save the marriage. Divorce should be the last resort.
Break the News in a Private Place
You do not want to have a public outburst in a restaurant or store, so tell your spouse you want to speak to him or her in private, ideally your home. Choose a quiet time when there are no distractions; do not break the news while your spouse is trying to get ready for work or right when he or she gets home. Ideally, you should avoid doing it in front of the children, so waiting for them to go to bed may be a good idea. The only exception to this is if you feel unsafe. In this situation, you may want to have a friend or loved one present.
Be Calm and Use the Right Words
When telling your spouse about your decision to divorce, make sure you are in the right state of mind. Take a deep breath and be calm. Swearing and yelling will only make matters worse. When using the right words, think “I” instead of “you.” For example, instead of saying “You never put any effort into this marriage,” say “I feel like I’m the one who’s doing all the work in this marriage.” This makes it sound like you are expressing your feelings, not blaming the other person. This will make your spouse less likely to feel angry. You want your divorce to be as respectful as possible, especially if children are involved. Your spouse will be a part of your life until the children are adults, whether you like it or not.
Do Not Back Down
If you are serious about divorce, then you need to act like it. You do not have to defend yourself to your spouse. You do not have to explain why you want a divorce. Do you really want to tell your wife that she is a lazy, irresponsible person, or tell your husband that he has become fat and ugly and you are no longer attracted to him? That will just create a mess, and once you say something, you cannot take it back. Let your spouse explain his or her feelings and get a chance to talk, but do not back down from your decision. Otherwise, your spouse will not take you seriously, and if you stay together, things will never change.
Once you tell your spouse about wanting a divorce, he or she will probably not want to move out. While your spouse is still physically present, avoid physical contact. Your spouse may try to change your mind by acting playful or coercing you into sex. Do not give in. This will only send mixed messages to your spouse. Make it clear that you are no longer interested in him or her as a spouse and you have made up your mind. You want to move on.
Do Not Delay
Once you have told your spouse about your intention to divorce, then meet with a lawyer immediately. Do not wait and think things will get better. If your marital issues have already gone on too long without any change, then it is safe to say things will not get better. Do not delay the divorce. Show you are serious by starting the process right away.
Seek Legal Help
Ideally, both spouses will want a divorce and you can end your marriage amicably, with less stress. However, this is not always the case. In many situations, only one spouse is unhappy, leaving the other spouse blindsided, hurt and angry.
It is helpful to know how to best tell your spouse you want a divorce so you move on without too much conflict. Palm Beach divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler can assist you during this difficult time. Schedule a consultation by calling our office at (954) 346-6464.