Often in marriages, one person decides that they want the marriage to end and then has to communicate this to their spouse. The spouse may have had no idea that this was coming or they may have known there were problems but been in denial about how serious they were. If you are the one driving the split, you usually don't want to hurt your spouse any more than is necessary, is this possible?
In reality, the short answer is that it's not. Relationship breakdowns are painful wherever you sit in the equation and accepting that the separation will cause emotional stress, is part of the journey. However, you can mitigate some of that pain for your spouse by considering the following.
Choose your time and place
You are changing somebody's entire life and their future plans. Make sure that you find a time when you both have the capacity to discuss it properly. You'll need a calm, private location where you will not be interrupted and you need to ensure that neither of you has any other commitments around that time.
It goes without saying that it is completely disrespectful to drop the bombshell and then run off at high speed. Accept that this conversation will be difficult and will likely take time.
Take the time to explain why you want a divorce and how you have come to this decision.
Deciding to divorce is never an easy process, you will have taken a number of steps to reach this point; explain them to your partner.
It is easier for your spouse if they understand your thinking and it will also land better if they feel you have done everything in your power to avoid getting here. The worst thing they can hear is that you've given up without an effort. So, demonstrate what you've tried.
If infidelity is at the heart of your decision to split, see below.
There is no place for blame in this conversation. Going on the attack and blaming your partner for the marriage breakdown will set the tone for your divorce and cause nothing but animosity and confrontation.
Whatever the reason, you have decided to end the marriage and you are comfortable with that decision. What will you achieve by apportioning blame?
Instead, take responsibility. State that this is your decision and that you are comfortable with it.
If you want to separate, say so. If you feel that divorce is the only option, state it.
Even if you are trying to avoid being harsh or preventing confrontation, a lack of clarity only causes pain.
You do not want your spouse feeling that there is hope of rekindling the marriage if there is not.
No false promises
In the same vein, don't make promises that you cannot or do not want to keep.
It is common for the conversation to be so difficult and the pain caused, so severe, that the partner seeking a divorce agrees to think about it or attend marriage counselling. If your decision is made, then this just delays the inevitable and ultimately makes the experience even worse for your spouse.
Remember that your spouse may be way behind you in terms of where you think your marriage is. If you can express care and concern and generally be kind, you will set a better tone for your ensuing divorce. Drawing battle lines at this point is futile and destructive.
Many, many people state that their divorce could have been so much less stressful and adversarial if their ex had just shown a little respect and kindness.
Being kind means addressing their likely concerns; even if you don't have a solution. Acknowledging that they may be worried about the children, or finances or where they will live etc will show that you are considering them.
Give them time to reflect and arrange a time to talk again. You need to be patient, your partner may be in shock and need some time to process what you have said. Giving the opportunity to talk again, shows respect and understanding.
You may be ending your marriage because you have met somebody else.
This is an extremely difficult message both to deliver and for your spouse, to hear.
Employing the above tips is especially important and you will have to accept that your spouse is likely to be extremely upset and probably very angry.
Infidelity causes a pain like no other. Coming to terms with the fact that you are inflicting that pain on a spouse (somebody you once loved enough to marry) is challenging and the "culprit" can often revert to defensive behaviour which may mean blaming the spouse or withholding the truth about the situation. Try to resist this.
It is better to be completely transparent and honest now. You have decided to end the marriage, so, it is time to confess all and accept the pain that it will cause.
If you have cheated, consider accepting that you have acted badly and own your behaviour. It may help your spouse a little.
Telling your spouse you want to divorce is never going to be easy but follow some of these tips and it may go more smoothly than you anticipated.
Divorce coaching can help you to decide if divorce is the right decision for you, it can help you communicate better with your ex and frame the situation as an opportunity for you and your family. If you'd like to learn more, why not not book a complimentary discovery call with me. You can make an appointment here: