Having the conversation with your spouse that you want a divorce can be one of the most difficult conversations you’ll ever have. However, if you’ve made the decision to divorce, having the conversation is an important step in moving forward. Here are 6 tips on how to have this conversation with your spouse in a respectful way:
1. Take Time for Self-reflection and Have Clarity About Your Decision Before initiating this important conversation, take your time to think about your decision to pursue a divorce. Evaluate your feelings, assess your reasons for wanting a divorce and make sure that you’re certain about your decision. If necessary, speak to a therapist, friend or family member to become more clear about your feelings. This clarity will help you convey your thoughts to your spouse with confidence and honesty.
2. Choose the Right Time and Place Choose a time when you and your spouse are both calm and have time to talk. You want to be able to answer any questions that your spouse has and allow them to express their feelings and emotions. Choose a private location where you can have an open and honest conversation without interruptions. Make sure that there are no children around so that they don’t overhear anything by accident. You don’t want to explain what’s going on to your children until you’ve had time to talk it through with each other.
2. Be Honest and Direct Honesty is the cornerstone of a respectful conversation. Clearly express your thoughts, emotions, and reasons for wanting a divorce. Use I statements to convey your perspective, such as “I feel that we’ve come to a point where we can’t make our relationship better.” or “I want to make sure that our children are ok.
3. Listen to Your Spouse Allow your spouse to express their feelings and concerns. Show empathy and validate their feelings. You don’t have to agree with what they’re saying to empathize with them. Be open to their feedback and try to understand their point of view.
4. Avoid Blame and Criticism Focus on your own feelings and perspective, rather than blaming your spouse for the situation. Be mindful of your tone and don’t be unnecessarily hurtful or confrontational. Remember, your goal is to express yourself clearly, not cause unnecessary pain or escalate the situation.
5. Be Prepared for a Range of Emotions Understand that your spouse may react with surprise, anger, sadness or denial. Everyone processes things differently. Try to be patient and compassionate. Avoid being defensive and give your spouse the time they need to process the information. If you feel that the conversation is escalating into a negative place, let your spouse know that each of you should take some time to think and continue talking at a later time.
6. Consider Seeking Professional Support This conversation can be overwhelming for both you and your spouse. Consider speaking with a therapist or counselor who can guide you through the process and help facilitate productive communication.
Having the conversation with your spouse that you want a divorce can be challenging, but by approaching it with honesty and directness, you can foster understanding and respect. Remember to be prepared, choose your words and tone carefully and actively listen to your spouse. Seek professional help if you need it. By approaching this conversation with integrity and compassion, you can pave the way for a more amicable and manageable transition for both you and your spouse.
Jill Barnett Kaufman is a Divorce Coach, Therapist, Parent Educator and Divorce Mediator. She is an experienced professional who helps clients discover new ways to resolve a variety of challenges when considering divorce, starting the process of divorce or are already divorced.