Making the decision to end your marriage is probably one of the most difficult decisions you’ll ever make. The next step, however, keeps many of us stuck; letting our spouse know that we no longer want to be with them. Some of us want to avoid the backlash, fear the unknown, or don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings.
But what if, choosing to divorce is the nicest thing you can do for your spouse, your family, and for yourself? What if, the best is yet to come?
If you’re firm and clear in your decision to divorce, here are 4 tips that I share with my clients on how to break the news to their spouse:
First, you want to ensure that you’re mental and emotional state is clear, calm, and you’re feeling grounded. You don’t want to break the news if you’re feeling upset because your brain will be in fight or flight mode. You will be highly triggered by your partner and unable to respond in a calm and logical fashion. Meditate, go for a run, journal, cook, dance, whatever it is that gets you to a place of feeling like everything is going to be ok. This will allow you to access your prefrontal cortex part of the brain so that you can respond from a place of peace. Divorce is filled with emotions, but the reality is that it’s the legal dissolution of a marriage. By being in a state of calm, you can better respond to your partner’s reaction to the news and set the tone for a peaceful divorce process.
Location & Timing is Key
When and where you tell your partner, you want a divorce will be critical. You’ll want to ensure that it’s in a private setting so breaking the news at a restaurant or coffee shop is not recommended. You won’t know how your partner will respond and also want to extend them the courtesy to process their emotions. Timing is just as important. Make sure you’re not catching them in between meetings or weekend filled with activities with the kids. Be respectful and carve out the time and place that this conversation truly deserves. If you have kids, consider getting a babysitter or sending them to the neighbors, etc.
Decision vs Discussion
Get clear on your intention on whether or not you’re telling your partner you want a divorce so that they realize how serious you are about leaving to elicit a change on their end or if you’re truly done and want a divorce. If you’re looking for a discussion, then telling your partner you want a divorce is not the solution. If you’ve done the work and are 100% sure that you want to leave, then tell your partner you want a divorce is informing them of the decision that you have already made, and not an opportunity to discuss how things can change in the marriage. You can say something like, “I have decided that I no longer want to be in this marriage. There is nothing you can say that will make me change my mind. I’m sorry for hurting your feelings, this isn’t something either one of us wanted or planned for. But I’m truly done and can no longer move forward with our marriage any longer.”
Disclose and Leave
After you tell your partner you want to end your marriage, be prepared for an emotional response. The key here is to be compassionate for what they are going through but firm in your decision. You can acknowledge their feelings, hear their needs, but reinforce your desire to leave the marriage. This isn’t the time or place for a rundown of all the things that you did or they did to make the marriage work or what contributed to it ending. This is about disclosure of the decision, and then you physically leaving your home to give your partner the space to process their thoughts and feelings.
If you and your spouse share children, during your disclosure of your decision to leave, I recommend you both agreeing to hold off on telling the kids until there is a firm plan in place on the next steps. Your children will want to know and understand the impact of the divorce in their day to day lives so that they can feel safe. This will take intentional planning on your end but is absolutely possible.
If you have questions about how to create a peaceful divorce, contact West Coast Family Mediation Center for a FREE consultation to discuss your particular situation.
Guest Author Bio: Syeda Neary is a certified life coach specializing in divorce and helps her clients get through and over their divorce so that they can reclaim their life, build a joyful future, create a healthy co-parenting relationship, and ultimately get a second chance at love.