Breakups are hard no matter what, but even more difficult when that means divorce.
Ending a marriage has more serious implications than calling it off with your high-school sweetheart. You’re ending a relationship with a person you truly loved and planned on spending the rest of your life with.
From a more practical perspective, you have issues pertaining to child support, child custody, and property division to sort through.
All of this might seem overwhelming, and it might be tempting to stay married and try to work things out. But assuming you’ve fully considered all the ramifications of divorce, it is not a good idea to delay the inevitable.
Although the conversation might be unpleasant, you must find a way to get past the anxieties you have about talking to your spouse about divorce.
Here are some tips to keep in mind before having the conversation. Remember, how you bring up the topic of divorce can set the tone for the rest of your case.
This might seem obvious, but before you even think about uttering the word “divorce” to your wife, you need to be 100% sure this is something you want to go through with. Once you bring up the conversation, there is likely no going back.
“This isn’t something to broach with somebody casually or cry wolf when it’s not actually true,” said Cordell & Cordell family law attorney Alison Morriss. “You really need to think about the ramifications of a divorce, and the ramifications of telling your spouse. They’re going to react and there are some things that could happen that you need to prepare for.”
Before jumping into the divorce talk, try to have a conversation with your spouse about your problems to see if you might be able to work things out. If you’ve already tried that with no luck, it might be time for the next step.
Talk to an attorney first
Morriss recommends meeting with a divorce attorney before you even tell your spouse you want a divorce.
“You want to know your legal rights,” she said. “You want to know what you can and can’t do and get recommendations about what you should specifically say. Sometimes, strategically it is much more beneficial to file for divorce before having the conversation.”
Divorce laws vary from state to state, and sometimes even county to county, so it is important to get an idea how those statutes might affect your specific situation.
To be sure, divorce is a big change, and you need somewhat of an idea about what’s ahead of you.
Pick an appropriate setting
This is going to be one of the most serious and impactful conversations you have in your life, so you want to ensure the setting is appropriate for you and your spouse.
Make sure you are in a private, quiet place. It’s not a good idea to bring this up when the two of you are out to dinner. Keep it out of the public eye.
If you have kids, have the discussion at a time when they are not around. This process is going to be difficult for them, too, and you’ll want to consider what the best way is to break the news to them.
Don’t let it turn into a fight
It is very likely that you or your spouse are going to become emotional during the course of this conversation, but you don’t want things to go off the rails.
You need to remain calm and collected. The two of you need to discuss the details of proceeding with the divorce, including things like how to handle things with your kids and your assets. You can’t have that talk if you’re both hurling insults at each other.
If the talk begins to deteriorate, step away and try again at another time when you can both better control your emotions.
“This conversation is only going to be helpful if it’s productive for you,” Morriss said. “So don’t make it worse by fighting.”
Once you decide divorce is really what you want, you need to be direct with your spouse about how you feel.
It is in your best interest to proceed with a divorce amicably, especially if you have kids, and that’s going to be difficult if you’re dishonest or keep wavering back and forth about what you want.
Even if your marriage has grown bitter through the years, you have nothing to gain from being mean-spirited toward your spouse at this point.
Even if divorce is the best thing for both of you, this is a very difficult experience to have to go through. Be respectful of your wife’s feelings and emotions. Once you’ve talked, give her some time and space to process what’s going on.