While ending any relationship is hard, ending a marriage is the most difficult of all.
Not only have you likely been with your spouse for a long period of time, there are many more ramifications for both of your futures than if you were simply breaking up with your high-school sweetheart.
The legal, financial, property and custody issues that arise in divorce are often enough to make some put off raising the topic of divorce for far too long — if not indefinitely.
Instead of resigning yourself to years trapped in a miserable marriage, you must get past the anxieties and doubts that inevitably come with thinking about how to talk to your spouse about divorce.
Here are a few tips that you should keep in mind when you finally decide to move forward with this unpleasant conversation.
The discussion won’t be fun, but how you bring up the topic of separation or divorce can set the tone for your future.
Having occasional thoughts about divorce every once in a while is actually very normal, and you should not rush to any conclusions until you are positive beyond any reasonable doubt that it isn’t just occasional fancies.
While it could be a sign that there are some underlying problems, it may not mean you need to take such drastic measures. Perhaps if you had a serious talk with your spouse about some of your concerns, it could end up being enough to fix the issues.
However, if you’ve been down that road before and nothing has ever changed, it may be time to start preparing for the next step.
Do your research
Before you bring it up with your spouse, make sure to spend plenty of time researching how the process of divorce works and how it will impact your lives.
Every state has different laws and everyone’s circumstances are unique. Spend the time to brush up on your state’s divorce laws, and envision how aspects like property division, custody / visitation, child support, spousal support and both parties finances will look in the future.
You will also want to look into local attorneys who are familiar with the areas that will come up in your separation.
Divorce means big changes, and you will want to be sure you have at least some idea of what lies ahead before you have the talk.
Pick the right setting
Time and place are extremely important when you decide to have this painful discussion — want to have this conversation somewhere that is comfortable and intimate.
This is likely going to be very emotional, so keep it out of the public eye. Additionally, you both need to remain as sharp as possible.
If either of you are in a vulnerable state, such as upset, stressed, inebriated, etc., it will be far more difficult to have a civil conversation.
Don’t talk about divorce during a fight
In many dysfunctional marriages where bitter arguments have simply become commonplace, couples will throw around the threat of divorce without a second thought to try and gain an edge.
This is very detrimental, as divorce is not something that should be taken lightly. Constant hollow threats detracts from its meaning, and could lead you not being taken seriously — even if you really mean it.
Resist the urge to talk about divorce when you are angry.
Be honest and direct
Once you have determined a divorce is really what you want, you should be honest with your spouse and tell them how you feel.
This conversation is uncomfortable, but going about your business like everything is normal and having a process server spring the news does not start the strenuous process off on the right foot.
Amicably resolving your issues is the best way to get through a divorce, and surprising your spouse comes across as deceitful. While you may be worried about being “cleaned out” if you give any warning, most of the time that will not be the case.
If this is a legitimate concern, retain an attorney and follow their advice on how to proceed.
Ensure you are understood and give your spouse a little time
If you’ve tried to bring divorce up before and it just hasn’t stuck, you may need to do something different to ensure you are taken seriously. This will also help to solidify how you feel yourself.
Plan out what you have to say ahead of time so you are prepared, and write it down if you must. After you have explained why you feel divorce is for the best, give your spouse time to process the information and do some preparation on their end.
However, while it takes time to recover from the shock of divorce, don’t let it stagnate too long before you talk about how to proceed from there.
Hire an attorney
After you have had the talk and let your spouse know about your intentions, you should hire an attorney to begin taking the initial steps of filing for divorce.
Once everything is drawn up, you can wait to file until your spouse is ready. You still want to push for an amicable split and rushing things may harm future negotiations. However, if they are purposefully avoiding moving forward, you will be prepared to take action.
“We need to talk” hardly ever begins a fun conversation and has become notorious as the cliché precursor to ending a relationship.
However, when you have been dealing with persistent relationship issues for long enough, previous efforts have not resulted in significant changes and you are just fed up with what has become the status quo in your marriage, it is time to have the talk.
Mat Camp is a former Lexicon Services Online Editor, who focused on providing a comprehensive look into all aspects of the divorce experience. On MensDivorce.com, he concentrated on issues, such as parenting time, custodial rights, mediation, the division of assets, and so much more.
Mr. Camp used the wealth of experience of Cordell & Cordell attorneys to bring tangible answers to reader questions in Ask a Lawyer articles, as well as offer a step by step process through the divorce experience with Cordell & Cordell Co-Founder and Principal Partner Joseph E. Cordell in Divorce 101: A Guide for Men.
Mr. Camp used thorough research to highlight the challenging reality that those who go through divorce or child custody issues face. He helped foster the continued success of the Men’s Divorce Survival Guide, the Men’s Divorce Podcast, and the Men’s Divorce YouTube series “Attorney Bites.”