How you enter into this conversation about wanting a divorce will influence what gets returned to you from your spouse.
Telling the person we promised to love and cherish for a lifetime that it’s over is likely one of the most difficult conversations we can have in our lifetime. We avoid the conversation for months or even years. We might wait for an argument because we find it easier to do when we’re angry. Sometimes we even start getting destructive – picking fights, cheating on our spouses or becoming secretive and disrespectful. There are times that we wish they would be the ones to make the decision and walk away so that we never have to be the one to actually say the words, “It’s over.”
But our spouses deserve better than that and frankly, so do we.
Here’s why it’s worth intentionally getting this right when you tell your husband you want a divorce.
How Do You Want to Feel When It’s Over?
One day – long after the marriage has ended and you’ve both moved on with your lives – you will look back at this time and how you handled this challenge. Ideally, you will want to feel like you handled it with respect, honesty, and maturity. You’ll want to feel like you showed up as the best version of yourself in the process of lovingly releasing the marriage.
What You Put Out, You Will Get Back.
How you enter into this conversation will influence what gets returned to you from your spouse. If you enter into it with anger and blame, you should expect to get that in return from your spouse. If you come at him with guns blazing, high priced attorneys, resentment, and rage, then they have to armor up in order to defend themselves against what will clearly feel like a battle. And you should then expect that the next few years will be filled with tens of thousands of dollars in lawyer bills and more stress than you’ve experienced in your lifetime. If, however, you approach this conversation with respect and compassion, you might just get that in return.
The Generational Impact of Your Actions.
Lastly, the reason you want to take the time to do this intentionally and as gently as possible is that if you don’t and you and your spouse destroy any goodwill that might exist between the two of you, it will impact your family for generations. If Mom and Dad can’t be in the same room together post-divorce, every get-together for decades will need to be navigated differently by your children in order to accommodate your inability to continue to see each other as human beings deserving of respect. Every holiday, your daughter’s graduation, your son’s wedding, the birth of your first grandchild and the grandchild’s first birthday party – all of it will require your kids to arrange it so that you two aren’t in the same room together at the same time.
How to do it.
There’s a very different energy to a discussion when you’re trying to get the other person to understand and validate your perspective, compared to when you’re simply sharing with someone your decision. When you’re sharing your decision, there doesn’t have to be an argument because it’s not a debate. When you’re sharing your decision, no one but you has to understand your point of view. When you’re simply sharing your decision, it can literally be a few well-crafted sentences. Here are a few options:
What I have to share with you is likely to be very difficult to hear because it’s very difficult for me to say. As you know I’ve been struggling in our marriage for a while now and I’ve reached the point that – for me – something has to change. I think a separation is our best option.
Our marriage has been broken for a while. I’ve tried everything I can think of and now it’s simply beyond repair for me. I see a separation as the most logical next step for our lives. This is going to be painful for all of us, but I want you to know that I am committed to making this as peaceful and drama-free as possible and I hope that you will be too.
I understand that this is going to be difficult to hear, but as you know, I haven’t been unhappy in our marriage for a long time. The relationship no longer works for me and for that reason, I’ve made the decision that it’s time for us to separate. I know I played an important role in all the ways the marriage simply didn’t work and for I’m sorry for all the ways I fell short.
The conversation doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t have to be a hateful argument. It can be kind and compassionate, respectful and mature. If we’re going to be mature enough to make what we thought was a lifetime commitment, then we’ve got to be mature enough to have the difficult conversations when backing away from that same commitment.
Sharon is a certified Master Life Coach and a Six-Time #1 International Best-Selling author, specializing in marriage and relationships. Click here to get the conversation guide that will help you navigate telling your spouse it’s over in the most gentle and loving way possible.