You are done. You know it. You have tried everything and you are still miserable. Your marriage is over and you want out. The problem is, your husband is clueless. He still loves you. He thinks that you can still save your marriage. You know he is wrong, but what do you do?
The Ebb And Flow Of Relationships:
Believe it or not, your situation is not unique. It is rare that two people both decide to end a relationship at the same time. One is almost always farther ahead in their decision-making process than the other. That is why so many people feel blind-sided by divorce. Even though the signs that their marriage is in trouble might have been flashing like the emergency lights on an ambulance, one person didn’t see them.
If you are the person who has decided to call it quits, the best thing you can do for your spouse – and for yourself – is to give your husband the time he needs to get on board with your decision and to adjust to what will soon be a new reality. Not only is that the most loving and respectful thing you can do for your husband (whom you loved once upon a time), but it will also make your divorce proceed much more smoothly once you actually begin the process.
Here are 5 ways that you can respect your husband, and yourself, when you decide that you want a divorce, but you know that your husband does not.
1. If you can, give your husband a heads up before your decision is final. This won’t be right for everyone, but, if you are thinking about divorce, especially if you are in a long term marriage (10+ years), you owe it to yourself, your spouse, and your relationship, to let your husband know that your marriage is falling apart before you pull the plug.
Yes, even after you have “the discussion,” your husband still may not get it. He may not think you would ever leave. But, if he does understand that you are seriously unhappy, that just might be the jolt he needs to start working on your marriage before it’s too late. Sure, whatever he does might not work, but what if it does?
2. Be clear and consistent. If you have decided that you want a divorce, and you know that nothing is going to change your mind, then tell your spouse that! Will it hurt? Absolutely! But dealing with that hurt will be a thousand times easier for your husband than nursing the hope that marriage counseling, or a romantic vacation, or just “talking through” your problems, will put your marriage back on track.
You may think that presenting your decision as anything less than final is simply “softening the blow.” It’s not. It’s pulling off the band-aid inch by inch from an open burn wound. All you are doing is making the pain worse.
3. Give him the time and space to grieve. You didn’t decide to divorce overnight. You spent a lot of time and energy agonizing over your decision, weighing the pros and cons, and processing your emotions. Your husband is entitled to have the time to do the same.
There are stages of grief. Everyone has to go through the stages at their own pace. Just because you have already grieved the death of your marriage, and are ready to move on, doesn’t mean that your husband can do the same at warp speed.
4. Don’t rush to file for divorce. Just because you have decided to divorce and are ready to move on, that does not mean that you should immediately file for divorce and push to get your case completed as soon as is humanly possible. Doing that is almost guaranteed to make your divorce a nightmare. Your husband, and/or his lawyer, will almost certainly push back, and the fighting will begin. And, just like the genie who gets out of the bottle, once you start a war, it is really hard to go back and make peace.
That’s not to say, however, that you shouldn’t get legal advice. If you know you are going to get a divorce, you absolutely have to understand what you are facing. You need to talk to a lawyer. You should do it as soon as possible. But before you file anything, think about HOW you want to divorce. Using mediation or collaborative divorce are much less confrontational, and neither of them require you to file for divorce right away.
5. Keep the news of your divorce off social media. The entire world does not need to know about your divorce immediately after you have told your husband your decision. Changing your marital status on Facebook, or Tweeting about your divorce prematurely, is horribly disrespectful. Not only will it heap mountains more pain on your husband, but it will make you look like an insensitive jerk, too.
You should also think twice before telling your friends, neighbors, and distant family members what is going on. Remember, even if you don’t post anything on social media, they might. The best thing you can do is simply keep your news to yourself and your immediate family until you and your spouse are both ready to face the world as a divorcing couple.
Not everyone will agree that you need to, or even should, respect your spouse’s feelings when you are getting a divorce – especially if your spouse’s behavior during your marriage was less than stellar. But taking the high road in divorce costs you nothing, and gives you so much.
It gives you self-respect. It preserves your humanity. And it allows you to get through your divorce knowing that, in spite of everything that may or may not have happened during your marriage and divorce, you did the right thing. In the end, how you treat your spouse, even during your divorce, says more about you than it does about him.
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