Here's How to Tell Your Partner You Want to Split
Updated: Apr 13
Saying the words, "I want a divorce," to your spouse can feel like the stuff of nightmares.
We get it: This may be one of the most painful and emotional conversations you engage in with your partner—especially when you're wrestling with how to initiate the talk.
Here are five questions to prep yourself before you talk divorce with your spouse.
1. Brutal honesty time! Do I really want a divorce?
This really goes without saying, but you've got to completely consider the implications of telling your partner you want a divorce.
Remember, words are just words, but they can't be unsaid.
So if you're angry or dissatisfied with your spouse, don't threaten divorce as a way to shake your partner out of "bad behavior." Using this tactic as a way to gain control in the relationship or get your partner's attention usually backfires.
In addition, if you don't move forward with a split after you've said you want one, then if you bring it up again in the future when you do intend to file, you'll lose credibility.
Our best advice is to think a divorce through thoroughly, and perhaps even consult an attorney, a counselor or clergyperson first, to be certain a split is the best road forward for your well-being.
2. Is it from here to divorce, or is there an in-between?
Really ask yourself if you're still in love with your spouse.
Would you be open to staying together if you both worked together to make positive changes to the relationship?
If that's the case, before dropping the divorce bomb, approach your spouse about seeing a couples counselor to create an open forum for discussion and change.
3. Have you chosen the right place and time?
While there's no ideal setting for this conversation, there are a few ways to make it easier.
First, don't lay this on your spouse right when you're experiencing another life-changing or milestone event, like a layoff, move or death in the family.
Second, it's a good idea to pick a quiet place where you both turn off your cell phones to have the conversation.
However, if you're afraid for any reason to tell your spouse, consult with your attorney for suggestions, or schedule a meeting with a counselor or clergyperson and invite your spouse to join you.
4. Are you ready for your spouse's reaction?
Consider that while you've been pondering divorce for weeks or even months, your spouse might not even have the d-word in his or her head, even if they know there are problems in the relationship.
Say, "I feel that we've grown apart in the last few years," rather than, "You never spend any time with me and that's why our marriage is falling apart."
Again, if you feel uncomfortable having this conversation alone, ask for neutral third-party help. In addition, if you do have this discussion in the presence of a counselor or therapist, they can help you decide how and when to tell your children.
5. Have you secured an attorney you trust?
While initiating the divorce conversation can be painful, you have the advantage of preparing yourself in advance. (Read our blog about the advantages of filing for divorce first.)
Find an attorney you trust to help you through this process. You'll also learn what's involved in reaching a divorce agreement in your particular state.
An attorney will also be able to guide you how to move forward if your spouse is resistant to a divorce or doesn't want to cooperate in the proceedings.
If you need help with a family law matter, our attorneys at Smedley Law Group can provide you with the professional advice you need to make an educated decision. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today.