How to Tell Your Spouse You Want a Divorce (without drama)

Discussing divorce could very well be among the most difficult of tasks. And how to start such a conversation largely depends on your relationship with your partner and the current situation between you two. So here’s how to bring up divorce.

Here’s how to start the divorce conversation:

  • Wait for a great time to bring up the topic.
  • Plan and practice your words carefully.
  • Prepare for emotional outbreaks.
  • Be calm, firm, and compassionate.
  • Plan your next steps and financial well-being.
  • Talk to a divorce lawyer and marriage counselor.

A short bullet list is far from enough when we are dealing with such an important topic. Let’s go through all the details minutely in the sections below.

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What do you say when asking for a divorce?

There’s no one size fits all best way or words when asking for a divorce. Depending on your specific situation, you will have to decide what and how to ask for a divorce.

Here are a few important things that will help you have the conversation: 

Use “I” as much as possible instead of “you”. Such as, “I am no longer happy and I feel it’s time to move on”, instead of “You have made me feel miserable in our marriage”.

This way, you would sound kinder, and they are less likely to get triggered.

Try to reduce the shock element by preparing the grounds for the talk. If your partner is oblivious to your intention of divorce, they might get shocked and complicate the matter further. So, try to make them aware by offering a few signals for a few days. Give subtle hints like expressing unhappiness and staying aloof.

You can also casually ask them about their satisfaction with the relationship, such as, “do you think you are happy with our marriage?” to prepare the grounds for the final talk. And then, take it from there when you find a suitable time to break the news.

Be calm, composed, and kind during the divorce talk with your partner. Try to show them that you are very much aware of the seriousness of the issue at hand and you care for them.

Something along these lines, “I am going to talk to you about something very serious for both of us. I hope you’ll understand my feelings.”

Be mindful of not offering any mixed signals or false hopes. If you are truly resolute about the divorce, hold your ground. Any misgivings would only complicate and lengthen the process.

For example, if they start pleading for more time or a trial separation, do not budge if what you truly want is a divorce.

Finally, bring up other crucial elements of the conversation, such as spousal support, child custody, property settlement, and others.

However, it would also be a good idea to chalk up these complicated issues for some other time. Let the first conversation sink in first.

Joining a support group could be another helpful idea for you in this situation. You will not only learn practical examples of how others have dealt with divorce and what they have said.

You can also join active social media groups for the same purpose. However, do not get your legal advice from social media. Always rely on a qualified divorce lawyer.

Are you feeling fearful about how your life will be after divorce?

If so, read my recent article, where I extensively talk about surviving divorce, even if it’s after 30 years of marriage. It’s not easy to start over when you’re older (my current situation), but there is 1 key to getting over it faster and getting your life back on track.

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What are the best divorce conversation starters?

Sometimes, the short and simple “I want a divorce” could be the divorce conversation starter you need. But most of the time, you need something a bit more sophisticated.

As I have already mentioned, only you can come up with the most appropriate divorce conversation starter for your situation.

It will depend on a few factors:

How is the current situation of your relationship with your spouse? Are things already volatile, and your partner is also thinking about divorce?

If yes, starting the divorce conversation becomes a bit easier for you. You can simply use a starter along these lines:

“I know things are not going well between us, and I think it has passed the limits of being repaired. Let’s move ahead with what both of us have been thinking.”

If your partner is not aware that you are thinking of divorce and might get shocked hearing about it, you have to take a bit more careful route.

As I mentioned earlier, in such cases, the first thing to do would be to reduce the shock element with hints and signs over a few days, such as increasing distance from your partner, both emotionally and physically, and starting to express your thoughts of unhappiness.

How hurt or angry are they going to be hearing about divorce?

Starting the divorce conversation can become the most difficult If your spouse is likely to get too angry or hurt when you ask for a divorce. You have to tread very carefully here.

Along with preparing the ground, as shown above, start with a good vibe when you finally say the D word. The section below explains how to tell an angry spouse about divorce elaborately.

Apart from the scenarios discussed above, here are a few divorce conversation starters to help you generate ideas:

  • Are you happy with our marriage?
  • Do you ever think about how wonderful it would be if we separated?
  • Do you ever envy single people?
  • I often think about freedom.
  • I think both of us would have a better life away from each other.
  • What are your thoughts about divorce?
  • Have you ever thought about getting divorced?

While thinking about divorce conversation starters, it’s also natural to be afraid of future regrets.

But do wives ever regret divorce since they initiate most of them?

How likely are you to feel regret after divorce? Find out here in my recent article! I cover why women do the breaking up 70% of the time and how likely they are to regret it and come back.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How to tell an angry spouse you want a divorce

Do you think simply saying, “please, don’t get mad!” won’t do the job? It probably won’t. That’s why you have to make some special preparations while telling an angry spouse that you want a divorce.

There’s no easy way out; you need plenty of time and patience to devise the best plan.

The first step would be to determine the reasons and nature of their anger. If they have anger issues they cannot control, your best bet would be to have safety measures in place, especially when they have a history of becoming violent or even abusive.

How about doing it in a public place like a restaurant or park? Such a situation could help diffuse or smother the initial moment of tension faster than a private place.

Also, consider whether talking over the cell phone would be better than talking face to face.

On the other hand, if you know the reasons behind the anger and think it could be managed, the next step would be to try and assuage their anger before you bring up the topic of divorce.

Here’s a good example.

“I know you are angry and dissatisfied with our marriage right now. But there are a few things I have to say.”

Now focus on good things first to turn it into an amicable and less serious conversation.

“It was not always like this. I truly had a good time with you together. But things do not always stay same. People grow and change, and sometimes move in different directions.”

There are a few things to be extra careful about while dealing with an angry spouse.

In an attempt to deal with their anger, you can unintentionally lose grip on what you want and concede to what they want. You could end up giving false hope of a reconciliation. To avoid this, gather up all of your strength and determination before you start the conversation.

Another thing is that their anger could lead you to explain yourself, again and again, repeatedly justifying why you want the divorce. Avoid going in circles by all means. You don’t need to justify yourself for what you want in your life.

Simply break the news and let them emotionally deal with it internally.

Before starting the conversation, ensure that you have a place to stay away from home if things get too hot to handle for you or your partner.

Another good idea would be to arrange for a close friend or family member to be with your partner to support them emotionally at this difficult time.

How do you tell a narcissistic spouse you want a divorce?

It might help to know that there are two main types of narcissists — grandiose and vulnerable.

And while many of us have a few narcissistic tendencies, that’s not the same as someone who has been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. And if they haven’t been diagnosed, it’s important to not try and do that yourself unless you are actually a psychiatrist.

As the name suggests, grandiose narcissists are more prone to angry outbursts when you talk divorce, while vulnerable ones are likely to start emotional blackmail and crying.

However, the basic framework for telling your narcissist spouse about divorce would be something like this: 

  • Wait for the right time that would stir the narcissism within them the least. Pick a time when they are usually less arrogant or vulnerable.
  • A good way to tell a narcissistic spouse you want a divorce would be to assure them that the issue is not specifically with them but rather the relationship as a whole.
  • Try to keep the conversation away from them as much as possible and focus on your needs the most.
  • No matter how tempted you feel, do not lay blame on them in any shape or form during the conversation.
  • Plan how you will handle their narcissistic behavior, such as tantrums and emotional blackmailing, beforehand.
  • Strengthen your resolve to stay firm on your decision no matter how hard they try to make it.

When at a loss while dealing with your narcissistic spouse, never shy away from taking the help of your family therapist.

Should you wait to tell your spouse until after you’ve filed for divorce?

Filing for divorce before telling your partner could be a good idea in a few cases.

Such as, if one partner survived domestic violence and did not want to get involved with the abuser in any shape or form, then filing right away without telling them would be the best option.

However, in most other cases, it’s a good idea to inform your partner of your intentions of divorce before starting the petition filing process.

Otherwise, when the divorce papers reach your partner, they may become angry and unreasonable if you have not informed them beforehand. It might shock them, and they might make the situation worse by contesting the divorce.

They could also burst out to your close family members or on social media to say stuff about you in the heat of the moment.

Also, when child support is involved, it’s best to discuss all the issues regarding child custody with your partner before filing.

Otherwise, the divorce can easily become a contested one and lead the divorce case to an expensive and time-wasting trial at the family court involving divorce attorneys, judges, and juries. Try to avoid going that route as much as possible.

So, in the long run, the best option is to reach an agreement together and file for a no-fault divorce.

What happens after you file for divorce, they sign the papers, but you think it’s a mistake?

What if you want your ex-spouse back? Check out how manifestation techniques could make it happen for you in one of my recent articles here. Believe it or not, the law of attraction is more science than spiritual and, done correctly, could totally work for you!

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What to do before telling your spouse you want a divorce

Here are the things you should take care of before starting the most important conversation of your life:

  • Get clarity on what’s going on with yourself first. Reach a sufficient amount of clarity that you truly want the divorce.
  • Find out the long-term or short-term problems that have driven you to divorce. Could they be changed or solved?
  • Having doubts is normal, but if the doubts are too big to ignore, consider trial separation to taste the waters.
  • Learn about the legal divorce process in your state, from paper filing to divorce mediation.
  • Talk to a divorce lawyer to discuss all the aspects involved, especially financial matters, such as spousal support and property ownership issues.
  • Find out the best time and best place to tell your spouse about the fateful decision. Make sure the children are not around and no major life event is upcoming when you tell them.
  • Prepare to take all the blames. It’s normal for your partner to start blaming you after hearing about the divorce, especially if they are the vulnerable narcissist or angry kind.
  • Secure yourself financially before you start the conversation. Think and plan ahead of time what you will do and where you will stay after the divorce.
  • Make copies of all the joint property ownership, bank, and insurance papers, and store those away someplace safe along with your own property, bank, and other financial documents.
  • Inform close family members. Is there any close family member your partner could lash out at, hampering your reputation? It would be a good idea to take care of that situation by letting them know your version of the story first.

What are signs you should get a divorce?

There are rarely any married couples who never thought of divorce at one time or another. Every marriage will have some telltale signs of divorce on a small or a larger scale.

That’s why it could be hard to be sure about such a life-changing decision. So, what are the signs that you should really get a divorce?

Keep an eye out for these signs: 

  • You haven’t bonded emotionally for a long time.
  • You are getting far too little spouse time together.
  • You have been fighting or arguing for so long that everything has turned bitter.
  • Your major life goals are conflicting with one another, such as they want children, but you don’t.
  • Your partner is abusive or a cheater.
  • You feel like you are the one making all the compromises, and your partner never budges from his ways.
  • You feel there’s no respect left for each other in the relationship.
  • You can’t be yourself when you are with your partner, and you feel trapped.
  • Your values and priorities have changed and have become incompatible with each other.
  • The burden of unrealistic expectations has stifled the love of your marriage.

The list of signs above is not exhaustive. There are many other signs, like lack of effort, intimacy, warmth, etc.

But no matter the sign you notice, it is important that you take time to properly evaluate and make sure that nothing can be changed to solve the issue before you make the final decision.

When in doubt, always remember it can never hurt to hit the marriage counselor’s office to get an expert perspective.

Are you wondering about your chances of getting back together again after divorce?

Believe it or not, the success rate for couples who divorce and then reconcile is quite high! This recent article of mine has all the answers for you. But there’s 1 key to attracting them back in the first place.

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How To Tell Your Spouse You Want A Divorce

Conclusion

Talking about divorce undoubtedly is the most difficult conversation you are going to have in a while.

But there’s no gain in avoiding the inevitable if you have truly made up your mind about it.

So, summon all the courage and dedication, and always remember that what you are doing is in the best interest of all.

No matter how hard bringing up the subject of divorce may be, once dealt with, you will be the happiest of all humans on earth.

Want to file your own state-specific divorce paperwork and save a boatload?

US Legal Forms is the top online legal source for state-specific forms for almost every legal need including divorce!

They have the largest online library of legal templates verified by lawyers.

Most of their templates contain general descriptions as well as guides and recommendations on how to file them. Once subscribed with US Legal Forms, you can complete and sign them online or download and print out templates in a few clicks.

CLICK HERE to go right to the list of states and get started. How many hundreds or thousands can you save?


Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay and Image by CJ from Pixabay

Jeff Campbell

Hi! I'm Jeff Campbell. I am a father and blogger and recently divorced. I love spending time with my 3 daughters and am still learning how to navigate life as a single dad and ex-husband; a life I didn't choose but have accepted.

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