How to Ask Your Spouse for a Divorce

Preparing to ask for a divorce can be stressful and confusing. After all, you never thought you’d be in this position, and now you’re not sure how to approach it. To help start your divorce off on the least contentious foot possible, here are some tips on asking your spouse for a divorce.

Try Marriage Counseling First

If you haven’t previously expressed dissatisfaction with your relationship, ask your spouse to go to counseling with you before you ask for the divorce. When you suddenly break the news about wanting a divorce but your spouse had no inkling of any problems in the marriage in the first place, it can cause a lot of hurt and anger.

Even if you don’t believe the marriage can be saved, counseling is one way to ease you and your spouse into the idea that the divorce is the right move for both of you. Should your spouse refuse to go, they will still be less blindsided when you ask for the divorce after you’ve requested counseling for your marriage first.

Approach It Like a Proposal

How did you or your spouse propose when you decided to get married? Keep that tone in mind and let them know you care about them even though the marriage just isn’t working. People often react in a negative, emotional manner when they are asked for a divorce because they feel rejected and attacked, so you want to mitigate those potential reactions as much as you can. This allows you and your spouse to approach the divorce in a rational–and often more civil–manner.

Prepare to Step up Financially

If you are the spouse making the higher income, you will likely be expected to provide support for your spouse for some time. Letting them know you are prepared to do that will help ease some of their fears about the future.

Have a Plan in Place

The more answers you can give when it comes to their concerns, the better. Speak to an experienced divorce attorney for advice beforehand so you can get some answers ahead of time and start on the planning steps for a divorce. Encourage your spouse to reach out to a divorce attorney as well so you are both prepared for and informed about the process.

Put the Focus on Your Children

If you and your spouse have children, they must be the primary focus of the divorce rather than you and your spouse. You are ending the marriage in this case but not severing the relationship, as you will have to co-parent together. Do whatever you can to ensure the focus stays on your children. Work to preserve your relationship with your spouse as much as you can so you are able to co-parent together efficiently right from the start.

When you are going to ask for a divorce, you must anticipate the negative emotions, fears, and needs your spouse is going to experience when you decide to bring the subject up. Feelings of revenge, rejection, anger, and abandonment are possible if your relationship with your spouse is no longer loving, and they will also have a strong fear of the future. How you ask should also be determined by their experience level and emotional maturity, so keep this in mind as you get ready to ask your spouse for a divorce.

Unfortunately, some people will react very strongly with anger and fear no matter what you try to do. In this scenario, focus on helping them with their feelings of rejection, fear, and anger to bring about a more peaceful end to your marriage.