Have you ever heard the saying, “Where you end up often depends upon where you started?” That’s particularly true when it comes to your interactions with other humans – even your spouse.
If you’ve decided that you’re no longer happy in your marriage, you may hope that you and your spouse can part peacefully (or even remain friends), but a lot may depend upon how you approach that critical first conversation. Here are a few tips that may help:
Timing is everything
Announcing you want a divorce right after you’ve had an argument or when your spouse is headed on a business trip is bound to create an ugly scene and resentments. You want to go into the conversation when:
- There’s no major chaos happening in the family due to work, health problems, financial issues or trouble with the kids.
- The children are not home and won’t be back for several hours, at least. (A weekend might be even better.)
- You both have time to talk and process the aftermath of the conversation. Ideally, you want to time this so that there’s a day between the conversation and when you both have to head back to work.
Your approach is also important
Let’s face it: This isn’t an easy thing to say to someone. It’s going to feel like rejection (because it is one). It’s okay to rehearse what you’re going to say – and you probably should. In general, your opening statements should focus on:
- The fact that you have already made your decision (so that you don’t give false hope).
- How this is about you and your personal feelings, needs and goals (not your spouse’s flaws).
- That you suspect that your spouse may have harbored many of the same feelings (as long as you think this is true).
- How you hope that you and your spouse can part gracefully, learn to be supportive co-parents (if applicable) together and even stay friendly.
Do not try to answer every question you and your spouse may have about the upcoming process during this first meeting – such as who is moving out, how custody will be divided and what to do about the marital debts and assets. Those conversations should probably be tabled until you both have time to process and seek experienced legal guidance.