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How To Tell Your Spouse You Want A Divorce


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You have been contemplating it for a while now. Maybe you’ve talked to your clergy person, therapist or, devoted friend or a member of your family. You’ve probably spoken to an attorney to inform yourself about what lies ahead, at least financially. Your marriage, in spite of all the hard work you did together or individually, is done.

So, now what?

It might be the toughest thing you’ll ever have to say to your spouse, it’s time to let your spouse know you want to get divorced. But how do you do it? When do you do it?

Try Not To Blindside Your Spouse

Those aren’t easily answered questions, but a lot depends on if your spouse has any clue as to how you feel. Maybe you have been to marriage counseling together or have had a lot of conversations about how bothered you are by the marriage, or if you both feel the same way, there are a lot more options for you. The words, “I want a divorce,” as difficult as they are to hear and say, won’t inevitably come as a surprise. However, if your spouse has no clue, you more than likely blindside them and that can be detrimental. It can also end up in a much more challenging adjustment for both of you since your spouse will be going through the beginning stages of grief — anger and denial — while you not only accept that the marriage is failing but ready and anxious to get on with your life.

Think About Timing

Preferably, you’ll want to tell your spouse you are thinking about divorce right when you realize you want out of the marriage. Telling them when you’re relaxed and have time to discuss it together, maybe at the start of the weekend, is an excellent idea. You probably know when they are open to getting bad news; take that into consideration. When choosing the correct words to say, it’s a lot more effective to express your feelings about the marriage honestly, clearly and as compassionate as you can than calling them out on everything you believe they’ve done wrong in the relationship. Saying, “It makes me sad that we’ve grown apart from each other and don’t spend time together anymore,” is more pleasant to hear than an accusing, upsetting, “We never do things together anymore, and I blame you that I feel lonely.”

Think Things Through

If you haven’t told your spouse that you’re thinking about divorce yet (or maybe you have and they don’t understand the gravity of your feelings or haven’t heard you, then it’s vital to have a good plan on when and how to express your feelings. It’s more amicable to let them know how you feel. This will give them the opportunity to respond and maybe even work on rectifying things. Saying something such as, “I’ve been unhappy for a long time. I’d want to tell you what’s happening for me, and maybe we can work on some things that are troubling me,” is a nice position to start — presuming you really are open to try and fix the marriage. If you are unwilling to try and fix it, don’t put ideas in their head.

Be Calm, Considerate And Straightforward

Once you are ready to tell your spouse you want a divorce, be as compassionate and straightforward as possible: “This is going to be hard for you to hear, but I think the marriage is over and we should get divorced.” In any case, this person you once loved and might even still love but don’t want to live with. You may not be able to consciously uncouple if there are children involved your future ex-spouse will be in your life until the children are grown; you will have to learn how to adequately co-parent in different households. Separating in a respectful an as loving a way as you can goes a long making the change happen.

Be Safe

If you are worried about your safety, you may want to get a neutral third party to tell them in front of, such as a counselor, or you can tell them in a public place where there are people around. There is no way to control how your spouse will take it, but there are ways that you can decrease the irritation and promote understanding.

Be Serious

Divorce is a big decision, particularly if there are young children involved. Don’t threaten them with the “D” word — that’s devious and mean — and certainly don’t say it during a heated argument no matter how irresistible it might seem. But if you’ve done everything you possible to keep your marriage from failing and divorce is still in your future, so knowing when and how to tell them will help each of you accept it, adapt and ultimately get on with your life.


  1. Before You Mention Divorce to Your Partner, Read This.” Fatherly, 16 Sept. 2019,
  2. This May Be The Hardest Thing You’ll Ever Say.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 4 Aug. 2014,


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