Divorce started to creep into your mind a year ago. The marriage is not what you hoped. You feel like it is time to end things.
That said, you want to stay on relatively good terms. You feel fairly certain that your spouse hasn’t considered divorce yet. You worry that they will be angry, heartbroken or otherwise emotional during this process. How can you bring it up to make things go as smoothly as possible?
1. Find uninterrupted time
Don’t bring it up when you know you have to leave for work in five minutes. Find a time when you and your spouse can talk for as long as needed without having to break that conversation off early. Prepare yourself and give your spouse the time he or she needs to ask questions, learn about your reasons and generally talk things through. You may feel like this should take 10 minutes since you feel confident in your decision, but your spouse may not.
2. Have someone watch the children
This should probably be a conversation just between adults. Make sure the children are somewhere else and that they can stay for a significant amount of time. The last thing you need is a child coming in and asking questions or interrupting you during such an important conversation. You need to decide what you will do as parents before telling the kids.
3. Turn off your phones
Eliminate distractions. Keep the conversation between the two of you. Do not post about it online or text anyone. Shut your phone off, set it aside and do not even glance at it until the conversation ends. Give your spouse your full attention.
4. Stay calm
Your spouse may feel frustrated, angry or surprised — or all three. This can lead to an emotional outburst that could include accusations and insults. Do not throw any of these back at your spouse. Stay calm. Attacking back only escalates the situation. Mentally prepare yourself for this reaction in advance and keep your cool. Your spouse may say things they regret and apologize later. Don’t make it worse, even when you feel like doing so is justified.
5. Ignore legal threats
Your spouse may try to attack your position by making threats like “I’m going to take the kids and you’ll never see them” or “I’m not paying anything in alimony or child support!” Ignore these. It’s just an emotional response. Your spouse doesn’t get to make those decisions, anyway. Again, stay calm and trust the court process to sort things out.
As you move forward with the divorce, no matter how that initial conversation goes, make sure you understand all of your legal options.