You've Decided to Divorce, Now What?

How Do You Break the News of Divorce to a Spouse?
January 4, 2022 counterbalancedivorce

When the conversation of divorce comes up, you will either be the bearer of bad news or the receiver. Neither role is desirable. For many people, divorce can mean the death of the hopes and dreams for your life. Nobody wants to give or get this news. So how do you break the news of divorce to a spouse?

Let’s say that infidelity has been an issue in your marriage. For this reason, you think this conversation will be even more difficult. You are not sure how your spouse will react, so you choose to have this conversation in public to avoid any possible hysterics.

Is it possible that your fear of how your spouse will react has made this conversation more difficult than it needs to be? Imagine yourself on the receiving end of this message. How would you feel if you were forced to sit in a public place while your world fell apart? Emotions previously hidden or repressed are now being forced to the surface. And you are being forced to sort through them in front of people you don’t know.

So what is the “right” answer? Unfortunately, there isn’t one. But there are some steps you can take that might make things go a little more smoothly when you decide to break the news of divorce to a spouse.

Make Sure Your Kids Aren’t Around

Child in distance as one parent the news of divorce to other spouse

Divorce is a very adult conversation; kids don’t need to be a part of it. Please don’t confuse them or force them to take sides. There is a time and a place to have a conversation with them—after you and your spouse can have and process this conversation. Get the kids out of the house. Send them to a friend or grandparents for a sleepover.

Talk to Your Spouse in Person

This one should be obvious. Talk to your spouse in person. Except for limited; situations involving abuse, phone calls, email, or texts should be avoided. Those forms of communication are highly impersonal, and your message can lose its tone and context. It does take courage to face someone in person, but this is generally the most helpful way to convey this difficult message.

Give Your Spouse Time to Process

Every person manages difficult news differently—some need more time than others. I have found the best advice is to keep it simple and direct. Let them know that this is not something you want to discuss further at this time. Then give your spouse physical space and time to work through their emotions at their own pace. Before having this conversation, you may want to make arrangements to stay elsewhere.

Avoid the Blame Game

It’s easy to attack others when you feel vulnerable. Some spouses will even invite you to do this so that they have an excuse to retaliate. But don’t do it! Avoid the temptation to get historical. Placing blame on others is seldom helpful, especially in a conversation about divorce.

This will not be easy to do—try to stick to the script as much as possible. Say your piece, and then leave with composure intact.

Make Sure You’re Safe

You know your spouse as well as anyone else. Bring a friend or family member with you if there is even a chance of an angry or violent reaction. They don’t need to be part of the conversation with your spouse, but it may be helpful if they are nearby. Once again, say your piece and then leave.

Maybe the biggest thing stopping you from having this conversation is concern about how divorce could impact your financial future. Please do not hesitate to contact us or schedule a free strategy session where we can discuss potential outcomes.

Having to break the news of divorce to a spouse can be terrifying. But when divorce is the best option, don’t waste your time putting off that conversation.  You won’t move forward in life without taking this next step.

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