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How to Have a Conversation with Your Spouse about Divorce

Never an easy conversation, talking to your spouse about divorce can be made easier if you go about it the right way.


  • TIP: If your partner reacts violently, excuse yourself to continue the discussion after they've calmed down.
  • TIP: [Empathize] Acknowledge your own feelings of failure or sadness, and empathize with your spouse. Explain that you understand, but that you don't see how the marriage can continue.
  • TIP: [Consider children] Express how important it is to proceed with the divorce as amicably and civilly as possible, especially if there are children involved. Come to an agreement that, for the good of the children, you will try to behave in a manner that shifts the blame to you and your spouse and affects the children as little as possible. Eventually your fractured family will learn how to live in a new way.
  • FACT: According to a 2010 study, children of divorce have more than double the lifetime risk for experiencing a stroke compared with those whose parents' marriage stays intact during their childhood.
  • Step 1: Maintain your calm and listen to your partner. They may be angry, hurt, relieved, or resigned. Be civil and objective and hear them out, but don't tolerate shouting or violence.
  • Step 2: Give your spouse time to react to the news. No matter how poor the marriage seemed to you, hearing the words out loud can still be a shock. Avoid becoming emotional or being sucked into a fight if your partner becomes inimical.
  • Step 3: Find the best possible time to have the discussion with your spouse. While no time will be ideal, block off at least half an hour of your time when there will be the fewest distractions. Sit across from each other to encourage eye contact and civility.
  • TIP: Meet at a public place, such as a restaurant during a slow time, so there will not be a crowd, but enough people to discourage a scene if you suspect the situation could become violent.
  • Step 4: Calmly but firmly state your decision to divorce. Don't be wishy-washy and be sure you're understood. Acknowledge your role in why the marriage failed and don't be accusatory or shift all of the blame to your spouse.
  • Step 5: Consult a lawyer before initiating a conversation with your spouse. Your life will change irrevocably after your divorce, and a lawyer can explain how a divorce will affect you on a number of levels, including expenses and child custody.

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