Forget about complex divorce legal issues, the talk about who gets what, and where you’ll live. This post answers a tougher question: how do you tell your spouse you want a divorce?
‘We have to talk’
You’ve no doubt seen it in the movies when it’s shouted out in an argument: “I want a divorce!” But is there a right way to discuss divorce and to let your spouse know your feelings about them?
To say that telling your partner you want to discuss divorce is delicate is an understatement. It is an enormous decision, one that, when raised, will alter both of your lives forever.
Unless you want a big legal battle, or want to treat each other uncivilly forever, it’s in everyone’s interest to learn how to tell your spouse it’s over. So how do you deliver such life-altering news?
Timing is Everything
First, you want to choose a time to discuss divorce when your partner is emotionally ready. Avoid those times when they’re already stressed or emotional.
This is the sort of discussion in which it pays to be patient and remember that the announcement can wait until a moment when its impact will be the least damaging.
I’ve written about grounds for divorce before. Florida is a no-fault state, meaning you no longer have to prove someone was at fault for ending the marriage. This takes a lot of pressure off of the conversation about divorce.
In Florida no fault laws have reduced the number of feuding couples who felt the need to resort to distorted facts, lies, and the need to focus the trial on who did what to whom.
The only ground you need to file for divorce in Florida is to prove your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Additionally, the mental incapacity of one of the parties, where the party was adjudged incapacitated for the prior three year, is another avenue.
Knowing that in Florida no one has to be found at fault in order to file a petition for dissolution of marriage should help you and your spouse when you discuss divorce.
Location, location, location
Ideally, you want to discuss divorce in a private, quiet space. Avoid crowded restaurants, shopping malls, or even at home if the kids are in the next room or you have family and friends over.
Avoid phrases like, “You should have,” “You don’t,” or “You didn’t.” You also need to be honest about what you’re feeling and why you believe this decision is the right one.
If you’re in couple’s therapy, the therapist’s office might be a good location. The therapist can help create healthy boundaries moving forward which can prove invaluable when the going gets tough.
Avoid the Specifics
When you discuss divorce for the first time, there is no reason to get into specifics of how the divorce will work. You can leave out the parenting plan, or any other specifics. The emotional toll of discussing a divorce is tough enough, talking about the petty details of the process could be overwhelming.
If your partner is going to be surprised about the divorce and is going to be hearing about it for the first time, don’t talk about dividing the IRA, who should have the kids for summer, or the details of your new apartment.
You want to give the person time to digest the concept, show emotion, and ask questions. Don’t make it worse by blaming the other spouse for their shortcomings.
Even if a divorce is more one-sided, chances are that neither party in the marriage is particularly thrilled about the way things have been going. With this in mind, it’s wise to open the conversation by laying the cards on the table.
The Fatherly article is here.