After you decide you want a divorce, you eventually have to break the news to your spouse.
While that’s rarely an easy conversation, there are some things you can do that will make the process easier — and reduce the potential conflicts you’ll face ahead. Keep in mind that this initial conversation can set the tone for the rest of your divorce, so it’s far better for you both if the encounter goes smoothly.
1. Choose your timing carefully
Be considerate. If your spouse has a massive project deadline due at the end of the week, the conversation can wait until the weekend. Similarly, don’t make your announcement right before a major family event, like your daughter’s wedding.
2. Pick the right location
Ideally, you need to find some privacy to discuss this. Even if you believe that your spouse is aware you’re unhappy — and is equally unhappy — this is an emotional time. Don’t break the news in a crowded coffee shop or with the kids in the house.
3. Don’t try to defend your decision
The moment that you start to defend your decision, you open the door to two potential problems. First, you’ll probably end up in the “blame game,” which can quickly dissolve into a heated fight. Remind yourself that it no longer matters how you got to this point. You’re there.
Second, explaining all the reasons for your decision could give your spouse the impression that you could still be talked out of your decision. Again, that will likely just lead to a fruitless argument that’s better to avoid.
4. Don’t get into details
This isn’t the time to say, “I want half the pension plan and three years of alimony,” or “We’ll have to sell the house.” Leave all the practical details for another day after your spouse has had time to process what’s happening. Try to end the conversation respectfully, and give your spouse some space.
Once you pass this hurdle, you’ll be well on your way to a successful divorce. Make sure that you have experienced legal advice as you continue through the process.