Some couples reach the decision to divorce together. For others, one person may decide they want a divorce, while the other might believe they should work harder to save the marriage before giving up.
When you know a divorce is right for you but your spouse is not there yet, how you handle telling them your decision could influence the way things play out. If your way of starting the conversation about divorce sparks rage or resentment, they might be unwilling to negotiate important matters such as property division or child custody.
It is natural for your spouse to feel wounded, angry, and perhaps betrayed. They also could feel fear about the future. Being sure of your wish to divorce and staying calm and focused can help you set the tone for an amicable dissolution.
Both parties often recognize when a marriage is not working, but not always. Suggesting counseling or couples therapy could clarify that you are seriously dissatisfied and need things to change. A therapist could also serve as a non-biased party to help you start the conversation about divorce in a neutral setting.
Asking for a trial separation might be another way to introduce the idea of divorce. If you have been working on issues for a while, you could say you need time apart to process what you have been discovering. You could say something similar if a sudden event, like the discovery of an affair, led to your decision to divorce. Tell your spouse you need time alone to consider whether you want to try to salvage the marriage.
After a few months of separation, you could tell your spouse you think a divorce is the right solution for you. Hearing it might be painful, but at least the news will not come out of left field, and they have had some time to adjust to living apart.
When you have been thinking about divorce for some time, you may have been able to process your feelings and imagine your life without your spouse. If your spouse is not ready to give up on your marriage, you must give them time to do the same work you did to come to terms with its end. Recognizing this may also cause them to deal with feelings of rejection.
A failed marriage causes grief, and your spouse needs time to work through theirs. Do not rush them, but do not allow the matter to drop. After a few weeks, you could mention that you have retained an attorney and ask them if they have considered doing so. Then, set a timeline to begin negotiations.
A high-conflict divorce is often a long and expensive divorce. Arguing and trying to “win” rarely accomplishes much beyond running up attorney’s fees.
If circumstances do not allow the gradual transition recommended above, and you and your spouse are experiencing volatility, you could still avoid a high-conflict divorce. It might be harder to manage your feelings and stay calm in this situation, but it is possible and worthwhile. Hopefully, when you are ready to negotiate your divorce settlement, they can put their feelings aside and work to accomplish your mutual goals.
Consulting with a family attorney before deciding to divorce is often a good idea. Knowing what the law requires and how the process unfolds could help you make the right decision at the right time.
For more information about starting the conversation about divorce, reach out to the Atlanta Divorce Law Group to speak with a dedicated team member.