First and foremost, this is considered a “sensitive” questions and an understanding of a person’s culture. What I mean is different cultures have different beliefs, laws, and etiquette when it comes to the “D” word “Divorce.” Suffice to say, it is not much different that asking someone to get married.
It is important to understand we are delivering “bad news,” well in most cases. We can expect that the person receiving the news might be upset and experience feelings of grief.
it would be important to choose a time and place. It will be important to consider where and when you will deliver the news. If you have children, ensure they are away or taken care of for a period. Basically, ensure you have enough time and an environment with no interruptions.
when delivering the news, you are gentle but firm. How you deliver the news will often reflect how your spouse might react. It will be important to use “I” statements and not “you statements.” There is great power in “I” and it lessens the other person’s defensiveness.
“I” might say: “I feel….” Using this shows you respect and value the person you are speaking with.
Avoid “You make me feel, or You always …”
avoid getting into the “nitty gritty” or the details. For example, the issues of money, kids and who gets the prized golden retriever! Take some time away and get some professional support when deciding to divide up the money and property and/or the custody of the kids or pets.
get support from friends, family and most importantly professional help. This might mean a divorce coach, a lawyer or even a counselor. Wait to get the scaffolding in place before building the “bridge of divorce.”
As mentioned, asking for a divorce is essentially delivering bad news. In all cases when delivering bad news, it is important to use the best and “right words.”
Introducing the bad news:
- I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news …
- I’m sorry to have to tell you that …
- I regret to inform you that …
- I’m afraid to inform you of …
- It is my unfortunate duty to tell you that …
- I’m afraid I/we won’t be able to …
Informal more Casual:
- Unfortunately …
- I’m sorry to tell you that …
- I’ve got some bad news …
- I regret that …
- I need to warn you that I have some bad news …
- I tried … but …
How to tell your husband you want a divorce?
Penny: Steve, honey, I want to talk to you and I need your full attention.
Steve: (on his tablet returning work emails). Ok, honey … just … can it wait a few minutes until I finish returning some emails?
Penny: No, this is important. I’ve got some bad news and I need your full attention.
Steve: (Looking up from his IPad): What now?! Is it the kids, what sort problem are they having now?!
Penny: No, the kids are fine. It is about us.
Steve: Ohh gosh, not this again! I told you that once I finish this last project we will go on a holiday for a few days.
Penny: No, Steve it is not about that. Recently I have been doing a lot of reflecting on our life and more specifically my life. Steve, I am not happy and I haven’t been happy for some time now. I am sorry to have to tell you this, but I want a divorce.
Steve: What?! I don’t understand! When did this happen?! You have never talked to me about this, this is out of the blue! Why are you doing this to me?! To Us?! To the Kids?!
Penny: Steve, honey, I understand how this might seem out of the blue for you. However, I have given this a lot of thought and I need to have a different life and I do not see that life being married anymore.
Steve: Ok, ok. I will take some vacation days at the end of the month and we will go away and fix this. Ok?! Are you happy now?! Can I get back to my emails and we can forget about this silly idea of divorce?!
Penny: Steve, I am afraid to tell you this, but there will be no vacation for us. This has been something I have given a lot of thought. I will be leaving today and will stay with my sister until I can find a place.
Steve: But .. but Penny. You haven’t even given ‘US” a chance. I will change my work schedule for you.
Penny: Steve, I tried to make this work. I have changed and I need to continue to change. I am not happy in this marriage.
Steve: Ok, go ahead! This is just like you! Giving up when things get difficult. Just like you blamed me for you giving up your career! Fine quit this too!
Penny: (gathering her internal strength): Steve, I understand this is a shock to you. I hope you find some people to help you through this. I will be out of reach and I prefer you do not contact me for a few days to allow us both some time to adjust to this change.
Steve: You will regret this, I have friends who are good divorce lawyers. I am not giving up, you will come back to me! The kids and I will not give up on our family like you have!
Understanding the person receiving the news might go through some stages of grief and giving the person time and understand the cycle and stages of grief:
your spouse may avoid the reality and just believe that things will work out.
expect some “bashing” and your spouse to have some angry words.
there may be attempts to offer change, counseling, or even a “temporary separation” until things can be worked out.
you and your spouse might experience some depression and sadness. There is no one situation, length of marriage or relationship that can determine the duration or intensity of the depression. What is almost a certainty is there will be sadness, regret and depression.
this is the rainbow both sides home to reach and the light at the end of the tunnel. Both sides have learned to accept the reality of the situation and begin to heal and move forward.