How to tell your spouse ‘I want a divorce’

"I want a divorce."

How do you tell your spouse, “I want a divorce”?  Half of the people going through a divorce will be on the receiving end of this message, but the other half are the bearers of this incredibly bad news.  Many people really blow it, so let’s start with what NOT to do!  You’re not sure how your spouse will react, especially if infidelity is involved, and that fear can cause you to make very bad decisions.

One very bad idea is thinking that doing it in a public place will keep a lid on emotions. In reality, that means your spouse is having to sit in a public place while their world crashes down around them.

So, what’s the best way? There probably isn’t one. This will be one of the most difficult conversations you ever have. Here are my best tips.

  • Make sure the kids are somewhere else. It’s a great time for sleepovers with friends or a night with grandparents. You both need space to work through this.
  • Allow your spouse time to process. My best advice is, say it simply and directly and then let them know you don’t want to hash it out right now. Maybe even plan to spend the night somewhere else. You might both be better off for it.
  • Do it in person. Whatever you do, do not do it over the phone, in writing, an email, or God forbid a text message! Have the courage to say it to their face.
  • Speak only about yourself. Do not attack! No “you” statements. It should go something like this; “I have made a decision for myself that I need to tell you about. At this point, I can no longer stay in this marriage and I believe it will be best for both of us to start the divorce process. All of the reasons aren’t important anymore. I just know that I need things to change. I also know this is a lot to absorb and it’s not really a good idea to talk about it right now. I’ve made arrangements to stay somewhere else tonight, so you can have some time to yourself. I’m really sorry.” And quietly walk out. Now it may not go that smoothly but that’s a good intention to start with.
  • Make sure you’re safe. If there is any possibility that you might be met with anger or violence, be sure that someone is with you. Have them stand by the front door while you speak to your spouse in private and then immediately leave.

I know this can be scary, but your life can’t move forward until you do it. Good luck!

About the author:

Bev Banfield is a CPA, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst®, and founder of Banfield Divorce Financial Advisors. The Denver-based company was established to help divorcing couples more easily and equitably separate their finances. Banfield has more than 30 years of experience in financial analysis, budgeting, and auditing.  Contact us for more information at (303) 482-1726 or bev@bbdfa.com. Connect with me on LinkedIn  https://www.linkedin.com/in/bbanfield/