It’s a common tale. You’re in a marriage that you’re desperate to save, but your spouse has one foot out the door already, and they’re ready to throw in the towel.
Different versions of the same question are:
- What to do if your spouse wants a divorce and you don’t?
- What do you do when your spouse wants a divorce?
- How do I change my husband’s mind about divorce?
- How do I change my wife’s mind about divorce?
- How do you win your husband back when he wants a divorce?
Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
Our team here at Morgan Divorce Law Firm hears this almost daily, and there’s no mystery as to why. Most of the time, you aren’t entering a marriage lightly. When something that important seems like it’s run the course and is falling apart, it’s natural to try to hang on.
Related article: Power Imbalance in Divorce and What you Can do About it
Sometimes, though, one partner wants out. If your husband, wife, or partner tells you they’ve fallen out of love with you, and they’re leaving, there are behaviors we’d expect:
- They’re through talking.
- They’re not interested in “working things out.”
- They see the marriage as already over.
And that leaves you feeling panicked and scared. You want to fight harder, you want to do everything in your power to hang on, and so, predictably, you end up doing everything wrong.
We’re in the divorce law business in Florida, and your legal rights during divorce proceedings are our top priority. But we have picked up a few nuggets of wisdom along the way, and we’re here to help.
Mostly, we’ve learned that when it comes to love and marriage, our instincts are rarely on point.  Sometimes, you have to take a deep breath and slow down.
Questions To Ask Yourself if your spouse wants a divorce
- Is my spouse overreacting to recent stress between us, or possibly elsewhere in their life?
Successful marriages often share a unique trait when it comes to managing stress: the spouses see every stressful situation as an Us Vs. Them Problem, and they avoid seeing it as Spouse Vs. Spouse.
But stress management is difficult, and sometimes it’s overwhelming. Ask yourself whether your husband, wife, or partner is experiencing stress. Ask yourself whether you are the source of that stress, or whether it stems from some outside influence.
There are a number of major stressors that can lead to divorce. We find that the most common dynamic-altering stressors are:
When one spouse becomes ill enough to push the other into the role of caregiver, the additional tension can fracture the relationship. Men often struggle more with the caregiver role than women, and divorce rates are higher when the wife is seriously ill.
The introduction of children into a marriage is a significant stressor, and one not all marriages survive. The first few years after the birth of a child can be a particularly difficult adjustment period.
- Empty Nesting:
More adults over 50 are divorced than are widowed. This may be due to the outdated notion of “staying together for the kids,” leading to problems being addressed only after the children have grown.
We spend a lot of time at work, particularly in the United States. Long hours on the job can negatively impact the marriage – particularly when travel is involved. We have found that marriage is particularly difficult when one partner is on active duty with the military, for instance.
Traumatic events can draw a couple closer together – or it can tear them apart. It is not uncommon for an individual to seek distance from anything that reminds them of the trauma they suffered.
So what’s the big secret?
There isn’t one. Communication is a key part of any marriage. If you think one of these stressors applies to your situation, you should be trying to talk to your spouse about it.
Perhaps it’s possible to seek counseling and address those stress factors. If the things that are pulling you away from one another can be managed, you might find your way back to each other.
But that’s only true if both you and your spouse want that.
2. Are there children involved? If so, what is best for them?
Everyone knows divorce is hard on the kids.
We’ve seen it in a million movies, so it must be true. That’s why so many couples stay together until their children have grown. It’s the right thing to do, isn’t it?
Here’s a nugget of wisdom you should memorize:
A good divorce is better for your children than a bad marriage.
In the United States, between 1 and 2 million children go through their parents breakup.  Sure, it’s tough on them. And you, as a parent, would do anything to spare your children that heartache.
Even staying in an unhappy marriage.
But if you do this, you aren’t protecting your children from trauma. You’re creating trauma for them.
Divorce definitely impacts children, and we don’t want to minimize that, but research shows that the short-term issues (anger, anxiety, shock) resolve relatively quickly, and most children of divorce do just fine in the long term.
Think of it this way: would your child be better off being raised by two happy parents who live in different homes, or by two deeply unhappy parents in various stages of discord and conflict?
We understand that letting go is hard. But if there are children involved, you may want to consider what the impact will be on them, not if you get divorced, but if you don’t, and one parent feels trapped.
3. Have we done all we could to fight for our marriage?
If your spouse is willing to consider counseling, it can work wonders.  With respect to counseling however, timing is everything.
Your marriage is not something to be lightly discarded. If there was deep, real love before, it is possible to find that love again. But the effectiveness of marriage counseling depends almost entirely on the motivation of both partners.
Dragging someone into marriage counseling when they are simply looking for an excuse to leave is often ineffective. The same is true of seeking counseling once a divorce has already been requested. At that point, what you’re experiencing may be more like divorce counseling, a way to help both partners accept that things have come to an end.
There are factors that matter when seeking counseling.
- Make sure the therapist is a good personality fit for you, and that they have appropriate experience.
- Don’t wait too long. Some couples wait years before seeking help – and that is both unhealthy and wasteful. If someone is unhappy, address it as early in the relationship as possible.
- Be prepared for whatever happens. Entering counseling doesn’t mean you’ll get what you want. There are two of you, and you may want different resolutions.
4. Why am I afraid of divorce? Is it about love, or is about something else?
We have spoken with (and helped) many clients who were terrified of the idea of being on their own again. It wasn’t always about love, though.
You should examine your own motivations. Is love for your spouse the only reason you want to stay together? Is it even the main reason?
Now, this may not apply to everyone, but here at Morgan Divorce Law Firm, we’ve met people who were desperate to stay married for other reasons. There is no shame in that.
Let’s see if any of this sounds familiar:
- I’m not happy, either. I know my marriage is a mess, but I feel like being alone again would be even worse.
- I know I should get a divorce, but I’m anxious about courts and hearings and divorce attorneys.
- I don’t want to lose half my stuff, and I don’t want to spend the kids’ college fund on getting divorced.
- I want out, but I don’t know how I’ll make it without my spouse’s income – I have expenses, a lifestyle to maintain!
Sometimes, stacked up against all of that, it’s easy to convince yourself that divorce would be self-serving. But it’s not.
Unless both partners want to be there, every day in your marriage is a day where you are choosing unhappiness.
Sure, staying married is safe. Sure, staying married means stability. But staying married might just be draining the life out of you. If your marriage isn’t a happy one, you shouldn’t be talking yourself into staying by pointing out every possible downside.
You should think about upsides. Will you be happier? Will you meet someone who makes you feel better? Will your children be relieved that their parents aren’t fighting all the time?
Will things, just maybe, be better after divorce?
5. Do I really want to be with someone who doesn’t love me anymore?
Are you fighting for them because you believe they love you, or because you want them to? Are you stubbornly clinging to the hope that you can get things back the way they used to be?
It’s always worth considering self-care. Perhaps you shouldn’t fight for someone who isn’t fighting for you. Perhaps moving on is worth considering.
Your mind is complex. We’re not psychologists, we’re divorce lawyers, but we know enough to tell you that your mind is naturally stubborn, and it may not be doing you any favors.
A marriage in which one partner is desperately hopeful and another is trying to escape may have already failed. Yet our minds, which are often methodical and persist in maintaining routines, will cling to memories.
Especially memories as formidable and as formative as marriage.
Speaking of persistence …
Are you regularly thinking compromised thoughts? Things like:
“If I could only change this about myself …”
“If I say this, he might stay …”
“She’d love me more if I weren’t like this.”
Loving someone who has moved on (and we aren’t saying for sure that your spouse has, but you have to consider the possibility) is like trying to start a fire in the rain. Your persistence may not be enough.
Marriage isn’t an ATM.
You don’t enter a simple code and withdraw the love you need. It takes work from both spouses. Sometimes, moving toward a healthier future is better for you. Divorce might be scary, but with a healthy mindset, a strong support group and the right legal advice, it might also be exactly what you need.
Even if it isn’t what you want.
My Spouse Wants a Divorce, and I Won’t Sign the Papers.
Divorce is rarely simple or easy. That’s why divorce attorneys exist – not to just bill you, but to smooth a very difficult transition, and to protect your legal rights.
The spouse who wants the divorce will file a petition for dissolution of marriage. Usually, there will be an initial attempt to resolve the case in an uncontested way, meaning you may be presented with papers to sign right off the bat.
So what happens if you don’t sign the papers?
If only one partner is invested in the divorce, this can lead to what is called a contested divorce. You would think that what happens then should be straightforward legally. But in reality, contested divorce is fraught with uncertainties and unexpected complications.
It can be tempting to hold your marriage, and your spouse, hostage by refusing to sign divorce papers.
Since Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that who is in the wrong is irrelevant, refusing to sign divorce papers that are drawn up fairly and amicably could be an expensive delay to the inevitable.
If you need assistance in making that determination, we are here to help you find out what is legally fair to you. If the papers are not fair, then we are here to make sure you are treated fairly by protecting your legal rights.
Since typically there is no option to cast blame, and thus no way to refuse the divorce, using uncontested methods that still keep your legal rights intact is usually your best option.
There are cases where either your spouse, his or her attorney, or both, make it impossible to use any of these uncontested methods. In the event this is the case, we will stand by and fight for every step of the way.
If you’ve been served divorce papers in Florida, contact Morgan Divorce Law Firm today, and let us walk you through next steps.
 Top 10 Marriage Mistakes to Avoid; By Sheri Stritof – Updated January 26, 2018
 The impact of family structure on the health of children: Effects of divorce*
Jane Anderson* https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4240051/
 10 Things You MUST Do for Marriage Counseling to Work -November 4, 2016