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I Want A Divorce – How Do I Break It To My Spouse?

The Parting Words When You Finally Break the News – I Want A Divorce

If you are asking any of the following versions of this question, read on and uncover the answer:

  • How do I tell my wife I want a divorce without hurting her
  • How to tell your wife you want a divorce when she doesn’t
  • How to tell your husband you want a divorce when he doesn’t
  • How to tell your husband you want a separation

Til Death Do Us Part.

We’ve all heard those words, and if you’re reading this article, there’s a decent chance you’ve spoken them aloud. It is natural, then, to feel guilty about wanting to break so solemn and ancient a vow as that.

Sometimes, though, there’s just no other way. People can dramatically talk about how a high percentage of marriages end in divorce all they want – but we know the other half of that sentiment just as well.

Strong, healthy, loving marriages don’t end in divorce; unhealthy ones do. There is usually a sense of having failed or having given up that casts doubt on your decision.

The right to pursue your own happiness is fundamental. You are intended to seek joy, to find your bliss, to be content.

Remaining in a situation that leaves you unhappy in order to spare your husband or wife the pain of separation is not good for either of you.

Few of us arrive at this decision lightly. If you have thought of hiring an Orlando divorce attorney, odds are you have already:

  • Spent years trying to improve your relationship.
  • Had internal conversations with yourself in which you admitted to being unhappy.
  • Watched your relationship with your spouse deteriorate over time.
  • Attempted therapy, counseling, or a trial separation.

In some situations, the hard part isn’t realizing you want a divorce, it’s breaking it to your spouse.

7 Things To Keep In Mind When Telling Your Spouse You Want a Divorce

1.   Be very, very sure.

The use of the word “divorce” as a weapon or a bargaining chip is never okay.

Threatening divorce when you don’t mean it is cruel and damaging. [1]

That threat should never be thrown around as a way of getting attention, venting frustration, or emotionally blackmailing a spouse.

You can’t unring the bell on that one.

If you think you want to leave but are still in love, don’t use the word divorce at all at this point.

There are steps you can take beforehand, including:

  • Speaking to a marriage counselor or therapist. Discernment counselors specialize in dealing with the kind of ambivalence you may be feeling, and can help you examine your emotions and make the right decision.
  • Focus on what is positive, and determine if it’s worth trying to save. Grow from there.
  • Spend more time with your spouse, facing the problems.

The words “I want a divorce” are in the air forever. Your spouse will never forget them.

If you later have a change of heart, you will confuse your spouse and run the risk of “crying wolf,” and not being taken seriously if you decide to divorce in the future.

2.   Know what you’re getting into.

You should also understand what your spouse is feeling. If your husband or wife will likely be blindsided and think everything is going well, you’ll want to approach the discussion with sensitivity.

Arm yourself with a little knowledge so that you can talk to your spouse about divorce with some confidence. You should be ready to answer a few questions and be emotionally strong enough to handle the conversation yourself.

A counselor or therapist wouldn’t be the worst idea at this stage, either, but that obviously depends on your unique situation.

3.   Pick your time and place carefully.

When and where are important considerations. You don’t want to break the news during a family trip or blurt it out at the dinner table or after a long day at work. Be prepared ahead of time and carefully consider:

  • If you have children, ask a trusted friend or relative if they can have the children over, so that you and your spouse can have an uninterrupted conversation.
  • Avoid having this land on top of some other major event, either good or bad. Don’t break the news on a birthday or holiday and taint that day forever, and don’t pile on if your spouse has recently dealt with some other trauma.
  • While you shouldn’t put it off, use your common sense in selecting the appropriate time..

There will be no perfect moment.

It’s just about finding the time that will hurt the least.

How you talk about divorce is going to matter, as well. Allow plenty of uninterrupted time. Turn off your phone, ask them to do the same, and focus on each other and what you’re going through.

Don’t drop a bomb on your spouse and run. Give them the courtesy of sharing their thoughts with you.

4.   When the time comes to say it, really mean it.

Be gentle when you break the awful news, but also be very firm about it. You’re going to set the tone – and they’re going to be reacting to that energy.

Don’t lead with negative feelings – it won’t help anyone.

Instead, try to focus on being compassionate and respectful if your reasons for divorce allow that.

Every relationship dynamic is different, but an uncontested divorce is always quicker, cleaner, and less stressful than a contested divorce – and an empathetic discussion will increase the chances of an amicable split.

Acknowledge your positive feelings for your spouse and don’t dwell relentlessly on why you’re leaving. Instead, focus as much as you can on the facts:

  • You do want a divorce.
  • You have thought it through.
  • You won’t change your mind.
  • You don’t want divorce to be painful for either of you.

You’ve likely spent a great deal of time mentally preparing for this moment, so you may have already spoken to an Orlando divorce lawyer. Your spouse is reeling and trying to catch up. Be patient and understanding.

You are likely to receive an emotional backlash. Your spouse won’t have time, like you did, to deal with anger and resentment. Your spouse may escalate the situation so it’s up to you to be clear about how much thought and consideration has gone into your decision.

Allowing them the validation of their pain and fear will help them adjust to this new situation.

But you also want to stand your ground.

5.   Know they aren’t likely to take this well.

It is the rare spouse who reacts positively, or even neutrally, to being asked for a divorce. You should expect some level of anger, sorrow, or even vengefulness.

The emotional baggage of divorce is as heavy and all-consuming as the love and hope of a new marriage. [2] If you can, support your partner and stay calm.

Don’t use “you” or even “we” statements any more than necessary. Stay focused on yourself and use the word “I” as much as possible. Avoid the blame game, even if your spouse is trying to initiate it.

If it turns into a fight, things are likely to spin out of control.

You may feel that you are unhappy together. You may feel that you’ve drifted apart, or that intimacy has broken down. Your spouse might even agree with all of that. It doesn’t mean that they’ll agree with your decision to end the marriage, though.

(And because Florida is a true no-fault state, they won’t be able to stop you from ending it. More on that in a moment.)

6.   Don’t get defensive, and don’t give ground.

The central thing to remember is this: if you’ve stated very clearly that you want a divorce, if you’ve done it as gently as you know how, and if you’ve been respectful and receptive, honoring their feelings and listening, then you’ve done everything you can.

Their reaction is not in your control. Have a support system ready, and then go have the hard conversation. [3] If you’ve handled it well, you can hope that your spouse will allow an uncontested divorce and that you can part ways simply.

If you’ve done all you can and they still refuse or are reluctant to consider the idea, you’ll find yourself heading down a thornier legal pathway, but it is one we can navigate with you.

7.   Talk about what you want life post-divorce to look like.

When you’ve reached a stage in the conversation when it becomes possible, you should talk to your husband or wife about the future of your relationship.

If your lives are entangled deeply, as is often the case with couples that have children, then acknowledge that.


Do we want to have a better, healthier relationship after the divorce, for our own sake and the sake of our children?

Could we honestly find a way to remain amicable, civil, or even friends? (Be careful with that last word, it’s a landmine.)

Do we want to seek mediation now, so that we can settle things between us as fairly and peacefully as possible?

Contested Vs. Uncontested Divorce

In an uncontested divorce, you will both agree to the terms of the divorce. These terms include child support, time sharing and visitation, alimony, asset division, and debt settlement.

If you and your spouse can come to an agreement on all terms of your divorce, there is no need to go to court. Instead, we at Morgan Divorce Law Firm will help you negotiate a marital settlement agreement.

However, if your spouse disputes any terms of the divorce, it becomes a contested divorce, which usually leads to greater court involvement. There may be hearings or a trial required and a judge will be making these decisions for you.

Let Morgan Divorce Law Firm Help you with your Divorce.

There is no simple or easy path to ending a marriage, because a marriage is itself a very complex thing. If you choose to work with Morgan Divorce Law Firm, we will protect your rights and interests.

We will provide the experience and strategy required to help you successfully divorce your spouse and move on with your life.

Call us today for a consultation with any of our Palm Beach & Orlando divorce attorneys.


[1] June 2017, Lori Gottlieb, writer and psychotherapist at The Cut

[2] NBC News Updated July 24, 2018, 2:11 PM EDT By Brianna Steinhilber – Is Your emotional baggage holding you back?

[3] 4 Keys to Finding the Support You Need After Divorce June 11, 2015 • Contributed by Andra Brosh, PhD

Andrea Morgan

Andrea is a native Floridian born and raised in Winter Park, Florida. Throughout her career as a divorce attorney, she has handled divorce cases in every county in Central and South Florida. She has recently expanded her firm from Central Florida to also serve Palm Beach County and West Palm Beach. She is a respected divorce lawyer, coach, consultant, author, mediator, and advocate of social change within the Florida court system.Andrea earned her Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola University College of Law, New Orleans and graduated from the University of Central Florida in Orlando with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Legal Studies.She has been certified as a family mediator by the Florida Supreme Court, is a trained collaborative family law attorney, and is a member of the Collaborative Family Law Group of Central Florida; the Collaborative Family Law Professionals of South Florida; and the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals.With over two decades as a trial attorney, Andrea has fine-tuned her understanding of the unique dynamics and challenges families face during restructure. She handles contested family law cases that are litigated in court, but also vigorously encourages uncontested divorce methods as the premier route for the restructuring of families.Andrea advocates divorce mediation, cooperative divorce, and collaborative divorce as the more effective, more respectful, more cost-effective, and more healthful means to divorce, especially when there are children involved.

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