How to Tell Your Spouse You Want A Divorce: 10 Key Aspects To Consider


Divorce is never easy, and telling your spouse you want to start divorce proceedings can be one of the most challenging conversations you will ever have. Whether you’ve been contemplating this decision for a while or recent events have brought you to this point, it’s essential to approach the conversation thoughtfully and with compassion. So, how do you tell your spouse you want a divorce?

In South Africa, the best way to tell your spouse you want a divorce involves careful consideration, choosing the right time and place, being honest and compassionate, and being prepared for the aftermath. Handling this sensitive situation with care can significantly impact how both parties navigate the transition.

Deciding to end your marriage is a huge decision that requires introspection and planning. Before you have the conversation, it’s essential to be sure that this is the path you want to take. Let’s delve into ten crucial aspects you should consider if you want to know how to tell your spouse you want a divorce.


1. How To Tell Your Spouse You Want A Divorce: Make Sure You Are Sure

Before you tell your spouse you want a divorce, ensure that you have thoroughly considered all alternatives. Reflect on whether this is what you want and if you’ve explored every possible avenue to save your marriage. Discuss your feelings with a close friend, a counsellor, or a therapist. Consider if couples therapy might help or if there are changes that could make the marriage work.

Communicating with your spouse about your unhappiness and what you believe might improve the relationship before making such a final decision is crucial. These steps can help you avoid regrets and ensure you’ve done everything possible to save your marriage.


2. Ensure You Choose A Good Time And Place

Timing and location are critical when breaking such significant news. Ensure you have ample time for the conversation and choose a moment when you are not preoccupied with other important events. Avoid times when your spouse is ill, has had a bad day, or is dealing with any stressful situations.

Ensure your children are not around so you can discuss openly without interruptions and have time to pick them up later if necessary. This approach helps create an environment where you can talk calmly without added pressure.


3. Plan What You Are Going to Say

Preparation is crucial when telling your spouse you want a divorce. Think carefully about what you want to convey and how you will express your feelings. Be clear and direct about your decision, but also gentle.

Planning your words can help you stay focused and avoid saying something you might regret. Rehearsing what you want to say can also help you manage your emotions during the conversation.


4. Make Sure You Are Honest And Able To Offer Clear Reasons

Honesty is essential in this conversation. Clearly explain why you feel the marriage cannot continue, providing specific reasons without being overly critical. Your spouse deserves to understand your perspective, even if it’s painful to hear. By being transparent, you allow your spouse to grasp the seriousness of your decision and the factors that led to it.


5. Be Compassionate – Listen To What Your Spouse Has To Say

When considering how to tell your spouse you want a divorce, you should approach the conversation with empathy. Allow your spouse space to express their feelings and listen actively to what they say. This approach can help them feel heard and respected, even if they do not agree with your decision. Showing compassion can also help to soften the blow and make the conversation less confrontational.


6. Don’t Play The Blame Game

Using “I” statements instead of “you” can help prevent your conversation from becoming a blame game. For example, say, “I feel that we have grown apart” rather than “You have made me unhappy.” This approach reduces defensiveness and fosters a more constructive dialogue. Focusing on your feelings rather than your spouse’s actions can help maintain a respectful tone.


7. Prepare To Be Guilted And Do Not Go On The Offensive

Be ready for a range of reactions from your spouse, including guilt-tripping or attempts to make you feel responsible for the situation. Stay calm and avoid retaliating or becoming defensive. Keep the focus on your feelings and the reasons behind your decision. Understanding that these reactions are natural can help you remain composed and firm.


8. Be Open To Discussing Some Practicalities

While the initial conversation should focus on the emotional aspects, be open to discussing some practicalities. The topics might include child care, division of assets, parenting plans, spousal maintenance, financial arrangements, and how you will tell your children.

Showing a willingness to compromise can help in reaching mutual agreements. Addressing these practical issues early can also help create a smoother transition for both of you.


9. Remain Calm And Firm About Your Decision

It’s natural for your spouse to try to convince you to reconsider. Stay calm and firm about your decision, emphasizing that you have thought long and hard about it. Being resolute yet compassionate can help your spouse start to accept the reality of the situation. Maintaining your stance shows that you have confidence in your decision and are committed to moving forward.


10. Be Prepared On Where To Go After Your Discussion

Think ahead about what you will do immediately after the conversation. Whether you plan to move out temporarily or have a space within the house to retreat to, it’s essential to have a plan. If staying in the same house isn’t an option, arrange to stay with a friend or family member. This preparation ensures you have a safe space to process your emotions and care for yourself after the conversation.

When thinking about how to tell your spouse you want a divorce, you should remember that this is a difficult step that requires careful consideration and planning. You can approach this conversation most respectfully and effectively by ensuring you are sure about your decision, choosing the right time and place, being honest and compassionate, and preparing for the practicalities. Remember, this conversation begins a new chapter, and handling it carefully can set the tone for the journey ahead.

If you’re in South Africa and need further guidance, seeking legal advice from professionals like Burnett Attorneys & Notaries can also be valuable. Our team has extensive knowledge of the divorce process, and we will be able to advise you properly as you start this new journey. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information or to chat about your options as you traverse this new landscape.