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How do you actually tell your spouse you want a divorce?

Films and television shows often portray married couples arguing, then suddenly one of them proclaims, "I want a divorce." These forms of media often use that proclamation as a shock factor for both the fictional spouse and the audience.

However, stating that someone wants a divorce is not as easy in real life. Approaching this conversation can cause individuals a lot of stress. So, here are some tips for individuals to tell their spouse that they are seeking a divorce

1. Consider your reasons carefully

It is always critical for individuals to consider their reasons for seeking a divorce before they bring it up with their spouse. Perhaps they no longer share the same values with their spouse, there is a lack of intimacy or they simply cannot get along anymore. It could even be all of those reasons.

Regardless, individuals should narrow down exactly why they want to divorce. This can help give them an idea of what to say to their spouse.

2. Prepare and practice what you will say

Once individuals understand their own reasons for wanting a divorce, then they must determine how to put that into words. It is often helpful to focus on:

  • Discussing one's emotions
  • Using "I" statements (i.e., "I feel that our values do not line up anymore.")
  • Avoiding the details of divorce right away

It also might be helpful to practice the conversation in private or even with a friend.

3. Watch your tone during the conversation

Be direct, but also maintain a civil tone. Anger and aggression--like in the media examples--will not often help the conversation go any smoother. Remember, this conversation is not easy on either side. 

4. Be prepared for any reaction

There is not often a way to predict a spouse's reaction. Even if they agree to a divorce, they might still be upset. Some might even react in anger and disbelief. Before beginning the conversation, it is important to prepare a response for any kind of reaction.

Note: If individuals are concerned about their safety, they may want to have a trusted third party in the room during the conversation. This could be a sibling or a close friend. 

5. Give them--and yourself--time to process

The decision to divorce is difficult for both spouses. It is one of the most emotionally stressful situations a person can experience. So, it is important for individuals to allow themselves and their spouse some time after having this first discussion before moving forward.

This discussion and the next steps of divorce can be a challenge. But the knowledgeable attorneys from Bowen Ten Cardani, PC, can help individuals in Virginia through the entire process and reduce their stress.

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