Written by: The Circles Team

October 6, 2021

When you’re walking down the aisle at your wedding, and you stand in front of your partner and you make a vow “‘til death do us part,” you never imagine, not even for a moment, that you would part ways a lot earlier than anticipated.

But life doesn’t always go as planned. The trajectory of our lives is unpredictable, and things change over time. Problems that weren’t there before suddenly appear, or problems that were easily overcome are now seemingly unresolvable.

What was once smooth sailing is now endless rough waters, and it can feel like your relationship is no longer salvageable. The idea of divorce suddenly sounds like a much healthier route to take rather than staying the course. Once you’ve reached that realization, the only thing left to do is figuring out how to tell your partner you want a divorce.

There’s no sugarcoating it: this isn’t easy. Thinking about how to discuss divorce with your partner can feel daunting. But, once you’ve decided there’s absolutely no other solution, you need to broach the subject. To help you navigate this conversation, we’ve highlighted a few steps for telling your spouse you want a divorce.

See How They Feel

This might seem obvious, but see how your partner feels about the relationship. Maybe they recognize the same problems that you do, and maybe their perception of them is much more constructive than you initially thought. You might be surprised to learn that they’re much more open to couples counseling or other types of emotional support than you realized, and that can pave a better path forward than the tolling process of divorce.

Choose The Right Time

If you’ve already tried couples counseling or other types of support, or if your partner isn’t open to it, then divorce may very well be the only solution. If that’s the case, it’s important to initiate this conversation at the right time. The writing may be on the wall for you, but it may not be for your partner, and this conversation can completely blindside them. They’ll likely have a very strong emotional reaction to what you’re saying, so conversing at a time where you’re both at your most calm is ideal. Having this conversation at the end of a long and stressful workday? Not so much. Set a time where you know you will both be at home, not distracted, and have no other commitments or responsibilities hanging over your head.

Plan It Out

Telling your partner you want to end your lifelong commitment to them is not a spur-of-the-moment improvisation. Take the time to think carefully about what you want to say and how you want to share your feelings. Begin by describing why you’re unhappy, the alternative solutions you’ve tried, and how you’ve reached the conclusion that divorce is the only healthy way forward.

Don’t Play The Blame Game

Instead of explaining what your partner is doing wrong, describe how you’re feeling, how you perceive the relationship, and how it affects you. Explain where you are now and where you want to go, rather than dissecting the past. There is a fine line between articulating what you want while also being compassionate toward your partner, but it’s a line that should be walked. Use “I feel” statements rather than “you” statements, use neutral language, and be sympathetic. You can hear their perspective while also standing your ground.

Stay Calm

Needless to say, telling your partner you want a divorce can be a highly emotional discussion. It’s important to say calm and collected while you discuss it to maintain an amicable relationship. Remember, this is someone you once loved, or maybe even still love. If you have children together, they’re going to continue to be in your life as you navigate co-parenting in separate households. Separating in a caring and respectful way will ensure a smooth transition for everyone involved.

If you have done everything you can to make your marriage work and divorce is the only light at the end of the tunnel, telling your partner in a thoughtful way will help you both accept it and move on.