This one is all about telling your spouse you want a divorce. Ask Divorce Coach is Women’s Divorce Coach’s divorce advice column. Have a question? Send it to Cindy here. It’s anonymous!
Dear Divorce Coach,
I’ve been married for almost ten years and just can’t stand to be with my husband anymore. He drives me absolutely crazy and brings out the worst in me. I have felt dead inside for years. We have one child who is eight. I’m embarrassed to admit this but I’ve also been having an affair for the last few months. This experience made me realize that I am capable of loving someone and that I can feel something again although I don’t see it as anything lasting long-term. Do I really need to disclose this? What do I need to think about before I tell my husband I want a divorce?
– Alive Again
Dear Alive Again,
While I believe honesty (kind honesty) is usually best, you will also want to do some research regarding your state’s divorce laws, particularly in light of the affair. You may also want to speak to an attorney in your state first. Here are some specific things to look up and talk to an attorney about:
- Do you live in an “at-fault” state?
- What does it mean if you are the one to move out?
- What is typical in terms of child custody and child support?
- How does spousal maintenance (or alimony work?)
Some other important things to understand before proceeding would be having a firm understanding of your family finances, knowing how to access all accounts, and thinking about where everyone will live and what it would take if one of you wants to keep the house. I would also give some strong consideration to how you will tell your child and how what you want in place to make this transition as smooth as possible for them. Working with a divorce coach can be a game-changer both emotionally and financially during this difficult time. Best of luck!
Dear Divorce Coach,
My husband and I have had a loveless marriage for the last five years. While the first 15 years were good, we are essentially roommates now. We tried marriage counseling a few years back but stopped going because he didn’t like what she had to say. We don’t communicate well at all and although he is probably thinking the same thing, we haven’t actually talked about separation or divorce. It’s going to be a big change for us and I’m not even sure how I want to bring it up or what to say.
– Lost for words
Dear Lost for Words,
Telling your spouse you want a divorce can be difficult in any circumstance. This is someone who has been a major part of your life for a long time. Even when things are less than ideal, we can find comfort in situations that are familiar or give us what we expect. Any major conversation is best had when both parties are well-rested and are not distracted by something else going on in their environment. Assuming that you feel safe with your husband, the conversation is best had in a private space like your home and done face-to-face. If you do not feel safe, then a phone conversation or even a letter is appropriate.
Next, you will need to decide how much you want to share about the reasons for your decision. It’s also a good idea to think about what you do not want to say, like things you’ll regret later, mean-spirited things you can’t take back, etc. I would also read what I wrote to the last letter writer. Some people approach this conversation wanting to impose the most hurt possible. I urge you to pause and take some time if this is your motivation. Divorce proceedings are unlikely to go well if the stage is set poorly in the beginning.
On the receiver’s end, most people want to know what went wrong in the marriage as it helps them to move forward. I encourage you to own your own part in what happened and to be clear about what you want. Giving mixed signals about whether the initial separation is temporary vs permanent can lead to a lot of anxiety and anger. The clearer you are about how you want to proceed the better. I’ve worked with a number of women to help them tell their husbands and I urge you to hire a coach or talk to a therapist to help you gain this clarity.