You may have been thinking about informing your spouse you want to split up for a long time. Or maybe it was an impulsive decision that just makes sense to you. Either way, having the actual discussion when you utter the words that will affect both of you forever can be harrowing.
How should you bring up this delicate subject? If your spouse isn’t expecting your announcement at all, they may feel totally blindsided and lash out. Yet you have to speak up. Your happiness is at stake, as well as the future of your family, if you have children.
Handled with diplomacy and compassion, this discussion can be weathered successfully. No matter how it goes, it may establish “the tone for the legal process that will follow,” according to one clinical psychologist.
How to approach the conversation
There is no set-in-stone “road map” for having this talk. Nevertheless, the psychologist offers these suggestions in the hope that it can be endurable for each of you.
- Respect you spouse’s dignity and feelings. Be gentle but don’t act like the marriage can still be patched up.
- Talk in a public place to lessen the chance of having an emotional scene.
- Discuss living arrangements. If both of you feel comfortable staying under the same roof, fine. If not, decide who will move out and when.
- Try not be to accusatory or angry. It will only heighten the emotional temperature of the encounter.
- Don’t have this conversation on an important occasion like a birthday or on a holiday that’s meaningful to the family. It’s not a good time.
Even if you get cold feet, putting this off won’t solve anything. Your marital problems won’t disappear. You will only be prolonging your anxiety and discontent if you wait.
Plan how, when and where you will have the discussion in advance will make you feel a bit more at ease and confident. Once you have had this initial discussion, you can start moving ahead with your future.