I Want a Divorce: How Do I Tell Him?

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

Jackie, I don’t know where to start. I don’t love my husband anymore. I also don’t want to be married anymore.  I don’t understand the point of marriage and I regret it everyday.  I have been married 5 years. We have no children together.  My problem is this: he has not done anything really that bad. Oh don’t get me wrong, he does the usual man things, like not listening, working to much, etc. But nothing that renders me leaving.  My question is this. How do I tell him I want a divorce?

My advice for “I want a divorce:”

First, I have a question. Does your husband know you are this unhappy? Does he have any idea of what could be coming? If not, I don’t think I would come right out and say “I want a divorce,” quite yet.


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I would try talking to him. I would start with, “Would it be possible for you and I to sit down and talk about our relationship? I am feeling unhappy and unfulfilled in our marriage, and I want to hear how you are feeling.”

This way, you get to see where his head is, based on his reaction. It could be one of three things:

1. He gets really upset and starts screaming at you about how ungrateful you are, how you don’t appreciate him, that you are a bitch, blah blah blah.

Now you know he has immense resentment and anger towards you and is unhappy too.

2. He says in a calm way, “I am unhappy, too,” and this could lead to some productive communication.

Or, it could lead to the decision to get divorced. But this usually isn’t how it happens.

3. He is utterly shocked. Speechless.

In his mind he was thinking things weren’t that great, but that the two of you were no where near divorce. Countless men send me emails saying something to this effect: “My wife and I didn’t have the perfect marriage, but I thought we were happy. One day, out of know where, she says, ‘I want a divorce.’ I was completely blown away.”

But, let’s say the two of you have been fighting and bickering and arguing constantly. There are no date nights, no heart to heart talks, and no talking about the future or making future plans. There is no friendship, no sex, nothing. In other words, the two of you know this is probably beyond repair. Then maybe it’s time to say, “I want a divorce.” But, even so, if you mention divorce he might be shocked and/or freak out.



The thing is, there’s no way around saying those four words. I mean, you could say, “I think I might want a divorce,” or  “I think we should separate for awhile,” or I think we should talk about what we are doing here,” or “I think we should spend some time apart,” but, whatever you say, the fact remains that it will undoubtedly translate to “I want a divorce.” There’s just no way around it unfortunately.

Be gentle. Be kind. Be caring.

Because anyone who hears, “I want a divorce” will be very hurt, even if they sort of felt it might be coming. It makes you feel like the ground just crumbled beneath you. Even if the person wants the divorce, too, and even if he/she expected it. “I want a divorce” is like an unexpected punch in the gut.

Every divorce started this way. Someone said, “I want a divorce.”

The fact that you wrote to me and asked me, “How do I tell him I want a divorce,” shows me that you care. If you didn’t, you’d have already done it and you wouldn’t want my advice. That says a lot, doesn’t it?

So, ask yourself if you are sure about this, or if you think the two of you might be able to get back the love you once had. Maybe instead of “I want a divorce,” you could try, “I want to talk about our marriage.” Maybe you don’t believe in marriage because yours isn’t making you happy. Maybe you don’t love him anymore because there are other things going on in your life that have led you here.


The Center for Divorce Recovery


My point is, just think very carefully about this, because once you say “I want a divorce,” everything has changed and you can never go back from that. There is no going back from that. I’m not saying no one should ask for a divorce, but rather that use that phrase very carefully because it’s life changing. It might even be life changing in a good way. Maybe a better word is permanent. You can never take it back.

Other quick tips for how to tell him you want a divorce:

1. Try not to yell at each other during the conversation.


2. Try to listen when he is talking. Don’t talk over him. Let him finish before you rebut.


3. State your reasons for wanting the divorce clearly. In other words, don’t go off on a rant about what a bad person he is.

4. Don’t share what your friends or family thinks. I.e. All my friends think we are a really bad couple and shouldn’t be together.


5. If you have met someone or cheated, think carefully about if or how you are going to talk about that.

I’m. not judging, just saying that as bad as the marriage might seem to you, your spouse is going to be crushed, no matter what. Even if your spouse realizes that divorce is the best thing, he/she will still be shocked and devastated by hearing you cheated. So, be compassionate about that.

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6. Do not have the talk while the kids are around.

Maybe ask a friend or family member to have them over so you can talk freely.  Or, if they are asleep that might work.


7. Talk about how you are going to act in front of the kids the next morning and agree that you are not going to talk about it in front of them.


8. Be gentle, be kind, be caring.

Take the high road whenever possible. How he reacts is HIS choice. You can control how you act.

Like this article? Check out, “Honey I want a Divorce: When the Woman decides to Leave”


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    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at: DivorcedGirlSmiling.com

    One Response to “I Want a Divorce: How Do I Tell Him?”

    1. Aron Antonucci

      This article is really helpful for those who wants to get rid out of their relationship.
      Basically it is one of the hardest steps a person take in his life. So, you need to be very careful about this. And I must say that this article includes almost everything a man or woman can start with to finalize a relationship with his/her partner.


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