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?
There is a big question that makes it hard to answer, “How do I tell him I want a divorce?” The question is, does your husband know you are this unhappy? In other words, does he have any idea of what could be coming? If not, I don’t think I would come right out and ask for a divorce quite yet.
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 you want the divorce, too, and even if you 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.
My point is, just think very carefully about this, because once you say “I want a divorce,” you have started the battle. 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:
- 1. Try not to yell.
- 2. Try to listen when he is talking.
- 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.
- 5. If you have met someone or cheated, think carefully about if or how you are going to talk about that.
- 6. Do not do it on a night the kids are home or if they are, make sure they are fast asleep.
- 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. How he reacts is HIS choice. You can control how you act.