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Making "I want a divorce" less painful

There are many ways in which the topic of divorce can come up for the first time between a couple. It may be something one of you blurts out in the heat of an argument, or something that you casually suggest when times are difficult. You may play "what-if" when discussing the demise of a friend's marriage, or the concept of divorce may simply be something the two of you understand is inevitable.

Whether the idea of ending your marriage has existed between you for years or your spouse has no idea of your desire to leave, when you are finally ready to take steps to begin the process, it will be a painful conversation. If you have given it every consideration and are at peace with your choice, the next step is to find a way to tell your spouse.

One of the hardest conversations to have

You are not asking for a divorce. As harsh as it may seem, if your decision is made, there is no need to prolong your unhappiness by asking permission, a tactic that may give your spouse the false hope that the marriage can be saved. Those in Illinois who have experienced the pain of hearing the words, "I want a divorce" may agree that this succinct and frank approach is the proverbial ripping off the bandage, sparing your spouse the confusion and anxiety of a drawn-out speech.

Experts offer many other suggestions for keeping as much hurt as possible from the process of declaring your intention to divorce, including the following:

  • Not waiting for the perfect moment; planning instead for a quiet, uninterrupted time to have the conversation
  • Not using the time to revisit old wounds and shortcomings or allowing the conversation to degenerate into an argument
  • Keeping the conversation brief and simple, refocusing it when necessary to the fact that your marriage is unhappy, and you are ready to move forward with your plans to divorce
  • Being prepared with a gentle response to many displays of emotion since you may not be able to predict whether the news will cause your spouse to be sad, angry, hysterical, silent or any other reaction
  • Not using this moment to address any legal issues, such as property division or custody, or to present divorce papers for your spouse to sign
  • Not allowing your spouse to convince you to prolong your unhappy marriage with a trial separation
  • Knowing when to table the discussion and plan to revisit it when emotions have calmed down

You and your spouse will also have to arrive at an agreement about how and when to share the news with your children and other family members. With careful handling of this first step in the divorce procedure, you may set the scene for cooperation throughout the process.

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