What do you do when you’ve been bound in a dynamic for so long that you feel exhausted and overwhelmed every time you try to break free from it? Perhaps your partner doesn’t see how truly stuck you feel. Or maybe it’s been so long since you were in a good place with each other you’ve forgotten what it used to feel like.
A lot of couples seek therapy only after the dreaded ‘D-word’ has been mentioned.
Often one partner has begged the other to go to counselling and, if the marriage is salvageable, it’s a far better alternative to going back to the way things were.
When one person in the relationship has finally decided they want a divorce, they’ve already gone through the emotional upheaval and grief that comes with such a decision. Usually, the other person isn’t quite at that stage yet.
When hit with the news the other partner will have a lot of raw emotions and may even frantically think of things they can do to change. In some cases, they might have already known what changes their partner wanted them to make, but never followed through. In other cases, they’re completely oblivious to the changes they were being expected to make.
However it happens, it’s never easy. Here are three guidelines to consider when thinking about asking your partner for a divorce:
Don’t keep your partner in the dark
Your partner has the right to know the facts. You may have expressed your distress and unhappiness with your partner’s behaviour during a fight. But, if you’re really serious about divorce, you need to make that very clear to your partner in a calm and straightforward way. As hard as it might be, the sooner you can let your partner know, the easier it will be for both of you.
Be clear about your position and allow time for your partner to understand
If your partner knows the problems are so serious that you’re contemplating divorce, they have the chance to decide if they’re willing to make changes. You can be very specific about what changes you want to see. It might be that they find a job / stop drinking / go to therapy / stop seeing the other person / connect back into the family. Give them time to think about how much the marriage means to them, and whether they can commit to the changes you need.
Find a time to have the conversation that honours both of you
Finding a time to talk frankly about the divorce will give you greater clarity over your thoughts. The right time isn’t in the middle of a fight, when you’re both exhausted, or when the kids are around. Be very mindful of the fact that even if the door is closed your kids will still be able to hear you yelling at each other. Don’t let them witness the breaking of their family behind closed doors, and in the heat of a fight.
There can be a few tricky situations where discussing divorce can have a negative impact. If you feel intimidated by your partner and are afraid that they are going to hurt you or themselves, then seek professional help and safety immediately.
Similarly, If you feel that your partner will become financially manipulative and do something that will jeopardise the settlement, it’s best to seek legal advice before you do anything.
Finally, if you’ve already made up your mind that you want a divorce, make sure when you have the conversation that you don’t flip back and forth on one hand saying you will try to repair the relationship and on the other saying it’s all too hard. This will only confuse matters and make it harder for both of you down the track.