If you’ve done all the right things in making the decision to divorce — talking to a therapist, clergy, or close friend; researching and educating yourself on the rules and proper steps to take depending on the state where you live; consulting with an attorney — and know in your heart your marriage is over, then you have two scenarios before you, depending on whether or not your spouse is aware of your unhappiness and that your marriage is struggling.
Some of you may be thinking, “How could they not know how miserable I am?” Truth is, if your unhappiness and preparations have been churning behind the scenes, they may not know. Sometimes silence signals everything is okay to others. Even when communication has broken down between you, and is perhaps one of the reasons you want a divorce, it may not have clearly signaled to your partner that your relationship is over. It’s a known fact that men and women think and react differently. Your spouse may be clueless.
If you and your spouse have gone to marriage counseling or have had discussions about divorce in the past, you probably are at the same point (or close to it) in the relationship. In this case, asking for a divorce won’t be a complete surprise. But when your spouse is unaware of your progression toward divorce and your decision that you want one, then it becomes even more difficult.
In her article for divorce360.com, “Mental Health: The Dos, Don’ts of Telling Your Spouse You Want a Divorce,” Susan Pease Gadoua’s writes, “…if your spouse has no idea, you will likely blindside him or her and that can be devastating. It may also result in a much more difficult transition for both because your spouse will be experiencing the early stages of grief — denial and anger — while you are not only accepting that the marriage isn’t working, but also ready and eager to move on with your life.”
The number one rule on Gadoua’s list is don’t blindside your spouse. Ms. Gadoua discusses how important timing is when it comes time to tell them you want to end your marriage. Be clear about how you feel, be honest and as kind as possible, and avoid blaming and shaming.
Ms. Gadoua stresses that when you go down this road, be serious. “Never use the ’D‘ word as an idle threat — that’s manipulative and cruel — and don’t blurt it out in the heat of an argument no matter how tempting it may be.”
Yes, telling a partner who you once loved and cherished that you want to split is difficult. Doing so out of anger or spite will make matters worse. If you have children and must work together as co-parents, you must keep their welfare in mind at all times. Finding an amicable way to call it quits as husband and wife will help you both tremendously as you continue your roles as parents.
So, you’ve made your decision, but are you ready for divorce? In an article by Bruce Derman and Wendy Gregson on mediate.com, “Are You Really Ready for Divorce? The 8 Questions You Need to Ask,” it’s clear that many couples start the divorce process when they are not really ready to divorce and often not on the same page when they do. “The decision to obtain a divorce is one of the most crucial decisions a person can make with consequences that last for years or a lifetime. A decision this important requires much greater attention than it is usually given by both couples and professionals. It is a process in and of itself. Once a couple is prepared and ready, they will sooner be able to begin their divorce by both being on the same page and this will eliminate most of the emotional and financial struggles that cause divorces to become adversarial and ruthless.”
Walking into any difficult situation prepared and ready is always best. When it comes to divorce, quicker isn’t always better. Yet often, it’s the knee-jerk reaction. You might think getting past this part quickly and away from the stress associated with the process of divorce, means the sooner your life will get back to normal. But divorce is life-changing, so rushing through it and possibly making bad decisions along the way doesn’t make for a happy ending.
Understand that divorce is divided into three basic elements that must be addressed: legal, financial and emotional. Choosing divorce without having a firm understanding of these elements and how they will affect the final outcome may leave you with a settlement that isn’t what you need to make a healthy and sensible transition back into single life.
It takes a lot of hard work to sort through the marital finances, time to go through the grief cycle and reach a point where you can make decisions clearly and without emotion. Not to mention patience to traverse the legal aspects to protect yourself and make sound decisions that will affect the rest of your life and possibly your children’s. You may need the aid of professionals such as mediators, financial services, therapist/counselors, and attorneys. Remember, you don’t need to take this journey alone.