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How to Handle Your Spouse Wanting a Divorce

by Karen Kleinschmidt, studioD

You and your spouse might be at each other's throats, or perhaps you barely speak to each other at all, yet you are completely taken by surprise with the fact that your significant other actually wants to file for divorce. You likely feel helpless and out-of-control as the person you have spent a large part of your life with has made this momentous decision without your input. You may have difficulty clearly seeing the problems in your marriage due to the intense pain you feel from your partner's decision, according to Bruce Derman, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, and Wendy Gregson, LMFT, in a "Mediate.com" article.

Avoid Punching the Clock

Take your time as you will likely be overwhelmed with emotions after the initial shock wears off. Rather than jumping in head first, accept the fact that your spouse wants a divorce, assert that you need time to allow this to sink in and sort the situation out for yourself. Be prepared for pressure; your spouse will likely want to get it over with as soon as possible with the illusion that your lives can return to normal the quicker you get the divorce over with, according to Derman and Gregson.

Emotional Roller Coaster

While it is important to acknowledge what you are feeling and thinking, finding a trusted friend, therapist or family member to talk to can help. Pouring all of your frustrations, anger and hurt onto the person who is causing you pain will likely prevent you from seeing the situation clearly. It is a normal reaction to want to talk your significant other out of the decision to get a divorce, to feel anxious and fearful regarding family time and finances, and to want to vent all of your rage and sadness as you acknowledge that this is the end, according to Sam Margulies, lawyer and mediator, in the "Psychology Today" article "Tell Your Spouse You Want a Divorce."

Accept What You Cannot Change

Divorce is generally difficult for both partners; the spouse wanting the divorce may feel guilty while the spouse the divorce is imposed on may feel betrayed. Spouses may come from a position of strength or one filled with resentment. Finding the ability to deal with your emotions, collaborate effectively with your spouse and effectively negotiate and compromise can go a long way towards a smoother transition as you begin to lead separate lives, according to Derman and Gregson.

Happily Ever After

After giving it careful consideration, venting your emotions and finding the ability to have amicable conversations, you may be able to find peace with your spouse's decision and move forward with the divorce proceedings, according to Wendy Paris, author of "The New York Times" article "Happily Ever, After We Split." At this point, your friends and family might be asking you if you are sure you want to end it rather than working things through together. Your soon to be ex and you can move forward together with the knowledge that you gave it your all and that you will not engage in blaming each other, according to Margulies.

About the Author

Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since 2007. Her short stories and articles have appeared in "Grandma's Choice," "Treasure Box" and "Simple Joy." She has worked with children with ADHD, sensory issues and behavioral problems, as well as adults with chronic mental illness. Kleinschmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Montclair State University.

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