How to End a Marriage to a Good Guy

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Divorce, under any circumstance, is hard, but it can be extremely difficult to ask for a divorce if your husband is generally a “good guy.” Your husband doesn’t deserve to have his heart broken, but if you know the marriage needs to end, it's important to gather the courage to follow through with the decision.

Overcoming Guilt

When ending your marriage to a good guy, guilt can be an emotion that can haunt you. Your husband may have qualities that others wish they could have in a husband, which may make you feel guilty for not being as happy as you think you should be. In her book, “Conscious Divorce: Ending a Marriage with Integrity,” Susan Allison says to remember that it is not completely your fault that the marriage didn’t work out. Whether you’re unhappy or out of love, a relationship takes two, and relationship problems usually involve other factors.

Overcoming Fear

Many fears can get in the way of ending your marriage to your nice husband. Even though you’ve decided it’s time to separate, you will likely face the fear of being alone. Thoughts like, “What if I never find a man as good as him?” may enter your mind. This is not an uncommon fear among divorcees, but being alone doesn’t mean you will be lonely. View being single as a time to reflect and learn more about yourself. You may also fear judgment from friends and family about your decision to leave your husband. If you’ve already made up your mind to end the marriage, Allison advises not to tell anyone you think will be judgmental. For now, don’t ask for advice or speak to too many people about your situation. Remember that it is your life, your decision, and it is unrealistic to think you should seek approval from anybody.

Plan the Talk

Plan out how you will talk to your husband about ending the marriage. Be sensitive about the time and place that you discuss it. Choose a private place that is comfortable for the both of you. If you are blindsiding him, you may want to suggest a trial separation before you ask for a divorce. This can soften the blow and can give you some time to yourself before you finalize the decision. After you announce that you want to end the marriage, leave it at that – for now. Although you will have many more things to discuss about the divorce, don’t engage in any fights about custody or finances, suggests former divorce mediator Sam Margulies, in his “Psychology Today” blog. Take it one discussion at a time and agree on another time to discuss the details.

Communicate Calmly and Honestly

When talking about a stressful, life-changing decision, it can be easy to lose awareness of your body language and forgo listening skills. Even if you’ve already made up your mind about leaving your husband, show him that you still care and value his thoughts by listening to his concerns and feelings. This includes nodding your head and making eye contact with him. To avoid conflict, use “I” statements to say how you feel in the relationship; avoid using “you” statements. Using “I” statements ensures that you are speaking about your own feelings and are not judging or placing the blame on your husband. For example, say to him, “I don’t feel like this marriage is fulfilling for either of us, anymore.“ Allison suggests that you should not be afraid to show vulnerability. It may help him become less defensive if you show him that the situation is rough for you, too.