In a divorce, it is a common scenario when one spouse wants to end the relationship while the other wants to save it. The reasons may vary, but perhaps among the most cited ones is that the involved parties have allowed the relationship to drift apart. Coping when your spouse wants a divorce may seem impossible.
This decision will not come out of the blue. It will often build up for months, even years, until it reaches the point when one spouse is no longer interested in fixing the marriage. To the other spouse, it can feel like a shock or betrayal – even when you see it coming. When you leave feelings of discontent ignored, it can reach the point when the damage is too big to fix.
Here’s how to respond when your spouse starts talking about divorce.
Trying to determine if divorce is the right decision is one of the biggest struggles that married people go through. Even the ones who initiate the divorce go through the same struggle of coping. It is important to reflect on a few things.
One of the things you need to reflect on is if you are still keen to save the marriage. Just because you are devastated that your spouse wants to divorce you, it does not always mean that you want to stay with them. In some cases, the reality of actually going through the divorce is what hurts the most. You might want to sit down and talk with your spouse about this. If you have not communicated well before, this is the stage when you need it most.
Marriage is a process that involves two people. One cannot make the decision on their own. It is also difficult to save your marriage when the other person has lost interest. But you must come to a decision: save the marriage or push through with the divorce. There is no in-between. You can only choose one of two options.
What You Should Do
Coping in this way, when you are dealt with the news of your spouse wanting a divorce, could save your marriage. Here are some of the things that you should do when this situation arises:
- Face the crisis as your “best self”. You should stay strong and muster up the courage to discuss this in an objective way.
- Do keep your appearance looking good. A lot of married people who are going through divorce end up neglecting themselves, especially in terms of their physical appearance. Take care of yourself. It might seem trivial, but it is good for your mental and emotional well-being.
- Act like you are moving forward with confidence. You need to be confident regardless of whether you end up saving your marriage or not.
- Get advice, Talk with a professional divorce coach or talk with a good friend don’t isolate your thoughts you need to tell someone what you are thinking about, use them as a sounding board. Just make sure that the person is either trained or a really good listener.
- Keep yourself busy. Get involved with your kids in school or other extra-curricular activities. Spend more time with your friends. Do something you love (that you have pushed off because of your marriage). Travel, if you find joy in it. Basically, don’t let yourself brood.
- Do give your spouse the space they need! In some cases, spouses who ask for a divorce only need a momentary separation. Give them this opportunity to clear their head and evaluate their decision. Do not try to manipulate their decision to work in your favor.
- Avoid arguments. You can engage in a healthy conversation about your marriage and where you want to take your relationship.
What You Should Not Do
If you find yourself with a spouse who wants a divorce, there are certain things that you should not do. Avoid committing these mistakes when you want to save your relationship and keep your spouse from leaving:
- Never plead or beg for your spouse to stay. Even if you might feel the urge to, make sure you resist it. When you do desperate things like beg or make demands, it can be a complete turn off to them. As a result, it will confirm their decision to want to leave you.
- Do not call them excessively. You should avoid harassing them with texts or phone calls as it will make you look needy.
- Avoid pointing out why you need to stay married. This is true when you are trying to highlight the good points about your relationship. It will only irritate them further and won’t help you win their good side.
- Do not get your friends or family to join your campaign to get your spouse to stay. Again, this will make you look desperate. It is important to keep your divorce talks within the marriage. If you do this, it will only upset your spouse even more.
- Do not try to send your spouse flowers or notes. If the damage is done, then it is already there. No amount of affection that you try to show them now can change that. In some cases, they might even feel like they are being bribed to stay.
- Do not spy on your spouse. When a spouse talks about the possibility of divorce, it is normal to become suspicious. But do not engage in unpleasant behavior such as constantly checking on their emails or social media accounts.
- Avoid forcing them to go to marriage counseling or therapy. This process is only beneficial if both parties are willing to go through it. But if they are coerced into it, it won’t bring the results you expect to get.
- Do not overreact or panic. Even when your partner says they want a divorce, it is far from being final. There are several steps that you can take together to help enlighten them about the decision they’re about to make. Instead, look at this as an opportunity to fix something in your marriage. Do not look at it as a final deathblow.
It is normal to feel devastated when your spouse wants to get a divorce. Do not take it against yourself or make things worse by being desperate or vengeful. Try to be the opposite of that. Your goal is to make things work out in your favor. Acting out of anger or impulsiveness is never going to help the situation, or make your spouse want to stay. Make sure to reach out to your friends or a divorce coach.
It might seem unfair to you that you have to be dealt with this card. But you have to realize that whether you decide to pursue a divorce or save the relationship, you should strive for positive changes. If you can get your spouse to reconsider their decision to divorce, then your efforts will not have been in vain. If not, you can pave the way towards becoming a better person post-divorce.
Lilly Parks is a Divorce Angel and part of the dynamic Naked Divorce team. She is committed to helping her clients find the path towards healing and has been providing assistance to those who are going through the difficult trauma of divorce for more than 5 years.