Telling your spouse you want a divorce is a hard conversation but sometimes, having a conversation doesn’t happen. Sometimes, people choose to start divorce with a note.
Wendi was married for about 22 years. She has two boys who were aged about 13 and 16 at the time of divorce. She husband left her a note to say he was leaving. After the initial shock, she was relieved. Here’s Wendi:
When he realized I wouldn’t come to him for money and he couldn’t control me, he left a note in the bathroom that he was leaving me and that I would be fired from my job. So, the boys saw the note when I did, which is not the best way to break news of parents separating. Then, we already had plans with friends to go to Disneyland for the weekend and we decided to continue to go.
I was shaking when I saw the note. I couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe it and the boys were so relieved and happy. That was a little weird. I called him from the airport. I couldn’t reach him, so I called his mother who is not a nice person and she said, “Oh yeah,” because I didn’t make dinner for him and I didn’t do this. I had the phone out because she was screaming so loudly and she said, “The boys don’t matter at all, only my son does.” And the boys heard that. On the flipside, it made it easier for them down the road, because they knew where they stood with her.
Later that day I’m walking around Disneyland going on Peter Pan and Wendy’s ride and the kids were just pouring out all of the abuse that happened behind my back, the inappropriate things he’d shown them on the Internet. They were so relieved that we were separating. I was just in shock. They were relieved. Then, I got euphoric, almost like I was on drugs or something. I was so high, that I was afraid that maybe it wouldn’t happen, so that was a good sign it was meant to be.
The next day I’m met my sorority sister and showed her the note. So, I got support right there and I, of course, called people between rides at Disneyland.
It’s weird to be at Disneyland and going through this big emotional shock and then going on some kiddy ride. Looking back, it seems kind of appropriate. But the boys kept telling me, “If we told you any of this, dad said that you would leave us and it would be our fault.”
The Divorce Coach Says
I’ve interviewed other women who have learned of the end of their marriage by a note or even by being served with divorce papers. I’ve also interviewed women who felt the only way they could leave the marriage was to leave a note.
Knowing your marriage is over and figuring out how to end it are two different steps and both need thorough consideration.
I don’t recommend leaving with a note but circumstances may dictate it. The reasons I’ve encountered are fear for personal safety, the need to act quickly, fear of being persuaded to change your mind or being too uncomfortable to have a face-to-face conversation.
Learning that your marriage is over from a note is usually shocking – there’s a finality about it, an abruptness and not having the opportunity for discussion or input, can make it harder to accept the decision. All those reasons may make the subsequent divorce-related negotiations harder and that’s something that has to be weighed when considering how to tell your spouse.
Another aspect to consider is your children. Allowing them to find out about the end of your marriage through a note intended for your spouse, at the same time your spouse learns of your decision, goes against every recommendation for how to tell your children. It’s simply wrong and will likely forever damage your relationship with your children.
In Wendi’s case, clearly the news, even if delivered poorly, came as a relief to the children and Wendi. That is sometimes the case, especially in marriages characterized with high conflict.
Telling your spouse you want a divorce is part of preparing for divorce and I can’t emphasized enough how important these preparations are – my advice is always, “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” This is one of the areas I work on with clients as a divorce coach. Please contact me if you need help.
Wendi Schuller is the author of The Woman’s Holistic Guide to Divorce. Read more about Wendi’s book and follow her blog at her website.
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