Divorce is difficult, but sometimes it’s the best solution for both parties involved. If you’re considering how to ask for a divorce, there are ways to make the conversation easier. Let’s discuss the nine tips to make the conversation go more smoothly.

Tip 1- Don’t Go For Drama

People divorce for many reasons, and even though your spouse may want an explanation that makes sense, divorce does not always work this way. You may try to explain, but your spouse may never approve.

However, there’s no need to look for answers from your soon-to-be ex. They didn’t provide the support you needed. Why would they start providing what you need now? You’re not asking for their approval. You’re asking for a divorce.

Don’t let a spouse who wants to entice you into an argument pull you into an emotionally dysregulated world. Once you’ve decided you want a divorce, you can start letting go of what has passed and instead start focusing on how to improve your future and move forward with hope.

Tip 2- Stay Calm Around Your Soon-to-Be Ex

Instead of aiming to convince your spouse about what needs to happen, calmly let your spouse know that you’d like a divorce. If your spouse can calmly ask “Why,” you can give them reasons.

Discussing what you believe went wrong can be helpful. So can listening to what they think went wrong. However, it’s time to end the conversation if it escalates into hateful jabs or loud accusations. If voices get loud, suggest that you need time to assess what you’ve just discussed.

For example, if you want a divorce because your spouse cheated on you, stick to the facts during the tough conversation. You may want to yell and tell them how you feel hurt. You may want to open your mouth and scream about how much pain they caused you. 

However, you’re not going to find satisfaction by sharing your betrayed feelings with a spouse you’re leaving. At least not now. If you need more closure, you and your ex may consider a new conversation about feelings in a few months or years. Now is not the time to share intense emotions with your soon-to-be ex.

Instead, keep your voice calm and carefully consider your words before speaking with the spouse you intend to divorce. Save the pain and hurt for those who care about you and who will want to understand how you feel.

Tip 3- Step Away From Your Conversation When Needed

If you lose your calm while discussing wanting a divorce, take time to reassess before continuing the conversation. When you’re both angry and upset is not the time to take on separation negotiations about child custody, fair and equitable division of assets, alimony, or any other charged matter.

Instead of stepping into drama with your soon-to-be ex, step out into spaces you may have missed during your marriage. 

Start playing a sport, join a hiking club, or try out for a play. Go out with old friends or call up your favorite cousin. Friends will listen to the gut-wrenching emotions you’re experiencing. Consider going to a counselor or joining a divorce group for more support.

Building ties with others will help you depend less on your spouse for validation and help you move forward more easily.

Tip 4- Leave the Blame & Shame Behind

If you have a habit of trying to wring the most drama out of each situation in your life because you enjoy heightened emotions and digging into what makes others tick, this is not the time.

There is no need to show a soon-to-be ex video evidence or try to make them feel guilty. Hurting your soon-to-be ex with accusations or belittling statements will not help you move forward and will only serve as bitter reminders of why it’s unhealthy to continue sharing your feelings with this person.

Instead of pushing buttons and creating more emotional carnage, try thinking about what you need to say before your conversation begins. Write out a possible script. Your script should consist of statements that start with “I feel,” “I believe,” or “I need.”

Be careful if you hear yourself starting sentences with “You should have…,” “You did…,” or “You didn’t even…”

Escalating disagreements with your soon-to-be ex by pushing their buttons on purpose will not help your negotiations. To create a divorce that works for both of you, refuse to engage in any conversation that turns accusatory, blaming, or shaming.

If you find yourself engaging in this behavior, step away for a bit and find a way to regain your calm.

Tip 5- Don’t Blame and Shame Yourself Either

Also, don’t engage in blaming or shaming behavior toward yourself. Blaming and shaming voices in your head will not help you forgive yourself and move forward into more wholeness and peace.

Overwhelming guilt makes you feel bad. Feeling bad makes you want to engage in troubling behavior even more. It’s the classic addiction cycle.

Instead, speak to yourself lovingly, as you would to a child you dearly love. Talking to yourself in this way can help you find peace about what has happened and become whole again.

Tip 6- Respect Yourself & Your Spouse

When you’re considering how to ask for a divorce, you must consider your spouse also. After all, this may be a difficult conversation for them to hear. However, if you have good reasons for wanting a divorce – and can respectfully communicate those reasons – then it’s likely that you and your spouse can work through your separation issues together. 

Respect your spouse and yourself by refusing to escalate any frustrating comments they may make. Escalating an argument can happen when your spouse says something hurtful, and you shoot right back with equally painful words or actions. 

When conversations go sideways, take an emotional and physical step back instead of engaging in more conversation with your spouse.

Let your attorney deal with legal difficulties and save your complex emotional issues for your counselor or friends.

Tip 7- Look to the Future

Looking to the future means caring for yourself and negotiating with your spouse for your rights. 

For example, consider alternative dispute methods if your soon-to-be ex refuses to fairly negotiate the issues you must settle during your year-long separation. Look at mediation or consider working with your attorney to find the needed common ground.

In divorce, spouses who can take a step back and think about what is fair to both of you create child custody situations that work well for both parties.

You may not want to part with 20% equity of a hunting cabin you built with a friend. However, your soon-to-be ex may not want to give you 20% value of the expensive jewelry they own. However, if children are in the picture, consider creating a civil relationship with your soon-to-be ex by being as kind and accommodating as possible.

Alternatively, perhaps your spouse loves their expensive car while you’ve been content to drive an older model van. Your spouse may not believe they should need to give you more money elsewhere in negotiations so they can keep the car. 

However, if there are children in the mix, it’s no longer just about what is fair to you,  It’s about creating a safe and stable environment for your children also. Even if you don’t have children in the mix, your heart will feel freer to move forward if you treat your soon-to-be ex fairly and honestly.

If you struggle to stay calm and kind, mediation appointments or working with separate attorneys can help you both see what is fair to each other.

Tip 8- Take Care of Yourself

If you’re hurting after your first try at a divorce conversation, know that your feelings are normal. Keep yourself safe by spending time with friends or seeing a counselor.

If things get too hard to handle, you feel guilty and lost, you can’t breathe, or you have a panic attack, call or text 988 to talk with the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, or visit The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline to chat online or find more resources to help.

Your spouse may struggle emotionally, also. So if you’re worried about their well-being, tell them about 988, so they can stay emotionally okay too.


There are situations where you may feel rightly terrified to have a divorce conversation with a spouse. You may feel in fear of violence or threats toward you or your household.

An abusive home is not the place to request a divorce. You may want to consider a restraining order before considering divorce. 

A Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) can often ensure you and any children in your household have a place to live and a vehicle to drive in addition to other protections!! They can also force your abusive spouse to give up any firearms or permits to own guns.

If your spouse scares you or has made any threats, hurt you, children, or pets in any way, or harasses you or your household, call us at Plekan Law. We can help you file a restraining order or an emergency restraining order. We can help you understand what the law in North Carolina can do to protect you while filing the necessary papers to break free. 

If you feel afraid, you most likely have good reason to feel that way. Countless women who’ve been through this wish they had trusted their gut in a violent situation.

Don’t listen to inner voices telling you you’re being silly or the abuse is not that bad. These are lies you tell yourself because change is hard! And admitting the reality of your situation now is also hard! 

But no matter how hard it is, you owe it to yourself to trust your gut and STOP before starting a conversation that can escalate violence with an already abusive spouse. 

For more resources to handle an abusive spousal situation before discussing divorce, call the National Domestic Violence hotline, chat with them live, or visit the National Domestic Violence site to learn more about domestic violence. 

You can also contact a North Carolina nonprofit, the NCADV, for resources and help.

We Can Help

If you need help starting a divorce conversation or want to understand more about the divorce process before you talk with your spouse, give us a call at Plekan Law. We are here for you whether your spouse agrees to a divorce or not. You get to make that decision, and we will help you navigate this difficult and complex time in your life. 

Talk with our experienced family law & divorce attorneys to get started moving forward. We hope to hear from you and get a chance to help protect your legal rights.

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