Telling your spouse

If your mind is made up
If all else has failed and your decision is made, you should take great care in how you proceed. You may have been thinking about this decision for a very long time. You may even think that you both believe that the marriage is over. Be careful. This could still come as a complete shock to your partner and the way you communicate this decision will pave the way for future discussion during the separation or divorce process. Have you planned ahead? Are you acting in a responsible way? Have you considered temporary arrangements for yourself and your family during this painful time? Perhaps it would be a good idea to read through the following articles relating to the emotional stages of divorce. Try to understand these feelings as you may well both experience some, if not all of them, at different times and for some time to come.

Choose a time carefully
It is important to pick a time when you will not be disturbed and especially important to arrange for the children to spend some time with a close relative or friend. Try not to announce your decision when this coincides with another important event in your family or when your partner is ill or caring for someone close. This would inevitably add more stress and disable coping mechanisms. Rehearse this to yourself.

Try to speak slowly and calmly.
You will probably need to quietly repeat your decision to your partner several times. It may not sink in. Shock could take over. Despite what you may think, honesty could perhaps be the best advice. If you have found someone else, perhaps you should say so. You may not think this but this could help the healing process. This is not the time for recriminations and anything said in anger could jeopardise any future discussions. The worst thing to do is to leave a letter or a phone message and disappear unless you fear for your own or your children's safety. A solicitor's letter announcing this news is both cruel and unnecessary at this stage.

Agree about telling the children
Perhaps you could remain until your partner is calmer and understands the situation. Do you have a close friend or relative that could come and stay? Try to agree on immediate concerns about the family's welfare and most importantly agree about telling the children together. (See Parents' section). It would be helpful and kind if you were to leave a contact phone number and address (It could be better all round if you could stay with a friend or family member in the short term).

Counselling may still help
Counselling could be a great support and this could be suggested at this stage. If you could arrange to meet up soon to discuss arrangements, this could be beneficial. This is just a way to discuss the end of the marriage and make arrangements. Unless you are specifically advised to start legal proceedings at this stage, it may be better not to. When emotions are running high, legal letters could just add to the distress. But if you are on the receiving end of legal action, make sure that you consult a family law solicitor and do not sign anything without this legal advice. Refer to our Legal section.

Man is Dear to Man
Man is dear to man: the poorest poor
Long for some moments in a weary life
When they can know and feel that they have been
Themselves the fathers and the givers-out
Of some small blessings; have been kind to such
As needed kindness, for the single cause
That we have all of us one common heart.
William Wordsworth

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