Divorce is easily one of the most stressful experiences a person could face in their lifetime. And that stress usually begins long before the divorce process starts.

For example, the first conversation about getting a divorce is undoubtedly stressful. Taking that first step can be intimidating, but here are some tips for individuals to consider when telling their spouse they want a divorce.

First: Does your spouse know your feelings?

Many people report feeling blindsided or shocked when their spouse told them they wanted a divorce. So, it is helpful for individuals to voice their feelings and concerns to their spouse prior to deciding that a divorce is the best option.

Having an open and honest discussion about one’s emotions could lead to both spouses addressing issues in the marriage and perhaps even working together to repair the relationship.

However, if repairing the relationship is not a possibility, it is still critical to discuss one’s emotions before seeking a divorce.

Decide what you want to say

Approaching the topic of divorce is no easy task. Once someone determines that they want to move forward with a divorce, they should:

  • Describe their feelings about the current relationship
  • List their specific reasons for wanting a divorce
  • Outline “I” statements that explain these issues
  • Avoid discussing specific details at first, such as child custody

Once individuals have what they want to say, it is helpful to practice. Practicing can help individuals feel more confident during the real thing.

Choose the proper time and location

The next step is to determine when and where to have the conversation. It is beneficial to:

  • Find a private place without risk of interruption
  • Choose a time when neither spouse is busy or stressed
  • Ensure that both spouses can have space and time to process after the conversation

Every couple’s situation is different. So, the time and location that works best for this conversation will vary.

Keep a civil tone

It is critical to avoid sounding accusatory or aggressive. Maintaining a sensitive and polite demeanor can help mediate any angry or adverse reactions.

However, there is no way to predict how the other spouse will react to this conversation. It is a very emotional decision that has a very emotional reaction. Individuals should make sure they take both their emotions–as well as their spouse’s–into account during this first conversation about divorce.