How to tell your spouse you want a divorce

This episode is about holding strong boundaries when telling your spouse that you want a divorce.

I lay out how I work with clients to prepare for this really difficult conversation, how not to allow your spouse to hijack and control the narrative, and how to not take responsibility for things you know aren’t yours, even when your ex insists they are.

Something very specific happens when you set boundaries with people in your life, and usually it’s not that they immediately honor them. Generally speaking, when we set brand new boundaries with people, they don’t like them, and usually they try to test them. This is human nature. If you have kids, you see it every day. As soon as you set a boundary with your kids, they’ll immediately try to test it. It doesn’t matter if they’re 2 or 12… and the same goes for adults, whether it’s your parents or your partner, as soon as you set a boundary, they’re gonna push against it. Do you really mean it? Are you fucking serious? If I push a little bit harder, will this hold?

When we’re working on shifting dynamics in our marriages, it’s exactly the same. Especially if you’re trying to end your marriage. Telling your spouse that you want to leave is setting one of the biggest boundaries there is, and the likelihood is that they’re not going to just say, “Oh, ok, cool. That makes sense.”

No. You’re going to have to be fully prepared for what happens next. It could be rage. It could be begging or crying. And then rage. You can count on all the stages of grief coming after you drop the bomb, which would be completely natural, of course. Whether your spouse knows this is coming or not, even if you’ve been expressing your unhappiness for months or years, the moment you finally say, “No. Enough, I’m done,” everything changes. And if you’re the one doing the “telling” if you’re the one making the decision, you should be prepared to hold space for whatever comes next in the conversation, and a lot of that is going to be about setting — and holding — your boundaries.

Kate Anthony

Kate Anthony, CPCC is a certified life coach who specializes in co-parenting, separation and divorce. Kate's expertise lies in the areas of parenting, supporting children through divorce, creating co-parenting plans, and helping couples create a healthy split that keeps children at the center, not in the middle.