Chances are, when you got married, you and your husband were both equally excited to start your new life together. Unfortunately, when it comes to ending a marriage, the situation isn't always so balanced.
Many women call us and say, "My husband doesn't want a divorce. What can I do?"
If you want a divorce but your husband doesn't, it can be incredibly frustrating. But before you resort to paying an attorney to light a proverbial fire under your spouse (which will undoubtedly set a confrontational tone for the rest of the proceedings), consider the following five tips for divorcing a reluctant spouse.
Hopefully, they will help save you time, money and your sanity during the divorce process.
Enlist the help of a professional.
First thing's first. Divorce is stressful and can trigger a whirlwind of intense emotions -- for both of you.
An individual or couple's counselor or professional divorce coach can help you explore the reasons you're considering divorce and determine whether there is still work that can be done on the marriage and help you process your emotions constructively. If your husband is willing to join you in counseling, it can create a safe space for both of you to share your feelings.
Dr. Pamela Brand, a licensed marriage and family therapist practicing in Chicago for more than 30 years, offers this advice to individuals who want a divorce but whose spouse does not:
"I typically encourage individuals to approach their spouse with the greatest compassion and to recognize the likelihood that they might be faced with a period of resistance, anger, and emotional escalation. It is important that the spouse who is announcing the decision to divorce present this in a way that conveys the process of thought and consideration that went into making the decision. The spouse who wants the divorce may also want to recognize and validate the hurt and pain that this poses for their spouse and offer to listen to what kinds of things may be helpful to their spouse during the initial adjustment period."
Open the lines of communication.
The goal is to start a dialogue and discuss the situation as openly and honestly as possible. Often just talking it over candidly can help a reluctant spouse begin to accept the reality of the situation.
If you're not sure just how to approach the topic, here are a few more tips on how to ask your spouse for a divorce. Whatever you do, don't wall off your soon-to-be ex. It will only make them feel isolated and defensive.
Give it time.
When it comes to divorcing a reluctant husband, it's important to remember that you've probably already had plenty of time to deal with the idea of your marriage ending.
If your husband doesn't want to divorce, he may be resisting due to the fact that your news came as a shock he wasn't quite expecting -- even if he knows that the marriage has been off track for quite some time.
It can take some time for him to emotionally prepare for divorce. Once you've told your husband that you want a divorce, step back and give him some time to process his emotions and come to grips with the news.
Learn your options.
When the time is right, you'll want to have a conversation about which divorce method to use.
If you're frustrated because your husband doesn't want a divorce, you may be tempted to hire a lawyer to force their hand and get the process underway.
But this can backfire and may not be the best way to proceed. If your goal is to get through the divorce process as peacefully as possible, take the time to learn about all five of the available options for divorce first.
This way, you can choose the divorce method that is most appropriate for your particular situation.