Without question, the cruelest way you can tell your spouse you want out of the marriage is to never mention that you are unhappy and then, one day quite out of the blue say, "I'm not happy. I want a divorce."
I call this a "hit and run" way to tell your spouse you want out of the marriage and, in my professional opinion, it is the most hurtful, hateful and heinous way to exit your nuptials. Those on the receiving end of this proclamation would surely agree with me.
A hundred per cent of the people who come to see me after their spouse has dropped this two ton bomb on them have been nothing short of devastated, bleary eyed and incapacitated--often for a long time.
What, when and how you tell your spouse you want a divorce will depend greatly on whether the two of you have had any previous conversations about divorce. Couples who have been mutually unhappy or have had conversations using the "D" word will obviously be less thrown off than those who didn't see it coming.
One woman described the day she was told this way: "My biggest concern that morning as we went to work was what we would be having for dinner that night." She had no idea that her husband was even unhappy, let alone that he was thinking of leaving.
It makes me wonder why so many people take this strategy. What could they be thinking? Or not thinking? Feeling? Or not feeling?
While there are always exceptions to any rule, I have seen five main reasons why "hit and runs" are so prevalent. I've also included rebuttals to these reasons that demonstrate how the leaver actually ends up getting the opposite result intended.
1) Fear: If I tell him I'm unhappy, he will go to pieces and I'll feel guilty
Where's the logic here? Do you not see that if you LEAVE suddenly he will be more likely to go to pieces and you will feel more guilty?
2) Selfishness: I don't care about her feelings. "I just want out!"
Treating someone with this level of disrespect and disregard actually keeps you in longer and stronger because the person you are leaving is in shock and often can't/won't accept the fact that you really mean what you are saying and that you want out.
3) Impatience: I just want to get this over with!
Again, the chances of exiting quickly or gracefully diminish drastically when you give your spouse no warning of your departure. Your spouse, who may be just starting the grief process, will delay the process interminably by having to have their emotions "catch up" to yours.
4) Lack of Courage: I'm a "rip the band-aid off quickly" kind of person because I can't stand to hurt someone
If this person had courage, they would have told their spouse way back when that they were not happy. They would have had the courage to do the work it takes on themselves and on the marriage; the courage to face their problems.
5) Sneakiness: Maybe I can live a double life and he'll never find out
It is often people who have been having an affair who take this tack in leaving their marriage. They have set themselves up with a new life and they are ready to move on.
I'm sure there are other justifications people can come up with as to why they leave this way, but it only serves to make the process take longer, make the separation more difficult, make your spouse more emotional and perhaps even irrational and it is not the way you treat someone you exchanged vows with.