Help! My husband wants a Divorce


date published

3rd January 2015

written by

Emma Heptonstall Image

date published

3rd January 2015

Happy New Year Darling….. I want a Divorce 

Did you have a  great Christmas?

Are you sick of people asking you that?

Happy New Year! Ugh even worse.

You’re thinking “No it flippin’ well wasn’t” and  frankly you think it’s not going to be a great New Year either.

Your Christmas gift from your husband was the request of a divorce.

You know deep down that your marriage isn’t what it should be, but divorce, wow that’s a curved ball you were not expecting.

You are shocked, not really sure what you should do now. You’re thinking Help! My husband wants a divorce.

You haven’t told a soul yet. Not your best friend, not your mum.

You need to get your head round this. You need some independent, not judgemental advice.

Perhaps you’ve been the ‘go to’ person when your friends have faced an emotional crisis. You’re the strong one. Supportive, comforting, level-headed and practical.

You always know what to do. 

Until now. Now you’re all over the place.

You’ve no idea what to do and what to think. Your mind is racing.

This article will help you take stock, recognise that how you are feeling is completely normal.

The emotional roller coaster that you feel, from shock, upset, anger despair and back to shock again are all completely normal.

It will help you begin to recognise where you are at and what you need to do now.

What to do when your husband wants a divorce


1. Initially do nothing

That’s right, you did read that right. Do Nothing. Your mum and your best friend may tell you that you need to see a lawyer immediately or tell you to beg your husband to seek relationship counselling. Chances are, if you do either of these things now, you are just reacting to the situation. This is normal, and, it’s not the best place from which to take to take considered action. Doing nothing gives you time to think. It gives you time to reflect.

2. Be honest with yourself

In my article 5 Signs you are ready for Divorce, I wrote about the importance of being honest with yourself. The thoughts I shared there apply even if getting divorced is not your idea. 

In that article I shared that emotionally happy relationships don’t end. One person wants a divorce because they are unhappy. They are not getting their needs met.

Before you take any action, you will benefit from taking some time to think about what you want from your marriage. Is it meeting the hopes and expectations you had when you got married? Perhaps your hopes and expectations changed over time, as your life changed; as you became a mother or your career took off. Are the expectations you have now being met?

This can be a challenging thing to do. Here’s a suggestion on how to look at this in a gentle way. 

 Gentle nudge: you need to be willing to accept the things you uncover by doing this exercise. 


Grab yourself some paper and a pen. Perhaps you, like me, have a favourite notebook and pen. If you have, use these. Find some time when you wont be disturbed. You may need a box of tissues. That’s fine. Get what you need to feel comfortable. A warm drink may help.

Leave. The. Wine. Alone!

I know its tempting to do this with a bottle of wine but this is about you and what you really want. You deserve to give yourself the opportunity to be open and honest with yourself. Remember, this is your list. No one else will read it unless you want them to.


Deep breath.

  • Take your paper or notebook.
  • Draw a line down the centre of the page.
  • On one half, write down the expectations you have in your marriage. Just write these down. It’s important that you just write. There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers.
  • Remember, you are entitled to want whatever you want in your marriage.
  • Resist the urge to censor your thoughts. Doing this means that you are not being honest with yourself. It could be “I want to be really listened to by my husband” “I want to feel supported by my husband” “I want to feel loved by my husband” “I want an intimate connection with my husband” “I want to enjoy spending time with my husband doing a sporting activity”. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. It’s whats important for you. Your values. I’ll be talking about the importance of your values in a future blog post so keep an eye out for that.

Done that? Great!


Now, taking that list, on the other half of the paper answer this question:

Am I getting these needs met from my marriage? Go on be honest. You deserve it.


Well done.

You’ve taken the first steps to being honest about your marriage. It’s very likely that if you’re still reading this, you recognise that as painful as it is, your marriage isn’t working for you either.

3. Remember, you can’t mind read your husband

Now you know what isn’t working for you, you’ll probably be open to accepting that your husband also has expectations of marriage. You’ll also recognise that it’s likely that for him, his needs and values are not being honoured in your marriage, given that he wants a divorce.

This is not about blame. It’s not that either of you did anything wrong. Sometimes it is just the way that it is.

Remember, you can’t mind read your husband. Even if you think you know him really well. Even if you’ve been married forever. You can’t read his mind. This is particularly true if you are genuinely shocked that he wants a divorce.

You don’t know what he’s thinking until

a) He tells you


b) You ask him

Remember also that your husband is a guy. Yeah great Emma state the obvious, why don’t you. By that, I mean this:

Your husband is a guy. He communicates differently to you. This is important, so listen up ladies. He communicates differently to you. When you ask him a question about why he wants a divorce, it’s more likely than not that he’s going to tell the truth. He isn’t going to do what we ladies do; there wont he a sub text. He wont dress it up. Men just aren’t that sophisticated.

I’m not talking here about the man who hasn’t asked for a divorce. The man who is lying and cheating. That’s different. A man who wants a divorce will be honest with you. The biggest gift you can give yourself is to listen.

4. Ask yourself “Is there a marriage to save”?

Only you and your husband can make this decision. Marriage means different things to different people. A one size fits all approach doesn’t work. Some couples are happy as friends who live together without intimacy. Some couples see physical intimacy as key to their relationship. There’s a whole host of other combinations between these two positions.

The thing is, in order for the marriage to work, you need to have similar values. Be coming from the same place in respect of what marriage is to you. If you don’t meet somewhere, you are two people  sharing the same house.

Once you know what you want and what your husband wants, you can discuss if there is a marriage to save. This is important. Here’s why;

If you can communicate your wants and needs, you can look at whether you both want to make it work.

Both of you need to be willing to do this. In my article 5 Signs you are ready for Divorce, I shared that if you aren’t willing to do things differently, your probably ready for divorce. This is equally true when its your husband who wants a divorce. 

If you and your husband both feel that there is a marriage to save, there’s plenty of helping advice you can get to support you with this. It’s about the communication that you’ve started. That communication is key to getting your marriage back on track.

5. Begin to accept that your marriage is over.

When you’ve been really honest with yourself and either you, or your husband is clear that your marriage is over. It’s over. What you can do now is begin  accepting that fact. It’s not going to be easy. Sometimes it will be hard and painful. Accept this fact as well. Accepting this means that you can be kind with yourself and recognise that there are some days that will be harder than others. It’s normal.

6. Follow these steps in order before you do anything

When your husband asks you for a divorce it often feels like a bolt from the blue. You feel shocked. The truth is, if you look, and I mean really look, its likely that the signs were there. You just didn’t acknowledge them.

By following these steps, you get to look at you first. What it is you really want out of your marriage. You get to look at what isn’t working for you. You get to consider your husband’s point of view. You might the opportunity to work on your marriage, if you are both willing. If that’s not possible, you get to move towards acceptance, recognising that there were things in your marriage that weren’t working. This acceptance takes some of the heat and emotion out of your divorce, allowing you space to make good decisions about your divorce that will need to be made in due course. I’ll be sharing more about the decisions you need to make and how to make them in future blogs.

Sometimes it can be really confusing and scary just taking those first steps to think about  divorce. Divorce coaching can help you get clear on whether divorce is right for you now. It can also support you through the process if you decide that’s going to happen. If you’d like a free 30 minute confidential chat, you can email me to arrange a time that’s good for you at

Perhaps you are already clear that you are ready for divorce. Downloading my free e-book The smart woman’s Divorce Guide  – How to get control of your divorce before it gets control of you will help you get clear about what practical steps you need to take to manage your divorce.

 I’m Emma The Divorce Alchemist, I support women like you to transform their experience of divorce through coaching. You can  get to know me better here.

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