How do I tell my husband I want a divorce?


date published

2nd August 2016

written by

Emma Heptonstall Image

date published

2nd August 2016

How Do I tell my husband I want a divorce?

How do I tell my husband I want a divorce? This is one of the most commonly asked questions by ladies who are leaving. Sometimes, telling your husband that you want a divorce can you come out in an argument. It falls out of your mouth because you are exasperated, frustrated angry or a mixture of all three, not to mention a whole host of other emotions. You may immediately feel relieved that its  ‘out there’, but in all likelihood, the fallout from such a statement will make for a messy divorce. That’s why, I advocate taking some time to learn just how to tell your husband that you want a divorce.

So what are the benefits of telling your husband you want a divorce without there being an argument that precipitate s it? Well, obviously you get to stay in control. Telling your husband that you want a divorce when you’re angry is not you being in control. Your emotions are controlling you. You are likely to say things that you may not mean, and even if you do mean them, your rational mind knows that  saying them will inflame the situation.

Your emotions are controlling you

When you are calm and rational, you are better able to get plan together so that you can be clear about what you’re going to say, how are you going to say it, and how are you will respond to what he has to say. Now do you know exactly how he’ll respond? Maybe, maybe not. You know your husband best. Remember, that if you are in an abusive situation, you should consider carefully how, and when you all tell your husband you want a divorce. At the very least, you should consider letting somebody know that you were going to tell him. It might be safest to you, not to tell him, but to remove yourself from the situation and seek legal advice. You may have heard that legal aid isn’t available for divorce. However, legal aid is available for those in an abusive situation. So seek legal advice immediately, and also visit for more information and support.

Creating a plan

Perhaps the idea of creating a plan to leave your husband sounds crazy. But here’s why creating a plan works. When you create plan, you have a framework to work to even when emotionally you’re not in the right place. It means that you don’t have to try and think when thinking is just too difficult. It’s an insurance policy if you like. Creating a plan when you feel calm and rational will help you feel in control both in the moment that you create that plan, and going forward. Your plan is yours. It can contain anything, and I would suggest that you consider communication within that plan. What is it and that you want to say? What is it that you want to achieve? In what ways can you elicit the best response from your husband? What are the things that will push his buttons? Think about all these things and write them down. You now have the beginnings of a communication strategy. In a conversation going really well

Imagine the conversation going really well. Where would you be? What would you be doing? What would you say? Getting clear about this will really help your communication. When you are the best version of you, how does your husband respond? How do you need to be so that he is open and responsive, and is calm and relaxed as he can be? Those are the states that you are looking to elicit from yourself first, and from him second. Now can you guarantee how he will respond? No of course not. But by thinking ahead, you are giving yourself and him the best opportunity for this to happen. 

Imagine the conversation going really well

Create the right environment

Before you initiate the conversation with your husband, create the right environment. Creating the right environment for communication is crucial to its success. Do not overlook this point. Imagine for a moment, you’ve been psyching yourself up all day to tell your husband you want a divorce, you’re absolutely bursting because you can stand it no longer. Your husband comes in from work, he’s tired, irritable and hungry. Perhaps the kids are making noise elsewhere in the house. Because you can’t hold it in any longer, you start to talk to your husband about divorce. Even if it’s something that has been mooted before, just imagine how is going to respond in his current emotional state. Do you imagine the conversations going to go well?


So create the right environment. That could be, that you go for walk together. It could be that you wait until the children to go to bed, the house is tidy and you’re relaxing on sofa. Your husband is an relaxed mood. At this point, you may do nothing more then tell your husband that at some point soon you’d like to have a conversation with him about your marriage. Ask him if now is a good time. If it isn’t, ask him to agree with you when you will talk. Ensure but When you do have that conversation, the children aren’t within earshot. They don’t need to hear this conversation.

Refrain from blame

Playing the blame game never works. Not ever. So, if you want to set yourself time, heartache and money, don’t blame. Even if you feel your husband is to blame. Blaming will only mean that your divorce takes longer and costs you more money. So how do you say what you want to say without blame? It’s actually quite simple. You talk from you, and by that I mean, that you talk from your own point of view. Phrases such as “I think” “I feel” or “in my experience”. Talking from you means that you can never be ‘wrong’. No one else can say that you don’t feel the way that you do, because they aren’t you. It also means but you don’t blame. Starting a sentence with the phrase “when you….” or “it’s your fault that….” is a recipe for communication disaster! It’s likely that your husband will stop listening and start defending. The communication will only go downhill into a row or lead to a stoney silence.

If you need time to respond ask for it

When you listen to what your husband has to say in response, if you need sometime to think about what you’d like to say, ask for it. Don’t just respond. Responding without thinking can sometimes be a mistake. Listen to what your husband has to say, and where appropriate, thank him for his openness and honesty. If that isn’t appropriate, at least validate his point of view. You can do that without necessarily agree with him because remember, his point of view has as much validity as yours.

Phrases such as “I understand” or “thank you for sharing” show him that you have heard what he has to say, it doesn’t mean you agree. If you need some time to think about what he said, tell him that you need sometime and where possible, agree when you’ll continue the conversation. This gives you both certainty and clarity over your situation. Agree that you won’t raise the subject until that agreed to time and date. This will allow you both to be relaxed and to remain calm without the fear of being ambushed emotionally.

Telling your husband that you want a divorce doesn’t have to be difficult. Remember that communication is the responsibility of the speaker, so say what you mean and mean what you say. Above all, keep yourself safe remember to  honour yourself and your point of view, and be open and willing to do the same for your husband. 

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I’m Emma The Divorce Alchemist. I support Ladies who Leave to make smart emotional and financial decisions on divorce. If you don’t have your copy yet, you can download The Smart Woman’s Divorce Guide by completing the box above. Please note, by signing up, you will receive a series of 7 emails over 28 days to accompany the Guide. You will also receive an email from me each Wednesday morning UK time with hints, tips and advice. I sometimes promote my coaching packages too – I’m sure you understand that this is my business :). You may unsubscribe at anytime.


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