How To Tell Your Husband You Want A Divorce When He Doesn’t

This might be one of the most difficult conversations of your life.

woman giving bad news to her husband Nikodash / 

Relationships can be complex and fragile. It doesn’t always work out that people who once loved each other stay together until death do they part like they sincerely believed they would.

Sometimes, feelings pass away. Sometimes, people change. Sometimes, spouses simply can’t continue living together.

How can you tell your husband that you want a divorce, when you know he doesn't?

Civil divorce starts with the right words. The first conversation may be the first step to an amicable breakup that can help you save your time, money and energy and maintain a cordial relationship with your future ex-husband. 


There is no one winning recipe for how to tell your husband you want a divorce. It's a tricky conversation, but you can make it less traumatic for both parties if you are ready for it.

RELATED: 3 Things The Smartest Women Learn When They Get Divorced

Step 1 — Get prepared.

Before talking about divorce with your husband, you need to make sure that this decision is the only correct one left. Try to understand what you feel. It can be challenging, but it’s vital. 


Are you unhappy in your marriage, or are you just unhappy with your husband’s recent actions? You should try to remain objective when assessing the situation and control your emotions.

If you still love your spouse and think that breaking news about divorce may change his behavior then you should consider going to a family therapist. Many married couples manage to find the roots of their marital problems and solve them with a specialist’s help.

If you feel that ending the relationship is the only way for you to find happiness again, you should think about how to tell your husband about this decision. 

The divorce process mainly depends on how smoothly your first conversation goes.


RELATED: 11 Struggles Only Newly Divorced Women Understand — That Get Better Over Time

Step 2 — Think about how your husband might react.

Maybe you’ve noticed that your husband is also unhappy in the marriage, or you feel he might understand that your relationship is stuck in a rut. 

In this case, the conversation may go easier because you’re already on the same page and were just afraid to admit it.

Maybe your husband didn’t notice any changes in the marriage. 

Thus, divorce news could come like a bolt from the blue for them. They might be overwhelmed and not ready to continue the conversation at the moment.

He might get angry and demand explanations. By foreseeing this possible reaction, you will be able to build an appropriate strategy for this talk.


The worst-case scenario is if he gets angry enough to turn to physical violence. If you think it’s possible, then you shouldn’t be alone. It is better to talk about your concerns with a close friend or relative and develop a suitable action plan. 

You can also call the domestic violence hotline to seek help and advice.

Step 3 — Prepare your speech and practice it.

Get your thoughts together and plan what you want to say in advance. It will help you feel more confident, express yourself clearly, and continue the conversation, regardless of your emotional state.

You should be prepared to explain your decision. Thus, you need to make things as clear as a bell for yourself first. Your arguments should be well-articulated and reflect your real life. 


With this conversation, you need to help your husband understand why you decided to get divorced and that this decision is irrevocable.

Additionally, you can practice your speech in front of a mirror or share your thoughts with someone close.

If you need professional help, you may want to visit a psychologist or family counselor.

RELATED: I Got Divorced After 30 Years Of Marriage And I Wish My Friends Understood These 9 Things

Step 4 — Find a private place and choose the right time.

Your conversation should take place in a calm atmosphere. Try to find a quiet place where no one will disturb you. Turn off your phones and other devices that might distract you. 


If you have children, choose a time when they are not at home. Learning such news without any prior psychological preparation could be traumatic for them.

Remember, if you're scared of your husband’s aggressive reaction, it is better to talk to him in the presence of other people. 

You can also do it in a public place, for example - a small cozy coffee shop with a relaxing atmosphere.

3 tips for talking to your husband

When it comes to the conversation itself, it’s crucial not to avoid it. After realizing how divorce will change someone’s life, a person might seek reasons to postpone the talk. 

If your lack of confidence in your own decision is one of those reasons, perhaps you should share your doubts with your husband and try to resolve the issue together.


If you are one hundred percent sure about divorce, you shouldn’t delay the inevitable. Calm down and follow our tips.

RELATED: The 10 Emotional Stages Of Divorce (So You Can Know When You're Finally Done)

Tip 1 — Be calm and kind.

Try not to lose your temper. It might be hard, but it’s crucial for maintaining a good relationship in the future. 

Be polite, and don’t turn on your caps lock voice. Talk about your decision calmly and clearly, looking your husband in the eyes.

Be kind and sensitive. If the situation was the opposite and your husband wanted a divorce, how would you like to hear it?

The tone of the conversation will set the tone for the divorce proceedings.


Tip 2 — Listen to your husband’s point of view.

Hear your husband out. He has the right to ask you why you want a divorce and say what he thinks about it

He may get emotional and point blame at you. You shouldn’t play that game.

Just listen and let him know that your decision is final and his words will not change anything.

RELATED: 5 Stages Of Grief During Divorce That Are More Than Just Sadness

Tip 3 — Be ready to insist.

If your husband disagrees with your decision to get divorced, then the slightest doubt, or even your trembling voice, can give him false hope. 

He may begin to persuade you to change your mind, suggesting some compromises. If you are serious about ending your marriage, then you need to find the inner strength to defend your decision.


We can’t tell you what exactly to say during this conversation because it’s up to each person. However, you should voice several points to help your husband understand the situation better. 

You may want to say:

  • I thought it over, and my decision is final.
  • I want to end this marriage in a civilized way so that each party’s interests, including yours, are met.
  • We shouldn’t blame anyone for ruining our marriage. 
  • We need to discuss all issues related to our divorce to make it uncontested and avoid lengthy court battles.

RELATED: 4 Tell-Tale Signs Marriage Therapists Use To Predict Divorce


What comes next

Your next actions depend on how the first conversation with your husband goes. Your spouse may need to think about everything you said. 

In this case, you should give him time to reflect on what he heard and plan the next meeting. If you see that your husband is ready to continue communication at the moment, you can discuss how to tell your children about the divorce (if you have them) or talk about the divorce process.

An uncontested divorce is one of the easiest ways to end a marriage. However, it only works if spouses have no disputes regarding marital issues. 

Thus, both sides should come to an agreement on the property division, custody, child support, alimony, etc. 


Most likely, you won’t manage to solve all the issues during this first conversation, but you can at least initiate the dialogue.

How to tell your husband you want a divorce is a purely personal question.

Preparing for this dialogue in advance can make it more comfortable for both parties. Moreover, a calm and honest conversation may set the stage for the divorce process.

Former spouses don’t always succeed in maintaining good relations after a divorce. Sometimes the problem lies in how it started. I hope that my advice will help those people who have decided to end their marriage and want to go through the whole process in a civilized way.

However, remember that a decision to get divorced should be well-considered and is worth making only when a person is sure that a breakup is the only remaining solution for an unhappy marriage.


RELATED: 12 Manipulative Mind Games Narcissists Play That You Need To Know About

Natalie Maximets is a life transformation coach with expertise in clinical and existential psychology.