Ask a Therapist: How to Break the News of Divorce to Your Partner

Breaking the news that you want a divorce is no easy task. No matter where you are now, you once loved (and may still love) this person. You have shared history together. You may have children together and therefore must continue a relationship of sorts. How do you tell your spouse you want a divorce?

We asked our therapist presenters to share their thoughts. Here are their answers.

Celeste L. Simmons, Ph.D. – Wynns Family Psychology

At a time when high energy conflict is not in the “heat of the moment.”




Sharon Sheppard, LMFTAFoundations Family Therapy

The best way to break the news is through a direct conversation. Depending on the circumstances, a mediator, such as a therapist, may help facilitate this very difficult conversation. In today’s world, people are breaking bad news to each other through text and email — this is not an appropriate way to end a relationship.



Steve Cline, MA, LMFT – Foundations Family Therapy

Slowly, calmly, and in the right setting. Just as much as you planned for the perfect spot, rehearsed what you would say and agonized over the details of how you proposed or imagined the proposal would go; so to you should be just as intentional and purposeful in making sure you plan, rehearse and make time for this big announcement.



Dr. Tina LepageLepage Associates Psychological Services

Clearly and compassionately. Remember your truth: you have given this some sincere thought and decide you need a divorce. And also remember that the whole truth of this person and your life with them includes good times and all the things about them that made you decide to marry them in the first place. When you break the news, keep in mind that you have been grieving the impending loss of this marriage for however long you’ve been considering divorce but their grief might just be beginning and start with confusion and anger. They might bounce around to different extremes of emotion and behaviors (anger, denial, promises to change, anger, sadness, etc.). This is normal. Compassionately give them the hard truths they need to really understand and accept this is happening.

Do you want to know more about the various aspects of divorce? Visit our divorce workshop to ask questions of a therapist, a lawyer, and a financial adviser.

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