Dear Ask Alina,
I have been unhappy in my marriage for a long time, and I am finally ready to tell my husband that I want a divorce. We have two young children, and I am feeling guilty at the thought of splitting our family. Help me not chicken out and have enough courage to move forward with divorce.
I am sorry to hear about the difficulties in your marriage. Deciding to separate a family is a courageous and scary step to make. In some situations, divorce may be the best option for the parents and children. Staying in an unfulfilled marriage can actually create a more difficult family dynamic. Divorce sometimes brings a more peaceful and positive home environment for the children and the parents. If there is a lot of conflict in your marriage, divorce may reduce the amount of conflict your children are exposed to.
Telling your husband that you want a divorce is a difficult conversation to have, but the conversation does not need to be another conflict if you approach it with empathy and compassion.
Try to avoid raising your decision about the divorce during an argument. Instead, schedule a time when the two of you are guaranteed to be alone without any interruptions. Be honest, straightforward, clear, and concise about your feelings and your decision. Avoid blaming, confrontation, or leaving room for negotiation.
Express your intentions, including your desire to be respectful and loving towards one another and your commitment to co-parenting.
Listen to his feelings and perspective, be attentive, and validate his emotions. Listen actively, without judgment or arguing with his perspective.
Consider working with a therapist to help guide you through the process of separation. A therapist can help you develop strategies for communication and co-parenting that are respectful and compassionate.
Separation and divorce is a process. By approaching your divorce with intention and mindfulness, you can create a positive outcome that is focused on growth, healing and healthy role modeling for your children.
Alina Baugh is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with offices in Alameda and Burlingame. Alina specializes in working with adult individuals and couples around topics of relationships, co-parenting, infertility, and addiction. She also spent over 15 years in Corporate Human Resources and loves working with clients on topics of their career. Submit your questions to [email protected] and visit alinabaugh.com.
Ask Alina is for informational purposes only. This article does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, mental-health professional, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.