What to do if they want a divorce

If your spouse drops the D-bomb, it can feel like a slap from a reality that you never really saw coming. Even if things have been strained recently and you can’t remember when you last had sex, the moment they hit you with: ‘We need to talk… I think we should get a divorce,’ you world instantly stops spinning. Your mind goes into overdrive. What the…? First, there’s the shock. Is this really happening to you? Next is the confusion. You can’t believe they said it. You start replaying every argument, every moment of tension, trying to figure out where it all went wrong. And in between is a powerful, overwhelming fear and sadness. A divorce could change everything.

But amidst all the chaos, there are some things you can hold onto, some behaviour changes that will help you manage. There could even be a glimmer of hope. Maybe this is a chance for a fresh shart, a new chapter in your life. Yes, it’s going to be a bumpy ride and you don’t quite know where you’re going to end up, but remember these pointers and you’ll get through it, one step at a time.

Set the right tone: Right from the start, it pays to be respectful. Garner restraint. Summon up every ounce of positivity you can find. Stay flexible and open-minded. Let your partner know that you want to save the marriage but then be patient. Let them come to you. Don’t pressure them into long deep and meaningful conversations.

Don’t argue. This might sound like a no-brainer and yes, it’s easier said than done but don’t take the bait if your spouse tries to provoke you or start a row. Walk away. Nothing good will come from fighting right now.

Fake confidence Granted, you have no idea what your future is going to look like, but for now, you need to make out like it’s going to be fine. Chin up, shoulders back, head held high. The reality is you are going to be OK, however this plays out. I know, right now, you won’t believe that, so pretend. Pretend. Pretend some more and eventually you’ll find your confidence again.

Vent in secret: Think bottom of the garden, the privacy of your car or the shower. It doesn’t matter where, just find a place all to yourself where you can scream, swear, cry as loud as you want. Get it out of your system. Don’t hold that stuff in. But don’t off-load onto your spouse. They’re not a safe outlet for your difficult feelings.

Wise up Educate yourself. Browse the self-help, self-improvement section of your bookshop, google blogs, listen to podcasts. Do what you need to do to get some perspective. Just resist the temptation to share all your new-found wisdom with your spouse, unless, of course they actually ask for it.

Give your partner some space. Don’t monitor them. Turn off ‘find a friend’ on your phone. Don’t question them about their whereabouts or their up-coming schedule. Give them room and take some space for yourself too.

Stay busy. Fight the urge to stay in bed all day. Stick to your routine. Go to work, don’t cancel your plans. In fact, make more plans. You’ve got to keep living. And those plans in the diary that involve your partner, you’re probably going to have to keep some of them too.

Remember self-care basics. Now is the time to double down on looking after yourself. That means eating right, staying clear of too much booze and sleeping well. And if you can, do a bit more than just the basics. Make an effort: wash your hair, smell nice, put make up on. It’ll help you to feel better.

If you’re facing the possibility of divorce, get in touch for some professional, experienced, objective support: anna@kingsleycounselling.com

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