For many people, asking their spouse for a divorce is the most difficult conversation they’ll ever have. It’s so intimidating that people put it off over and over again, waiting until the “right” time. The reality is that there is probably no “right” time and waiting for one is an indicator of your own fears and anxiety.
My present guest, RMJ was separated from her husband for two years before she decided to end her marriage. I asked her to share how her husband reacted when she told him of her decision. Here’s RMJ:
He was really controlled and I think for a long time he didn’t even think I meant it. For twelve years of the relationship he was very much used to getting his own way and he was used to me taking the path of least resistance.
He was very controlled when I introduced the idea. There were no outbursts or anything. He was really controlled and didn’t really show much emotion. I think he delayed the way he felt until later.
He was very co-operative and after being co-operative and after a whole bunch of paperwork he tried to talk me out of it in different ways, full of telephone messages to say that is was not what he even wanted, this is totally my decision and he had not been a part of it and this wasn’t what he wanted.
I think he also knew me really well and eventually he knew that I was serious because it was so hard to believe.
Since the divorce, he has visited once and that was last April. We ended up going to church because this was our church, not my church. It was quite interesting because on the one hand I was secretly wondering if he maybe should go somewhere else and then I thought well that’s not really fair. This was his church too. And he wondered about the same thing, but eventually just decided to come along. It was a little bit awkward, but not terribly bad. It’s a small sort of family sized church so we had to contend with some curious stares.
We sat on opposite sides of the church. And ever since that day, one of the topics in discussion at Sunday School is about marriage and so it’s quite interesting. We were both sitting in that same class, but not together.
It’s hard to imagine that a conversation about divorce after a period of separation, would come as a surprise. Living apart, I would expect both partners to have a realistic assessment of the relationship.
I think some of the disbelief on the part of RMJ’s spouse comes from the relative rarity of divorce in their home country of Nigeria. Perhaps he was assuming that they would continue to be married but live apart, just as RMJ described other couples in her church.
I admire RMJ’s courage to end her marriage and to be open about her divorce, not to bow to societal pressures and to be true to her herself. That takes strength and yet at the same time, being true to yourself creates strength.
A period of separation may pave the way for asking for divorce. If you are not separated and you are considering asking your spouse for a divorce, it’s a conversation that needs careful preparation – it’s not something to blurt out in the heat of an argument. If you have any concerns for yours or your children’s safety then seek help before you have the conversation. In the U.S. you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
Are you preparing to tell your spouse you want a divorce? How do you feel about the conversation? What are you doing to prepare?
RMJ blogs at Remembering My Journey were she writes, beautifully about being an African, a Christian and divorced.
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