Married couples may not agree on the necessity for their divorce. In fact, it is rare that both simultaneously realize that divorce is the best option for moving forward. Instead, it is usually one spouse who realizes that the marriage is not working. Sometimes, the news blind-sides the other spouse; sometimes, a spouse recognizes some problems to work out and proposes counseling.
Marriage is voluntary
Just as individuals can not force others to love them no matter how hard they try, spouses cannot force the marriage to continue. The resistant may refuse to discuss it, try to bargain, threaten to hurt themselves or others, or even ignore it and pretend that it is not happening. Handling these difficult situations often requires the spouse to nudge their partner towards the idea gently. This involves a process:
- Start by letting them know that you are unhappy and would like to work on the relationship. Perhaps this is enough to repair the marriage.
- Be clear that all viable options for fixing it were explored – some people are incapable of making changes or the necessary repairs.
- Do not propose divorce as a threat during an argument. It is hurtful and can leave deep wounds.
- Follow through with clear and decisive action once making the decision. It makes matters worse to unfairly raise their hopes or offer mixed messages.
- The spouse may have to patiently walk the resistant partner through the reasoning more than once before the realization sinks in.
Formalizing the process
Couples need to work with their lawyers to help ensure that the split is fair and equitable. The tone of the divorce should indicate the type of attorney necessary. For example, an amicable split where parents will actively coparent often uses mediation or collaborative divorce. If the tone is more adversarial, an attorney who handles litigation in court can keep the process moving forward amidst the acrimony.
How couples handle their divorce often creates the template for families to move forward if there are children involved. Divorce also affects family members, friends and can even impact one’s job, so it is vital to remain patient and focused. Accept blame if it is due but stay secure in the knowledge that decision was made for all the right reasons.