Chances are, when you got married, you and your husband were both equally excited to start your new life together. Unfortunately, when it comes to ending a marriage, the situation isn't always so balanced.
Many women call us and say, "My husband doesn't want a divorce. What can I do?"
If your husband doesn't want to divorce, it can be incredibly frustrating.
But while it takes two to be married, it only takes one to get a divorce.
Unfortunately, how you proceed – and how difficult you make it on yourself and your children, is up to both of you.
So before you resort to paying an attorney to light a proverbial fire under your spouse (which will undoubtedly set a confrontational tone for the rest of the proceedings), consider the following tips for divorce when your husband is reluctant.
Hopefully, they will help save you time, money and your sanity during the divorce process.
I Want a Divorce But My Husband Doesn't. Now What?
Enlist the help of a professional
First thing's first. Divorce is stressful and can trigger a whirlwind of intense emotions - for both of you.
An individual or couple's counselor can help you you sort through your feelings and help you process your emotions.
They can also help you prepare for and gain the confidence you need to have a (hopefully) calm and rational conversation with your husband about the reality of the situation and your desire to end the marriage peacefully.
If your husband doesn't want to divorce but is willing to join you in counseling, it can create a safe space for both of you to share your feelings.
It is also a good place for you to find out the reasons your husband doesn't want to divorce.
Dr. Pamela Brand, a licensed marriage and family therapist practicing in Chicago for more than 30 years, offers this advice to individuals who want a divorce but whose spouse does not:
"I typically encourage individuals to approach their spouse with the greatest compassion and to recognize the likelihood that they might be faced with a period of resistance, anger, and emotional escalation.
It is important that the spouse who is announcing the decision to divorce present this in a way that conveys the process of thought and consideration that went into making the decision.
The spouse who wants the divorce may also want to recognize and validate the hurt and pain that this poses for their spouse and offer to listen to what kinds of things may be helpful to their spouse during the initial adjustment period."
The goal is to start a dialogue and discuss the situation as openly and honestly as possible. Often just talking it over candidly can help a husband who doesn't want to get a divorce begin to accept the reality of the situation.
If you're not sure just how to approach the topic, here are a few more tips on how to ask your spouse for a divorce.
Whatever you do, don't wall off your soon-to-be ex. It will only make them feel isolated and defensive.
Give your husband some time to mentally process your desire to divorce.
When it comes to approaching a husband who doesn't want to divorce, it's important to remember that you've already had plenty of time to deal with the idea of your marriage ending.
And you're light years ahead of your husband.>
You've already thought about divorce on your way to work, talked about divorce with friends and lost sleep over it for months or even years.
You've decided to divorce and made peace with your decision.
But even if your husband knows (and agrees) the marriage has broken down, he may be resisting due to the fact that your news came as a shock he wasn't quite expecting. And he hasn't had the same benefit of time to mentally prepare for divorce.
So once you've told your husband that you want to end the marriage, step back and give him some time to process his emotions and come to grips with your decision.
Suggest using mediation for your divorce.
When the time is right, you'll want to have a conversation with your husband about which divorce method to use.
If you're frustrated because your husband doesn't want to divorce, you might be tempted to hire a lawyer to force their hand and get the process underway.
But this can backfire and may not be an ideal way to proceed.
Especially if your goal is to divorce as peacefully as possible and do what's best for your children.
Divorce mediation is a better way to divorce because it's less expensive, less time-consuming, and less damaging to your children and to you.
But you might have to persuade your spouse to go this route.
Tell your husband about the benefits of using divorce mediation
When the time is right:
- Stress to your husband the importance of mediating for your children's sake.
If your kids see that you're respectful to each other and can put aside your hurt feelings to fairly and equitably settle your differences, they'll learn a powerful life lesson.
- Explain to your husband that parenting plans and child custody arrangements designed in mediation will be more fair to both of you.
Instead of leaving those important decisions up to an unsympathetic lawyer or judge.
- Let your husband know that he (and you) can either mediate privately now, while the choice is yours, or later, when you don't.
Because if you hire lawyers and litigate, in nearly all cases, the courts will require you to mediate first.
- Help your reluctant husband understand that agreements reached in mediation are far more likely to be fair to both of you.
Especially since there are no formulas for alimony and divorce maintenance.
- Tell your husband that mediation is more cost-effective than using lawyers.
And if he doesn't believe you, suggest that he speak with some friends who used lawyers for their divorce so he can hear first-hand how expensive it was, how long it took and the negative toll it took on them and their children.
- Suggest that your husband learn more about mediation.
No one likes to be told what to do and you don't want your husband to feel like he has no say in how the divorce is going to proceed.
He needs the opportunity to learn about divorce mediation for himself and how it compares to using lawyers or a do-it-yourself divorce.
Here's even more expert advice on how to approach divorce with a reluctant spousse
Equitable Mediation specializes in helping divorcing couples negotiate a fair settlement and divorce peacefully and cost-effectively – without lawyers.
For more than 20 years, Equitable Mediation Founder and Divorce Mediator Joe Dillon has been helping individuals, couples and corporations mediate a myriad of complex issues and intractable problems by utilizing his expertise in negotiation, finance and interpersonal relationships.
For more than 20 years, Co-Founder, Divorce Coach and Co-mediator Cheryl Dillon has been employing her background in psychology, human resources and life coaching to help individuals overcome obstacles to achieve their goals and reach their fullest potential.
Joe and Cheryl are passionate about helping couples avoid the destruction of attorney-driven litigation and know first-hand that the right information, combined with the right expertise and the right kind of support can make the challenging process of divorce less expensive, less time-consuming and less stressful for divorcing couples and their children.
Equitable Mediation serves clients in New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New York and California.
Joe and Cheryl can be contacted by phone at: (877) 732-6682
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