Marriages have many ebbs and flows. You may have many happy years in a row, followed by a series of rough patches. During these rough patches, you may begin to consider divorce. This decision can be heart-wrenching, especially when you know there may still be love between you and your spouse.
Sometimes, it may not be a question of love, but a question of your husband’s ability to care for himself and your children if you’re not around. A variety of circumstances are at play. So what is the best course of action if you want a divorce but feel sorry for your husband?
5 Things to Do if You Want a Divorce but Feel Sorry For Your Husband:
Before you decide to make your desire for a divorce known, take some time to reflect on what is causing you to feel this way. During this time, refrain from judging yourself or your situation. You are allowed to feel however you want about your situation or desire for a divorce.
Every reason is valid, even if you choose not to consider it in your decision to leave or stay. As you reflect, do not think about anyone else’s feelings or potential consequences of seeking a divorce. This time is purely for you to sort out your feelings about your marriage and think about the potential of moving forward with a separation.
2. Acknowledge the Grief:
Acknowledging the grief is a critical aspect of considering a divorce from your spouse. You’ve likely spent more than a few years together and gotten comfortable and intimately familiar with one another. Choosing to walk away from that is no small task. This is a major change from your routine and will be a big change in theirs.
You may also spend time grieving the fact that your marriage has gotten to a place where you are considering a separation at all. This is a completely normal feeling to have. When we marry, we rarely think about the worst-case scenario for our relationships, and during this time, you might be confronted with them. Take a little time to process the sadness and pain.
3. Talk to Someone You Trust:
It might be helpful for you to speak with a therapist or counselor about your relationship concerns. Wanting a divorce is a pretty serious life change.
A therapist can help you dig into what got you into the marriage, what kept you in the marriage, what is making you unhappy in the marriage, and what your hopes for life after marriage will be. Getting a bigger and clearer picture of all the ways these experiences are shaping your current situation will help you make a more definitive decision for your future.
4. Think Practically:
After you’ve thought about your feelings and sorted them out with a professional, think practically about what life after divorce will look like for you, your soon-to-be ex, and your children. You might have this conversation with your therapist, but you could also tackle it alone.
You may have to consider custody arrangements, new living arrangements, benefits, and financial changes. During this time, you will likely begin to think about broaching the divorce conversation with your children and preparing for their reactions.
You might also start to think about the logistics of your current husband as a single man. This is where a lot of anxiety starts to set in, as you may not feel that your spouse would be a capable father, or even person, without your assistance as a capable mother and partner. This concern is valid and should be considered quite deeply. It could be the difference between staying in the relationship and leaving.
This is also the time when you will start to plan the conversation with your spouse about why you’re asking for a separation. If you choose not to move forward with asking for a divorce, try to think of alternatives to improve your situation. See if your spouse would try going to counseling or openly hashing out your relationship issues. If you choose to have a conversation with your spouse about getting a divorce, think about where, when, and how you’d like to talk about it. Create an agenda of things you’d like to address and have a timeline in mind for how you’d like the proceedings to go.
5. Have the Conversation:
When you sit your husband down to ask for a divorce, you may feel sick or unsettled. The temptation to chicken out can be high. However, if this is the route that you truly want to take, you must be resolute in it. Speak clearly and in easy-to-understand language about why you want the divorce, how long you’ve been considering it, and if you’re open to trying to make a change with your husband that doesn’t involve legal separation.
Try to keep your emotions in check as you begin to explain your desire for a divorce. Your husband might become incredibly emotional, particularly if he was not expecting to have this conversation. If you both become hysterical, the intent of the conversation can quickly be lost and you might not seem firm in your decision.
Some couples opt to have the divorce conversation under the guidance of a therapist. This can ensure that the conversation takes place on neutral ground, with someone who is trained to handle big and difficult emotions. This may be an ideal pathway if your husband cannot be trusted to control himself when he is distressed, which he might express as explosive rage or self-harm. Prioritize everyone’s safety first.
If you’re considering a divorce from your husband but you feel sorry for him, you are not alone. You’re not a malicious or evil person for wanting a life change, and considering his feelings as you make this change is further evidence of your care for him. If you need help sorting your feelings about pursuing a separation, a licensed therapist may be able to help you. If you’re ready to make the change and ask your husband for a divorce, have an honest conversation and set clear boundaries with him as you both take time to grieve and assess your new outlooks in life.