How to Talk to Your Spouse About Divorce (15 Tips for a Healthy Conversation)

This is an image of two people talking about their divorce.Take a deep breath [inhale, exhale]. You are in the right place.

The fact that you’re here means you are a thoughtful person in a challenging situation. After reading this guide, you will know how to talk with your spouse about divorce.

This article will give you valuable tips on how you and your spouse can have a healthy divorce.

You do not have to:

  • go to court,
  • take opposite sides,
  • let your emotions get the best of you,
  • hire aggressive divorce attorneys, or 
  • spend years battling your divorce out in court.
You can

  • have a healthy, amicable divorce, 
  • protect your family,
  • keep conflict low, and
  • have minimal cost in mediation.


Share your honest perspective rather than trying to convince your spouse that your perspective is the “right” oneUrging them to change their perspective almost always causes conflict.

Here are the first 10 tips for talking with your spouse about the topic of divorce

The following tips can help you improve the quality of your conversations and lead to a healthier divorce process:

1. Know what type of process you want. Take some time to think about how you want your divorce process to look and feel. Knowing what you want — such as a divorce process that is fair and healthy — is the first step toward making it a reality.

Some people find it helpful to take notes before the initial conversation with their spouse.

Share your desire to have a healthy process in mediation without conflict and without ever going to court. Let them know about your desire to have the healthiest divorce possible. Having this respectful conversation sets the foundation for a collaborative process. You can cooperatively reach agreements and avoid ever going to court.

2. Use “I” statements. Begin your sentences with “I,” rather than “You.” This allows you to avoid the “blame game.” Rather than assuming what your spouse is feeling or thinking, talk about what you are experiencing. The more your spouse knows about your perspective, the more likely they will understand it.

In most situations, it is important to approach the initial conversation 

about divorce as a “discussion,” (two people talking about a topic

and not as a “declaration,” (one person announcing something to the other).

3. Put yourself in their shoes. Consider what you have to say, and think about how your spouse will likely feel hearing it. Ask yourself, “How would I want to be approached in this situation?” It is normal if your spouse displays resistance at first. If you begin to feel defensive during this conversation, try to be mindful and take a breath. Allow your spouse to feel, and communicate thoughtfully with them.

4. Stay focused on “now” rather than the past. You can avoid conflict by focusing on where you’re at today. Remember that making future plans is what matters most. It’s easy to get off track and start discussing past issues. However, this can be counterproductive. If you or your spouse need to discuss the past, there are caring professionals who can help. They’ll help you stay focused on the next steps and solutions.

5. Control tone and pace. How you speak matters. It is helpful to speak slowly in a low, soft voice around major issues. There may be times when you need to take a moment and gather your composure. If necessary, you can:

  • take breaks;
  • leave space between your initial divorce conversations; or
  • get professional help from a marriage and family therapist or counselor.

6. Avoid personalizing. When dealing with your spouse’s feelings of loss or erratic behavior, try not to take it personally. It is normal for people to respond defensively when faced with negative emotions surrounding divorce. It can be helpful at times to allow them to vent about their feelings without showing any reaction or looking at them as a bad person.

7. Respect emotions. As you begin divorce conversations, you and your spouse are likely in very different emotional places. This is expected. Experts agree that almost all spouses grieve the end of a marriage. Plus, neither spouse is expected to be calm and rational at all times.

Bear in mind that honesty is almost always the best policy. In the initial talks, commit to being honest about your feelings. At the same time, be mindful that your spouse, like you, will face challenging emotions.

8. Choose the right time and place. Pick a private place where you can have uninterrupted time to have your conversation. Choose a time when you are both likely to be rested, calm, and able to give the discussion your full attention. How to talk with your children about your divorce is a mutual decision that will come later.

Special Considerations

Professional assistance. Would it be best to have the support of a counselor? Many people report that their counselor’s office was the ideal place for challenging conversations.

Major life events. Are you or your spouse dealing with death, major illness, or job loss? In this case, commit to having cooperative discussions and limiting extreme reactions. If possible, allow your spouse to take some additional time to adjust.

9. Turn your phone off. Turning off your phone conveys respect and honors the importance of the discussion. It can help set a positive tone for healthy communication.

10. Put safety firstDetermine whether you are safe having the conversation in-person. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline to develop a plan if you have any concerns about your safety.

Speak from a place that calmly, clearly, and consistently conveys your readiness to move forward with divorce.

This is an image of a plant on a windowsill, with curtains on either side.Here are five bonus tips for a more mindful divorce process:

1. Choose a respectful and healthy approach

Keeping conflict low is more likely to result in an amicable divorce. Try to reach agreements that support everyone’s best interests. Believing that you can have an amicable divorce can keep you focused on suggesting mediation. This will make it more likely that you’ll have a healthy process.

Whether spouses are barely speaking or remaining friends, mediation allows for healthier communication. Mediators can help you focus on the future and thoughtfully address the issues you need to discuss.

Here are the specific benefits of going the mediation route:

  • Your mediator is a third party. Rather than siding with one spouse, they will focus on creating personalized, win-win solutions.
  • Hiring a divorce lawyer and paying court fees can take a huge chunk out of your wallet. Mediation costs far less.
  • Taking your divorce to court usually results in a long, drawn-out process. With mediation, you can save valuable time and spare yourself a lot of hassle.

To find out more about the mediation process, check out The Aurit Center’s guide to divorce mediation.

2. Prioritize your own wellness

Feelings of loss and grief are common, even when you are the one initiating the divorce. Practicing self-care can help you prioritize your well-being — now and into the future.

3. Avoid conflict, not conversation

Avoiding conversations about divorce can lead to a conflict-driven process with costly attorneys. A spouse being “served” with divorce papers out of left field often leads to court hearings and continued contention. This can harm your wellness, your children’s wellness, and your future co-parenting relationship.

This is an image of an open book on a table.

In your very first conversation, let your spouse know that you both have the choice to complete your divorce in mediation or litigation.

As you set the tone of the divorce process in this conversation, remember that communication goes both ways. While getting your own points across matters, it’s just as important to listen closely to your spouse.

Share your goal of a healthier process through online mediation. This will prevent either of you from ever having to go to court. Explaining this option can help prevent or reduce conflict.

Please note that in cases where safety is a concern (such as situations involving intimate partner violence), unexpected service of divorce papers may be the only reasonable approach.

4. Take it one step at a time

Not all divorce-related discussions need to happen right away. Schedule separate times to discuss details such as:

  • how to divide assets;
  • how to divide debts; and
  • how to reach parenting agreements.

Without the support of an experienced divorce mediator, a divorce can spark fear and mistrust. If a topic becomes uncomfortable or tensions arise, agree to continue the discussion in your mediation meeting.

5. Gather the necessary information to help prepare for the process

For more information, contact The Aurit Center for Divorce Mediation. We’ll email you about scheduling your 1-hour complimentary consultation.

Our clients find it helpful to share our initial email with their spouse during the first discussions about divorce. The email contains a link to our website that provides key information for spouses, especially when children are involved. It also includes our contact number so you and/or your spouse can call our office with any questions before your consultation.

During your initial consultation, your potential mediator will explain how divorce mediation works. You’ll also get to see how it compares to litigation in the courts. They will help answer your questions and explain our entire process so you know exactly what to expect during mediation. You can call 888-572-7302 or schedule a complimentary consultation online.

This is an image of two plants on a windowsill, with a white teapot between them.

Focus on a mindful, healthy, low-conflict divorce process

Once you have the initial conversation with your spouse, you can focus on having a divorce process that will:

  • support the financial stability of you and your spouse;
  • support the emotional well-being of you, your spouse, and your children;
  • set the foundation for healthy co-parenting; and
  • ensure that you both feel stable and secure in your agreements.

A more peaceful process begins with the first conversation you and your spouse have about divorce.

You are choosing to set the foundation for a healthy divorce.

You will get through this — there are brighter days ahead. We are here to help you get there.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

  • Browse by topic:

  • splitit sidebar
  • Get in touch

    To gain a much deeper understanding of the divorce mediation process, schedule an initial complimentary consultation.

    Free consultation

  • Sign up to Receive Free Resources

    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.