How to prepare for and approach this very difficult conversation? If you do things right it will happen and unfold on it’s own.
Let’s say for the sake of discussion that we are going to take love and all of its complexities out of the mix.
Whatever made your relationship work for the two of you is no longer working for one of you, correct. Chances are if it is not working for one of you, it isn’t working for either of you. You are a couple; a team and what affects one of you will undoubtedly have an impact on both of you.
The green divorce actually starts long before the point where you feel a divorce is necessary. So if you are here, gently take a step back. A green divorce starts with that earliest recognition of dissatisfaction and how we address it at that time. We turn to our loved one/partner with respect and attempt to regain that workability before we decide to put our marriage to rest. You owe that to each other and to yourselves.
There are a number of ways couples do this. But the idea is that they address this together. Talking, sharing, arguing even, but together. Usually counseling is discussed and tried. Perhaps even mediation at this point or conflict coaching. But they try these things together. This way they are always on the same page, not necessarily a happy one, but the same page nonetheless.
This is honest, sad and hard, but it is the pay dirt of integrity. How you end your marriage will either set you free or haunt you. It will affect how you feel about yourself and how your soon to be ex-spouse feels about you and your post-divorce relationship. It will definitely affect what others think of you even if they don’t say it.
I will not reference any specific research, as it is voluminous, but let me refer you to the web for a stroll regarding ending relationships.
There is one book that I must mention and applaud and that is Diane Vaughan’s, Uncoupling, (Vintage Books, 1990). Her ideas, her research, her references are amazing and I recommend her book to all who enter here.
Having said that, the green piece is remembering your spouse/partner is worthy of being treated with respect and you do too! You owe it to yourself to be the best person you can be, always. Never let it be said that you didn’t do everything in your power to make things right with your spouse/partner.
Next. The two of you do not exist in a vacuum. Your relationship is like a piece of furniture that sits in other people’s lives. It takes up virtual space. You are thinking about changing it-but how? Are you going to destroy it or restructure and redesign it? However you choose to interact with your spouse/partner in the early recognition phase (where things are not working well) will be the defining moments of your divorce. It will also tell the world about your character. What will be left in the lives of those you both know, two whole individuals who value each other and are putting your marriage to rest with respect and dignity–or an unrecognizable object that makes everyone uncomfortable?
It took time to meet and fall in love and build a life–give this phase the time it deserves.
Gently, respectfully with strength-face this together privately and then, if you both agree its time, take the next step. Get help with this piece, together, if need be.
So, how do you ask a loved one for a divorce? The real question is when–after and only after you both tried everything you can to save your marriage. That will be the foundation for your post-divorce working relationship.
The one caveat to this whole approach of course is domestic violence. Ignore everything I said above if any type of abuse is occurring. Get help from a professional if that is the case.
Next blog: When and how to tell others you and your spouse/partner are separating…