A spouse saying they want a divorce can suck!
At least initially. Perhaps you knew it was coming. Maybe you noticed the signs weeks, months, or even years before that fateful moment. Perhaps it is a total surprise. Maybe they gave no obvious indication and everything seemed normal until an argument brought up the words. Either way, your partner said it, and it’s out there in the universe. What now?
If you’re on the receiving end of this news, you may feel like you’ve lost control. And in a sense, you have. But you can take it back. And you should take that control back, whether you want to save the marriage or not.
Sometimes the heat of the moment causes people to say what they don’t mean, but most of the time, if your spouse has expressed a verbal desire to end it, they have spent some time already thinking about it. People don’t usually verbally express such an extreme position unless they have mentally considered it an option, even if they’re not ready to make the plunge for separation or divorce yet. It is important to realize that a danger zone has already been crossed and you need to take notice.
At this point, you have one of two options:
- React and allow your emotions to take control
- Be proactive, and regain control
No matter what the outcome may be (eventual divorce or reconciliation), you’ve got to take control of both yourself and the situation to secure yourself a better future.
Signs of Weakness
Of course it’s human nature to go into panic, anger, and frustration mode. I’ve been there. Emotions take over and some things are said that you later regret and wish you could take back. If you’re reading this post, then you may have already done that. Understandably so. It takes an emotionally mature person to react to unwanted news instead of reacting. There’s a big difference between the two. Most people want to fight back with words. Maybe it’s justification for their own actions. Maybe it’s begging and pleading for a second chance. Maybe it’s just anger that spews out with hateful words. Regardless, these reactions only show that you are weak. Your spouse is not going to respect you anymore than they did before. In their view, you are showing them signs of weakness, and you’re providing them with ammunition to further justify their reasoning for wanting out. This will empower them to take bolder action that could make it more difficult for you later on.
No matter whether you want to make it work or split up like them, you are only digging a deeper hole for yourself. So the moment you realize you’ve made the mistake of reacting, hit the pause button.
Take Control by Being Silent
Whatever time has elapsed since your spouse has stated they wanted to walk away, immediately stop the communication. It is okay to tell your spouse you need time to think and process. Just make sure you state your desire to do this as calmly and cool-headed as you can. Make sure you do not walk away seemingly angry or frustrated. Speak calmly. Walk away calmly. This is your first step to taking back control. Your partner will fear and respect you more for it later. There is a tremendous power in silence. Not only will it give you time to stop and regain your thoughts, but it will also provide the same for your partner.
It has once been said:
“Silence is the most powerful scream.”
“Spiteful words can hurt your feelings, but silence breaks the heart.”
And this is want you want to do. To pull down their guard, cause a change in their heart.
One of the reasons silence is so powerful because it flips the coin back on your partner. They won’t know what you’re thinking, and they’ll want to. Badly. Your silence shows that you are calm and in control of the moment, even if you don’t feel like you are. I’m not talking about playing games, either. I’m talking about maturity. No matter how you may feel, you are presenting a powerful statement through silence that says you are not going to let their words rule the situation.
Your Spouse’s Reaction will give you a lot of Insight
If your silence causes your spouse to drop their guard, you may be able to glean some insight into what they’re thinking. Take notice of how they react when you calmly become silent and walk away. If they demand to keep talking, the coin has been effectively flipped. If they also walk away, don’t show them that this bothered you, even if it does. Most likely, they’ll be ready to talk again on your terms. If not, at least you’ll know where they stand and you can plan accordingly. At least you haven’t lost control through unbridled emotion.
Once You Gain Back Control through Silence, Get a back-up Game Plan Together
Now that you’ve shown silence, you can effectively plan your next move. Depending on your spouse’s reaction to your silence, you can figure out how to proceed. Other articles on this site will address how to better proceed no matter what outcome you want, but at least with this knowledge you have not lost anything yet, nor have you weakened your position. When a spouse has expressed their desire to walk away, you can be sure that they have considered the option, and have probably thought about many of the ramifications—legally and financially. Even if you want to stay together, it would be wise of you to also consider the financial and legal ramifications just in case your partner refuses to stay with you. This is just wise. It doesn’t mean you will have to take any serious action, but at least you’ll be more ready if you do.