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How to Tell Your Spouse You Want a Divorce: set a goal (step 2)

Feb 14, 2021

Nearly everyone treats divorce as a series of legal issues: child support, co-parenting, alimony, property. When I was a lawyer, I discovered divorce is not a legal issue, it is a life event that can be controlled by the spouses. I approached ending my marriage like a life event and the process was peaceful. It allowed my children and us to thrive when most families remain stuck in drama and conflict for years.

The secret: you need to act like you did when you were planning your wedding. You need to take control. If you are interested in peacefully ending your marriage and in saving money, there are five steps you should follow when you tell your spouse you want a divorce.

The five steps are:

  1. Take Responsibility
  2. Create a Goal
  3. Educate Yourself
  4. Plan
  5. Focus on What is Best for Your Children

In this blog post, the focus is on Step 2: Create a Goal.

When you got engaged, you set a goal. The goal was the wedding day. I suspect you only attended to the legalities – obtaining the marriage licence – when you had nearly achieved your goal.

You can take a similar approach with divorce: you can set a goal unrelated to legal outcomes. Seriously. Forget about goals such as child support, co-parenting and dividing property. You need a goal about what you want your life, and the lives of your children, to be like in one year.

Take time to ask yourself the following questions and to write your answers.

What do you want to be doing? Will you have the same job or a new one? Where will you be living? Do you want to be in the same house, or does a different type of place appeal to you more? Perhaps the thought of yard work is too much. Then you might picture yourself in a condo or in an apartment. How are you feeling? Are you smiling and laughing more? Do you have more energy? Are you sleeping better? How are your finances?

What about your children? Are they acting out? Or are they happier? Do they want to spend time with you? What is their relationship like with you? What is their relationship like with their other parent? How are they doing at school?

How are your communications with your former spouse? Do you want to be on edge every time you have to talk about the children, or do you want to feel a sense of peace?

Lawyers or attorneys who represent you must focus on your legal rights and responsibilities. This means they won’t ask you any of these questions. I discovered these questions are the most important if you want to peacefully transition your family to something better.

You don’t need to get hung up on writing everything down, either. When I asked my husband to leave, there was one goal that shaped what I said to him.  

The goal: that my children would have the best relationship possible with their dad. I was confident they would have a great relationship with me. I knew children always lover their parents no matter what, so I wanted our children to enjoy a healthy relationship with their dad.

It was this goal that shaped the words I used to tell him I wanted him to move out. With this goal, I was able to treat him with respect. As a result, the process was peaceful.

In conclusion, setting non-legal goals during separation and divorce, especially when you talk to your spouse about ending your marriage, can transform the process from one of high conflict to one of peace. You’ve set goals before. Perhaps about making a sports team or about getting a promotion. If you’ve ever gone on a road trip, I suspect you’ve set a goal of your destination before you leave your parking spot.

Goals are part of life: nothing to get tense about. We all do it when something is important. If you set a goal about the life you want and how you want family relationships to be before you speak to your spouse, you will be able to identify if the process is going off course. Then you can get back on track.

If you want help creating a goal, I am here for you. Schedule your complimentary 20-minute discovery session.

Choose Peace.

Use Kim's "Divorce Script" to plan your words and tell your spouse you want a divorce.

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