What to Do When One Spouse Wants Divorce

Many couples have come to me looking for advice on how to react when one spouse wants divorce. This post addresses this very common marriage problem.

Imagine you come home from work one day weary, stressed and looking for reassurance.

Instead, your spouse meets you at the front door and says those four words no one wants to hear: “I want a divorce.”

How do you feel? Angry? Devastated? Panicked? Hurt?

If you have been dealt such a blow, it’s easy to feel as though there is no hope left.

But guess what: it’s not. You can pull yourself back from the brink of divorce, save your marriage and even fall in love all over again.

My name is Nick and I am a guest blogger on Mort’s site. Below, I provide a brief list of things to do when one spouse wants divorce.

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Don’t React in Anger

It’s perfectly natural to want to explode in anger at the news that your spouse wants out. That’s your defense mechanism kicking in. It’s healthy to want to defend yourself at all costs – that instinct has helped mankind survive for thousands of years.

Fight the impulse to react to your partner in anger. Shouting won’t help the situation. Raising your voice will only push your husband or wife even further away, and the last thing you want to do is reinforce the walls that have already been built between you.

I am not suggesting you bottle up your emotions. It’s okay to feel angry inside. It’s even okay to cry. But if your initial impulse is to slam your spouse with rage, you might want to take some time to cool down before you do anything else.

Listen, Even If It Hurts

If one spouse wants divorce, they probably have their reasons.

Once your partner has admitted their frustration with your marriage, ask them to gently share the rationale behind their conclusion that divorce is the only option.

Calmly listen to what your spouse has to say. Are there areas of neglect? Where are the gaps? Is there room for personal improvement? If your spouse has engaged in an outside sexual or emotional affair, what drove them away?

I am not at all saying that this situation is your fault. In fact, your husband or your wife probably has an equal share in the blame.

But by having an attentive ear, you are setting an example of what it means to really listen. Your spouse, in turn, may be just as willing to hear you out. This opens the door to further heart-to-heart discussion.

Say “No” to Divorce, But Agree That Your Marriage Needs Work

One spouse wants divorce; the other doesn’t.

If you are on the receiving end of this revelation, it’s important that you make it perfectly clear that you don’t advocate immediate divorce, but also agree that your marriage needs work.

You and your partner should try to reach an agreement to spend at least one year fixing whatever is wrong with the relationship. This leads to the next step:

Control Your Own Actions and Behaviors


If you listen, and I mean really listen, to what your husband or wife is saying, you might learn a thing or two about yourself.

Every marriage needs improvement, but you cannot change your spouse. You do, however, have complete control over YOUR OWN actions and behaviors.

Instead of retaliating, take your spouse’s suggestions to heart and focus on improving yourself first. Be the example. Change yourself and you might be surprised to see how quickly your partner will follow in your footsteps.

Get Help

Generally, in situations where one spouse wants divorce when the other does not, the marriage requires professional help.

Don’t try to salvage what remains of your marriage by yourself. It’s painful. It’s difficult. And it’s a process that can easily fail without guidance.

If you’re considering marriage counseling, why not look into Marriage Fitness first?

Marriage Fitness is a groundbreaking alternative to traditional marriage counseling.

This revolutionary program focuses on building up your relationship and neutralizing common marriage problems, and gives you tips on how to institute positive habits.

In essence, you learn how to reconnect with your spouse and how to experience the excitement of new love again.

With Marriage Fitness, you get an easy-to-follow guide to saving your marriage, one day at a time. It works, even if one spouse wants divorce.

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Try my free marriage e-course. Just enter your email address in the box at the top of this blog post. I will send you “7 Secrets to Fixing Your Marriage” – and 5 marriage assessments – absolutely FREE.

Stop your divorce. Save a marriage.

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