You want a divorce. You have no doubt that ending your union is probably the best thing for your spouse — and it’s definitely the best thing for you. However, the way that you approach this necessary conversation with your spouse can vastly influence exactly how easy your divorce process will be.

How can you ask for a divorce without starting a war with your spouse? Consider these tips:

  1. Timing is everything. Don’t make your announcement on your spouse’s birthday or right before you head out the door to work. Choose a time when your spouse will have the opportunity they need to ask questions, absorb the emotional shock and process their feelings.
  2. Leave blame out of the equation. Your marriage is over, so it no longer matters who did what wrong to whom. Take a neutral approach that focuses on the practical concerns and avoid assigning blame for the situation on your spouse. Say things like, “I’m just unhappy, and I don’t believe that staying together is good for either of us.”
  3. Manage your expectations. Even if your marriage has been on the rocks for a long time, your spouse may still see this as a shock or feel like a failure. Don’t expect them to react with relief or happiness.
  4. Don’t make promises. You have a lot of decisions to make in the future. If you know that you’re planning on moving out, for example, it’s okay to tell your spouse what you plan — but don’t feel the need to discuss who gets what furniture or how the custody of the children should be split until you’ve had more time.

Your marriage may be ending, but your divorce process is just beginning. Make sure that you get some experienced legal assistance as you move forward.