RelationshipsMarriageHow to Tell Your Husband the Marriage Is Over?


How to Tell Your Husband the Marriage Is Over?

Marriage has been the key to maintaining a healthy and constrained social structure since the beginning of human civilization. It ensures both the man and woman involved in a marriage get benefits and security in the process to ensure a happy and prospective life in the long run.

But there’s no point in being stuck in an unhappy marriage for life, and this is where divorce comes in. If you’re a wife stuck in an unhappy marriage, and no attempts to fix it have worked, maybe it’s time to get a divorce. But the million-dollar question is how to tell your husband the marriage is over. In this article, you’ll learn about the best ways to go about it without creating an ugly mess.

How Seriously Do You Want a Divorce?

How seriously do you want a divorce

Though the media might tell you otherwise, about 80% of divorces in the US are initiated by women. This proves that men are more intent on keeping their marriage intact even during hard times while women do the opposite. So before you decide the marriage is over, put in some thought about whether it’s actually over.

Just because your friends don’t like your husband, or you read an article in Vogue magazine about the benefits of a divorce doesn’t mean you should jump ship. Unless your husband is physically and emotionally abusive and a total jerk, there’re still a lot of chances to recover the marriage if both of you work on it.

And if you want to initiate divorce because you’ve fallen in love with someone else and want to start a new life with them, think again- over 70% of women who divorce for a new partner get dumped by them in 2 years on average, leaving them broken and remorseful for ending their first marriage.

So before deciding to tell your husband the marriage is over, think carefully about how bad the current situation is. Lack of communication, physical and mental abuse, and lack of privacy are all solid grounds for divorce. But any other reasons beyond that like outside influence or an extramarital affair are not worth the loss you’ll face once the divorce goes through and the tables turn on you.

How to Tell Your Husband the Marriage Is Over?

No matter how you look at it, a divorce is always a sad affair for both spouses in a marriage. As a woman, it’s highly likely that you’ve tried your best to communicate the problems you’re facing in the marriage but to no avail. As a result, you’ve chosen divorce as the final nail in the coffin of an unhappy marriage.

Believe it or not, telling your husband that the marriage is over isn’t as easy as it sounds on paper and requires a lot of preparation. Even with all the mental preparation and planning, when the moment finally comes, it might fill you with feelings of dread and guilt.

So before announcing the big news, you need to have a game plan in place to make the announcement go as smoothly as possible and deal with the possible fallout in a responsible and mature way. Your divorce proclamation can be divided into three stages:

The Preparation Phase

The preparation phase

In this phase of the divorce announcement plan you prepare for the announcement itself. Announcing to your husband that the marriage is over can be an intimidating prospect, even if both spouses know that the marriage is on the rocks. In this phase you need to take into consideration the following factors:

  • Why are You Divorcing Him: The reasons why a wife would want to divorce her husband can be many, but the most common ones are: lack of attention, lack of communication, physical and mental abuse, extramarital affairs, and the safety of children. You’ll need to first determine what’s exactly the reason you’ve decided to separate from your husband.
    Understand that a divorce will come with a lot of mental and financial pressure and you’ll need to be prepared for that. As such, your reasons for telling your husband the marriage is over should be strong enough to justify the consequences of the divorce.
  • Letting Your Husband Know: One of the biggest mistakes most women make that turns a divorce into a messy affair is blindsiding their husband. Ladies, men are not mind readers, and unless both parties are aware that the marriage is on the rocks, the news of a divorce can be an absolute shock for your husband.
    Granted men are oblivious to many things that they do wrong in a marriage, so unless you’ve tried communicating the marital issues that led to your decision to divorce him, he’ll be caught completely off-guard which can result in a negative reaction.
  • Rehearse Your Statement: It doesn’t matter whether your husband was abusive or not, breaking the news to him can be tough for you. If you feel guilt or anxiety about announcing the news, then you should practice rehearsing the statement in a mirror before actually attempting it.
    When rehearsing, make sure to look straight maintain eye contact with your reflection in the mirror, and choose your words carefully. Try using neutral terms and statements in your announcement so as to not implicate that he’s the one to blame for the divorce, even if he actually is. The way you announce your separation and the words you choose will dictate how things will move forward from there on.
  • Choosing the Right Location: Choosing the right location when telling your husband the marriage is over is critical, even more so if you guys already have children. If you’re confident that your husband has enough self-restraint and is not violent, then you can tell him your decision straight up at your own home, preferably in the living room or dinner table.
    If you have kids, send them out for a sleepover with relatives or friends so that in case the announcement gets messy and loud, they aren’t there to see the ugly side of the situation. Choosing a public place like a restaurant or a park can be a smart choice if you’re less confident about your husband’s reaction to the news.
  • Prepare Your Finances: If you know you’re headed for a messy divorce, it’s best to prepare your finances. If you’ve been married to your husband long enough there will be a lot of financial decisions that you have jointly taken during the marriage.
    Once you’re separated, you’ll need the proper documents to claim your part of the household finances. Not only that, you need to have enough money to hire a lawyer and go through the divorce proceedings as well.
  • Prepare a Witness for Protection and Support: This factor should only be taken into consideration if your husband has a history of violent outbursts or abusing you. While it’s not very respectful bringing in a third person in such an important conversation, your personal safety and dignity come first.
    Having a third person present will not only encourage your husband to keep his emotions in check but also provide you with a handy eyewitness if things get ugly in court. This will really come in handy if your husband is abusive and you want to take the kids along with you for their safety.

The Announcement Phase

The announcement phase

Once you’ve taken all the steps for preparing to tell your husband that the marriage is over, it’s actually time to do it. No matter how well you’ve prepared, it’s OK to get a bit nervous when actually telling your husband your decision to his face. So keep these factors in mind when making the announcement:

  • Speak in a neutral and affirmative tone: Even if you’ve chosen your words carefully, delivering them in the wrong tone can hurt your husband’s feelings or even cause a knee-jerk angry reaction. So try to speak in a compassionate manner even if the root cause of the separation is his fault.
    One smart way of going about it is using the word ‘I’ in your statement instead of ‘You’. This will direct the context of the conversation to how you feel about the marriage and your decision to end it. Say things like “I think that I need a new start in life.” or “I feel that this marriage is not working for me.” When you start using ‘you’ it implies blame on your husband’s part which he will try to redirect.
  • Be Confident and Direct: A husband in the throes of divorce is like a hungry shark, he’ll use any weakness in your demeanor or speech when announcing that the marriage is over to argue back and convince you to stay. Naturally, you can’t allow yourself to be caught up in these mind games.
    So when speaking to him about divorce, talk in a firm and confident tone. You need to let him understand that while you do feel compassionate about the whole situation, your decision is final and there’ll be no changing it.
  • Understand that an Angry reaction is Natural: Whether your husband has been a jerk to you or not, the news of a divorce is bad enough to shock any man. Therefore, no matter how calm and well-composed you are, expect an initial angry reaction at first. If your husband doesn’t respond angrily, give him credit where credit is due.
    When confronted with an angry response, be prepared for a barrage of accusations and guilty statements that will try to derail you from your decision. Expecting an angry response beforehand will help you keep your calm during such accusations and help you stick to your decision.
  • Reject any reconciliation proposal: Since you’ve already reached the decision to tell your husband that the marriage is over, chances are you’ve already tried all reconciliation procedures like trying to have a proper conversation, therapy, or marriage counseling.
    When you announce your decision to your husband, it’s highly likely that he will try to propose reconciliation via trial separation or mutually decided separation from each other to save the marriage. You have to stay firm in your decision during such proposals and reject them gently.
  • Don’t Discuss the Details of the Divorce During the Initial Conversation: When first talking about divorce with your husband, avoid any details of how the divorce will go through. You need to do this for two reasons- firstly, to let him process the information and deal with it accordingly.
    And the second reason is to prevent him from feeling blindsided. Yes, this conversation has been in the making for months or even years, but if you discuss the details of the separation right away he will feel like you’ve been planning this for some time and pulling the rug from underneath him. If you have kids, then he will definitely feel this way.
    Chances are high this realization will make him feel bitter and vindictive, which can end up in a messy divorce despite your best efforts to keep it clean and simple.
  • Prepare for Physical Separation: Once you’ve announced your decision that the marriage is over, you should immediately prepare for physical separation even if you’re living under the same roof. Sleeping in the same bed after the announcement is a bad idea as it will send mixed signals to your husband.
    Also, physical separation is necessary for you to prepare for the upcoming divorce proceedings. When you’re preparing for divorce in the same room as your husband, you’re only giving him the information he might use against you to appeal against the divorce proceedings or during the custody battle.

The Post-Announcement Phase

The post announcement phase

At this stage, the marriage is already over and the divorce is officiated. Unless you’ve been stuck in an abusive marriage, you shouldn’t have to worry about your ex-husband anymore. You’ll probably be only seeing him during child visitations and that’s about it.

But in case your ex-husband is bitter and psychotic, and has displayed violent behavior during the divorce proceedings, you need to take some steps for your safety. If you already have children and their father is abusive, the divorce proceedings are only the beginning.

You’ll have to put up a hard and long fight to get full custody of your children which can be even more expensive than the divorce itself. You’ll need to hire an attorney, gather any and all evidence of abuse in the household, and arrange for first-hand witnesses to your husband’s abuse if you want to have any chance of winning child custody and raising your child in a safe environment.

Some ex-husbands are mentally imbalanced and probably won’t want to accept the fact that their wives left them for good reason. They can end up stalking you and threatening you with physical violence. If you were unlucky enough to be married to such a psycho, then getting a court restraining order is your best option.

Even after you get the restraining order, the chances of your ex-husband disobeying the restraining order and trying to harm you within the first couple of weeks are high. It’s best if you live temporarily with someone else during this period or ask the local police to check in on your block a couple of times a day.

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Being in Your Husband’s Shoes

Being in your husbands shoes

It’s understandable that divorce is a hard choice to make, and is only taken as a last resort by most women. But for every woman with a good reason for divorce, there are 10 others who don’t thanks to the no-fault divorce law that’s the standard in many states in the US.

So before you plan to tell your husband the marriage is over, try to put yourself in his shoes to see if it really is the end for the two of you. Maybe your husband can’t give you enough time and attention because he’s too busy working double shifts to provide for the family. Maybe you two aren’t as physically intimate as before because after working hard all day he’s too exhausted. Maybe he couldn’t attend parent’s day at your kid’s school because he was helping out a friend who got in an accident.

There are a lot of ‘maybe’s’ out there that might make you think that the marriage isn’t working out anymore. But if you just take a moment to put yourself in your husband’s shoes, you’ll realize that not all of it is his fault. A man has all the responsibilities of the world piled upon him from the moment he is born while a woman can choose whether to shoulder those responsibilities or not. So try to be considerate and think things through before reaching a final decision on the matter.

The Impact of Divorce on Children

The impact of divorce on children

Unless your kids are fully grown adults, a divorce might have devastating consequences on their mental health during the pre-pubescent and teenage years. There have been many documented cases by therapists where the children think that they’re the ones to blame for their parent’s divorce.

As a responsible parent, you shouldn’t allow this to happen and break the news to the kids once you and your husband have mutually agreed upon the divorce. Have a sit-down with them at the breakfast or dinner table and slowly explain the situation to them with your husband present.

Make it very clear that the divorce is a decision you took for your best interests, that their father is not to blame (unless he is), and most importantly, they bear no blame in the whole thing. How much information regarding your divorce you want to give your kids depends on their age.

If your kids are aged 10 or below, then the bare minimum information should suffice as little kids don’t take a lot to convince as long as it’s done positively and properly. Teenagers on the other hand are a different story; unless they’ve explicitly seen their father being abusive, they won’t take your decision to end the marriage lightly.

You need to give them more information and context of your marital life so that they understand where you’re coming from and accept your decision accordingly. Divorce can be a very ugly event in a child’s life, so you need to ensure the negative effects of the divorce are as minimal as possible on your kids.

With some luck and a good ex-husband, you can minimize the damage a divorce can have on your children’s psyche and nurture them into proper, functional adults without spending thousands of dollars in therapy.


1. How far ahead should I plan to tell my husband the marriage is over?

It depends from person to person and circumstances. Generally taking two months to plan things out before breaking the news to your husband is ideal.

2. When should I get in touch with an attorney or lawyer?

You should get in touch with an attorney or lawyer after telling your husband the marriage is over. But if your husband is abusive, you should get in touch with a lawyer beforehand for the best advice on how to approach the situation.

3. Do I get full custody of my children if I initiate the divorce?

No. Unless your husband has shown signs of being an unfit father, the court will order shared custody of children for both parents.

4. Do I have to meet my ex during child visitations?

Unless you feel like it or have something important to talk about regarding your children, you’re under no obligation to meet your ex-husband.

Final Thoughts

Deciding to end a marriage and going through a divorce is not easy, whether you’re a man or a woman. But once that decision is made, every step you take towards separation must be smart and well-calculated. With everything that has been discussed above, you should no longer have any problems with how to tell your husband the marriage is over and protecting your kids from the negative fallout.

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Andrew C. Smith, an expert in couples and family psychology, brings years of experience in enhancing family dynamics and parent-child relationships. With a private practice background, Andrew is now a valued writer at Merge Family, sharing insights on communication and more

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