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How to tell your husband “it’s over”

Like a great many other women, you may have started January by contemplating divorce and ended it by reaching the decision to end your marriage.

Making that decision is both the easy part and the difficult bit. It’s “easy” because at least, now, you have made a decision after weeks, months, perhaps years of doubt and misgivings and can begin to move on with your life.

It’s difficult, not just because it means putting in motion a process of change and possible conflict that is bound to be painful, but also because one of the first things you have to do is tell friends and family. You also have to tell the person it most affects – your husband.

Reaching the decision to divorce can be a very lonely experience, for there is no one but you to evaluate how you really feel, and announcing your resolve to your partner is always going to be traumatic. So I recommend that you work out the best way and the best situation in which to do it. Only you can know what this is. Don’t over-egg the positives, but in breaking the news make sure you emphasise how great the marriage used to be while explaining why it’s not great any more and how you have come to the conclusion you will both be better off without one another. Avoid, if you can, confrontation and concentrate on emphasising the benefits of going your separate ways. After all, just as it takes two to tango, so it takes two to destroy a relationship.

Interestingly, some wives don’t tell their husbands. This is usually because they are too frightened. The man might be irrational or prone to explosive outbursts. Many men are physically bigger than their wives and therefore can be intimidating. I hear often the expression, “he’s going to go mad when I tell him.”

If you feel you can’t break the news in person, there is another way. Instruct a law firm as soon as possible and get them to write to your husband, informing him of your decision to end the marriage and asking him to pass the letter to his solicitor. If you are worried this will result in a brutal reaction, your lawyer may include a second letter warning that an injunction or exclusion order can be applied for immediately. In my experience, this usually has the desired effect of calming the husband down and making him realise his game is up. However violent and unpleasant he has been in the past, he can no longer get away with it. A lawyer knows about it and will use it against him if necessary. You, meanwhile, start to feel the stirrings of empowerment. Someone, at last, is on your side.

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