How to tell your partner you want to separate

Your spouse should be the first person you speak with about wanting to separate. Speaking to your spouse about this will be one of the most challenging conversations you will ever have in your life. However it is best that you speak with them first to make sure they don’t hear it from someone else.

Whilst it is important to speak with friends and family, those conversations need to happen after you have had this first conversation.

One of the pieces of advice we offer in our book ‘Breaking Up Without Breaking Down’ and in our discovery meetings with clients is to write a letter to your spouse.

We offer services for assisting with this but have provided some practical tips on the following page to help you get started. If your spouse hears this news from friends or family, your children, or through social media, it will only increase emotions,inflame the situation, and probably humiliate your spouse.

It is important to set the foundations of this process with kindness and in as low conflict way as possible.

Avoid breaking the news during an argument where emotions may be running high. There is potential for things to go from bad to worse in that situation.

That said, you also don’t want to tell your spouse over the phone, by voice mail, text, email or social media – even though that may feel easier; it doesn’t honour your past relationship or the respect you have (or used to have) for each other. It can easily add insult to injury. The ideal approach is to have this conversation in person.

This should be a considered conversation where you both can speak and be heard without arguing and the end result is an agreed plan for the next step. The next step could be agreeing to have another conversation, agreeing to get counselling or beginning to plan your exit from the relationship.

Keep in mind that the next step will depend on your and your spouse’s stages in the uncoupling process. This is discussed further in our book ‘Breaking Up Without Breaking Down’.

When we write things down and have a plan, we seem to have much better clarity of our future. Remember when completing these tasks try to be honest, constructive and respectful.

We strongly recommend writing a letter and some other notes down to help. For further information on how to write this letter and plan please download our FREE worksheet resource that you can find here.