My spouse wants a divorce. I do not. What do I do?

couple arguing a divorce lawyer

There is nothing more heartbreaking than hearing your spouse say the words, “I want a divorce.” Particularly if you are not prepared or it seems out of the blue. Even if you have been sensing things have been wrong for a long time, it is still a hard pill to swallow.

Your first thought may be to do anything you can to save the marriage such as counselling or couple’s therapy. But your spouse may be saying “I’m done.” If you truly want to make your relationship work and avoid getting a divorce, you need to show that you are capable of change.

It can seem unfair or unrealistic that something like this is happening to you. Whether you and your spouse decide to make it work or get a divorce, there are certain things you should and should not do.

What not to do if your spouse wants a divorce. 

If you want to save your marriage, you need to give that option the best opportunity you can. Many people sabotage the chances of saving their marriage by lashing out at their partner or becoming vengeful. However, these actions can hinder your chances of saving your marriage and could actually drive your partner away even further. While it may be hard to control your initial reaction to finding out your spouse wants a divorce, this is what you should avoid doing:

  • Don’t Act Out: Causing a scene, flirting with other people, abusing drugs or alcohol, etc.
  • Don’t Beg: Pleading for your spouse to stay or putting unnecessary pressure on them.
  • Don’t Bargain: Buying your spouse gifts as a way of buying back their love.
  • Don’t Spread rumours or gossip: Talking to friends and family about your spouse in a negative way.
  • Don’t Manipulate: Do not push or pressure your spouse. Mind games will not help you here.
  • Don’t Spy: Do not follow or track your spouse. Give them space. You want to build trust, not break it.

If you are set on giving your marriage a chance, you need to give your partner a chance to get on board with the idea. You cannot expect them to change their mind when you display one of those behaviours.

What to do if your spouse wants a divorce.

Your spouse’s affection cannot be bought, bribed, or won over through mind games. Your spouse has likely thought about getting a divorce for a long time. It’s not a simple decision to be made. They could have been thinking about a divorce for months, even years, before saying anything. In which case, it may be difficult to sway their decision. However, if there is any chance of repairing your relationship and avoiding divorce, these are a few things you can do when you interact with your spouse:

  • Do Move Forward: Whether or not your partner stays, show them that you will move forward with confidence and a plan. While you want to stay optimistic, you still need to be prepared if you do get divorced.
  • Do Let Your Thoughts Be Known: Talk to your partner about how you want to save your relationship. Be patient and calm. Allow your partner to give their perspective and actively listen to what they have to say.
  • Do Control Your Emotions: It is okay to be vulnerable, but do not allow your anger to sabotage your relationship. If your emotions start to boil up in conversation, take a moment to yourself before continuing so you can reel them back in.
  • Do Be Respectful: Treat your partner with respect and have respect for yourself.
  • Do Avoid Arguments: Do not engage in an argument if your spouse tries to start one. Even if that means walking away from the situation. If you and your partner want to discuss your relationship, do so calmly and civilly.
  • Do Give Each Other Space: Do not question or nag your spouse about their whereabouts. A part of building trust with your partner is to give them space and the freedom they need and deserve.
  • Do Get Help: Read self-help books and videos. Or if possible, seek out a marriage counsellor. There is a good chance that your emotions are at an all-time high. So, finding an outlet (aside from your spouse) to talk about those feelings is very important.

Finding a middle ground will likely be your best option. If you do not want to get a divorce and your partner does, one option is a trial separation. With a trial separation, you and your spouse can live apart temporarily to evaluate your relationship. Often trial separations can lead to divorce so this step should be a last resort. Sometimes a cooling-off period is helpful.

I’ve tried saving my marriage, but my spouse still wants a divorce…

If you have tried everything you can to save your marriage and your spouse still wants a divorce, there is not much you can do to stop it from happening. You can try to repair a relationship, but you cannot force someone to stay in a relationship.

Your spouse can go out at any time to obtain a lawyer and file for a separation or divorce. In which case, you will also need to obtain a divorce or family lawyer. However, if you want to protect your future and your family, these are three things you should do during the divorce process:

  1. Educate yourself and be involved: Typically, when one spouse is not on board with the divorce, their initial reaction is to ignore the divorce thinking it will go away. But your divorce process and separation agreement will have you making very real and big decisions about your future. So, if you are getting a divorce, it is in your best interest (and your children’s) to educate yourself about the divorce process to learn what your options are. Obtain an experienced divorce lawyer who can help you navigate your divorce as effectively as possible.
  2. Empower yourself: When you ignore your divorce, you are placing your future in the hands of a complete stranger. Take control of your life by hiring a divorce lawyer to help you and protect your future. Just start with a consultation with a lawyer so you can learn your rights, obligations and choices.
  3. Find the most amicable resolution: When searching for the right divorce lawyer, choose someone who wants to find the most peaceful resolution to your divorce. Particularly if a divorce lawyer recommends mediation or collaborative practice, this is a good sign. When a divorce lawyer recommends one of these practices, it usually means they are looking out for your best interests and that they want to keep you out of the courtroom. It shows they are more concerned about your future rather than getting as much money out of you as they can.

Work with one of our professional divorce lawyers today! 

When you are ready, we are here for you at Galbraith Family Law. We deeply understand how difficult it can be to go through a divorce. Especially one that you were not prepared for. We are here to help you navigate your divorce and to guide you through making the right decisions for you specifically so you can move forward confidently after your divorce. To work with one of our experienced and professional divorce lawyers, book a consultation with us today. For our Toronto offices call 647-370-8965, for our Newmarket office call 289-210-4692 or you can reach us at our Barrie office at 705-230-2734.

Brian Galbraith

Brian Galbraith is the owner and founder of Galbraith Family Law Professional Corporation. Brian is known in the legal community for his commitment to efficiently practicing family law using technology and streamlining the divorce processes.

Reader Interactions


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