Are you dealing with divorce threats and wondering how to respond? When you respond to your partner threatening divorce, be mindful of the words you utter in return. Get your spouse to sit down and go over the issues you face in your relationship. To salvage your marriage, work on your partnership. Consider seeing a marriage counselor to help guide you and assist with problem-solving.
Divorce is not something to joke around about. When your relationship goes through a bumpy patch, you often feel that it will never end. So, imagine the shock when your loving spouse of a few years threatens divorce (especially if this is not something on your mind). What will you do, and how do you respond to threats of divorce?
Read on to get a helpful opinion on reacting to divorce threats. I outline the effect these threats have on you, your spouse, and your relationship. There are other, healthier ways of expressing your frustration in a relationship rather than threatening to seek a divorce and ruining a partnership that worked so well.
Related Reading: How Long Can You Put a Divorce on Hold?
How to Respond to Divorce Threats
If you are ever faced with your partner threatening divorce in an argument, the best thing is to take a deep breath. Such a threat to a relationship, especially an otherwise happy marriage, is unexpected and hurtful. You will definitely feel dumbstruck with no knowledge of how to respond.
Here are a few suggestions you need to take into account when you are confronted with divorce threats:
1. Control Your Emotions
Though it is difficult in that moment, you must control your emotions to be fully aware of how you react. It is shocking to hear divorce threats, and it usually happens in the heat of the moment. Your best bet is to calmly respond, ensure your partner that you can discuss this further once you have had time to reflect, and walk away to cool down.
2. Control Your Behavior
Your spouse should not have made divorce threats to begin with, but since you are on the receiving end, try to be better and control your behavior to avoid escalating the situation. For example, you can respond to let them know that what they said hurt you but steer clear of actions you might regret later.
Especially if you do not share the same opinion on divorce, let them know how much it will negatively affect your relationship if they keep threatening you with leaving you when they are unhappy. They may not even be serious about wanting a divorce and may just be using this as a way to express their extreme anger or unhappiness at a situation. Seeking couple’s counselling to learn to properly communicate, without anger and threats, would be a good way forward.
3. Talk to Your Spouse and Address Other Issues
Once both of you have cooled down and are ready to face one another, address the topic. Ask your spouse why they felt the need to mention divorce or ask them what issues in the relationship led them to their threats and argumentative behavior.
It is essential to confront the problems to move past the petty or serious issues that are negatively affecting your emotions. As they say, you should never go to bed angry in a marriage (relationship)! Instead, sort out your problems, find solutions, and comprise. However, this is not to say that you can’t take time to cool off and reflect before discussing. This is often healthier than exchanging insults in the heat of the moment.
4. Consider Marriage Counselling
Marriage counseling is an option you can consider if you feel like getting outside help will assist both of you to move past your issues. If divorce threats are becoming commonplace in your relationship during arguments, I strongly recommend booking an appointment with a marriage counselor.
These counseling sessions can be grueling and emotional because you will likely hear your partner’s unconcealed and strong opinions about you and the partnership. And although you may not want to hear these negative thoughts, it may be the best or only way to move ahead in your marriage.
The marriage counselor can also offer alternative ways to react during an argument to avoid saying hurtful comments (or threats of divorce) to your spouse. In addition, they can assist you with setting boundaries.
5. Work on Your Marriage
So, you have completed your sessions with the marriage counselor and they think you are ready to work on your marriage yourself. What now? Some things are easier said than done. Improving your marriage takes time and patience.
Ensure your actions match your words, you are willing to change certain aspects of your relationship and yourself, and you will avoid getting into unnecessary arguments that might escalate.
Related Reading: Husband Wants to Divorce But Still Be Together?
Should You Take Divorce Threats Seriously?
Whenever threats of divorce come up in arguments, you must take it seriously. It can indicate that your relationship is going downhill, and your partner will feel better if they exclude you from their personal life. Even if your partner tends to be dramatic and is using the threat of divorce to hurt you, they must still mean it on some level to invoke divorce when angry.
You might be looking past all the problems in the relationship, which frustrates your partner and leads to miscommunication. Effective communication is crucial if you want to have a fulfilling and lasting marriage.
Related Reading: What Happens If My Husband Files for Divorce First?
Why Do People Threaten Divorce?
We have discussed what to do when confronted with divorce threats, but why does your partner threaten you with divorce?
- They might threaten divorce to hurt you. For example, if you are caught in an argument, your spouse might threaten you to defend themselves because the dispute triggered them, and they want to ensure they hurt you in return.
- They want to have leverage over you. If your partner realizes that it is easy to manipulate you by threatening to leave, they will use your kindness to get you to do whatever they tell you.
Your partner knows how much you love them and will constantly threaten you with divorce if you go against them. This is considered emotional abuse and can also be a sign of gaslighting.
- They want to win the argument. Whether you are disputing over something petty or serious, your spouse might pull the divorce card on you to stop talking and leave them alone. It shows they know how much of a shock the threat can be, so they use it to their advantage.
- Your spouse may bring up divorce threats to disguise their fear of divorce. Usually, if this is the reason, they believe that you are thinking of divorce and want to check how you will respond to the threats.
- Your spouse might threaten you with divorce because they genuinely want to file for divorce. This can be true even if you have never heard them mention it before.
The Effects of Threatening Divorce
Once your partner uttered a divorce threat, there is no way it can be undone and you surely will not forget it. Their intimidating remarks can put a strain on your marriage and have a significant effect on your emotional and mental well-being.
It can make effective communication more complex and you may struggle to address the root problems in your relationship. For example, you would rather hide your emotions than talk about them because you are afraid of abandonment now that they have expressed that they are willing (or wishing) to leave you.
The threats of divorce, especially if they are frequent, can cause insecurity in the marriage. Your relationship will feel less secure and loving, which may even lead you to have doubts about yourself. Once these negative feelings come through, they may be hard to move past without significant changes in your relationship and mutual communication styles.
Divorce threats will make existing conflicts more complicated. They will only add to your frustration and insecurity. These two, paired with a lack of proper communication, can signify a failing marriage.
Continue Reading: How to Find Love After Divorce At Age 35
It is not easy staying married and it often requires hard work on both sides. All couples face many and varied ups and downs. Arguments can sometimes become heated and, sadly, sometimes people will say something that they will truly regret and do not mean.
Try to avoid escalating the situation in the heat of the moment. Control your emotions and be aware of your behavior and your words. Let your spouse know that they truly hurt you once you are able to calmly express this. Consider seeking professional help, as a couple, to work through your issues.
However, if divorce threats are used as a means to manipulate you, and are a symptom of more insidious emotional abuse, try not to fall into your partner’s trap and consider seeking individual therapy to work through the issue.
After earning his Master of Social Work from the University of Toronto, Stuart gained experience working with families in community mental health settings and in the child protection sector. Since becoming a father himself, Stuart now works in private practice offering psychotherapy services. FatherResource is an opportunity for Stuart to share what he learns on his journey as a father with a larger audience.