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What happens if you want a divorce and your spouse doesn’t?

Whether you realized that you made a mistake almost as soon as you walked down the aisle or you’ve gradually come to realize that your long-standing marriage isn’t fulfilling, you want out – but your spouse doesn’t.

What happens now? You have several choices.

It’s up to you if you want to consider other options

In the past, couples could only divorce if there were legally acceptable “grounds” for the split. Since those were sometimes hard to prove, one spouse could effectively keep a marriage on life support by simply refusing to cooperate. Today, however, Massachusetts offers a “no-fault” option. To get a divorce, you need merely tell the court that your marriage is irretrievably broken. Your divorce can proceed, despite your spouse’s objections.

All that being said, the divorce process can go a lot smoother if your spouse is willing to admit that the marriage is over and work with you on an amicable parting. With that in mind, you may want to:

  • Communicate your feelings: Explain to your spouse why you don’t believe the marriage can be saved. Avoid blaming your spouse for their failings, and focus on the bigger picture. (In other words, don’t bring up your spouse’s excessive gaming. Instead, focus on the idea that you feel like you have been living as roommates for a while now.) This could, at least, help them understand your perspective.
  • Take a break: Right after you make the announcement, feelings may be very raw. It may help if both you and your spouse take some time alone to process your emotions. A week or two where you disconnect from each other and live largely separate lives can help you both find stable emotional footing and experience a taste of what life may be like without the other.
  • Consider counseling: If you are a little bit uncertain about seeking a divorce, joint therapy can help you see if there’s any hope for reconciliation. If there really isn’t any hope that you will remain married, counseling can help your spouse emotionally accept the reality of the divorce and show you both how to “consciously uncouple” in a healthy way.

Marriage is supposed to be a joining of two lives for a lifetime – but not all marriages stand the test of time. If you’re ready to get a divorce, you don’t need your spouse’s permission nor consent. While the divorce process can be significantly easier if both spouses are cooperative, nobody has to remain in a marriage they no longer desire.