Time to end the relationship? And if so, how do you break the news in a way that does the least emotional damage? Marriage therapists offer advice:
• Peer into the future. Talk to a lawyer and an accountant, research what an apartment would cost, ask a real-estate agent to estimate a sale price for your house, says Susan Pease Gadoua, a licensed social worker who specializes in helping couples with relationship strife. ‘You will either become energized or depressed,’ she says, ‘and that will be telling.’
• Tell your spouse early. As soon as you start losing your commitment to the relationship, speak up, therapists say. ‘Bring up divorce when you still don’t want it,’ says Bill Doherty, director of the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project.
• Do therapy on a trial basis. If you think your marriage could be salvaged, find an objective professional and agree on a trial period, typically six months to a year.
• Expect the worst. Anticipate that your spouse will be shocked and behave badly. Regardless, listen calmly—for more than one conversation—to give your spouse a chance to respond.
• Stick around. If you’re the one leaving, don’t move out or cut off contact too quickly. Some therapists even suggest continuing to live together for two to six months, if that’s what your spouse wants, to ease the transition,