Asking a spouse for a divorce can be an intimidating prospect. You have known for some time that your marriage was not working. You have tried every way possible to help your spouse see that you are drifting apart.

Your suggestions for marriage counseling go unheeded. Your spouse thinks everything is wonderful, and he does not take your concerns seriously.

Plan for a peaceful introduction

Before you approach the question, some planning is in order. First, you need an overarching goal to create and maintain a peaceful atmosphere. Keep in mind that this first step on the road to divorce can set the tone for everything that follows. Maintain compassion, respect and kindness. You will also need to be firm and unwavering in your plan.

Set the stage for a productive outcome 

This is an important discussion, so you will not want interruptions. The one exception is if your spouse has been physically abusive—in that case, meet in a public place. For a quiet talk at home, plan for a time when your spouse is not under stress.

Make sure you will be alone with your spouse at home. Take your children to eat dinner and stay overnight at their grandparents’ house or with a friend. Turn off all cellphones or any other electronic devices. If you have landlines, detach the line from the wall outlet. If you have friends or neighbors that like to pop over for a random visit, put a sign on the front door to say you are fine but unavailable. Ask your spouse if you can talk for a few minutes.

How to best share your decision

Perhaps you have imagined this moment as a time when emotions may run high. You have planned out all the reasons you will give as to why you want a divorce, and you expect the discussion to take a long time. That is often not the best way to go. Make a very brief statement of your intention to get a divorce. Then you will let your husband know you understand he has many questions. You will answer them all in a day or two, but for now, you have said enough. Do not explain or discuss your decision.

After you tell him you have decided to divorce, say that you will answer all his questions later in the week with your attorney present. Do not speak any other words about the divorce. If he keeps pressuring you to talk, leave the house.

Make sure your first discussion takes place in your attorney’s office. If he will not go with you, go alone and start the divorce process. Talking in your lawyer’s office will help you both focus on the main points and will drive home the fact that you are serious. Ask your attorney to explain the least stressful ways to dissolve the marriage and how that can benefit your children during the coming transition.