I'm Scared to Ask My Husband For a Divorce - What Do I Do?

By:
Michael Tierney
Updated
August 27, 2022

Fear is a common response to uncertainty. We instinctively fear the results whenever something happens where the outcome is not readily apparent - not because we lack courage but because, more often than not, the negative outcomes can be devastating.

Fear is not something to ashamed of, but it is something to be conquered if you want to succeed in your future endeavors. Countless situations can induce fear since you can never really know how they will play out. Some scenarios are more stressful than others and thus generate more fear when faced with them. Among the terrifying situations to find yourself in is requesting a divorce from your husband.

No one wants to get divorced, and it is extremely common for the spouse being served divorce papers to fight the request tooth and nail.

Solution This fear can be made worse if your husband is a man who does not respond well to bad news. The more aggressive people out there might even respond violently to a request for divorce. If you fear for your safety while trying to process a divorce, that fear might back you into a corner.

While we understand your hesitance to pursue a divorce in the face of a potentially hostile response, there are ways to do so safely.

Identify Why You Are Scared

While there are plenty of reasons you might be scared to request a divorce, determining the exact cause of your fear is critical. Some fears are unfounded, while others result from empirical evidence gathered throughout your marriage. The cause of your fear could either be a reasonable concern or simple fear of the unknown result. Determining which it is could help you overcome that fear and officially request a divorce from your husband. One of the average spouse's biggest fears when contemplating divorce is the aftermath. Returning to full independence can be daunting when you spend significant time sharing a life with somebody.

Fear of how your life might change when you are completely responsible for essentials and lifestyle can be paralyzing. However, once you have identified this as the source of your fear, it becomes that much easier to overcome. Namely, knowing what about your newfound independence scares you will give you the insight to plan for life after marriage preemptively. This can include making a budget, finding affordable housing, and securing employment if you are not already a full-time worker.

Spouse Fearing Divorce

Other details, such as how to share certain property or regulate child visitation, can be more complicated to resolve. This is because these are not details you can sort out without input from your husband, and it often leads to court hearings. In these situations, it becomes a matter of communication and discussing your concerns with your husband before requesting the divorce. Such a conversation might be terrifying, but you might find that your husband is more receptive than you thought.

The uncertainty of divorce is enough to make anyone avoid confronting their spouse despite how unhealthy the relationship is. If your marriage is toxic or your spouse proves to be abusive, it is understandable that you might want to avoid confronting them with something like divorce. Especially since the situation changes dramatically if your husband is possessive or abusive, in these circumstances, confronting him for a divorce could threaten your health. If this is the reason you fear asking for a divorce, going it alone is simply not an option, which begs the question of what alternatives exist.

Hire a Mediator

There is a misconception that any conversations you have with your husband about personal matters must be a one-on-one conversation.

Solution Many do not realize that you can hire a referee of sorts by contacting a mediator. Mediators are 3rd parties that can help regulate conversations so they remain productive and healthy rather than devolving into shouting matches where nothing is accomplished. Hiring a mediator is not without its challenges, but finding one you can rely on can revitalize the conversation and ensure your fears are allayed.

Mediators are typically hired when divorce negotiations stagnate with no resolution in sight. When asking your husband for a divorce, you can use a mediator to discuss the issues in the relationship. Addressing the issues can help in 1 of 2 ways to help you find an ideal resolution for your quest to divorce your husband. Mediation can help you and your spouse come to a preliminary agreement and have the divorce papers signed and finalized. While this is not likely to be the result in the first session, it can help you get a head start on resolving conflicts.

In rarer cases, mediation can help you reconcile the relationship and eliminate the need for divorce. If the reason you are seeking a divorce is something that you can work through with time and patience, a mediator can help you address the issues without letting things get out of hand. Relying completely on a mediator to help you request a divorce from your husband is a little less common. Still, you can use a mediator to help resolve some differences ahead of the actual filing process.

Married Couple Working With Mediator

You do not have to hire a professional mediator if the goal is to request a divorce. Requesting a divorce means the mediator is there to ease concerns and ensure safety. Therefore, a close friend or family member is sufficient for this purpose. A professional mediator is likely best saved for the divorce process since they are meant to oversee the negotiations involved.

Ultimately, your mediator can help keep your husband on his best behavior so that you can reach an agreeable resolution. You will still need to get your husband to agree to meet with the mediator, which can prove difficult when you have concerns about your husband's reaction to a divorce request. If your concerns are about your safety, you will likely not find much use in a mediator and will need to use more aggressive measures.

Serve the Divorce Papers Remotely

Anyone who has watched television has likely witnessed a scene where a suited gentleman has handed a folder to another person with the line "you've just been served." While not quite as dramatic, this is a real-life occurrence as you do not have to be the one informing your husband of the divorce request.

Solution You can deliver the divorce papers and ask for the separation personally, but when unsure of your safety, it is better to have the papers delivered by a proxy.

This proxy must meet a few requirements to serve the divorce papers to your husband legally, but those who meet the criteria allow you to maintain distance.

The criteria to be allowed to deliver the papers on your behalf are not overly strict. So long as the representative is 18 or older, they can legally deliver the papers to your husband. It can even be a family member or a close friend. Most people choose to have their lawyers deliver the papers since their attorneys already represent them in the courtroom. This is not to say your lawyer steps out of the office to hand-deliver the papers to your husband but will likely have a professional deliver them instead. Whether you seek professional help or elect to have a friend deliver the papers, it allows you to remain at a fair distance from your husband without having to ask about the divorce.

Husband Served Divorce Papers

Having the papers sprung on your husband should be saved for situations where your husband poses a threat to your health and safety. An abusive spouse, for example, is a prime candidate for being served the papers while you are safely elsewhere. Though there are additional preparations you must make when leaving someone like this. Otherwise, springing a divorce without a prior conversation with an otherwise reasonable spouse could backfire.

Having the papers served is not the only way to remotely request a divorce. It is legal to have the papers physically mailed to your husband. Specifically, you must send them via certified mail, which comes with a receipt to prove when it was sent and when it arrived. This way, your husband will not be able to deny receiving the papers. While your husband does not have to accept the papers when they are delivered, the receipts prove reasonable attempts were made, and your spouse will legally meet the criteria of being informed. Dealing with the act of requesting a divorce is not the only important detail for overcoming your fear of the request.

Prepare Yourself

While it is easy to assume that divorce is sudden, a lot of thought goes into the decision. When you are considering divorce, there are likely a lot of factors that have led you to that conclusion. The path to divorce is emotionally turbulent and can leave you in a strange place. While you might feel prepared for divorce, there are certain psychological ramifications to a major life decision like divorce. Finally, confronting your husband with divorce can make those emotions rise to unprecedented levels.

This is not to say that emotions make you unable to function, but it is always a good idea to take some time and prepare for what is coming. Contemplating divorce is something you should do when the odds of reconciliation with your husband are practically nonexistent. In some cases, leaving your husband is the best possible option, but that does not make it any easier to finally pull the trigger. You need to vent your emotional response to the entire situation in some form or another.

Woman Preparing Herself

How you go about this can vary but getting those feelings out in the open and talking through what you feel is critical. You can accomplish this by speaking to a professional, close friend, or family member. Getting the information about how you feel out into the world helps make following through a little easier. Processing your emotions can also be accomplished by writing in a journal to flesh out how the idea of divorce is affecting you. Once you have fully processed what the situation will mean to you emotionally, you might also find you have overcome the fear.

We, as a species, look at things differently once they have been put into the world. Saying something out loud or putting it on paper gives it a sense of gravity. Psychologically, our behavioral patterns are shaped by things we perceive as immediate and real. Saying something out loud gives it the life necessary to affect our behavioral patterns.

By openly expressing the stress and motivations behind your desire to divorce your husband, you might find some closure that helps you confront him with less fear.

Learn the Law

Confronting your husband with the news you want a divorce is a nerve-wracking experience. That is an inescapable fact of the divorce process that is not likely to change anytime soon. While the confrontation is likely something you would prefer to avoid, you can make no progress until you decide. Whether you are considering serving the papers remotely or finding a way to open a healthy dialogue with your husband, fear is something that you will have to overcome. We are sympathetic to how terrifying the whole situation is, but uncertainty is the greatest source of fear. To that end, knowledge can be one of the best tools against uncertainty so you can overcome your fear.

Couple Filing For Divorce

Divorce is more complicated than most people realize; too many think it is as simple as serving papers to emancipate yourself from your spouse. The negotiations and discovery involved in litigating a divorce turn it into one of the world's most complicated and personal legal claims. Unfortunately, too many divorce cases are a little more uniform than they should be. Some spouses outright lie about the other or one party being abusive. Fortunately, the uniformity of these cases makes it easier to learn how to navigate such cases than it was even 50 years ago. The key is finding the information you can use to prepare for your divorce, so the uncertainty is a little less uncertain.

Written By:
Michael Tierney
Michael is a legal writer and graduate of WSU. Prior to becoming a legal writer, he had 6 years of experience as a legal assistant and office manager for a family law attorney. He's written about numerous legal subjects from helping spouses who are stuck in toxic situations to the intricacies of custody battles. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and building custom keyboards.

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