Breaking Through the Guilt: When You Want a Divorce and Your Partner Doesn't


A young couple argues in front of their daughter because one partner wants a divorce but the other partner doesn’t

Six tips for working through the guilt when you want a divorce and your partner doesn’t


Key takeaways:

  • Allow yourself grace as you go through the stages of grief

  • Be compassionate

  • Keep the lines of communication open

  • Find out why your partner objects to divorce and provide counter-objections

  • Give your spouse time and space to come to terms with the end of the relationship

  • Consider individual or joint therapy to help you process this tough time

Going through a divorce is one of the most stressful events someone can experience. Even if the split is mutual and peaceable, the process can be overwhelming and disruptive. Breaking up can upend every aspect of your life, from finances to living arrangements to parenting. The divorce process becomes even more challenging when one partner wants it and the other partner doesn’t. This can create feelings of guilt for the party who is initiating the breakup.

If you’re going through a divorce, you’re not alone. Divorce is common in the United States and it’s estimated that nearly half of first marriages end in divorce or separation.

There are many reasons marriages end. Personality clashes, finances, falling out of love, infidelity, lack of equality in the relationship, unrealistic expectations, or a lack of commitment can all be drivers behind a divorce. Even if getting a divorce is the healthiest option for your relationship, it can still create feelings of guilt when you have to be the one to pull the plug on a relationship. Here are six tips that can help you cope when you want a divorce but your partner doesn’t.


1.. Allow yourself grace as you move through the stages of grief


It’s totally normal to have difficult or negative emotions during this challenging time. It would be abnormal if you didn’t have some sort of emotional reaction. The loss of a relationship, even one that’s past its prime, is much like a death. There is a grieving process that you’ll go through as you mourn your marriage.


Grief is a very personal process. Allow yourself space to move through the grieving process. Allow yourself to feel the feelings that come up for you without judgment, whatever they may be.