Deciding to end your marriage wasn’t easy, but now you’re faced with a situation that may feel even worse. You have to tell your spouse that you want out.

How you should go about this is an important consideration. This initial conversation has the power to set the tone — good or bad — for the entire divorce process. If you want to try to establish a sense of cooperation with your spouse to end your marriage gracefully, here are some suggestions to consider:

  1. Be timely. Timing is important for any major announcement. Even if you think your spouse knows that the news is coming, choose a time when you can have your conversation in private without any other emotional stressors. Don’t make the announcement on a birthday or before any important event.
  2. Be honest. If you’re clear that you want a divorce, don’t give your spouse false hope that the marriage can be saved with therapy or other efforts. Make it clear that your decision is made and you’re now focused on the next part of the journey.
  3. Be kind. This isn’t the time to drag up anything that went wrong in the marriage. Nor should you enumerate your spouse’s failures. Instead, focus on why you think divorce is best for you both. After all, it frees you both up to find happiness elsewhere.
  4. Be sensible. If you find your emotions taking over (or your spouse is losing their cool), give yourself a break and resolve to finish the conversation when everyone has had a chance to calm down.

If you and your spouse want to maintain your friendship or ability to co-parent, it may be wise to consider the benefits of divorce mediation from the start.