How to handle difficult conversations during divorce

Going through divorce can involve a variety of tricky conversations. For example, once you have made the decision to divorce, you will need to decide how best to communicate your decision to your spouse and then to your children.

It can be difficult to know where to start with such challenging conversations and you will no doubt be concerned about getting it right for them and you.

Whilst there is no perfect collection of words, it is important to give careful thought to what you what to say and how you want to say it. Take time to gather your thoughts and be clear with the message you want to give.

What are the different types of conversations you may face?

There are potentially several different types of challenging conversations you may be facing in your divorce. Here are the main ones which are likely to come up:


How to approach difficult conversations

Here are my top tips for how best to approach conversations you might feel are going to be challenging for you:

1. Prepare what to say and how to say it

Take some time to write down the details of what you want to say. What is the message you want to get across? Start by thinking about what your desired outcome is from the conversation – e.g. passing on information or is it perhaps to open up a discussion reach an agreement on something? The clearer you are on what you want to say and what you want the outcome of the conversation to be, the more likely you are to give a clear message to the other person/s. It is fine to read from a script if this helps you make sure you say everything you want to say.

2. Plan where to have the conversation

Choose an environment that is comfortable for you and the others in the conversation. This can vary depending on the topic of the conversation and who is involved. Somewhere neutral can be a good idea for difficult conversations with your spouse or perhaps family/friends, rather than in the family home. Then, you have the family home to go back to after the conversation. For conversations with the children, the family home may be an appropriate venue. They will feel more comfortable in their own home and can escape to their bedroom if they need some space afterwards.

3. Decide when to have the conversation

Try to avoid a time when you or the other person are likely to be feeling tired or short on time to engage in an important conversation. Choose a time when you and they are likely to be clear headed and able to process important information. Having prepared yourself to have the difficult conversation, you will want to do what you can to ensure it takes place. To do this, you may want to book in a time with the other person, so they know you want to speak to them and they make themselves available.

4. Give the other person space to talk

The other person in the conversation may not have known what you were about to say, so may need time to process the information before they respond properly to you. They may need to respond to you on another day. This is fine and you can arrange another time in your diaries when the conversation will continue. Alternatively, the other person may wish to respond there and then. Allow them to speak and ask you questions. Listen to what they have to say. You don’t have to have all the answers and can respond that you don’t know the answer if this is appropriate.

5. Choose when to end the conversation

Wherever you are in your discussions, bring the conversation to an end if either of you seems to be getting angry/upset. You can always arrange to continue the conversation on another day, when you or them have had time to catch your breath. Even if you haven’t managed to say everything you wanted to say, there is little point continuing the conversation if you or the other person is not feeling comfortable and/or thinking clearly. There is no rush to cover too much information in one discussion.


How a divorce consultant can help Rhiannon Ford talking to a client

The tips above includes general advice for anyone facing those difficult conversations. But it is important to also take in to account individual personalities and personal situations of the people involved in the conversations which can help make sure the conversations are approached in the correct way. How you approach these discussions, could have a big impact on your divorce experience. Working with a divorce coach in advance can also really help. I work with my clients using lots of different tools and strategies to minimise the stress involved for the whole family, at such a challenging time in their lives, including:

  1. Strategies for effective communication
  2. Guidance for planning the content of what you want to say – for verbal and written communication
  3. Advice on how to manage difficult emotions
  4. Support and encouragement before and after the conversation has taken place


To find out more about how I might be able to help you with any challenging conversations you have coming up or perhaps have had recently that you need help with, please get in touch here – Contact Rhiannon


What my clients have said about how I have helped them:

“I opened an awkward conversation without either crying or backing straight down and I have the help you (Rhiannon) gave me to thank for that. I felt prepared and in control of what I wanted to say and how to say it which was brilliant. Thank you very much for such invaluable help. The initials that I keep in mind in such conversations are now WWRSS (What Would Rhiannon Suggest or Say)!!”

“Rhiannon was recommended to me by a friend when I had decided I wanted to separate from my husband. She helped me find the best and most productive way to broach my decision with my husband, maintaining a clear focus on keeping the heat out of the situation and minimising conflict, while achieving my goal.”

If you have found the tips in this blog useful then you will find lots more in my ebook “Tips for Coping with Divorce” which you can download here: free ebook.

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