So you’ve decided it’s time to pursue a divorce. You’ve probably researched your options online; you may have even consulted a divorce attorney. You are ready to take the plunge, but there is a big task in your way:  you have to inform your spouse.

Depending on the circumstances, this could be the most difficult and emotional point of the process. However, once you’ve completed this task, you can finally move forward with the rest of your life. Here are a few tips for informing your spouse effectively and considerately.

  1. Be careful with how you do it: The method, tone, and words you choose to inform your spouse set the tone for the remainder of the proceedings. Enraging your spouse could lead to a bitter process; while a meeting of the minds could make the process extremely easy. At the end of the day, it is in your best interest to make (or at least attempt to make) this process go as smooth as possible.
  2. Be considerate: You can catch more flies with honey. Even if you are mad, be kind when telling your spouse. This will make your life a lot easier in the long run. Take the time to listen to what your spouse has to say about the divorce. Above all — do not argue with your spouse. Simply let them share their feelings.
  3. Own your choice — don’t defend it:. If you have sincerely decided to get a divorce, you need to stick with your choice. Defending that decision could signal to your spouse that the issue is up for debate or that things can be worked out between the two of you. If you are certain, stick to it.
  4. Carefully pick the time and place: A romantic or nostalgic setting may send the wrong signal to your spouse. A public place is also likely an inconsiderate choice of location. Consider finding a private place where you can talk without distraction or interruption.

Remember, be considerate, but stay firm. Be clear on your choice. Consider expressing that you are interested in working together in the best interest of your family. Your spouse will likely have several questions, but be clear that you do not have to discuss the entire divorce at this time. Finally, remember that the divorce will be easiest if you maintain a sense of fairness throughout the process.