One Spouse Wants a Divorce, and the Other Doesn’t

At the beginning of a divorce case, one spouse is usually more motivated to end the marriage than the other one is. This causes a problem within a problem. Divorce is difficult enough when both parties agree that it’s time to end the marriage, but another level of conflict is created when the reluctant partner wants to try to save the marriage. This automatically has a drastic effect on any hopes for an early resolution.

The announcement of a divorce often causes trauma to the less-motivated spouse. This forestalls their willingness to discuss settlement and hurts the motivated spouse’s chances for an early resolution. It is wise if the motivated spouse does not push for a settlement before the other party has had ample time to come to grips with getting divorced.

More often than not, the one who wants the divorce will grow impatient and become less tolerant of the other’s reluctance. They begin to resent the other party for dragging their feet or perhaps overplaying the trauma card, and this attitude complicates and inflames everything. It never pays to rattle someone who has power over us. And make no mistake, if the goal is to settle out of court, the spouse who wants the divorce the least is the one with all the power.

To make things even worse, the less-motivated spouses often tend to stall even after their emotional blockage has subsided. Some do this when their initial hurt turns into anger, some do it to enhance their bargaining position, and some do it just to make it hard for the other party.

If your partner doesn’t want a divorce and you do, and you want to make your divorce less agonizing and costly, you have no viable alternative but to wait it out. We jump this hurdle by knowing how to wait it out.

We do this by accepting that:

  • The negotiation process is only as quick as the pace of its slowest participant, and that our partner’s pace is out of our control.
  • Our spouse’s willingness to negotiate is not something we can speed up. It comes with the passage of time.
  • We must never push our spouse.
  • We must tolerate their foot dragging for as long as we can. Complaining about it creates more delay than the reluctance itself.
  • We must be patient or appear to be patient.
  • We must never let our spouse see how much their pokiness irritates us.
  • We are hurting ourselves (or at least wasting our breath) if we attempt to begin negotiations prior to our spouse becoming emotionally ready to participate.

We welcome hearing from you and we invite your questions. There is no obligation. No one will ever know that we spoke or what we discussed. Everything you say is privileged, confidential, and completely classified. We do not maintain a mailing list and will not contact you unless you ask us to.

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Kari and Richard are staunch advocates of the non-court approach to divorce, and are also active and seasoned litigators with over 80 years of combined trial experience in the Illinois divorce courts of Cook and DuPage counties.