What To Do When Your Spouse Files For Divorce


If your spouse files for divorce, you might feel lost and confused, not knowing what to do. You might be devastated, angry, or overwhelmed by emotions.

Maybe you’re even questioning, “Why should I even try to save my marriage?”

The majority of people we work with are people whose spouse filed for divorce and it seems like all hope is gone. So if you’re in that situation, saying, “But isn’t divorce, the end?”

The answer is it’s not. In fact, filing of divorce is just an event that happens. I know that might make it sound like I’m downplaying the circumstance. But on the flip side, it might be that we overemphasize the impact we allow the filing for divorce to have. Because at the end of the day, it is paperwork that can be torn up and thrown out.

And we’ve seen that happen in the lives of thousands of couples. Divorce papers? Thrown away. Divorce filings? Dismissed. We’ve seen the spouse who filed for divorce- who wanted it more than anything- tear it up.

And right now, you want hope like that. I know you do.

Here at Marriage Helper, we’ve seen thousands of marriages saved. Even after a divorce was filed, hope was on the horizon. And I’m going to give you 3 specific things to focus on during this time so you won’t lose hope- so you can envision the possibilities of what can happen for you and your marriage.


Allow Yourself To “Feel The Feelings”


First, allow yourself to feel the feelings. To be mad. To cry. Find time and space to grieve. What you’re going through is painful!

Now, I’m not suggesting that you stay here. I’m also not suggesting that you react out of the emotions you have. Keep them in the privacy of your home. Try not to take it out on your kids. Definitely don’t take it out on your spouse. Try not to take it out on other people. But don’t miss your opportunity to get these emotions right.

Also, don’t try to “push through,” acting as if everything is just fine. You are going through a loss:

  • A loss of the security you had in your marriage 
  • A dream of what you wanted your marriage to be 
  • What you had hoped for

This isn’t what you had hoped for, and it’s okay to grieve that right now. It’s okay to admit to yourself. Let yourself sink into the feeling of “the way that things are right now aren’t the way I want them to be.” It’s okay to grieve that right now, but I believe there’s still hope.

It’s okay to grieve that right now, but I believe there’s still hope.

Also, don’t act like you have to put up this “wall” or wear a mask. Allow yourself to feel the emotions that you feel without judgment right now, because it is hard. When you dismiss these feelings by trying to put on a perfect face, what actually ends up happening is you don’t deal with them. You’re just shoving them further down. And as time goes on, more emotions are going to pile on top of that… until, sooner or later, you’re going to explode.

Instead, consider this: “The more you try and ‘push’ through, the less you’re going to be able to move forward.” You need to accept the situation you’re in. Not living in a fantasy of false hope or guarantees, but moving forward in strength. Knowing you’ll be okay no matter what. But in order to get there, you need to feel the feelings and accept the current reality.


Find Good Friends (And Be Picky!)


Second, find an encouraging community. (You need to be SUPER picky about this!) Find a community of people who support you in your marriage and your decision to stand for your marriage. 

I was reading the other day about the need to take a long time to pick your friends, the core people you do life with. These people have more influence on your decisions and things you end up doing in your life more than many other things you encounter.

Your friends have more influence on your decisions, and things you end up doing in your life, than many other things!

So don’t just call your coworker because they went through this exact same thing last year. (Especially if that’s an angry coworker whose marriage ended up in divorce.) Instead, be super picky about who you choose to encourage you, guide you, and walk with you through this time.

It doesn’t need to be your sister, parent, or best friend. It needs to be someone who is wise; someone you believe you can trust and support you even in the face of adversity or obstacles. NOT someone who’s going to say, “It’s time for you to just go and be happy. Do whatever makes you happy.” 

Saving your marriage is a journey- it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You can choose short-term happiness, but that’s not what ultimately leads you to become the best person you can be.

Saving your marriage is a journey- it’s a marathon, not a sprint.


Focus On The Positive!

Third, focus on the positive in you first. Why? When your spouse files for divorce, it can be incredibly easy for you to start seeing every single thing wrong with you. You may focus on your flaws or things you did wrong. And while you do need to be aware of those things and work on changing them, you also need to see the positive.

But what about your spouse? You might also be thinking about all the ways you want to change your spouse… all the things they’ve done wrong or how you can’t believe they’re acting this way. 

Or maybe you think they shouldn’t have filed because this is their fault,  “How can they be the one to file for divorce? When they’re the one who has been in the addiction or having the affair or being a complete jerk! I should have been the one to file, right?” That may be what you’re thinking. But I want you to know that you can’t control your spouse. You can only control yourself- in the good and in the bad.

So, in the good and the bad, see the bad. Don’t overlook the faults and problems you need to change within yourself. Be aware of those, but don’t live there because you also need to see the positives in you, the good things you’re doing. Celebrate the fact that you’re aware of what you need to change. Celebrate your willingness to work on it! And become the most attractive you can be physically, intellectually, emotionally & spiritually.


Listen to the podcast, “It Starts With Attraction” for more tips on how you can do this in each area of the PIES!




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Remember to lean into the reasons why you’re standing, committed, and in this for the long haul. At Marriage Helper, we can help you define your “why.” We can help you create a statement to keep you grounded and focused on doing what you can to save your marriage.

Remember to lean into the reasons why you’re standing, committed, and in this for the long haul. 


The Save My Marriage Course teaches you what you can do even if your spouse has filed… even if others have told you, “Just give up!” Learn the ways you can save your marriage: https://marriagehelper.com/save-my-marriage/


The SMART Contact Toolkit teaches you ways to implement positive changes in how you communicate with your spouse. (Even if you aren’t talking with your spouse right now.) https://marriagehelper.com/smart-contact-toolkit/


We also have Marriage Coaching for one-on-one help: https://marriagehelper.com/coaching/


And, we have amazing Marriage Workshops that can transform your marriage! This is the best resource we have that can help: https://marriagehelper.com/workshops/


Lastly, we’re here for you. We have an amazing team and community that really does care what happens to you and your marriage. Please reach out to us! We would be honored to walk with you through this journey. And like we say, “If anything works, this will.”