What to Do if Your Spouse Threatens Divorce Too Often

Megans husband threatened divorce but did he really want a divorce?

Couple arguing on city street
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Megan’s husband has spent years threatening divorce every time he gets upset. She has finally had enough and decided to file for a divorce herself. Now that she has, her husband is on the receiving end of something he didn't really want. What should she do now that her husband has turned into the ultimate nice guy in an attempt to save his marriage?

Reader Question:

When my husband gets mad at me, he threatens a divorce. He has done this for years on end and I’ve lived with the fear that he was one day going to leave me. For example, he didn't tell me about an important company dinner until 3 hours before the dinner. I was upset, to say the least, and told him it was unacceptable for him to not give me more notice. 

The next thing I knew he had blown up, lost his cool and was threatening to leave and file for divorce. According to him, I'm the unreasonable one with expectations that are too high. He says things like, "I work long days, I can't be expected to remember every little thing." 

I'm sorry but, when it impacts me in a negative way, I expect him to remember. 

I’m finally through with being afraid of him leaving and realize that I want out of this marriage. Now that I’ve started divorce proceedings the guy who threatened divorce so often is being super nice. He is buying me roses, crying and begging me not to leave. He has done this before and when I change my mind things go back to the way they used to be, him getting pissed and yelling at me that he wants a divorce.

I plan to go ahead with the divorce but I can’t help but wonder why someone would cry divorce so often if that isn’t what they really want.


What To Do When Your Spouse Constantly Threatens Divorce:

Megan, holding a marriage together takes some knowledge of how to handle marital problems as they arise. It takes relationship skills and I’m afraid not everyone is equipped with the skills needed to solve relationship problems.

It sounds like your husband thinks that threatening to take his love away from you will solve whatever problem he sees as an issue in the relationship. And, more than likely he views you as the problem and isn't willing to or, able to take responsibility for any role he may play. 

Threatening to take your toys and go home (divorce) is an infantile way of dealing with a grown-up situation. He views himself as a victim and in threatening to leave is attempting to manipulate you into giving into what he feels are his needs. When he should be willing to give into what is best for the marriage and his relationship with you. 

He knows little about how to compromise!

Be Careful What You Ask For:

When I read your question, I thought of that old saying, "be careful what you ask for." It would seem your husband is getting exactly what he has asked for so many times but doesn’t really want.

It is too bad that he didn’t learn, somewhere down the line that threatening to withhold love does not fix relationship problems. Hopefully, if you go through with the divorce it will be a wake-up call for him and he won’t take the same attitude into his next relationship and marriage.

I would like to make a suggestion. You have decided that you don’t want to go back to the status quo, that you are going ahead with the divorce. What if your husband’s actions are genuine this time, though? What if you filing for divorce is the push he needed to help him realize that he needs to make changes in the way he responds to marital problems?

Maybe you could continue on with the divorce process. For example, you need to take note of joint accounts, handle the division of marital property and such. While doing this the two of you could live separately and during this time, you may be able to view the situation with him more objectively.

If the changes he has made in his behavior are genuine then they will continue throughout your separation and the divorce process. He may have truly seen the error of his ways and finding this out may play a role in whether or not you want to finalize a divorce or give your marriage a second chance.

If in the end you decide to give the marriage another try set a list of healthy relationship skills, a list that will include constructive ways of dealing with problems in the marriage as they arise. If he has truly changed he will be more than willing to live by the boundaries you set and to learn new relationship skills.

You will find a marital therapist of great use to both you and your husband. He will have the opportunity to learn new skills and you will have the opportunity to learn how to set boundaries and hold his feet to the fire when it comes to using better relationship skills. 

If he goes back to his old trick of using unhealthy ways to deal with problems then get your divorce and move on to a new life with a new partner who is mature enough to maintain a healthy marriage.

Good Luck!