My Husband Says We Might Get A Divorce. I’m Not Sure What “Might” Is Supposed To Mean

By: Leslie Cane: Not knowing where you stand in terms of a divorce can be frustrating, but it’s often better than the alternative. After all, many people would rather face a “possible” divorce than a “probable” or a “certain” divorce. Still, when your spouse uses phrases like he “might want a divorce,” you can find yourself analyzing just one word in that sentence.

A wife might say: “last week, my husband told me that he might want a divorce. He has not moved out. I do not even think that he has looked at apartments. But he is getting colder and colder to me. I became really concerned so I asked him to define the word ‘might.’ After all, he did not tell me that he wanted a divorce. Nor did he say he didn’t want one. He said that he ‘might want one,’ which to me is somewhere in the middle. My best friend said that his saying ‘might’ could be just a tactic to soften the blow. In other words, she believes that he actually does want a divorce, but he just doesn’t have the courage to tell me. So she thinks he will just sort of tread water for a while during the separation and then eventually ask me for a divorce. Is she right? Is there no significance to the word ‘might’ here?”

It’s hard to say. If he truly was extremely motivated to pursue a divorce, he might be moving more quickly than he is right now. He hasn’t moved out and doesn’t appear to have made definitive plans to do so. Many men announce that they want a separation when their bags are already packed and when they have already signed a lease on an apartment. So although it may not feel as if you have an advantage, there is a possible silver lining with him not immediately pursuing divorce – type activities.

Of course, I don’t know your husband and can’t possibly guess at his thought process. But through researching, writing articles, and talking with others (as well as my own experience during my own separation,) it seems to me that when some men use vague terms like “might” or “think” or “let’s see what happens,” etc., they are unsure as to whether they really want a divorce. They know that they want to see some changes, but they aren’t sure if those changes are going to be possible without making the very drastic move of separating or divorcing.

So some will choose a separation – thinking that this is the best option, since it’s not as passive as just doing nothing and staying with the marital status quo. But it is not so drastic as a divorce. Of course, many wives don’t embrace this thinking and they don’t want him to pursue EITHER a separation or divorce. And these wives hope that his vague phrasing means that he’s not certain that a divorce is the right thing to do after all. He may also be trying to gauge how you are feeling about this. He may wondering if you are going to agree that a break is the right move or if you are going to argue that the two of you can work this out without needing to make such a drastic statement.

So where does this leave you? Well, in case he is trying to gauge your feelings, you may choose to make it clear that you don’t think that it’s necessary to go straight from uncertainty in your marriage to a divorce, which is very drastic, is legally binding, and is difficult to undo once it is done. If you are well aware of the problems that are causing your husband’s thinking, you could reassure him that you’d be willing to work with him to address or remove those problems. That said, be very certain that you have a plan in place. You want to reply with more than just words because words said in a time of desperation are not always taken seriously. He may think that you are just saying things to get him to change his mind. There’s a big difference between: “things aren’t as bad as you think and we’ll figure something out if you stay,” and “I am asking you to give me four weeks to show you that we can begin to improve things. I’ve already met with a counselor / started researching what we need to do and I truly think that we can quickly take some very concrete steps to fix this so that we don’t need to end our marriage and break up our family.”

If he agrees, you want to make absolutely sure that you follow up on what you’ve said. If he doesn’t agree and pursues moving out and continues to consider a divorce, then you want to make sure that you try your best to maintain contact and act in a way that is going to facilitate a good relationship.  The idea is that if and when he misses you, he feels hope that with time, things might change. It’s very easy to become frightened and to lash out or to think that you’re going to hurt him before he hurts you. Resist this urge and remember what you truly want – which is to save your marriage and avoid a divorce. Being unkind to one another and allowing your fear to drive you is not the way to do this. Having patience, working together, and approaching this with kindness and love is going to give you the best chance to change his mind and to successfully turn things around in your marriage.

If it helps, you’re welcome to read about how I turned things around and saved my marriage during my own separation at

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