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Are you ready to ask for a divorce?

In a genuine moment of clarity, you realized that you and your spouse are entirely ill-suited to each other, and no amount of marriage counseling would change the situation. You decided to seek a divorce.

Now, you just have to tell your spouse. How you handle this situation has the potential to set the tone for your entire divorce process, so it’s important to get everything just right.

Here are some things to remember:

1. Your spouse may not be aware this is coming

What’s obvious to you may not be clear to your spouse at all. The less open you’ve been about your feelings, the more your spouse may be surprised at your announcement.

2. Timing is everything when it comes to announcements

Announcing your intentions on their birthday could set a very aggressive, unpleasant tone for your divorce. Consider your timing carefully and avoid making your announcement on special dates.

3. It’s wise to be clear and resolute

Your spouse may immediately look for some sign that you can be talked out of your decision. Don’t give any false hopes. For example, never say you’ll try couple’s therapy with them unless you’re willing to really give it a chance. It’s better to be honest and firm about your choices.

4. Don’t try to assign blame

It’s wise to practice relatively neutral things you can say if your spouse starts demanding reasons for your decision. Listing their faults will only antagonize them. It’s better to stick with statements like, “I’m just not happy,” or “This isn’t the marriage I think either of us should have.”

If you’re lucky, your spouse is just as unhappy with the current situation as you are and will quietly welcome the news that you want a divorce with a sense of relief. If not, it may take a little extra skill to help you through this time.