Mentioning “divorce” does not mean the marriage is over, but continuing to threaten it can sound a death knell for a marriage.
Marriage requires creative, interactive dialogue between two people about relationship. Dialogue results in something new, dynamic, emerging. If dialogue stops, it can take dramatic gestures to bring a spouse back to dialogue. Being “afraid for the marriage” is a better strategy than talking of “divorce,” since divorce conjures up disruption, loss, and transition, stimulating triggers to the ego, and fears of abandonment. It implies the end of dialogue.
Talking genuinely from the heart about a fear for the marriage can stimulate authentic dialogue. If used as a club, it will further shut down dialogue, destroying authenticity and trust.
Wendy Wiles Kase, JD, MFT is a practicing Marital and Family Therapist, Divorce Coach, Collaborative Divorce Coach, NLP Practitioner, Divorce Mediator, and Stepfamily Therapist with training in Marital Therapy with John Gottman and Howard Markman & Scott Stanley.