Like Susan Ingram, often, when someone first calls me to discuss the possibility of divorce mediation, they will mention that they have not yet brought up the subject with their spouse. The caller (the initiating spouse) typically describes a marriage that has not been good for some time; the marriage no longer works for him or her and it needs to come to an end.
As Susan writes, even though the non-initiating spouse may be just as miserable in the marriage, he or she may not have thought through the next step (divorce) to the same extent as the initiating spouse. Thus, they may well be at different stages in coming to terms with their failed marriage.
Obviously, this is a difficult situation, and one that needs to be handled sensitively yet pragmatically. And it’s likely, since this is the first serious discussion on this subject, that the other spouse will either be defensive or aggressive in responding.
Susan suggests the following guidelines:
Don't defend yourself,
Don't try to persuade,
Establish the next steps.