Should You Give The Big “D” Ultimatum? 

What is the big “D” ultimatum? DIVORCE! Should you use the threat of divorce to force change in your partner? Should you use any form of ultimatum when your marriage is heading downhill? The problem with using any form of ultimatum is twofold – the first, it often gets used too often with no follow through so it loses it threat value; and the second is – if your partner ignores the threat, are you prepared to follow through? If you don’t follow through, the result is the same, it loses its threat value.

In a relationship, threats don’t work and shouldn’t be used unless you really are at that ‘final straw’ situation, and you really are going to follow through. In most cases, if a couple attend counseling where one is only there because of threats, they are not going to be open and prepared for change. In many cases, they will be resentful and may even work against the counselor.

While counselors are trained to deal with these situations, they are not ideal or conducive to a good result. For those relationships that are in trouble, there needs to be a common goal to save that marriage. If one half isn’t interested, then rather than issuing threats, you can take one of two paths.

You can visit a counselor yourself where they can offer you advice and tools that may help you convince your partner to attend without the use of threats. The second alternative is more drastic – rather than issuing threats, actually acting and moving them or yourself out.

While marriage counseling works best if both partners are there together (willingly), counselors can work with just one of the partners to help them deal with the situation. Ultimatums rarely work – actions do, so consider which action best suits your situation. Ideally, you’ll talk to a marriage counselor first.

3 Responses to “Should You Give The Big “D” Ultimatum?”

  1. Using divorce threats is definitely the wrong way to go…for the reasons you state and many more.

  2. Divorce threats are really a type of emotional abuse that will cause more harm to the marriage. It may get your partner to counseling but usually it moves your partner closer to divorce. Rather than give a threat, see a marriage counselor who may help you change your behaviors and helpful guidance in getting your partner to join you in counseling.

  3. Is it ethical for a counselor to encourage separation/divorce via ultimatums, when one partner experienced traumatic emotional distress. As a result, both are now emotionally traumatized. Economically the the family is devastated. One partner insists on staying home taking care of kids and household while the other works. Counseling enlightens to third party services and economic relief if the pair splits. Three children are involved. There seems to be a theme of bias from the counselor and favoring terminal action requiring the two to separate. When original goal of counseling was to strengthen the marriage. Should the couple seek a new counselor?

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