My husband wants a divorce

Dear Counsellor,

After 12 years of marriage, my husband has decided he wants a divorce. It hasn’t been perfect with us, but I didn’t know it was this bad. I want to stay married more than anything else, I just don’t want to be self-centred. He says he feels suffocated and that he is not happy. I feel that we have a spiritual bond because of our marriage and children, and I have an obligation to try and persuade him not to go. I also feel like he should honour our vows and make an effort to fix the marriage. But is it right if he feels caged?Also, I am pregnant, but this is not a problem in itself, I just haven’t told him yet. If I tell him, will it be like I am keeping him against his will? Should I try and persuade him to stay? Or do I let him go because it is obviously what he wants?



Dear Irene,

If one person in the family alters their behaviour, the whole system is forced to adjust to fit the new changes. Your partner has lost interest and is now ‘single in the marriage’. Watching your family fall apart is definitely a painful experience. You need to act quickly. Think deeply about what has gotten you both to this level; your spouse has probably been complaining about it and it hasn’t changed. What could be your contribution to this mess, and be ready to tackle issues without resorting to desperation. It takes one person in a union to learn to do the right thing for the whole marriage to change. Chances are one of you is failing to meet their marital roles or simply, has traits that are becoming impossible to tolerate. Your marriage is really fragile right now but this doesn’t mean you are helpless. The good news is that one committed partner can make a huge difference in a relationship once you choose to take the steps to rekindle the passion.

Before you approach your husband for a serious talk about saving this marriage, stop for a minute and ask yourself, “What was it about me that attracted my man in the first place?” Think of all the wonderful traits and the real person in you that your spouse fell in love with at the beginning, and get back into that old skin. Create communication opportunities through preparing his best meal, or organise a family day out and approach him by saying you both have the right tools to renew your love and then, break the pregnancy news to him. Your tone will be far more effective than applying emotional appeals. Keep it brief, non-judgmental but show him that you understand his concerns and that this situation can be reversible. Find out from him exactly what instigates his decision for divorce and demonstrate that you are capable of change to get your marriage back on track. Don’t beg, plead, pursue, or engage in any arguments, rather, speak calmly to keep the communication civilised. 

Divorce can affect children psychologically when they experience parental alienation and such a crisis can pose a great threat to their future. Therefore, discuss with him the importance of raising the children together. The ultimate goal is to communicate so that your husband can see you as a committed woman who loves him unconditionally, even during his divorce scheme.

Give your spouse some space. Not too much space, but just enough to give him time to think things through and perhaps, miss you a bit. Approach his trusted friends or relatives to help mediate. In fact, every time you talk to him with love and respect, you are influencing his decisions without displaying disparity, neediness or depression.  Using a humble approach will help influence his decision and only a strong woman knows how to do this with grace.

Your feedback

Talk to a counsellor

For the sake of the children, try talking to him about seeking help from a counsellor. However, this shouldn’t look like you are trying to force things; he should be willing to do so and if he doesn’t, go with whatever he suggests.

Claudine Nyiraneza, Mother of five

It’s over, move on

There is nothing you can do to stop him from filing for divorce; the only thing you can do right now is agree on how to raise the children. The decision shouldn’t in any way affect the kids. Talking to children about it is also important.

Joel Nsengumukiza, Parent

Put the children first

There is nothing much you can do about this, but for the sake of your children, I think you should find out what your divorce options are.  Choose a peaceful solution that won’t hurt or affect the children.

Sylvain Muvunyi, Plumber

What led to this?

You need to find out what exactly triggered this. Since you are not sure of your future and that of the children, try contacting couple counsellors to intervene.

Sarafina Mutoni, Kigali resident

It is best to end it

Depending on what could have led to this, I think you shouldn’t beg him because even if you get back together, things won’t change or improve, he will end up blaming you for everything.

Charlotte Ihirwe, Communication officer