My husband always threatens

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-01-2007
My husband always threatens
Sun, 09-26-2010 - 12:19pm

We just got into a fight a while ago. It makes me so angry that EVERYTIME we fight, he threatens with divorce if I don't do anything that he says. For example, if I walk away or go to another room because I can't stand seeing him, he would threaten with divorce if I do that. This is one out of a trillion of threats he makes about divorce. So, I usually end up doing what he says just because I care about our marriage even in the heat of the argument. What happens when I threaten him with divorce just to get my way (I only do it because he does), well, no surprise, he chooses to do what he wants. Happened so many times that I believe he will never choose our marriage.

Sorry for the rambling. I guess the bottom line, is that he threatened me with divorce a few minutes ago. At this point, I'm not sure if i can handle him constantly saying that to me anymore. I feel sad that this may end us actually getting a divorce, but I want to not feel this threat all the time, and additionally, I want to start a family eventually and I feel very uncomfortable with this situation.

However, I want to seek advice from this board whether this is warrants a divorce or if I should stay to work things out.


iVillage Member
Registered: 12-19-2004
Sun, 09-26-2010 - 12:43pm

What you need to do is threaten him with dvorce. Sit him down, look him in the eyes straight up and tell him that if he threatens you ridiculously one more time, and if he tries to control you one more time, YOU will initiate a divorce.

He sounds like a major league dick. Please do not bread with him and allow a child to be raised by him. Doing that would be hypothetically be you abusing your child. I am disgusted with how many poor helpless children are allowed to be raised by dicks.

Bottom line: he changes for the better or you leave him.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-06-2007
Sun, 09-26-2010 - 1:19pm

My ex husband used to do this. I was the one secretly thinking of divorce, but you'd never know as I was going to therapy and reading marriage books. He was the one that constantly threw it my face.
Your husband has found an effective, albeit damaging way, of controlling you and get what he wants, while maintaining the upper hand. He uses this as emotional blackmail. After all, he gets you do to what he wants with his threats. As for why someone feels the need to control another like this? Maybe he feels insecure, maybe he's a blame shifter, maybe he is a bully.

I strongly suggest you do NOT start a family now.

One time my ex and I were fighting on our anniversary. I suggested we go out to dinner and be civil; he said why should we waste $50 if we're just going to be divorced in a month. He then got online, and proceeded to fill out the online divorce paperwork (my state has this option to do your own paperwork online). I didn't stop him! I let him continue. He didn't finish it, but the next day he got me flowers and a card. It's all manipulative tactics. As soon as he saw that I didn't cave to his threats, he backpedaled and tried to fix it.

This is really a HUGE problem and healthy, normal marriage do not threaten divorce. I suggest you start seeing a marriage counselor. If he does not go, you need to still go alone. Obviously what you guys have been doing hasn't worked.

Interestingly, there has been a paper published about families who threatened divorce but never follow through.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-06-2010
Sun, 09-26-2010 - 1:21pm

It sounds like he doesn't mean it but just uses it as his big trump card to try to win the argument~ and so do you. I think you should have a talk and agree never to say it to each other.

Edited 10/3/2010 12:08 am ET by darling.carly
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2008
Sun, 09-26-2010 - 3:55pm

It sounds like he's using it to get his way in an argument rather than seriously not wanting to be married to you. If he wanted a divorce, he'd leave you and file for one. Or he'd sit you down and tell you seriously unrelated to any particular argument, he doesn't think he can stay. Threatening divorce in the heat of an argument and not following through is nothing more than manipulating the situation to get one's own way.

My advice is to not make your decisions based on it. Let him know you realize he can leave if he wants. You want to remain married but will not do so if being married means living under the constant threat of divorce. Give him the choice: stay married or leave, but tell him staying and threatening to leave is not an option you are willing to tolerate. If he insists on staying married while threatening you with divorce, then you will consider that you have the choice to leave the relationship to avoid his constant threats. Bottom line: him threatening to leave makes you want to leave and completely distracts from the real issue you are arguing about.

Whatever you are fighting about, consider what you would do if he hadn't threatened divorce, and let that be your guide to how you need to handle yourself. You can't make him stay by giving in to his every demand. You have to stay in control of yourself and let him make his own choices about staying/leaving.

"Life is the art of drawing without an eraser."

John W. Gardner


Ten Rules for Being Human


"The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding."
Malcolm Gladwell Blink

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sun, 09-26-2010 - 6:50pm
I was basically going to say what darling.carly said. I think that people who do this are making idle threats. IF the only time he ever says it is when you are having an argument, he is probably only trying to manipulate you to do what he wants and guess what? it works. My ex used to say it all the time. The thing is that when someone keeps threatening the same thing over & over but doesn't follow through, it loses its power. So when he would say "tomorrow I'm going to the lawyer to find out about a divorce" at that point, I didn't much care about him any more and I'd just say "go ahead." OF course in the end, I was the one who told him that I wanted a divorce. I do think that if you feel the marriage is mostly good & you want to save it, ask him if he will go to marriage counseling so you can learn better ways to have a disagreement and you can both agree that saying this is off limits.
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2007
Sun, 09-26-2010 - 7:27pm

Hi happygirl. First things first, you have to stop him threatening divorce. This is easier than you think: if his threats no longer have the desired effect, he will stop making them.

You see, he continues to do the behaviour because you are rewarding him by doing what he says. Therefore, the solution is as simple as calling his bluff. For example, if you want to walk away and he threatens divorce, just keep walking. It won't take long before he figures it out :-)

Of course, you must also stop making the divorce threats.

At the same time, you must put new conflict resolution strategies in place. If you don't put positive strategies in place, an equally destructive method is likely to arrive instead of the divorce threats. A marriage counsellor would help the two of you with this.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-06-2010
Sun, 09-26-2010 - 8:44pm
I agree with Blue and learning the fair fighting techniques.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 09-27-2010 - 4:16am
Hello again, Gal_happygirl ~

Overall, you've received good advice and suggestions here. I agree that threatening divorce is a destructive thing to do. Among other things, it minimizes the word's importance. When your spouse says the word, "divorce" it should make you sit up and take notice, it should make you recognize there are serious problems in the marriage for your spouse. Saying it as a threat hurts you, makes you feel less secure in your marriage, but also makes you more conditioned not to take the threat seriously. When you don't take it seriously, there stands a good chance if he ever does mean it, no action will come to remedy the problems as he's cried wolf far too often. Not only should he not be saying it, you shouldn't be saying it either, not to pay him back, not because you've gotten used to the word being used in fights or for any other reason. You can't stop what he does, but you can control yourself from joining him in destructive behavior.

One of the best ways to work on fighting problems is to talk to him about your concerns at at time when you're not fighting. It can be hard to think about stirring it up when things are going well, but it's the only way to effectively address the problem with him. Understand, I'm not talking about talking to him about whatever you were fighting about, I'm talking about talking to him about your concerns about the way you fight. Approaching it when things are going well and you're both happy is the only time to bring it up; when the mood is bad or there are other issues that are causing things to be at all strained, talking about this won't be effective. When talking to him be sure to use "I" statements only and be sure to form your sentences to convey that you're concerned about how the two of you fight and what it is doing to the strength of your marriage. Use plenty of pauses, giving him lots of opportunity to respond. Asking for his input, what he thinks, what solutions he suggests is good too. I'm going to post some therapist-approved articles and hand outs on constructive arguing that you can use when you talk to him and for both of you to use as "rules" when you fight. I would also suggest seeing a couples counselor to help the two of you not only work on your fighting style and learn better tools to resolve issues with, but to help you get through the issues you have and resolve the problems that you currently have. Be sure any counselor/therapist you use is licensed/accredited for counseling couples, it's crucial!

Ten Rules For Fair Fighting

"Ignoring the facts
does not change the facts"
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2009
Mon, 09-27-2010 - 9:16am

I'm sorry about what you're going through. Every time he threatens you with divorce, your relationship becomes a little weaker, you trust him a little bit less, and the value of his word doesn't mean quite as much as it did before. You should tell him this, because he needs to be made aware of it. YES I agree 100% he is playing his trump card because he knows that if he brings a cannon to a knife fight, he will be the WINNER. His concern is with "winning" instead of "progress". There's nothing you can do to fight him when he plays the Divorce Card, except call his bluff, and he knows you will not do that. If I were in your position, I would probably say this: "If you want a chance of working out, then let's find a counselor who can help us sort this out instead of making threats. I don't want to get a divorce, but if that's what you really want, serve the papers to me and I'll sign them without an argument."

I truly believe that marriage counseling was invented for situations like these, where you might have an otherwise good/decent relationship but you can't argue constructively. He needs to know how to disagree on an even playing field by treating you as an equal, and not assert dominance over you by saying "I could just leave at any time".

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-09-2008
Tue, 09-28-2010 - 11:24am
The problem with threatening this again and again is it sort of becomes like the salt and pepper shakers sitting on the countertop - it's just always THERE.