Many spouses who consider divorce at some point remain married — sometimes quite happily. However, saying the word out loud is very different than thinking it.

Unfortunately, too many people use the “D-word” in the midst of a fight out of anger or frustration. They may use it as a threat to get something they want or as a way to get their partner to take them seriously.

However, mental health professionals who advise couples on constructive ways to argue and solve problems say that you should never use the “D-word” unless you’re serious about it. One psychologist notes that “even though it is only at the moment and not really meant, the threat has been put out there and is frightening.” As one cognitive behavioral therapist points out, the word takes people out of “problem-solving mode” and puts them in “protective mode.”

Studies have shown that when a spouse hears the word, they can experience elevated blood pressure, anxiety and depression. None of these things will help resolve an argument. One relationship coach says that the word removes “safety, security, and trust from a relationship, which are basic human needs.”

Of course, if you throw out the word regularly when you and your spouse disagree, it loses the impact you intended for it to have. If the time comes when you believe that divorce is the best choice, you may have difficulty getting your spouse to take you seriously at first.

If you’re seriously considering divorce, it’s wise to consult with an attorney before you tell your spouse that you want one — for real. They can help you assess your financial situation and determine what type of divorce you’d like to pursue and what you want from it regarding property and other assets, support and child custody.