Scenario: You find out your ex is dating one of your girlfriends. You immediately call them both and start screaming at each about how unethical they are, how much you hate them, and what horrible people they are. That’s an example of divorce anger. Another scenario: You’re feeling bitter about your ex’s decision to leave you, so you decide not to pay child support that month, just because you know it will cause her stress and she’ll have to pay lawyer fees to get it. That’s divorce anger, too.
Whether its outright or passive aggressive, I really hate divorce anger. I’ve experienced it on both ends (being angry and receiving anger) and here’s what divorce anger is: one, unproductive and a total waste of time, and two, a self-destroyer.
Why Retaliation (in divorce and thereafter) Never Works by Pam Levin
I am not an aggressor. I pick my battles carefully and when in battle, I look into the soul of my opponent. But, gosh, when my soon-to-be ex starting digging up old dirt, I “lost it”.
What does he really seek? What does she genuinely want? What is his “itch”-that part of him which, when aggravated, creates hell from holy moly.
In this oftentimes competitive world, we have an urge to retaliate—make the person who caused us pain to suffer, make them feel that same painful/hurtful emotion and make them “pay” emotionally or financially for their wrongdoing.
It’s so easy to act out during divorce. Emotions fly high. It’s the ending of a partnership, financial, legal, emotional and spiritual agreement. It’s the onset of a change in family dynamics. So much is at stake.
But for those wise enough to take a breath and look beyond the immediate moment, we ask ourselves, “Why should I retaliate? Why should I create more drama, stress and emotional dissonance?” And if we are the “retaliatee “(being retaliated upon), how do we handle it all?
Here are a couple of soulful tips:
As a potential retaliator:
- Anger is a natural emotion—its simply masked pain. Release your pain in another non harmful fashion—not AT your future ex—it will only exacerbate the situation and cause MORE stress—its simply not productive.
- Talk to someone about your feelings: a good friend, a family member, a clergyman, a counselor or your own personal guru (if you are lucky enough to have one!) and explore safer ways to express your anger.
- Dig deep within yourself. Stop blame placing. Accept responsibility for your actions. For heavens sake, grow up!—this isn’t high school anymore!
- Find some ways to cool off. If you’re angry, your FIRE is burning high. You need to cool. Get a soothing massage. Workout, go for a walk outside, meditate. Take a salt bath (Epson salts work great) to replenish, de-stress and relax! Avoid spicy, pungent foods!
As a potential “retaliatee”:
- Set boundaries—don’t allow your ex to spew negative emotions onto you. You are not a punching bag. Move away from the negative and toxic energy. Don’t respond to him/her. Don’t engage. Don’t do the (drama) dance.
- Have compassion. The retaliator is on fire! That emotional fire is HOT and can burn you. Cool it down with your compassion. Look toward the bigger picture of things. See beyond our own situation. If you really want to cool his/her emotional temperature, try to wear his/her shoes for a bit. You don’t have to accept his/her behavior, just try to understand why he/she is reacting/acting with retaliatory revenge. He/she is probably deeply hurt and hasn’t learned a more constructive way to deal with the pain. Period.
- Protect your emotional self. By this I mean to imagine a bubble around your personal being. Pretend this bubble is unbreakable and nothing can really puncture it. No words, no actions, nothing. Begin to find that inner strength that already exists within you. Nothing can really affect you. You are protected.
- If you feel retaliation is truly unbearable or physically/emotionally harmful, seek professional and/or legal help to block the harmful behavior. Never allow yourself or your children to be put in harm’s way.
Retaliation, in and of itself, solves absolutely nothing. It just creates further havoc, stress, fear and distress. Who needs THAT? Revenge is our ego’s way to feel “satisfied”—an eye-for-an-eye mentality.
Retaliation in a divorce, or in any hurtful situation, does not expand your “power”—it actually ultimately diminishes it. It may appear to feel good and powerful at the moment, but lashing out because you are sad or hurt will only further agitate your ex—not to mention what the consequences may be for your children, listening to and watching you…
So the next time your “cannon is eager to fire”, take a moment and ask yourself:
- Will screaming/yelling really help? Will manipulation truly get you the results you desire?
- Will hurtful actions toward my ex give me the post relationship I really want?
- Will a display of my anger through words and behavior give me ultimate solace?
When the answers come back, “No, No and No”, you move into graduate school! Congrats! You’ve arrived! You’re more enlightened and you can finally begin to make better decisions about how you react to adversity so that you can create an amicable post divorce or post break-up situation. Give yourself a huge pat on the back.
Here are MY tips for dealing with divorce anger:
1. If you get an email from your ex that has an angry, threatening tone, DO NOT reply right away. Our gut instinct and emotions tell us to immediately start typing a response. Don’t. Or, type it but don’t send it! Just wait till you cool off. You might feel a lot differently the next day.
2. If your ex does something really mean or hurtful, don’t think to yourself, “how am I going to get him back.” Instead, think, “What a shame that he is that upset and has to sink to this level.” Then, just let it go. Nothing good comes from retaliation!
3. If you lash out at him or do something unethical or out of vengeance, you can’t really take it back. What you CAN do is, A. Apologize (don’t hate me, it’s just a suggestion.) 2. Ask God for forgiveness and the strength not to do it again.
Thanks for the great guest post, Pam! check out Pam’s blog! It has amazing info about health, wellness and living life with a great attitude!
Pamela Levin is founder and President of Create Amazing Health, LLC including the health & wellness blog www.passionatelypam.com. She turns health upside down and on its side by fusing ancient holistic wellness disciplines with cutting edge health ideas. She is a thought leader, Huffington Post blogger, motivational speaker and catalyst for health change determined to inspire others and make (being) healthy FUN! You can connect with her on the following social media platforms:
or email her directly at email@example.com
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