Will His Divorce Anger Ever Go Away?


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Below is an e-mail I received from a woman seeking advice regarding her ex-husband’s divorce anger that is ever present.

Jackie, I am going on close to 2 years since my ex-husband and I have been separated. My ex went through a process of seeming okay with it, then briefly seemed upset and then he got MAD and has stayed mad since.

We communicate over text because he refuses to speak to me or “be in the same room” with me, and I’ve accepted that as part of his process. I’ve accepted that he may just be angry for a very long time, but constantly being on the receiving end of that anger has me rethinking my approach. I tell myself every time he lays into me about something “take the higher road” and I do. I speak to him in a civil way, I try to be as accommodating as I can when it comes to his time with our son.

I’m starting to wonder if I’m maybe becoming a little bit of a doormat, and I don’t want that to happen. Where is that line? Where is the line between being accommodating and patient and just being a doormat for him to stomp on and walk all over?

Isn’t divorce anger horrible?! I can’t stand it! I know many men and women who after years and years are unable to let go of their divorce anger. It’s sad. It’s pathetic. It’s infuriating and I want to slap them and say, “Wake up!” Even when the people get remarried, they still burn with anger, and still feel the need to treat their ex like crap.

What is particularly bothersome about it is that the children grow up seeing this behavior, so what chance will they ever have of NOT acting the same way—with the same divorce anger– in the event that they get divorced?

You ask, “Where is the line between being accommodating and being a doormat?” That is for you to decide and I think it depends on the situation and many other factors. I’m sure there are times where you let his anger and insults and dirty looks roll off. Then there are other times you can’t resist defending yourself. There are probably other times when you just cry about it, and other times you get furious. I get it.

The best advice I can give you is:

10 things to tell yourself when your ex shows divorce anger:

1. This is HIS issue, not mine. He is the one with the problem. I am not.
2. The fact that he is still so angry clearly shows he isn’t over it and might never be. I am actually sad for him in that regard.
3. This is something in my life that I have zero control over. Zero. So, if I can’t control it, why let it bother me?
4. My son is going to grow up and sadly, he will remember how my ex treated me. But, he has eyes and he will also remember how I treated and spoke to his dad. He will be smart enough to recognize the difference. In fact, even at a young age, he’s getting the picture.
5. He can only hurt me as much as I let him. I have the power to let his divorce anger roll off of me and be unaffected by it.
6. I will no longer hold out hope that he is going to change. It only leads to disappointment.
7. I can only be myself and try to take the high road as much as possible. Being rude and angry back doesn’t help my son or me.
8. The only thing that truly matters in regards to our relationship is our son. He is my priority, and I will keep that in mind at all times.
9. I will continue to be polite to my ex because it is in the best interest of our son. If I have to grit my teeth at times, so be it. It won’t kill me.
10. I will do my best to live the life I want and be happy, and minimize thinking about my ex’s divorce anger.

The thing about anger is, it’s the most unproductive emotion a person can have. It’s such a waste, and it just makes everyone feel crappy. Life is way too short for that. You just keep being YOU, keep taking care of your son, live your life, and make it a happy one!

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Author: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling offers advice, inspiration and hugs. If you want a Cinderella story, be your own fairy godmother. You're the only one who can pick out that perfect glass slipper!

13 Responses to “Will His Divorce Anger Ever Go Away?”

  1. Sally

    Jackie,
    I love your response to this email! I too have boys and fear that they will grow up seeing the relationship between their father and I as normal. I pray that they see how I react, or don’t react, towards his anger and that they will one day be able to have healthy relationships. Thank you for your insights and tips on how to deal and respond to someone attacking your character. It is not always easy.
    -Sally Hamilton
    P.S. I invite you to check out my blog at
    http://family3dynamics.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  2. Doug, Chicago

    Great question and great answer Jackie! I think you nailed it. I’d like to second the point that while it’s hard to not take anger personally, someone else’s anger is not about you. Your Ex lost a relationship he valued and he is slowly working through the stages of grief. If you are only separated now, you should know that his healing won’t truly begin until after the divorce. I was that guy. I was in a long marriage (20 years and 2 children) that became very unhappy but I was prepared to stay in it forever (I had low expectations for the relationship and poor self-esteem). I was very angry that my Ex took the necessary steps to end it and that anger expressed itself through stony silence toward her. It was very difficult for me to be in the same room or say her name (the best I could muster was “the mom” as her role with our children was the only one I could respect). With time it has all changed. I came to understand that my inner peace was solely my own responsibility. I learned to release the sense of loss and shame and embrace the wonderful lessons the relationship provided. In the end I realized that the marriage was a gift (most notably I have two beautiful children) and the divorce was a gift (it provided an opportunity for growth and was long overdue). I am grateful to my Ex for her role in that story. It took time for me to sort it all out but the evolution from despair to peace has been one of the most important and valuable experiences in my life. I am far better for the it and my children are in a happier environment. Be patient and compassionate. Not only with your Ex (who I hope will change) but with yourself (the only person you control).

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  3. Alison

    Here is another perspective. If your ex is angry at you, maybe you deserve it! Maybe you were like my husband of 21 years and lied to your wife and child, cheated with multiple women for many years, spend more than $70k on women, hotels and lavish gifts to others while your family shopped for bargains! Maybe you tried to do something like say that the $70k debt was marital debt that would be split 50-50. Does that sound like you? Then you deserve the anger, so suck it up and choke on it! Not everyone asks for or is even worthy of forgiveness.

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    • Cara

      Or you have an ex that is angry that cheated on you, was shady about stealing money that was supposed to be 50-50, and then is mad when divorce proceedings only give him all the money he stole but not the house. That anger is fun and not deserving.

      Reply

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