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!