If you’re going through a divorce, there is no doubt that sooner or later you’ll find yourself pissed off and ready to explode. Blowing up will not help your case. Anger management during divorce will. Your fury may be righteous, but here’s how to keep an intelligent lid on it.
Nobody Can Tick You Off Faster Than She Can
Face it, there’s no one better than your ex at pushing all your buttons Your flaming rage can be a symptom of grief for the loss of your marriage, your home and, if kids are involved, unlimited time with your children. Obviously, you’ve lost trust in your spouse. Fact: feeling hatred is normal in divorce. But feeling isn’t acting.
The best way to get through these rocky weeks and months is to expect that you’re going to feel pissed off, pissed on, sad, resentful and angry. So cut yourself some slack. Yeah, you need to keep a lid on things, so anger management during divorce is the way to go, but it’s gonna take practice. If you lose it sometimes, move on.
Getting a Grip
Become an observer of yourself and how you act, learn to pay attention to your feelings without allowing them to make choices for you. No one is saying you don’t have a right to be furious, and you don’t have to talk yourself out of being mad, but practicing anger management during divorce means splitting a cord of firewood, not splitting the head of your cheating wife’s boyfriend.
Divorce Coach Rosalind Sedacca and Mental Health Counselor Amy Sherman sum it up: “Anger is a feeling that alerts us that something is wrong. What we fail to understand is that we, as human beings, have choices about how to act on those feelings.”
Don’t React – Act
You are hurting and pissed. It’s easy to do and say things to people we care about that we immediately regret. Usually, it is because we are in react mode. You know it’s wrong to take it out on the wrong people, obviously on your kids and extended family members, but really on anyone else.
We humans have a tendency to look for trouble; it’s hard-wired into us. So, when you are trying to figure out why you get so easily pissed off every time you have to interact with your ex (or soon-to-be-ex), you need to do some hard thinking about yourself.
Are you walking into the conversation expecting animosity or looking to create it? You could already be losing your cool before either one of you even opens their mouth.
I have a distinct memory of being approached by my ex, when the relationship was tanking and I was already ticked off at her, and thinking to myself that she was actually insulting me just in the way she walked. I was so caught up in defending my position that I took her simple act of walking as a disrespectful and aggressive act. I was already in an adversarial place emotionally, long before any conversation arose, and it was a sure bet that I wasn’t going to be happy with anything she said.
Here’s a second problem. We get plugged in. We get firmly attached to our ideas of what’s going to happen when we talk to someone who upsets us, and it doesn’t give us a whole lot of options when we actually begin communicating. We are already prepared for the worst, so we’re adrenalized and ready to fight.
While it certainly makes sense that we can feel attacked, betrayed and discounted when we interact with our ex, we have to work to focus on what’s happening right now.
Is she walking wrong, or am I already projecting my anger onto the present moment? Paying attention to our emotional responses and giving ourselves the space to make choices about how we will respond are a logical first steps in proper anger management during divorce.
Instigator or Peacemaker? – It’s Your Choice
So, back to the question, are you antagonizing or being antagonized?
Chances are good it’s a bit of both. If you are having a hard time with someone, want to bet they’re having a hard time with you?. We’re very good at going on the offense as a good defense. But so are they.
Try to think back to the last conversation you had with the ex. How did it start? Did she say hello? Did you? Did either of you offer a compliment or an insult? Did you cut to the chase and talk immediately about whatever issue was present, or did you dally around and talk about the weather?
Think hard. Try to remember the exact conversation. Pay attention to when you started seeing red (or she did).
The more adept you become at recognizing when you’re losing it, the more often you will make better decisions in your responses. How many times have you wished you could take those words or actions back? You act this way when you’re reacting and instigating, not when you’re taking action and settling things civilly.
Anger Management During Divorce – You’re the Boss
You are the boss of your behavior. Start paying more attention to when you stop acting (making choices of your own balanced freewill) and start reacting (defending yourself, attacking, feeling anger or hatred, having knee-jerk or conditioned responses to confrontation).
Check with your inner voice of reason, just like you check your vehicle before a long drive. Ask yourself if you feel calm, or if you are already experiencing anxiety, anger, sadness or even elation: these all mean you’ve already created expectations.
Keep practicing how to notice when you’re feeling calm – and when you’re not. The next time you have an encounter with your ex, stay relaxed. Breathe, because you get to choose how you act – you are the boss.
Act Today, Not Tomorrow When It’s Too Late
Most guys soon enough realize they need some help to overcome the anger and bitterness of divorce. Drowning your pain in booze or beating the crap out of somebody won’t make you feel better unless your life’s goal is a stay in prison.
Don’t wait until you’ve lost custody of your kids or your job performance suffers before you take charge of yourself and get some support. Talk to a trusted counselor or your pastor, check into any employment assistance program through your job, or google anger management counselors in your area. Acting now is the difference between a new life with a great future and being mired in misery and hate. One more day is too many – so what are you waiting for?
Been there, done that? Share your advice on anger management during divorce in the comments below.
There are two sides of the addiction coin. Do you indulge in any of the Common Vices That Keep Us Going? We get it. You’ve been through hell. Maybe it’s more than anger. Read Can a Bad Marriage or Divorce Cause PTSD to learn the warning signs.
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