CONFESSIONS OF A DIVORCE LAWYER: The Cost of Anger, Part 2

By Debbie Hoffman at HD Collaborative Law

In Part 1, we discussed how the cost of separation and divorce can be reduced by implementing “the rule of non-engagement”.  Engaging in your ex’s anger or indulging your own will cost you money with every harsh word, affidavit, and court battle.

CONFESSIONS OF A DIVORCE LAWYER: The Cost of Anger, Part 2

But the cost of anger is not purely financial.  Whether you suppress how you feel or spew venom to anyone who will listen, anger takes an emotional toll on you and everyone around you.  Have you ever run into an old friend or family member who is mid-divorce and been struck by how haggard they look?  How every second word they speak is an unflattering comment about their ex?  How they are so entrenched, they no longer notice the kids are right there, hearing every word?

Anger impacts your health, your children, your friends, and your family members.  Family members want to provide support, which often turns into taking sides.  Children may feel, without ever being asked, that they must align themselves with one parent or the other.

Issues that may have been easily decided when you and your ex were still together become impossible to deal with amicably when the battle lines have been drawn.  The language turns to “winning” and “losing”, and there is a need to save face by following through on threats to go to court, and not agreeing to even the most reasonable request.

You left.  Your ex left.  You cheated.  Your ex cheated.  You grew apart.  One of you is addicted.  There are many reasons why a relationship breaks down. You don’t own all of what went on in the relationship, and you aren’t solely responsible for the breakup. You can’t change what happened in the past, and I’ve been around long enough to know you will never convince your ex that you are right and he or she is wrong.

So, here’s the question I have for you:  “How are you going to own your part moving forward?”

Because that question is only about you.  It isn’t about what someone else did or didn’t do.  It isn’t about being right or wrong or vindicated.  It is about dealing with what happened and moving on with integrity, dignity and self-respect.

We will ask you questions.  As our client, we might ask you to step outside of yourself and watch how you are interacting with your ex objectively and compare how you are acting to how you want to act.

We might also ask you to act “as if” with your ex.  That means acting:

  • as if you get along;
  • as if you can communicate with one another calmly and rationally;
  • as if you have forgiven yourself;
  • as if you have forgiven your ex;
  • as if you and your ex can move forward in peace.

Modeling how you want to act before you feel capable of acting that way can set the groundwork for a positive shift.

The collaborative model provides opportunities to change the way you communicate.  Collaborative practitioners are lawyers, but we are also communication coaches who will help you communicate in healthier ways.  We jokingly say that we are trying to work ourselves out of a job because we want families to learn how to resolve their own issues.

Anger can take a huge financial and emotional toll if you let it, and it can control everything you do.

Or, like most things in life, it can create an opportunity, but only if you allow yourself the freedom to focus on the future and the person you want to be as you move forward.

If you have kids, ask yourself “If I and my ex are both at our daughter’s wedding in 20 years, how do I want that to look?  How do I want that to feel?  How do I want our daughter to remember it?”

At Best4All, we are passionate about helping you find peace in your separation and in your future.  We want you to sleep at night, and yes, it’s true– we want to work ourselves right out of a job!

Call us.  We’re here to help.