6 Tips for Dealing with Anger During Divorce

By: Wendi Schuller
Last Update: December 20, 2016

Anger and other strong emotions are a by-product of divorce. It is natural to get upset over the crazy antics of one’s soon-to-be ex. Perhaps one’s partner sees divorce as a contest where there is a clear winner and loser. The word “compromise” is not in their vocabulary. There are ways to deal with anger during the divorce process without having an explosion. Anger in itself is okay, but how it is expressed may not be. An example of this is road rage. The driver takes out their hostility by ramming the car in front of them or threatening someone else. They overreact to a slight provocation. An especially tragic act of divorce anger is when one parent retaliates against the other by killing their children.

Anger is an emotion which needs to be acknowledged first before dealing with it and moving on. Anger is a response to a perceived threat or being the target of hostility. Analyze the situation to determine what action you can take. If it is out of your control, accept that and realize that you do have control over your reaction to it. When spouses get tangled up in anger, that can lengthen proceedings which results in higher legal fees. 

6 Ways to Get Rid of Anger During Divorce

1. Physical activity helps to release anger and anxiety.

Exercise lowers the stress hormone cortisol which is responsible for raising blood pressure and the heart rate. Go running, to the gym, a fitness class, on a hike, or cleaning spree to keep you moving. Some people feel that striking an object releases anger better for them, such as by playing tennis, golf, or bowling. Others don boxing gloves and do sparring.

2. Write a letter to your spouse about your grievances.

Pour out your wrath in detail. Put down your feelings and then notice how cathartic this activity is. Later rip it up or burn it, but do not send it. A variation of this is to keep a journal and jot down your thoughts on paper. This helps to release strong emotions, and months down the road one can look back and appreciate the progress in healing that has been made.

3. Release your anger by discussing what you are going through with friends.

They will listen and put your situation into perspective when anticipating a bleak outcome. They remind you what is going right in your life so you see there is some balance. Having friends’ support enables one to know that they are not going through divorce alone.

4. Consider joining a divorce support group or co-parenting class.

The camaraderie in a “Women in Transition” class kept me from losing my sanity. It was helpful in a co-parenting course to hear the other gender’s point of view. The guys had me laughing and not being so serious, which got rid of much anger. In support groups, the non-judgmental acceptance can be a life-line to getting through the divorce process.

5. What counteracts anger is looking for several pleasant things that happened to you each day.

It helps one to realize that there is good mixed in with the annoying stuff. By doing this activity, one can develop a more positive outlook. I started noticing birds singing, lovely gardens, and the warm smiles of strangers. I wanted to increase what was enjoyable on a daily basis, so began to interact more with people. I scheduled fun activities into my agenda, such as lattes with pals, reading classic mysteries, etc., and my life began to turn around in the midst of an acrimonious divorce. It was an attitude adjustment.

6. If feeling like you are going to blow up, take some deep breaths.

Count to at least three, before responding. Ask for a break if in the middle of proceedings. There are homeopathic remedies which can help settle one’s mood (I like Bach’s Flower Remedies). One guy kept prayer beads in his pocket and pulled them out during tense moments. Take a drink of cold water. It is better to prevent an explosion than deal with the aftermath.

Think about what helps you to feel more relaxed and that can lessen anger. What has worked for many is prayer, meditation, getting together with extended family or friends. Let go of tension with a massage, facial, pedicure, or another pampering treat. A stop in a decadent bakery had me almost forgetting why I was so upset. Do what it takes to clear your mind and get centered so your divorce stays on track.

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