It’s normal to have a hard time controlling what you feel and say during a divorce. There are so many conflicting emotions and thoughts to contend with. First and foremost we recommend seeking professional help to process your feelings in a safe healing environment, and to guide you to make your divorce a transition – not a way of life.
Ignoring your emotions and not giving yourself the opportunity to process the personal challenges of your divorce can create problems dealing with your ex, as well as many other aspects of your life. While it’s natural to want to seek revenge and punish a person who has hurt you, speaking derogatorily about your ex in front of your kids will definitely make the transition harder for everyone, especially your children.
Work towards being a good role model for your children by taking care of yourself and by taking responsibility for your own healing.
Transform your relationship from Spouse to Co-parent by learning skills to communicate and relate to your ex in an adaptive and healthy manner. You can start by learning the difference between responding and reacting. When you repress your feelings, you will have a tendency to react to your ex instead of responding to him or her in a thoughtful way. A reaction is a triggered response that comes without any thought, contemplation or intention behind it. Reactions are hasty and often hurtful to both you and your ex. Reactions are often described as going from 0 to 60 when something is triggered inside of you. No one knows your triggers better than your ex, so you will have to work hard to keep yourself from lashing out.
Responding involves pausing, reflecting and speaking with intention. This can be hard to do in a heated moment, but practicing this skill in conjunction with processing your feelings will enable you to do this in time. Responding also requires the ability to understand where the other person might be coming from. An experienced professional will be able to give you the tools and support to become a responder instead of a reactor.
When you feel yourself getting heated up, it is a good idea to walk away for a few minutes. Removing yourself from the situation will give you the space and time you need to calm down. You can also just say something like: “I cannot discuss this right now,” which will end the interaction without too much damage.
Lastly, remember that you are a human being, and humans sometimes “lose it.” Be kind to yourself, and try not to judge yourself if you slip and lash out at your ex. As long as you are working toward improving your communication, you are on the right track.
Allison Pescosolido, M.A., is a divorce recovery specialist with advanced degrees in Psychology and certified Grief Recovery Specialist. She co-founded Divorce Detox, a center in Santa Monica, California that provides programs to individuals who are facing the challenges that come with separation and divorce. Divorce Detox provide support both locally and nationally. She can be reached at 888-456-7056 or view firm website or her Divorce Magazine online profile.