The following is an excerpt from the book, Divorce: It’s All About Control-How To Win the Emotional, Psychological and Legal Wars (ExecuProv Press), by renowned family law specialist and managing partner of Phillips Lerner, A Law Corporation in Los Angeles, CA, Stacy D. Phillips. In Chapter Three, “The Control Wars: The Typical Three,” Phillips helps the reader to understand the differences between the three major wars, what characteristics differentiate the three, and whether they are worth fighting. In this three-part series, Ms. Phillips explains the Emotional War. She writes:
THE EMOTIONAL WAR
Playing upon one’s insecurities, frailties and vulnerabilities is at the heart of an emotional attack. I have yet to handle a divorce where an emotional war was not involved, and I doubt I ever will. You may think that is because I handle celebrity clients, but not so. I also handle others who have no notoriety and who cannot seem to resist the need to start an emotional battle. Emotional wars are often fought to gain an advantage in court (which usually backfires), and if there are children involved, they are fought to gain allegiance toward one parent over the other. This, too, is a very dangerous war because it has severe repercussions.
Emotional wars are awfully tempting.
Emotional wars are the most common of all divorce wars.
Emotional wars are those marital-type conflicts geared to hurt another’s feelings. They are the divorce war “variety” designed to penetrate one’s feelings at a very deep and painful level.
An example might be the former husband who shows up at the Little League game flaunting his new significant other or the wife who sends her daughter off for visitation with her ex and stuffs the necklace her husband once gave her in her daughter’s bag of toys.
What most people who inflict emotional damage do not bargain for is that the other party will return the emotional “fire” at some point and quite possibly in a bigger and grander way. When people feel they are losing a grip on control in emotional wars, they will up the ante. They will find ways to make the counterattack that much more dramatic and hurtful. For every one salvo in an emotional war, the perpetrator can expect one or more in return.
Everyone usually suffers in war. Ask yourself right now:
Is a war necessary?
Will it get you what you want?
Is it productive?
Can you handle losing?
Will you think less of yourself if you walk away from one?
And most importantly, must you really fight a war to maintain a healthy sense of control?
The art of control comes in the ability to find equitable solutions and to make peace, both with your ex and yourself.
Stacy D. Phillips is a co-founder of Phillips Lerner, A Law Corporation, which specializes in high-profile family law matters. She is co-chair of the Women’s Political Committee and a member of Divorce Magazine‘s North American Advisory Board. She can be reached at (310) 277-7117. View her firm’s Divorce Magazine profile here.