When your soon to be ex-spouse is be difficult:
Sometimes a soon to be ex is difficult because they always have been, During the divorce process, there are situations where exes make life difficult for their spouse out of spite, anger, revenge, and an attempt to punish. The intentions behind your difficult ex’s actions are important, but what’s even more pertinent is learning how to manage them so that you can find the most peace through this arduous process.
Taking a broader perspective beyond divorce, we know people can become challenging when they are harboring negative feelings. This manifests in passive-aggressive behaviors like stonewalling or more outward acts of aggression like yelling or criticizing. Stepping back from your situation and recognizing that anyone who has been hurt, betrayed, or demoralized would feel the need to protect themselves. While there is never an excuse for offensive and immature behavior on the part of an ex, you do have some control over how you respond to that behavior. It’s easy to get pulled into traps like blame, victimization, and self-pity, but these responses only empower your ex by giving them what they actually want: a negative reaction from you!
Since your difficult ex isn’t likely to disappear in the near future, it would behoove you to start adding some tools to your tool belt for coping with difficult behavior and interactions. These tools may seem counter-intuitive because they come more from a place of good than bad, but you just have to remember that they are intended to serve you and to make your life better.
4 Tips for Coping with a Difficult Ex During Divorce
Your divorce is, of course, a highly personal affair, but you don’t have to take every action personally. Your ex is responsible for their own feelings and actions, but that isn’t always something they want to do. Learn to deflect some of their negativity and attribute it more to their own pain than to yourself. It’s important to show remorse if you’ve injured your ex, but you don’t have to be eternally punished for it.
2. Consider Apologizing
Many angry exes feel really frustrated when they don’t receive any form of an apology or when they feel there is no accountability taken. Even if you feel you did nothing wrong, an apology can eliminate a lot of the negativity you’re experiencing. Even unintended hurt deserves acknowledgment, and saying “I’m sorry” or taking responsibility doesn’t equate with anything being solely your fault.
3. Practice Empathy
Putting yourself in the shoes of your ex at any given time will bring you a sense of peace, even when they are acting horrible. Empathy reduces the stress in your own body, and that’s all you need to focus on. Trying to control what’s outside of you only makes things worse. Try to imagine why your ex is upset, what you might feel in that scenario, acknowledge what you learn, and then move on.
4. Limit Availability
If there’s nothing to attack, then an attack can’t happen. Making yourself less available for interactions, berating, or criticism will minimize the challenges you encounter with your ex. It’s okay to put limits on when and how you engage. Good boundaries should be put in place…particularly when dealing with a difficult ex. I find the best way to communicate is through email, this way it diffuses the situation and each conversation is documented. Email also allows you time to think and re-write how you feel before the communication continues.