It is OK to be angry, it is not OK to stay angry. It is OK to feel resentment, it is not OK to stay resentful. If you need to set boundaries and exert your rights during the divorce process do so kindly and respectfully.
Being assertive when angry means you are able to express your needs and get those needs met without hurting others. I can hear you now, “wait a minute, my need is for him/her to stay in the marriage.” And if that is what you are thinking then let me clear it up for you. When I talk of “needs” I am talking of those needs that are within your control. You don’t have any control over whether or not your spouse chooses the marriage but you do have control over other issues and how you will be treated, how marital assets will be split and your co-parenting relationship with your ex.
Aggressive Anger VS. Assertive Anger
Being assertive doesn’t mean stomping your feet and digging in until you get your way. Your marriage is over, the need to keep your spouse in the marriage can lead to the unhealthy form of anger…aggression. Aggressive anger becomes pushy and demanding with no regard to what the other person feels they need or want.
Aggressive anger keeps you stuck, assertive anger helps you move forward with your life after divorce. If you are using your anger to get back at or punish your ex, you will be the one to pay in the end. If you are using your anger to make sure you are taken care of emotionally and legally during the process of divorce, you will reap the rewards of behaving in a healthy manner.
Whether it is divorce, the loss of a job, or the behaviors of a friend, things are going to happen in life that cause us anger. You have no control over the behaviors of others but you do have control over the way you respond to their behaviors. Controlling your anger and responding in an assertive way is the difference between your pain being short-term pain or long-term pain.
Let Go Of Your Need To Control
This is a big one, probably the most difficult step you will take when dealing with negative emotions during the divorce process. Letting go of what you want entails changing your own mind about such an issue as to whether or not your marriage remains intact. You will be called on, during the divorce process to let go of time with your children, marital assets and much more.
We can want something so desperately that it can feel like an actual need. It is easy to confuse our wants with our needs, especially during the demise of a marriage. You are going to be called on to negotiate and compromise on the issues above. If you can’t let go of what you want (need) you won’t be able to focus on what is in your best interest during divorce settlement negotiations.
A mother who has been left for another woman may cringe at the thought of giving up time with her children to a cheating husband. She will fight tooth and nail to keep him from gaining shared custody or even liberal visitation.
In her mind, her children are better off with her than a cheating scoundrel. She wants her children and dismisses the idea that even though he cheated on her, this father loves and wants his children also. This mother will put what she wants above what her children want…time with their father and that is when standing up for what you want does harm to not only you but others.
Think of it this way, we don’t often get what we want but if we give up the struggle, we can get something better. You may still want your marriage but if you don’t give up the struggle to get what you want, you will never know what else life has to offer in its place.
You may resent paying child support and wish to retain that money for yourself but which is more important, getting what you want or showing your children their needs are important to you, important enough that you are willing to give up a want so they can have?
You are going to sit down with divorce lawyers or mediators and come to an agreement with your spouse about how life will be dealt with once the divorce is final. Coming to an agreement that benefits all concerned isn’t going to happen if you are not able to let go of some of what you “want.”
When in emotional pain one might struggle to remain in control of the situation in an attempt to lessen their pain. If we are busy trying to control what is happening to us, we are not able to see what could happen to us if we were more open.
I know a woman whose husband wanted a divorce. She fought him every step of the way during the legal process of the divorce. It was her belief that marriage was forever and she would do anything in her power to keep him from breaking up their family.
Many years later this woman is still trying to control the situation based on her belief that marriage is forever. In a perfect world, marriage last, that was not her world though and she can’t give over control to the fact that her marriage ended.
Her ex-husband has a new wife and has moved on with his life. She is now putting most of her energy into changing state divorce laws to make harder to get a divorce. She and I share the belief that divorce laws are too lenient, the difference between she and I is that for her it has become an all-consuming movement. She has shifted her need to control whether or not her marriage survived to control the laws that allowed her husband to divorce her.
I often wonder what she would be doing with her life if she had let go of her need to control whether her husband continued to love her. Or whether or not she had control over the legal system that allowed her husband to no longer love her.
Are you trying to control what course your marriage is taking? Are you bent and determined to control how another person responds to or behaves toward you? Stop and think about what you would be doing differently with your life if you only let go of your need to control that person.
When you wake up tomorrow, let go of your need to be in control. Choose to do something that will bring enjoyment to your life. At the end of the day, you won’t be able to deny that you’ve had a better day, so much better than those days when you are trying to control and influence others.