Divorce is Hard, Why Make it Harder On Your Ex or Your Kids?
Sometimes, I admit, I’m an ass. It happens. Sometimes I get frustrated with my ex-wife and I mouth off or email her a nastygram. I’m better now. As part of my mission, in writing The Whole Parent, I attempt to take every “opportunity” for growth to take the high road rather than return angry energy. I simply don’t respond if I can’t respond positively.
We can be sailing along, nice Summer and all, and boom she says something that can only be taken as passive-aggressive. Or maybe it’s just plain offensive. She does not trust me. She does not respect me. And she even does things to hurt me. It is fine to couch them as “for the kids” but it’s not about them. It can’t be. It has to be unresolved anger AT ME. Bummer.
I believe that living with anger, creates an angry life.
You’ve got to process your anger at your ex. There is no way around it. Jumping into a new relationship without resolving your failed marriage is going to only make things worse. You are likely to repeat the same mistakes that led you to divorce in the first place. If you don’t, you are going to cover up your unresolved anger by trying to transfer or sublimate it with a new relationship. It can’t work.
What you’re looking for in your co-parenting relationship is a spirit of cooperation in everything. When the vindictive motivations are hidden as self-defense, or “in the best interest of the children” the angry person may feel clear and justified. But it’s really just hidden anger. Here are my 5 Laws of Anger in Co-parenting.
Anger is usually a personal issue. Another person may “trigger” your anger, but if it persists, or if it causes you to act against your own best interests, your anger is actually hurting you. And your unresolved anger hurts everyone around you. Even when you’re happy, you’re not as happy as you could be. And you’ll have doubts when the volatile anger can flare up and wreck your day. That’s a personal issue.
Any action taken against your co-parent is about unresolved anger. If you were not angry you’d see that aggression against that person is also an aggression against your children. When you strike a blow against your ex the repercussions are felt by your kids. Even if you keep good boundaries, as we do, they feel the impact of your foul moves.
Child support is an agreement and a contract between you and your co-parent. When they go through tough financial times, you don’t strike out at that. If you were still married you’d work together to make ends meet. If you are feeling entitled, and feel that filing your decree with the AG’s office is “justified” think again. You are acting out of the anger at your ex. You have lost all compassion for the former mate. You should never strike against a willing co-parent who is honest and open with their financial situation. If you do, please pause for a minute. Get some help. Your anger at your co-parent is causing you to see them as the cause of your problems. Even financial problems are shared problems. Reason things out with another person, not with your ex.
The anger you shoot out from yourself comes back to you 10-fold. I don’t believe in karma. I believe that living with anger, creates an angry life. Showing the angry life to your kids is not the lesson you’d prefer to give them. Discharge your anger however you need to do it (this blog was great for me), but quit firing poison darts at your co-parent. You are liable to hit one of your kids instead.
Always keep your kids’ smiles in mind when you think about striking out at your co-parent. No matter how justified you feel, it’s really not about them. The anger should not be a legacy you pass on, and you should work to resolve it before moving into another relationship. Sure, romance and getting to know someone might distract you for a while, but eventually your old anger is going to flare up, even at your new partner.
Anger is a great motivator. Anger can dispel and counteract depression. Use it to your advantage. But expressing your anger at your ex-partner, or using anger as some justification of your bad actions will never feel right. In fact, acting in anger will actually create more anger rather than dispel it.
Take charge of your anger. Heal yourself. Move on as a happier, healthier person. It will be better for you and everyone around you.
As a certified life coach, I’ve been helping men and women find fulfilling relationships. If you’d like to chat for 30-minutes about your dating/relationship challenges, I always give the first 30-session away for free. LEARN ABOUT COACHING WITH JOHN. There are no obligations to continue. But I get excited every time I talk to someone new. I can offer new perspectives and experiences from my post-divorce dating journey. Most of all, I can offer hope.image: my kids the summer before my wife asked for a divorce
more from The Whole Parent
- My Little Rocket Ship of Hope and Love
- Love All Parents
- That Silence Says A Lot: What Are You Paying Attention To?
- Giving Your Co-parent a Break
- Loss of the Proximity Effect as a Divorced Dad
image: don draper, mad men, creative commons usage