Linda Lewis Griffith

Don’t wallow in anger after divorce

Seattle Times/TNS

The divorce is final. You’re so ready to be done with your ex. In fact, you can barely tolerate his presence. You cringe just seeing his face.

Your loathing is understandable. Most likely, the divorce proceedings have been contentious. Harsh, unkind words have been spewed by both parties. Decisions have been made that you feel are unfair. Your shared life lies shredded on the courtroom floor.

Unfortunately, signing the papers doesn’t end your relationship. If you have minor-age children, you must still work together to raise the kids.

Hard feelings interfere with this process. You refuse to talk to your ex when you transfer the children. But your anger only keeps you entrenched. It reinforces a sense of self-righteousness that prevents any healing from taking place.

Hatred also wreaks havoc on your kids. Parental arguing is the No. 1 stressor for children in a divorce. If you despise Daddy — or Mommy — your little ones will see it and suffer.

Anger also reinforces the role of victim. You blame your ex for everything that’s happened: “If it weren’t for you I wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Still, you chose to become involved and were once attracted to him/her. There were wonderful moments the two of you shared. You loved each other enough to have children.

None of this justifies your partner’s unacceptable behavior. It does, however, point out your role in the predicament.

Research shows that a little anger following the breakup can actually be helpful.

In a study published online in Cognition and Emotion, Dr. Christopher Fagundes found that subjects who expressed strong negative emotions about their exes in the immediate aftermath of the breakup were less likely to be depressed.

But wallowing in anger for a long period of time is bad for your health and makes you miserable. Do everyone around you a huge favor: Let go of the anger and move on.

Linda Lewis Griffith’s column in special to The Tribune. She is a local marriage and family therapist. For more information or to contact her, visit www.lindalewisgriffith.com.

How to stop hating your ex

  • Commit to changing your attitude. Decide you want to stop dwelling in the past. Give happiness the attention it deserves.
  • Listen to your thoughts. Notice when you revert to hatred. At first it will dominate your airwaves. That will change over time.
  • Replace hateful messages. Try telling yourself, “I’m ready to move on,” or “I don’t want to feel angry anymore.”
  • Find new friends. You’ll be revitalized by their company and establish new contacts.
  • Reach out to your ex. Let him/her know that you’ve dropped your hostility and that you’re ready to work together. You may be surprised at the change in his/her demeanor.
  • Accept what is. Even if you didn’t want the breakup, it’s where you are today.
  • Find joy. There’s plenty of happiness all around you. Decide what it looks like, then go find it.
  Comments