The Intelligent Divorce

And further unorthodox advice on relationships, marriage and parenting

The Malignant Divorce

Not all divorces are awful, but some are truly malignant. What do we do when our divorces become more like diseases than peaceful separations? Read More

Malignant Divorce

I agree that aggressive litigators should play no part in the dissolution of a marriage. I guess they feel they are giving their clients what they want, and, sadly, they are often right about that. In addition, aggressive litigators naturally have a win at any cost attitude. That is what makes them good litigators. I don't blame. I am just saying they have no place in a marital dissolution. The system needs to be changed so that marital dissolution does not involve litigation.

Boyd Lemon-Author of "Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages," a memoir of the author's journey to understand his role in the destruction of his three marriages, helpful for anyone to deal with issues in their own relationships. Information, excerpts and reviews: http://www.BoydLemon-Writer.com.

Boyd's Comment

I really appreciate this comment, because it comes from real painful experience. The religious among us tell us that suffering is the road to wisdom. I have found that this is often true.
Sounds like you have wisdom in spades.

The system, Boyd, is inadequate to deal with the power struggles between two people. In the present system, divorce is handled in court. Now, divorce is not about two governments or two corporations. No, divorce is about two people.

Courts were created for another purpose.

Until there are changes, judges will be overwhelmed, lawyers will sometimes profit from unhappiness and couples will continue to spin out in their rituals of finger pointing to no ones benefit.

Your article is right on. It

Your article is right on. It is so critical to get help for yourself and the children. That is what made the difference for our family. As you stated, things were unpredictable and malicious yet to remain strong and have courage was the challenge. I took it on and now a few years later the outcome is apparent in how the kids have grown up and in their own strength. They learned about boundaries, just as I learned to stand up for what was right and no longer accept abusive behavior.

Not just divorce

Good article. Parts of it apply to my (now almost non-existant) relationship with my sister.

It wasn't until I read Gavin DeBecker's The Gift of Fear that I realized that given the right (or wrong) set of circumstances, my sister would be capable of hurting me and my son.

I'm looking foward to reading more of your posts (and upcoming book) about this.

Malignant Divorce

A divorce that becomes a raging battle between two parents has always felt like a true, classic
tragedy. And like all tragedies, the damage done is primarily to the innocents. Your approach is a valuable and rational guide in how to anticipate, survive and, hopefully, avoid the damage. As a practicing therapist, I know only too well the depth of the hurt it can cause. Thanks for an honest
and realistic reading of how and why a malignant divorce can be such a destructive process.

Ditta Oliker's Comment

I couldn't agree more!

Boyd Lemon-Author of "Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages," a memoir of the author's journey to understand his role in the destruction of his three marriages, helpful for anyone to deal with issues in their own relationships. Information, excerpts and reviews: http://www.BoydLemon-Writer.com.

Malignant divorce

Congratulations, Mark, on your excellent and opportune post.
My interest in malignant divorce is more than academic. I went through one, though fortunately not of the fatal variety.
A few points fascinate me. One, the speed at which relative amity turns into enmity. One minute you are functioning as an ordinary couple; the next you are at one another's throats. It seems that in a flash the pent up anger of years bursts out. All resentments and past accounts are called in, with no holding back. Even the one diaper change you didn't make seventeen years ago.
Two, the depth of the anger. At the time I tried to fathom why my wife's anger was so extreme. Most of us contain anger of varying degrees, but I think that in these circumstances anger is expressed in direct proportion to the difficulty of breaking the bonds. In other words, the force needed to blow apart a closely-knit family unit with kids is tremendous. Consequently, reasonably decent, long marriages can end in horrific divorces.
To top it all, when the earthquake occurs, it's hard to keep your wits about you, you lose control and before you know it you descend into chaos, hostility and animosity.
As to how to deal with the dreadful situations that arise, I am wholly in favor of therapy, both individual and group. I thank my therapy/therapists for facilitating my recovery.

Therapists and malignant divorce

Therapists helped my abusive EX abuse me, except for the marriage counselor. When I reported to the so-called therapist/mediator that he came after me with a butcher knife, the "therapist" (who is a nationally known, big-name therapist) discounted my story and NEVER, not once, told him he shouldn't come after me with a weapon. When I called the therapist on it, he asked if I need to reschedule because I was "emotional" (I didn't even get "emotional", I just raised my voice a little) and that the EX's action just told him we needed more "mediation." As for the children: therapists are completely untrained to deal with abuse (psychological and emotional), even if they claim they are, and think they need to "give the father a chance" when "giving him a chance" means essentially telling him it is OK to behave like that. My children are SO smart and strong and have learned how to set boundaries in spite of therapy, not because of it!

Writing to Recover from Divorce

In addition to therapy, I recommend writing about your marriage and the contributions of both you and your spouse to the failure of your marriage. It doesn't have to be published. It worked for me.

Boyd Lemon-Author of "Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages," a memoir of the author's journey to understand his role in the destruction of his three marriages, helpful for anyone to deal with issues in their own relationships. Information, excerpts and reviews: http://www.BoydLemon-Writer.com.

In the middle of the storm

An interesting perspective.
I am in the middle of a malignant divorce.

My ex has done her best to ruin me professionally, personally and publicly. She has attempted to stop me seeing our 2 younger boys and has so poisoned our daughter that she accused me of sexual assault! Thankfully that was fully investigated and no evidence found but it was horrific. She has now thrown our eldest out of the house as he refused to take her side against me (He is a good lad was trying to stay neutral which I understand) and has still been seeing me. He had an argument with his sister and his "attitude" is purportedly because of the things she had said about me. Actually sister WAS in the wrong and the matter involved third parties. I did not even know about it.

My problem is that hating me (rightly or wrongly) is one thing. Despite everything I have managed not to go there myself. But I cannot for the life of me understand how she can do that to the children.

I could no more reject or harm my kids (even my daughter after all the lies)than I could willingly stop my breathing.

How do you deal with a situation where you are totally on the receiving end?

Even after a court order on residency and contact is in place and the property division is agreed she still cannot stop.

Even I, who have bent over backwards to give her grace and understand it is just her pain talking, have come to the point where I agree with most of the people who know both our views that she is probably psychotic.

Oh, and I am a lawyer (although I do not do family law) and if it was not for a colleague representing me she would have hammered me flat. I was in no mental state to deal with the matter even if I had the knowledge of that area of law.

Her own lawyers were tearing their hair out at her behaviour and demands. They were being reasonable and we had an agreement in negotiation and outline terms thanks to them BEFORE she went ballistic. So it was not down to them. (All three firms-she is now on her fourth)

They were helping someone with a legal need. Now whether these sorts of matters should be dealt with in courtroom is a different matter. Most family lawyers here in the UK say not and I agree with them.

We wound up there only after my wife closed down all other avenues.

Malignant is just the word and it is the children who are suffering long term.

Reply to In the Middle of the Storm

Your story is a sad one, but just remember you cannot control what she does, except to defend yourself when prudent and continue to take the high road with the children. I am now 71, and my children are in their 30's and 40's. When they were young I experienced something similar. Just know that it will pass. The result in my case: I am very close to all of my children and grandchildren, and the ex-wife is estranged and/or distant from all of them (4 children). This storm shall pass. Hang in their, and stay on the high road. It will pay off in the end.

Boyd Lemon-Author of "Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages," a memoir of the author's journey to understand his role in the destruction of his three marriages, helpful for anyone to deal with issues in their own relationships. Information, excerpts and reviews: http://www.BoydLemon-Writer.com.

Divorce can really be an

Divorce can really be an awful thing if not handled right. I feel sorry for the children trapped in between.

Divorce

Yes, it can be, and especially for the children. That is why it is critical for parents who are divorcing to take classes or have counseling on co-parenting when they are divorcing.

Boyd Lemon-Author of “Eat, Walk, Write: An American Senior’s Year of Adventure in Paris and Tuscany,” and "Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages," the author’s journey to understand his role in the destruction of his three marriages. Information and excerpts: http://www.BoydLemon-Writer.com. Travel blog: http://www.boomertravelblog.com.

Easier said than done

What does the author mean by "get help"? There is no help for the poor getting divorced. In fact some ex's make sure the other one goes into poverty. There is no money to pay for help. The court appointed help is not help at all. All they do is listen to both sides then boot you out the door so you can keep doing what doesn't work. My ex's was molesting my children. I was called a crazy x wife and that I was only saying that because I wanted my children to never see their Dad. The whole system sucks. I say just don't ever get married. Unless you've been with the person for at least 5 years.

HOW BOUT A BETTER 'SERIES'

There are tons of books, articles, and series on the net and available for those that WANT HELP! Want to sell a book or series then write one about: How to keep from being broken when dealing with a broken person in your life.

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Mark Banschick, M.D., is a psychiatrist and author of The Intelligent Divorce book series.

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