No one knows you better than your ex, and often in unhappy ways.
The vast majority of divorces are civil and reasonable. You were married to someone and it didn’t work out. You both deserve another chance.
While it is true that the one leaving (the leave-er) is usually less burdened by the divorce than the one being left (the leave-ee), an intelligent divorce is a possibility. Most people grieve, get some therapy or support, and sooner or later, call it a day and move on.
There is life to live.
Not so when you have a truly difficult ex-spouse.
People Regress in Divorce:
If you were angry, you may become explosive. If he was selfish, he may become narcissistic. If she was narcissistic, she may become sociopathic. If you were anxious, you may become more so. If he had been mean, he could become viscous. And if she had been dependent, she may become helpless.
While you may have been married to someone with a personality disorder like a Narcissist or a Borderline, more than likely you were married to someone with some of these traits that have morphed into the full blown version, at least for the foreseeable future.
Because divorce brings up many worries, including a fear of abandonment, an over-ripened sense of justice, fears of never being loved again, worries about money, the house, and of course, the children. These pressures bear on the psych like the proverbial straws on a camel’s back.
And many people break.
Familiarity Breeds Contempt …and Dysfunction:
That is why I argue strongly for The Intelligent Divorce. We must think from our heads and not from our hearts during divorce, because feelings are often so muddled and the mistakes that people make are so predictable.
Familiarity breeds contempt and dysfunction.
Your ex may trigger you and you may trigger him or her. Yet, you have to arrange for a financial settlement and continue to interact, particularly if there are children in the picture. Some people need to keep the divorce going…and going… and going. Character problems make people self-righteous and self-serving, even if it can injure their children. And the legal system with its endless continuances, discovery, exposure and pain, can sometimes add insult to injury.
In severe cases, like Parental Alienation Syndrome or physical abuse, you will have to bring in outside resources to make things better. But, in most cases, you are facing a person that you must interact with, and yet, is difficult and undermining of that very effort.
So what are the guidelines for dealing with a difficult ex?
The SIR System (Safety, Integrity & Relationship):
In every interaction with your ex-spouse, consider three things in descending order: safety, your own integrity, and when possible, fostering a good relationship with your ex-spouse. If you work the relationship in that order, you are off to a good start.
That is part of divorcing intelligently.
I have seen many good divorces.
Protect yourself, but be open to something good if it appears.
The SIR system (Safety, Integrity & Relationship) is a simple acronym to keep in mind while dealing with a difficult ex-spouse. Always put safety first. Then carefully consider your role in the dysfunction of the marriage and the divorce, and make changes if possible. Plus, look inside and make sure that you know what you want in every interaction with your ex. It will make it all easier, because you won’t get sucked into old conversations about your failed marriage.
Finally, remember that you valued this person once. And that person might be still there, covered over with hurt, anger and self-righteousness. It may take years, but many couples are able to transition successful to an intelligent divorce, despite a failed marriage.
For more information on:
Intelligent Divorce Course: www.TheIntelligentDivorce.net