Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


Feeling Hatred Is Normal in Divorce

Intense anger may be part of your grief process.

"The angry people are those people who are most afraid." –Robert Anthony

When any relationship ends, it's not uncommon for one or both partners to feel intense hatred for the other at some point. Some people feel intense dislike for their spouse even before their marriage ends. There are several reasons this can occur. They may feel this when they believe their trust has been betrayed. Or they may feel it as a response to a great deal of mental or emotional damage experienced during their marital relationship, which may continue happening until they decide to divorce. Some people need to feel this hatred in order to justify leaving the relationship. Their intense anger is used to separate (or even repel) them from their spouse.

The second instance of hatred arises in response to feeling rejected by the other spouse. Perhaps one spouse has expressed dissatisfaction with the marriage that wasn't anticipated, or one spouse behaved badly, such as having had an affair or refused to participate in family functions. When we are hurt, one natural reaction is to become angry. Hate stems from intense anger.

During divorce proceedings, there are many opportunities to feel hatred toward your soon-to-be-ex. It can crop up when your spouse handles something in a sly or underhanded way, asks for too much, or requests something to which he may be legally entitled, but which you think he should not ask for. The fact that this person whom you married and with whom you may have had children can be so insensitive to your needs can create very strong negative feelings.

Finally, there may be hate even after the relationship is legally dissolved and the divorce is finalized. This hate can come about as a result of feeling that your spouse "ruined" your life, was untrustworthy, or you saw her true colors come out during the legal proceedings.

Having this intense level of emotion present throughout a divorce is not abnormal. It's actually indicative of how attached you were to your spouse. Although we sometimes use anger to push others away, in another sense we stay intensely connected to whomever we are furious with. They live rent-free in our minds, where we imagine what we'd like to say or do to them. Or we use up a lot of our energy just thinking about them.

You don't despise your spouse because you don't care for him or her anymore. When you despise someone to whom you've been close, you still have an emotional connection to that person. Indifference is the true opposite of love because it means there is no longer an emotional connection between you and your spouse.

Only when you reach the place called indifference will you know that you are on the other side of the healing process. When you are indifferent to your ex-spouse you will know that you've worked through the pain that you experienced in your marriage. You can't will yourself to be in indifferent but you can certainly think of indifference as a goal you want to reach.

Affirmation: I am closer every day to the freedom that indifference brings.

Journal Exercise: Make a list of all the reasons why you feel or have felt hatred toward your spouse. If you have any insights as to how you can work to heal from this intense emotion, then write about that. Keep this list and check it each month or so to see how connected you still are to that emotion. If you continue to feel an emotional charge, you still have some healing to do. If you don't, and you feel nothing, then you will know that you have reached indifference.

This writing was excerpted from Stronger Day by Day, Reflections for Healing and Rebuilding After Divorce, by Susan Pease Gadoua, with permission from New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

No part of this publication may be reproduced without the express written permission of the author. Failure to comply with these terms may expose you to legal action and damages for copyright infringement.

More from Susan Pease Gadoua L.C.S.W.
More from Psychology Today
More from Susan Pease Gadoua L.C.S.W.
More from Psychology Today