I’ve read a lot of articles and essays written by people who have gone through a similar journey as I have, and the common theme among many of these posts is that it was one person who was responsible for the breakdown of the marriage; usually not the person writing the article. Aside from abusive relationships (which are never justifiable in ANY situation and never the fault of the victim), most divorces – not all, but most – happen as a result of the actions of both people in the marriage. Anyone who says they had no part in it are not being completely honest with themselves.
My EH firmly believes that it is my fault we got divorced and probably everything bad that has ever happened to him in his life, too. That should bother me, and it does, a little. For one thing, it implies that he was the perfect, upstanding husband. It implies that he never made mistakes, that he did everything right, that he was the model husband. It implies that it is only my fault we got a divorce.
He actually cited all the reasons in an affidavit why everything was my fault, and it infuriated me to no end. So I sat down and wrote down (in the form of a responsive affidavit) everything that he had ever done since our divorce that I perceived as being a jerk move. By the time all was said and done I had well over thirty five pages. I shudder to think at how much money it cost me to have my attorney read it, edit it, draft it into a legal document, and file it. Two pages would have been far less expensive, and probably more effective.
I have to say that some of the things that he has done have seemed to have been merely just to be a jerk. For instance, one time I got stuck in his driveway during a snowstorm; and I got out of my car and knocked on his door, to ask him if he could help me get unstuck so I could be on my way. Did I really want to sit in his driveway staring at the house I am no longer allowed in? No. He sat in his recliner without getting up, and without looking at me, said “Call a tow truck;” and instead of walking away I said “Please?” Which was followed by enough words for me to know that he thought I was dumb for even being out in a snow storm in the first place. (Actually, he did say I was dumb. But anyways…)He then started getting out of his chair as if he was going to help and I looked at him and said “Forget it,” and slammed his door shut.
(Triple A is the way to go, and averts situations such as the above).
Then there was the time that we were in court and the judge asked us both if we thought the other was a good parent, and he proceeded to tell her why he thought I wasn’t a good parent. Or the time he refused to let me see our kids when it was my parenting time because I had sent an angry email to his mother and of course she had shown it not to only him, but his entire family, as well. Or the many other instances when he did something and I was fuming and/or crying, and I was just so angry.
But you know what? The judge doesn’t care that I think my EH can be a jerk, even if I cite reasons why it might be true. He probably got to page 2 of my affidavit, shook his head, and put it aside. He also doesn’t care that my EH thinks I’m a terrible mother, or that I was a crappy wife. All he cares about is whether or not we are both abiding by the terms of our contract. There is nothing in our divorce decree that states my EH has to pull me out when I get stuck in his driveway. There are no stipulations in the decree that he has to say only nice things about me, either. There is nothing in our decree that states he has to do anything, except follow a certain parenting time schedule and support his children. There are no laws anywhere that dictate that you have to be nice to the person or do nice things for the person that you are divorced from, or even that you have to get along.
If the court is not going to care about those things, why should I?
Some real strategies for dealing with all of those frustrations is to:
- Journal about it, or even just write down on a piece of paper what it is that frustrates you. The idea is that when you write it down, you externalize those thoughts from your head onto paper, where they can stop having a negative effect on you. Once you write it down, consider that thought gone from you head. Either throw the paper away or don’t go back and read it if you think that it will be a trigger for you later on.
- Employ the help of a therapist. There are people actually trained to help you sort through your feelings. I am not ashamed to admit that I started seeing a therapist during my divorce, and to this day still see one occasionally. She has helped me tremendously, and helps me remember that while I cannot control my exes behavior, I can control my reaction to his behavior.
- Go ride a rollercoaster, or do something that forces you to scream the heck out of your lungs. Believe it or not, it works. An added bonus is if you get laryngitis and can’t talk. You’re less likely to say something that you’ll either regret or worse yet, have used against you later on.
- Pray, or meditate, or do something that will make you feel more at peace. Every day I say a prayer for my ex-husband that he will come to his senses, but more importantly, I pray for peace in my own life. I kind of like peace.
- Listen to empowering music. I have a playlist specifically designed to listen to when I am mad at someone, especially him. Actually, it’s useful in any situation where I need to de-stress or calm down.
When all else fails, laugh, and remember that life is too short to walk around letting someone else be in control of your happiness. When it feels like someone is intentionally trying to antagonize you, there’s a good chance that’s exactly what they’re doing. Who wants to walk around being angry all the time? Not me.