Dealing with Your Spouse's Anger During Divorce

A young couple having an argument at home

Divorce is a highly emotional time for everyone involved, triggering sadness, grief, and anger for both parties. Having a plan for dealing with your spouse’s anger during divorce, and coping with your own, can help you reduce conflict and bring your marriage to a peaceful resolution without giving in to your emotions.

How Anger Can Affect the Divorce Process

It is natural to feel angry when a marriage ends. Anger is a part of the grieving process. The reasons people file for divorce often come from places of hurt and anger. Especially when a marriage relationship falls apart quickly, the divorce process can start before either spouse has had a chance to process their anger and move on to acceptance.

When one or both parties are angry during the divorce process it can bring unnecessary conflict and increase the cost and time spent finalizing the divorce. Often, an angry spouse will:

  • Make unreasonable demands
  • Interfere with the divorce process
  • Try to use the divorce to “get back” at their spouse
  • Refuse to settle in favor of having their day in court in the hopes of a judge telling them they were right to be mad

This isn’t a one-way thing. Each spouse’s anger can increase antagonism in a divorce proceeding, and drive up conflict. When a spouse triggers the other’s anger, both sides will pay the price (and sometimes the children too), both financially and emotionally.

Coping with Anger During Divorce

One of the best ways to keep anger from affecting your divorce is to take steps to actively manage your own emotions. Find coping mechanisms that help you work through your negative emotions and address them in healthy ways. These could include:

  • Building an emotional support structure
  • Journaling or writing down your feelings (but don’t send them to your spouse, and be careful where these thoughts are saved as they could be subject to discovery!)
  • Using physical activity to release anger and anxiety
  • Strategically disengaging when emotions run high
  • Joining a divorce support group or working with a divorce coach or therapist
  • Adhere to a regular schedule (sleep and meal timing)
  • Spend time with family and friends where you focus on things other than your divorce

There are also positive ways to use divorce-related anger. You may have good reason to be angry at a spouse who has been unfaithful to you, wasted family assets, or treated you with disrespect. You can use that anger to motivate yourself to set goals for your life post-divorce; define boundaries for co-parents and future romantic relationships; and motivate you to take steps to build your future success.

Dealing with Spousal Anger During Divorce

Unfortunately, you can’t control anyone’s emotions but your own. If your spouse is prone to anger, it will likely affect the way your divorce plays out. However, there are some strategies for dealing with spousal anger during divorce that can minimize the impact on you (and your children):

  • Do not engage with your spouse’s anger. If they are emotional, acknowledge the anger. Take a break and return to the conversation after both of you are calm.
  • Avoid antagonizing or blaming your spouse. Try to engage with them like a business partner: be direct, and focus on the forward-looking issues, rather than airing past grievances.
  • Do not feel pressured to give in to your spouse just because they are angry. You can hear them out without making a substantive response. Talk to your attorney about any offer your spouse has made and decide if it meets your needs and goals, before you respond.
  • When necessary, work through your attorney to provide distance and a cool head. You can focus on day to day interactions with your spouse and defer to your attorney when it comes to the divorce.

Anger and Abuse in Domestic Violence Divorces

No discussion of anger during divorce is complete without addressing the role anger plays in abusive family dynamics. Survivors of domestic violence often are more afraid of their partners’ anger than of the physical assault itself. When an abuser gets angry it can cause them to lash out physically, emotionally, and verbally, in a host of unpredictable and harmful ways.

Unfortunately, the start of a divorce is a dangerous time for domestic violence victims. When an abuser loses control of their spouse and the relationship as a whole, they will get angry, and may escalate their abusive tactics to regain control. If your spouse has a history of being verbally, emotionally, or physically abusive, you should talk to your divorce attorney and create a safety plan before you file any documents to build additional protections for yourself and for your children - and before your partner learns that the marriage is over.

At the Law Office of Shelly M. Ingram, our divorce attorneys understand how anger, grief, and other emotions can affect the divorce process. We can help you take a holistic approach to divorce, running interference between you and your spouse, and giving you space to process your own emotions. We can connect you with professionals who can help you process your emotions and help you find a peaceful resolution that will address your needs and the needs of your family. Call (301) 658-7354 or complete our online information form to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our Maryland divorce attorneys.

Categories: Divorce