Anger keeps you tied to the same relationship you had pre-separation.
Every time you engage in a fight, negativity sweeps over you and can change your mood immediately and for hours (if not days) afterwards. When stress is high, it keeps us from being able to act rationally and think positively. You begin to dread the next contact and your opinion of your Ex just sinks lower. Not to mention what conflict with your Ex does to your kiddos and how stressed and angry parents are not functioning as the best parents they can be.
You try to control it, you think, “I won’t let them bother me” but your Ex knows exactly where each and every one of your buttons are (they probably installed them!) and they just keep pushing them over and over. if your Ex is angry or upset about the separation, they may purposely try to make you suffer their same pain.
Fighting with you can be a form of control your Ex has over you. By keeping you out of sync and trying to get you angry, you’re not at your best. You’re likely reacting instead of responding, It might be easier for your Ex to get their way when emotions are high than when you sit down and have a reasoned, rational conversation. The anger also ties you to this relationship. When you and your Ex have high conflict, your Ex ends up dominating your thoughts for the rest of the day or maybe even several days afterwards. The anger and attachment means that their voice is in your head and in your thoughts. You spend more time thinking about how to avoid or handle the next conflict than worrying about making the best decisions in the moment and figuring out what is best for your kids. The anger ties you to your Ex, and that is not the place you want to be.
Of course, there is no easy answer. A great resource for dealing with everyday stress and irritation is the Anger Management Workbook (this is NOT just for people who have an anger problem, it’s for anyone who wants to shed their stress). More than anything though, recognize that you win by not engaging in this harmful pattern. It may take some time before your Ex doesn’t make you mad, but if you can control your response, not react, and work toward a neutral state of mind, you have won regardless of how a specific issue may turn out.
1) Indifference signals detachment which can put you in a more powerful position.
If you act like you don’t care, all of a sudden your Ex’s words and actions don’t have as much impact. Your Ex may still continue to behave poorly and they may still make your blood boil and drive you crazy, but if you don’t show it then their behavior doesn’t have an immediate reward. It still doesn’t mean the way they act is okay, but you are now discouraging them, leading by example, and possibly helping to calm down their emotional state. If they don’t get a rise from you, then they lose some control over you.
2) Always ask, “Is this fight worth it?”
What do you get if you ‘win’? What does your Ex get if they ‘win’? Sometimes it’s not what you are fighting about as much as the fight itself that drives behavior. If it is something you can agree to, then agree but ONLY once the behavior is appropriate. Suggest that they make their argument via email, and then agree to their request! You’ve now rewarded calm and measured behavior and given them a way to communicate and ‘win’ without displaying their anger. Anytime you can say yes – say yes! Even if you are on the fence about saying yes, say yes. By no means should you be a total pushover but pick your battles. If you don’t fight about everything then you have more authority when you do insist on something and all of a sudden your hard firm ‘no’ means NO so there is no point in arguing about it.
3) Have a good memory of your kids to break the tension.
Be prepared and when the bad behavior begins, look at your Ex and say, “Remember when Janie was 2 and buried her face in her birthday cake? I love that memory.” Upset their balance, get them slightly off guard, and remind them that this is just about giving your kids their best life possible. The kids are ALL THAT MATTER! Personal grievances and wants and desires don’t matter as much as the kids being happy, feeling safe, secure and loved by both parents. If your Ex keeps arguing stay neutral, say you will think about what they have said, and get back to them via email (or Text Your Ex). Not many things need to be decided in a certain moment, it is always appropriate to think things over.
Anger is powerful but you can break free.
Anger ties you to an unhealthy relationship. Don’t stay in the same relationship that led to your separation. Before you separate there are always problems but after separation people feel more free to vent their frustration, anger, and pain which can lead to new and deeper wounding. And even though it may seem almost impossible to control all of the emotions you are feeling, those emotions are a giant vacuum holding you to the other person and dominating all of your thoughts, energy and time. By staying calm, rational, and neutral you keep your Ex from continuing to control you with their anger, hurt and personal problems. Every step you take away from the past brings you closer to where you are supposed to be.