Are you learning that you may be divorcing a high-conflict spouse? Maybe you didn’t even realize how bad your situation was until your marriage began to unravel. Then you began to see this person as she or he really is…maybe even seeing some narcissistic traits.
So you start to go online and read everything you can get your hands on to validate what you’re thinking and feeling. And it’s all there…you identify with this and may have been living through this for years or even decades.
I have had countless conversations with individuals who are in the very same place you are. I want to acknowledge your courage and bravery for taking this step to educate yourself so you can understand what you are dealing with. As you know, ”knowledge is power.” If you are divorcing a high-conflict spouse, you may see how this person is stuck in their own feelings of anger and resentment towards you. They may be unable to take any responsibility for their actions, and may blame you for the difficulties in your marriage. They sometimes even look at themselves as the “victim.” These are all characteristics of a high-conflict person.
But here’s the bottom line – you cannot change this person. When you continue your old pattern of reacting to them, you are being hooked right back into the same old dysfunction you have had for years.
There is a way to feel less angry, more empowered, and have a sense of confidence as you go through the separation or divorce from this person.
As a Licensed Provider for Bill Eddy’s New Ways for Family’s model, I want to share 5 tips for how to deal with a high-conflict person:
- Don’t take it personally. Your spouse’s anger, blaming, and demands are their personal issues, not yours.
- Create your personal boundaries. If you are not being treated with respect, you have the right to end an abusive phone call, not respond to a nasty text or email, or walk away from someone.
- Refuse to give in to demands if you disagree. This person may try tactics such as acting sad or needy to make you feel guilty. They may get angry and argue with you to get you to change your mind. You have the right to say NO to their demands without feeling guilty.
- If you’re feeling “bullied,” recognize that it’s time to end the conversation. Say something like “I’m not going to have this conversation right now. It’s not acceptable for me.” Keep repeating that over and over if you need to.
- Self-care is critical. Get support from good friends and family. Get advice from an expert like a divorce coach, who can help you manage those crazy emotions and help you practice skills to shut down these negative interactions.
You do not need to do this alone. I am here to talk with you on a confidential and complimentary call. I will give you strategies and tools to move forward with confidence no matter what decision you decide is best for you.