Submitted by: Mark Banschick M.D.
Most parents can get angry if not down right rageful, in the midst of a divorce. Anger usually provokes more anger from the other party and damage may be done if your kids are present. Managing a tough relationship with your ex-husband or wife requires maintaining safe boundaries, as well as taking care of yourself. There are real ways to steer clear of the toxicity of disabling anger. It is in the best interests of your children.
• Walk away – halt – the situation if you or your ex-spouse loses control. Safety First!
• Be mindful of reactivity. When you are upset by something that you hear, ask for a clarification (active listening). After clarification, then ask if he/she really meant it or simply spoke impulsively out of anger.
• Work-off agitated energy through exercise or other physical activities. Regular exercise helps reduce raw feelings.
• Discover and utilize methods of changing the “state” of your mind. The brain often gets ‘stuck’ in reactive states. Nature, rest, a good loving moment with a friend…a warm bath can settle things down.
• When required, prepare your ex-spouse (and yourself) for a “hard discussion.” A regularly scheduled review of difficult matters may soften the harshness typical of these discussions.
• Have a Plan “B” if things heat up too much. For instance: know when to call in a third party when required (therapist, lawyer, clergy or other authorities).
• Psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral techniques are very helpful in managing anger during divorce.
• Psychopharmacology is sometimes useful on a temporary basis.
• Tell your spouse how you feel before you are out of control – Slow it down! Remember Good Boundaries Keep It Safe!
Mark R. Banschick, M.D. is a diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology with over 20 years of experience in child and adolescent psychiatry. The Intelligent Divorce course evolved from his work as an expert witness in custody disputes. Dr. Banschick has appeared on the CBS Early Show and has been quoted in The New York Times, The Huffington Post and firstwivesworld.com.
Dr. Mark Banschick’s book, The Intelligent Divorce, is a powerful and inspirational self guided resource that will change your life and the lives of your children.