Divorce is the splitting of two people who have deep emotional ties to each other. Such splits can’t occur without being accompanied by deep hurt, pain, and feelings of rejection. Not only should you expect to feel such emotions, but you should assume your partner also does on some level, regardless of how it may appear on the outside.
Though feelings of hurt are practically inevitable in divorce, we also tend to approach this hurt in unhealthy ways that will only further our suffering. The following tips will help you overcome this hurt and deal with the pain of divorce in a productive way.
- De-personalizing the hurt
Recognize that just because you’re hurting, it doesn’t mean either party is intending to hurt the other. Hurt is ALWAYS an unintended consequence of conflicting goals; not the result of an evil prerogative by one party or the other. Even when another person’s actions appear quite malicious on the surface, they are always motivated by hidden insecurities, defense mechanisms, and/or conditioned responses to the hurt they feel.
- Remember that bad behavior is a learned response, and comes from somewhere
Consider how your personal upbringing or that of your spouse’s may have played a role in the marital struggles you experienced. I can tell you from years of research, one of the strongest carry-overs from childhood is that adult relationships are molded from the parent-child bond and how that person’s parents interacted with the child and with each other. If you want to know why someone has a knack for saying hurtful things or has some other detriment in their personality, you generally need to look no further than that person’s parents. Realizing this can help alleviate some of the bitterness you feel.
In many ways we are slaves to the environment we’re incubated in. So whenever you start to think about patterns of interaction that you found hurtful or inconsiderate, or which you blame for the breakup of the marriage, imagine your former partner as a small child; experiencing, observing and absorbing those same destructive patterns at the hands of others. Keep that mental image in your mind, and you should feel some of the anger slip away.
This also goes both ways. Think for a moment to ways your parents interacted with you or each other. Consider behaviors that you found hurtful or troubling or which left you feeling insecure. If you reflect upon this honestly, I’m sure you’ll start to recognize times when you enacted the same destructive patterns with your spouse. Keep these things in mind, and realize that hurt is felt both ways.
- Be realistic about human nature
Accept that humans are fallible, imperfect creatures, and that imperfect people are bound to act in imperfect ways.
* More information on dealing with social injuries can be found in our Family Recovery Handbook.