Divorce from a high-conflict person can be an incredible drain on your resources. It’s easy to get caught up in self-defeating thought patterns and behaviors that unintentionally make things worse. Wondering how to survive your acrimonious split? Here are 10 crucial strategies to get through it.
Implement a communication protocol. Hostile emails and texts drive high-conflict divorce. Do your part to dampen the flames by following a low-conflict communication strategy: be concise, be informative (facts only, no opinions or feelings); neutral in tone, and firm (no waffling or negotiating).
Hire the appropriate attorney. Make sure your attorney understands the psychology of high-conflict personalities, who often have features of personality disorders. You want a lawyer who’s a skilled litigator, just in case going to court is the best answer. However, think twice before hiring a “shark attorney;” you need a strong lawyer, not a flame-thrower who will just ratchet up conflict (and legal fees).
Learn about high-conflict personalities. While you don’t want to become preoccupied with your ex, understanding how they think, and why they behave the way they do, may keep you from taking things personally. The most important thing to know about high-conflict personalities is that they usually don’t change, so let go of the toxic hope that you can give your ex an epiphany!
Manage your emotions. High-conflict people behave in dramatic ways, and try to “hook” others into losing their cool. Don’t give your ex this satisfaction! If you find yourself yelling, crying, or wringing your hands in anxiety, you need to take steps to manage your reactions. Don’t take all the crazy things your ex says personally, utilize coping skills, and wait until you’ve calmed down before responding.
Practice self-care. Sleepless nights and the divorce diet will wreak havoc on your nervous system. Do your best to get a good night’s sleep, eat frequent, small meals, and try to exercise regularly. Make sure you stay up-to-date on your medical and dental check-ups. Keeping your brain and body healthy will give you the fortitude to navigate your high-conflict divorce.
Develop coping skills. If you’re drinking, overeating, or Netflix binge-watching your way through your divorce, it’s time to acquire some healthy coping skills! Meditation, journaling, walking, deep breathing, and crafting are just a few healthy ways to soothe your anxious psyche.
Give yourself a divorce curfew. Thinking about your divorce 24/7 will just intensify negative feelings. Limit the time you spend focusing on it by implementing a “divorce curfew”: cease all divorce-related activities no later than 8 p.m. Do something constructive and/or enjoyable instead. Shifting your focus away from your ex will help calm your nervous system so you can relax and sleep.
Don’t talk — or think — endlessly about your divorce. It’s fine to seek comfort from friends and family, but don’t indulge in rants where you recount all the latest details of your acrimonious split. Focusing on what therapists refer to as the “problem story” will make you feel more despondent and also burn out your loved ones! Learn about the divorce self care strategy of compartmentalization.
Get emotional support. A divorce therapist can guide you through the grief process, teach you coping skills, and help you learn to manage your relationship to your ex. Unlike friends and relatives, therapists are objective and will not project their own fears and biases onto you.
Practice radical acceptance. This simply means that you accept life as it is today. The idea is that true suffering comes from our relationship to the present, more than the circumstances themselves. For instance, you can’t change the fact that you’re getting divorced, and you certainly can’t change your ex’s personality. But you can control your mindset and your choices.
High-conflict divorce is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to prepare, pace yourself, and be realistic about the road ahead.
Looking for a clear strategy in your high-conflict divorce? We can help. For answers to all your questions about divorce and separation, child custody, child support and asset division, please contact us today to schedule your initial attorney consultation. Call us at 888-888-0919 or please click the button below.