Anger is one of the top three emotions individuals experience before, during and after divorce. In fact anger is perfectly normal during this difficult time in your life. It’s highly possible that anger may have been what led you to divorce in the first place. During the divorce, your ex may say or do something that will leave you fuming. After the divorce is said and done, you may still find yourself angry with your ex-spouse for months or even years. Is there a time limit on how long you can be angry with your ex? How natural is it to still be angry with your ex-spouse ten years after your divorce?
Anger can be expressed in many ways. I used to think that others couldn’t tell when I was mad, but my husband and my children have it figured out. They say I hold my mouth a certain way. When I am really upset, my shoulders tighten and my temperature seems to go up because I feel like I am having a hot flash. It takes a lot for me to get angry, but when I do, I am really mad. I remember when I was going through the many bouts of anger I had.
When it comes to divorce, you may be angry for a while after the divorce, but consider the fact that there are long term effects of anger on our bodies. Anger can actually increase our risk for chronic diseases like coronary artery disease and heart attacks, even breast cancer. In fact, long time anger can be just as dangerous as obesity and smoking is on our health. I have seen this phenomena occur where individuals harbor anger and unforgiveness and as a result the anger eventually manifested itself in the form of a deadly illness.
Just about everybody in the family will become angry sometime during the divorce process. You will be angry at your spouse and he or she will most likely be angry at you. Your children will probably be angry at one or both parents for ruining their lives. Everyone may blame the other for the demise of the family.
I have met individuals who indicate that they have been divorced for more than ten or twelve years and are still angry at their ex. That’s a long time to harbor resentment against another person. Some of my clients indicate that they are no longer angry, but their behavior says otherwise. How can you tell if you are still angry at your ex? Here are 4 ways you can tell:
Finally, learn how to deal with your anger in a healthy way. God does not desire for us to walk around angry and frustrated when He can fill our lives with so much joy. If after reading this article, and find that you are still angry at your ex, it’s time to put an end to your anger and live a highly favored life. Remember… “My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry. If you are angry, you cannot do any of the good things that God wants done. James 1:19-20 (CEV).
Are you still angry?
I recently read an article in the newspaper under the “Ask Amy” column entitled “Second Wife Feels the Heart Should Not Go On.” In the “Dear Amy” letter, a woman was disturbed because her husband had purchased a gold heart for her and she later learned that he had also purchased his first wife the same gift. She had received the gift in love and wore it every day until she found out that her husband had given the same gift to his first wife. The second wife also complained of him using the same phrases such as “You are the best thing that ever happened to me” that he has also said to his first wife who was now deceased. I read the article twice to see why the wife was so upset.
My mind immediately thought back to the gifts my own Dad had given my Mother over the years. We had a family secret that we have never told Dad to this day. On more than one occasion, Dad had actually purchased Mom the same necklace he had gotten for her birthday, he also bought it again for their anniversary. My Dad wasn’t the greatest shopper in the world, he just saw something he thought Mom would love and he would buy it for her. The older he got, he couldn’t remember what he had bought for the previous occasion. To protect Dad’s error, Mom would often give the extra necklace or watch to one of us four girls to protect Dad’s feelings. Mom didn’t get upset because Dad bought her the same thing twice, she accepted his faults and thanked him for making the effort to express his love through the gifts he had selected for her.
The more I thought about it, I felt sorry for the woman in the “Ask Amy” article. Even though she had also been married previously, she was obviously dealing with some insecurity as it relates to her marriage. My advice to the woman would be similar to Amy Dickinson’s advice. That is to accept the husband’s blunder in love and put the necklace back on. It is obvious that the husband was trying to express his love in the only way he knew how. In addition, I would really like to know who alerted her that he had given a gold heart also to his first wife. Was it one of his children? My guess would be it was someone who wanted to make her question her husband’s love for her.
Insecurity can sometimes cause second wives to feel threatened by the first wife and also the children from the first marriage. If your husband is a widower, respect the love he had for his first wife, because he will also love you until death do you part. If your husband is divorced, remember that the prior relationship was unsuccessful and is not a threat to your marriage. Don’t get caught up in comparisons and don’t allow others to make the comparisons for you.
I have to laugh every time I remember a situation that happened when my husband and I first married. As the First Lady of the church, I get my own parking spot. During the time my husband was divorced the sign was taken down from the First Lady parking spot. Once we married, the deacons replaced the sign. One Sunday morning, my husband with his children in tow, pulled into his parking spot at the church. His youngest daughter noticed the First Lady reserved sign had been put back up and asked her Dad why the sign read First Lady? She continued to inquire “Shouldn’t it say Second Lady instead of First Lady? Mom was the First Lady so she should be the Second Lady.”
There are two ways I could have handled the situation when my husband told me what she had said. I could have gotten upset and made sure my stepdaughter knew that I had every right to be called the First Lady or I could take the high road and see it for what it was: a ten year old girl trying to make sense of her new life in a stepfamily. Had I been insecure, I could have burned the whole house down.
If you are a second wife, you don’t have to walk around with the second wife blues. Have faith in your relationship and don’t allow the ghosts of the past or those who desire to destroy your relationship to upset the apple cart in your marriage. Remember, we are creatures of habit and will often say and do some of the same things we did in a former relationship. Should my current spouse be upset if I buy him a watch for Christmas and later he finds out that while married to my first husband I also bought him a watch for his birthday?
Lastly, stop thinking of yourself as the second wife. You are the wife! Establish traditions in your marriage without worrying about what you or your husband did in your former marriages. In fact there really isn’t much reason to bring up your former marriages unless you are discussing what you are vowing to do better in this marriage. Live in the present moment, enjoy your life together and continue to make new memories.
When Christians experience difficulties in our lives, we often feel comfortable asking others to pray for us. We may not share all of the painful details, but will request special prayer from our friends, family, church members, and sometimes complete strangers. I have seen many Facebook requests from my on-line friends asking for prayer for one reason or another. Often I will silently whisper a prayer for them and write their names in my prayer journal. I was no different when going through our divorce, I asked select individuals to pray for me. The problem with my asking others for prayer was that I was not specific as to what my needs were. As a result I got a very interesting combination of responses.
As a divorce ministry coach and First Lady, I get prayer requests all the time not only from my clients, church members and friends, but also from those who contact me via my website or social media. When I am asked to pray for someone, I ask them to be specific about what their desires are. Here are the top five prayer requests I receive from individuals faced with divorce.
Hopefully you have already talked with your pastor or his wife and asked them to pray for you. If you do speak with your pastor, be specific about what your current needs are. If you are part of a large church and do not have access to your spiritual leader, pray and ask God for His guidance and discernment to send someone you can talk to. Most of all do not neglect your own prayer life and constantly approach the throne of grace to find help in your time of need. Do you have a prayer request?
Managing money in traditional families can be challenging, but in Stepfamilies financial matters are magnified and even more complicated. For instance, when my husband and I first became a stepfamily, I was receiving child support from my ex, and my husband was paying child support and alimony to his ex-wife. Now that are children are grown and two are currently in college, we have other financial matters to consider. In light of the complications of stepfamily finances, here are 10 conversations couples must have sooner or later.
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach