Anger is one of the top three emotions individuals experience before, during and after a break up or 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 separate 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.
When it comes to divorce, you may be angry for a while, 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:
1. If your buttons can still be pushed. Your ex knows how to upset you and may do or say things that manage to get you every time. Don’t let your ex have the upper hand. Know what your buttons are and don’t let them push them, or simply show them they no longer have the same effect on you.
2. If you keep telling your story about how you were wronged. Sometimes we can sing the “somebody done somebody wrong song” so many times that we begin to feel justified in bringing up old hurts. Take one last look at your story and revise it so that you can talk about how far you have come rather than what was done wrong to you.
3. If you are still blaming your ex for your current situation. Maybe you don’t like your current living situation or you are struggling financially. Maybe you don’t like being single or having to admit that your relationship failed. It’s time to put your trust and faith in God who says in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
. If you refuse to forgive. Perhaps he or she has never apologized to you for what they said or did to you. Always remember that forgiveness sets the forgiver free and we forgive others not for their sake but for our own sake. Unforgiveness can have long terms effects on our bodies just as anger and resentment. Decide to forgive and move one.
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 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?
This week has been a tough one as we watched and read about the devastation of hurricane Harvey across Houston Texas and surrounding areas such as Port Arthur. As we watched we prayed for our family and friends and checked on them to make sure they were safe. Our eyes were glued to the television in fear of what Texans were experiencing. All we could do was pray.
Each time I watched the news I was filled with a variety of emotions. I experienced pride when I saw the spirit of love for other human beings and all the heroes that came forth to assist one another. I was filled with fear when I learned about the alligators and snakes in the water and the forecast for more rain. I felt joy to see the sun come out and residents of Houston filled with hope to rebuild their lives again. Watching those with financial resources step forward to give millions of dollars warmed my heart.
One morning while at the gym saw on the television monitor headlines of complaints against Joel Osteen for not immediately opening Lakewood Church as a shelter. Before long social media sites were buzzing and I observed all types of arguments and accusations against him and his church. In the midst of what was going on, I wondered why people were being so harsh. Why would individuals automatically look for the negative? By the time the week was over I was tired of hearing the arguments about what he should or should not have done.
We all have been guilty of judging and condemning others. Our judgement may be based on how a person looks, their decisions, how they spend their money or who they spend time with. Most often when we don’t understand other’s behavior we are quick to judge. Dietrich Bonhoeffer author of The Cost of Discipleship is quoted as saying: “By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”
Look in the Bible and see how many times Jesus was judged. He was criticized for being from Nazareth, for hanging out with sinners, for healing on the Sabbath, for forgiving sins and for letting a woman cry and kiss on his feet. People simply judged him because they didn’t understand him.
What happens to us when we judge others? Does God get angry at us when we speak against his chosen people? My mind goes back to the story of Moses and his siblings Aaron and Miriam. In the 12th chapter of Numbers, Miriam and Aaron found themselves judging Moses for choosing to marry a woman from Ethiopia. Not sure if their issues were racial or if it was jealousy, but they complained and asked the question “who does he think he is?” In their complaint they challenged Moses’ right to speak for God or to lead the people.
What happens next may make you think twice about complaining about God’s chosen leaders. God heard their complaint and called a meeting of Moses, Aaron and Miriam at the entrance of the sacred tent. God speaks to them directly and sets the record straight that Moses was called as the leader and that they had no right to criticize him. God was so angry at Aaron and Miriam that he punished Miriam by striking her with leprosy. She not only became sick but was kicked out of the colony for seven days. Finally, it was Moses who prayed for her healing and restoration.
So what can we learn from this story? We might want to try not being judgmental to the point that we outright complain against others. It is one thing to negatively judge others and even worse to go on a social media rampage about something we know nothing about. Matthew 1:1-2 reminds us “Don’t condemn others, and God won’t condemn you. God will be as hard on you as you are on others. He will treat you exactly as you treat them.”
Billy Graham said “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love. “ So enough already about Joel Osteen, let’s focus instead on helping and healing all those affected by hurricane Harvey. Make the decision to use your energy and influence to make a positive difference.
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach