Beliefnet
How Great Thou Part

Some divorces are simple.

They involve two mature adults who have the ability to be rational despite the demise of their relationship.

Other divorces are brutal.

pexels-photo-442576They involve one or more adults who have zero ability to be rational despite the demise of their relationship.

Why?

It boils down to one ridiculously simple word…

CONTROL

Of course, mature, egoless and confident adults do not seek control but their counterparts do.

So if it’s just seven simple letters why do many divorces escalate and get so extremely out of control?

I think it’s because we tend to focus on the controlling individual and controlling behaviors rather than ways we can regain some semblance of balance where our lives do not feel so out of control due to this person.

What does this mean? 

Control is essentially a bullying technique. 

It is another human being mandating one must conform to their ideas, views, practices, opinions and more. 

 

There is, of course, an irony, that many people still believe they have the right to control their spouse in divorce as much as they once did while married.

Neutralizing control is a difficult thing to do especially since it is often an extension of the pattern which previously existed between two individuals. The controlling spouse typically won’t recognize their behavior and their former significant other has been responding to it for so long the response is ingrained in them.

Bottom line – you can’t get through to a controlling individual. They see the world through only their own lens. To reiterate the bullying reference, you can’t change a bully but you can change yourself.

Therefore, regain both ways and responses which re-establish a sense of empowerment in your own life during and after the process of divorce.

For instance:

A spouse threatens a custody war – Don’t engage them. Bullies love engagement. Either ignore them or foster a flat response which a good counselor and you agree upon. It could be ‘I can’t control what you do’ or ‘I know we both want what is best for our children’ and leave it at that.

Don’t engage them. Bullies love engagement. Either ignore them or foster a flat response which a good counselor and you agree upon. It could be ‘I can’t control what you do’ or ‘I know we both want what is best for our children’ and leave it at that.

They are going to do what they want to do anyway, communicating with them will just make it worse. 

Get a good counselor for yourself and your children.

 

A spouse threatens to leave you penniless – 

Again, the controlling bully is going to do what they want regardless of your response. Therefore it’s best to once again ignore these types of comments. Or shut them down with a flat comment ‘I’m sure you will.’

Individuals who engage in financial bullyings such as stopping health insurance, cutting off electricity, freezing debit cards and more are determined. Your comments, anger, yelling, and tears will not impede them.

On the contrary, it will reward them. 

They will be extremely satisfied knowing they have the ability to control and punish you.

If you have maintained employment take actions to establish your own independence and distance from joint accounts and bills. If you have stayed home with children for years and made yourself financially vulnerable it may take a job and some assistance from a loved one in terms of housing or a short-term loan to get back on your feet and away.

Do whatever needs to be done to distance yourself from the need for financial dependence albeit difficult for many who became stay at home mothers or fathers.

 

 A spouse uses and confuses your children – 

It is incredibly painful to see your children manipulated by a parent who should protect them.

The instinct is to fight but sadly the more you fight the spouse who is confusing the children it has the ability to backfire and hurt them even more. Children are very smart and know the truth because they lived it. However, parents are people who are in a position of trust and kids are so loving their first instincts are not that one of their own parents would use them to get what they want in the divorce.

In this scenario, there is the one parent fighting to protect their child and the other using them for their own gain.

The more the scared parent yells and voices their concern, the wider the door opens for more manipulation. It allows the manipulator to play the good guy or girl.

As difficult as it is less is more in this situation.

Instead of fighting the manipulator and stressing it may work better to let go and have faith your child will find their way back. Albeit easier said than done. However, it will take the child out of the position of conflict and perhaps provide enough clarity for them to identify what’s truly going on.

 

These are just a few examples of control.

Divorce is chock full of them.

Think of it this way…

A bully walks up to a kid and says he hates him and he’s awful at math. There is the possibility of two responses.

  1. The child fights back and insists he’s not stupid and wants to be left alone and it escalates. The bully walks away with a smile having confidently accomplished his mission. He got his goat. He made this person squirm. He made him feel bad. He made him doubt himself enough to fight back.
  2. The child calmly replies I am sure you hate me and I am awful at math. This response stuns the bully. There is nothing left to say. There is no opportunity for a back and forth. The child has made it clear words do not hurt him. He has agreed with the bully in an effort to render him powerless and take his own power back. The child walks away empowered. He feels good about himself. He understands no one can tell him who and what he is. He realizes he possesses the ability to use equally as powerful words for his own good.

Number 1? All in all a win for the bully.

Number 2? All in all a win for the one who has been bullied.

Bullying scenarios are diverse but they all revolve around one person trying to control and punish and make another human being feel bad. We can’t alter bullies. It’s an uphill battle. We need to empower ourselves to recognize tools to not give our power away so they can control us.

No one should be put in that situation. And by flipping this picture around the very nature minimizes the helplessness of being bullied as a child or an adult. We aren’t victims of the bullies the schools and courts can’t shut down. We ourselves can through the help of great counselors be educated in the small changes we can take to have control of our own lives and shut them down.

There’s no magic cure-all for the pain of loss and change in divorce, but the secret to minimizing the stress, duration, and agony of divorce is found in one simple word.

A small seven letter word which those who have been through it might say feels much like a four-letter one.

Control.

 

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