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How to Deal with a Difficult Spouse During a Divorce

Posted on March 07, 2018 09:22am
How to Deal with a Difficult Spouse During a Divorce

Most people going through a divorce encounter some degree of difficulty with their spouse. You likely already have issues with one another. Going through the divorce process will probably open the door to several other difficult topics, like child support, custody, spousal support, and property division. This can spur arguments and make it harder to settle your divorce, cost more, and increase your emotional turmoil.

Reducing conflict and contention is typically beneficial to the divorce process, but that doesn’t mean you should not fight for what you deserve. If your spouse is making the divorce process particularly challenging, here are some tips on how to cope.

1. Remember That You Can't Change Your Spouse

Whatever issue you are dealing with, whether your spouse is unresponsive, argumentative, or selfish, remember that their issues are not yours. As much as you may try to explain yourself or argue your point, the chances of them coming around to your side of thinking are rare. The issues you had with your soon-to-be ex-spouse during your marriage will not simply disappear once you decide to divorce, in fact, they may get even worse.

Do what you can to distance yourself from their negativity and remember that there are certain aspects of your divorce that you cannot control.

2. Focus on Your Behaviors & What You Can Change

Rather than zeroing in on the problems your spouse is causing, focus instead on what you can do to improve your situation. Divorce is always tough but focusing on the negative will only add to your stress. Instead, look inward and make a list of applicable changes you can focus on rather than getting caught up in the behavior of your spouse.

For example, gather your legal and financial documents, make sure you have your own bank/credit accounts, and find an attorney. If you are organized and prepared with the facts, this will help to speed along the process and approach your case from a position of strength. If you have kids, focus on their care and support without putting your spouse in a negative light.

Read more on how to have a financially smart divorce and talking to kids about divorce.

3. Keep Communication Civil

When dealing with a difficult spouse, good communication may seem far beyond your reach. Keep in mind, communication can come in many forms, so it is important to consider the best method for your situation.

  • If you and your spouse are able, consider meeting on neutral ground, like a coffee shop, where you can discuss what you must.
  • Or, if you are unable to get together without arguing, email.
  • Also, with a particularly difficult spouse, email keeps a written record of your communications so that everything they say can be used in court.
  • Alternately, you might also communicate entirely through your attorneys. This can keep personal issues from clouding discussion if you are not directly communicating. However, if you have children, this might not be realistic. In that case, keep your discussions focused on the children and leave other issues in your divorce for the attorneys to deal with.

If your spouse shows poor or immature behavior, don't react. Instead, continue to respond in a civil and mature manner.

4. Show Empathy

An ex may lash out because they are frustrated or feel they have been wronged by you. Even if you did not do anything wrong, an apology or acknowledgment can help to minimize any hostility or negativity in your interactions. Put yourself in their shoes to try and understand how they may be feeling. Practicing empathy can provide you with a broader perspective and bring a sense of peace.

5. Establish Boundaries

Be firm about establishing boundaries for your interactions. Set guidelines on how both parties will interact in front of the children, accessing the marital home, and the acceptable ways to communicate with each other.

If phone calls become stressful or argumentative, use email instead. If your spouse is communicating too frequently, express that you only want to communicate once a day (or every few days) for important issues.

However, you should never dodge or avoid difficult questions from your ex, or ghost them completely.

We Can Help You Navigate the Stress & Complexities

There are plenty of ways to cope with a difficult spouse, but one of the best things you can do is hire an attorney who can handle your divorce quickly and competently. A skilled attorney can help you obtain the results you want in a timely manner, reducing the amount of time you must spend communicating with your spouse altogether.

If you need help with your divorce, contact McKinley Irvin in Oregon for legal help.
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