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Wisconsin Family Law Articles

Dealing with Your Emotional Triggers and Your Divorce

When you are going through a divorce, there may be times when you feel dejected, angry, and insecure. This difficult process can set off some or all of these emotions without warning. The next thing you know, you may be overwhelmed by painful feelings and negative messages that interfere with your ability to make decisions. These reactions could negatively impact your case outcomes. The good news is that by being aware of your feelings, you can take steps to manage them and safeguard your case.

Here is more on dealing with emotional triggers during your divorce:

Understanding Your Emotional Triggers

Emotional triggers may come from patterns in your marriage that have played out dozens of times before. They may also relate directly to the reasons for the divorce. Additionally, these reactions could be the product of experiences that pre-date the relationship.

Your ex probably knows how to press your buttons better than anyone. Maybe they are always late picking up or dropping off your kids despite your reminders to be on time. It could be the patronizing way they speak to you or their stubborn refusal to agree to a reasonable request. Even though you may have repeatedly told yourself that you won't let your ex get to you, that doesn’t change how you feel after interacting with them.  

The more you understand why you are getting upset, the better you can prepare for your reactions. Some reasons, such as your ex bringing their affair partner to your child's birthday party, may be more obvious. However, others may take some work to figure out. For instance, your ex refuses to agree on a mediation date even though they have been offered several choices. You could be highly aggravated and anxious over this delay tactic and not fully aware of why it has upset you so much. When you take a closer look, you may realize that you also are reacting to strong feelings related to your ex being controlling and manipulative. If control and manipulation are hot button issues for you, this behavior may have triggered your response. Additionally, your ex may be excellent at manipulating other people, including you. If you have spent years dealing with this type of issue, having it appear during your divorce may be particularly infuriating.

Divorce Triggers

During your divorce, there will be multiple times when you may be emotionally triggered. For instance, when you file or are presented with divorce papers, it can be difficult to process. Even if you knew it was coming, this event makes everything real. Further, the divorce documents may include language that offends you and seems overtly hostile. The first time you see your ex in court can also be jarring. Additionally, your attorney may have to go back and forth trying to get information and negotiate on your behalf throughout your case. If your ex is uncooperative, it can be upsetting.

One issue that is likely to elicit a strong response is money. A large part of divorce can be focused on trying to walk away in the best financial shape possible. If you have kids, making sure they are fully supported will also be critical. Finances can be triggering in several ways. On the surface, how much you will have for your future is going to be tremendously important. Underneath, fighting over financial issues can also trigger deeply-rooted resentments, fear, and feelings of inadequacy and inequity.

Managing Your Emotional Triggers During Divorce

Identifying your potential emotional triggers and being aware of when they might occur can help you be prepared for them. If you expect to have strong feelings during an upcoming hearing or when you are attending your child’s dance recital at the same time as your ex, now is your chance to anticipate your responses and find ways to cope. You can work on developing self-talk that helps you stay calm. You may want to plan ahead for potentially upsetting events by bringing someone supportive with you.

It's vital to keep in mind that your reactions can directly impact your divorce. Additionally, if your ex is doing something to deliberately upset you, not feeding into the behavior may help minimize its impact. By setting appropriate limits, maintaining boundaries, and controlling your reactions, you can help protect your case and keep your composure through triggering moments.

Divorce is one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through. Feelings such as pain, anger, anxiety, and sadness will usually come up throughout the process. However, when you can foresee your reactions, you can prepare for them before they catch you off guard.

Attorney and Mediator Karyn Youso of First Look Family Law has extensive experience assisting clients during and after divorce and can help you determine your next steps. Please contact us to schedule a consultation.