By Jane Nahirny 
Posted by Michelle May O’Neil

Rose was so mad she could hardly see straight. She and her husband, Jim, were six months into their "trial separation" when she discovered that he had been dating someone else. Reeling from the impact of the painful news, she sped over to his new apartment, intent on learning every last detail about the new woman in his life. Her heart pounded and terrifying questions flashed through her mind as she drove: "How could he have lied to me? Who was this other woman? Was she attractive?" And, perhaps worst of all, "What was I thinking when I suggested that we should separate?"

Anger is a very familiar emotion for all of us. And in healthy relationships, it can be an overwhelmingly positive force in our lives. "Anger is a very healthy emotion," says Chet Mirman, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and director of The Center for Divorce Recovery. "Healthy anger can tell us if there’s something wrong — something painful and threatening that we need to take care of. It helps us protect ourselves, and to know when people are crossing our boundaries."

But for couples who are going through separation or divorce, anger is often anything but healthy. In her informative book The Good Divorce (Harper Perennial, 1995), Dr. Constance Ahrons defines divorce-related anger as "an extreme rage, vindictiveness, and over-powering bitterness that is felt when a love relationship is ending. It is a special kind of anger that usually hasn’t been experienced before."

When anger is coupled with divorce, it’s often used as a misguided means of hanging on to a failed marriage. After all, for many people, a bad relationship is better than no relationship at all. Divorce anger allows people to punish their ex as often as possible, all while maintaining an ongoing (bitter) relationship with him/her. It’s a situation that leaves both partners in divorce limbo — a perilous situation that obstructs growth and self-awareness.

Some people hold onto their anger so tightly — stoking the fires on a daily basis — that their rage takes over their whole lives, coloring and informing all their thoughts and actions. They weigh every action to see how much emotional or physical harm it will inflict on their ex-spouse — even simply being a nuisance will do in a pinch — without seeing the injuries they may be inflicting on innocent victims.

Look for next week’s continued discussion on divorce-related anger.

More information on health and well-being articles:
 

The Good Karma Divorce

How to Handle Your Emotions during Divorce

Anger Management 
 

Print:
Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.