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How to cope with a high conflict spouse during divorce

Toxic marriages can be crippling. They can take a tremendous emotional toll and have a way of contaminating self-esteem and self-worth. It seems irrational to stay with someone who isn’t good for you, but sometimes the most destructive relationships can be the hardest ones to leave.

When facing the end of a toxic marriage, it’s common for people to feel “less than” or like a failure. But you’re not less than, and you’re not a failure. And, you’re also not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, approximately 40-50% of marriages will end in divorce. Divorce is never easy but divorcing someone with a high conflict personality can add additional challenges.

Dealing with a toxic spouse who has it out for you is exhausting. You can’t alter your spouse’s behavior, but you can adjust how you react.

Make your split as smooth as possible

If your spouse is making the divorce process difficult, consider these three strategies for surviving your divorce:

Take care of yourself. It can be easy to put yourself on the backburner when working through the trauma of a toxic divorce, but the ongoing conflict can take a toll on you. You must take stock in looking after yourself during your divorce. Get regular sleep, exercise daily and maintain a healthy diet. Also, find a support network to see you through this tough time.

Leave the kids out of it. Sometimes children are unwittingly used as bargaining chips to manipulate or alienate the other parent. Too many people do this, and the children are the ones who suffer for it. If your spouse tries to engage you in an argument in front of your children, have firm boundaries, end the conversation and walk away.

Consider mediation. You might assume that litigation is the only way you can resolve your high-conflict divorce. Divorce mediation tends to be less divisive and stressful than the adversarial process of litigation. In mediation, a professionally trained, neutral third-party mediator can help you and your spouse focus on the issues at hand and work together to resolve your issues cooperatively.

The ramifications of a toxic marriage can have detrimental consequences. If you think you might be facing a high-conflict divorce, these strategies may help minimize stress and damage.

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