Should you seek revenge because your partner wants a divorce?

Guest article by divorce lawyer Tara Yelman

divorce revenge - heart behind bars

In the midst of a divorce, feelings of sadness, pain, betrayal and jealousy can spark fantasies of divorce revenge.

You want to erase the shame that your spouse has caused you and make them hurt the way you have been made to hurt, and you want to serve that dish the way you see fit. But is seeking revenge the best way to solve your problems, or can it backfire and make your situation more unbearable?

When you have been shamed and suffered an unjust loss, it is understandable that you may want your spouse to "get what he/she deserves."

Whether your spouse had an affair, exploited you financially or simply hurt you by wanting to escape the marriage, the goal of becoming the predator and transforming from powerless to powerful is normal.

Facing divorce? Revenge doesn't work!

A divorce often feels like a death; to overcome the devastation of a divorce and mourn the ending of the relationship in a healthy way, you must learn coping methods that will guide you to pursuing a healthy and plentiful life without your spouse.

At the end of the day the goal is happiness, and behaving in ways that benefit you will help you achieve that goal much more efficiently than finding ways to hurt your spouse.  Revenge cannot repair losses or compensate for betrayal.  It invokes feelings of anger, anxiety, distress and sadness.

Instead of taking steps to overcome those emotions that already exist in yourself, by seeking revenge you are solidifying and revisiting those feelings.

Revenge is a sign of weakness

It is clear that the revenge-seeker has been hurt badly and that they are unable to cope, therefore resorting to meager elementary tactics.  You don't want to give your spouse the opportunity to thrive on your weakness and misery.

A better method of "getting even" is to camouflage your weaknesses and highlight your assets, therefore demonstrating that you are strong and able to live happily despite what they have done to hurt you.

Actions of revenge can also backfire when your spouse already feels guilt and regret.  They may end up feeling that their actions were justified after experiencing the revenge that you took.

Revenge targeted at your finances

When thinking about spousal revenge in a divorce, the keying of cars and seeking of affairs usually comes to mind. However, financial revenge and sabotage is a very real and very frightening way that spouses try to get even.

When divorce is in the air, a spouse might max out credit cards, empty a joint family bank account or refuse to pay alimony or child support.  Especially calculating and menacing spouses seeking revenge can do irreparable financial damage.

How to protect yourself

Here are a few tips to consider before your divorce to avoid financial revenge:

  • Make copies of all financial records and statements. Know where your money is and where it can go.
  • Keep an eye on cash in joint accounts, especially.
  • Get a credit report of yourself and your spouse.
  • If you haven't already done so, start taking steps to establish your own credit. 
  • Decrease liabilities by paying down joint debts and mortgages.
  • Change PIN numbers, security codes, account passwords, account access, etc. to establish your new-found financial privacy.

Understand that working together with a divorce planner or tax accountant can actually minimise losses and save each of you money.

One of the most stressful events in your life is going to be your divorce. Revenge not only adds to your soon-to-be ex-wife or husband's distress, but also yours.

Take time to relax and even learn to meditate perhaps - there is no better way to disconnect yourself from the anger and hurt.

I also recommend self-hypnosis and particular to your situation, listening to the right hypnosis download instead of taking revenge will, without a doubt, help you to prevent doing something you later regret.

Ways to sidestep your own wish for retaliation

If you think you may be heading down the dirty path of divorce with revenge and retaliation, there are some steps that you can take to avoid those actions:

  • Recognize the emotions that you are feeling, and understand that as tragic as they may be now, they will heal with time and care.
  • Use resources like friends, family, counselling, support groups and therapy to heal your emotions.
  • Determine whether you are dealing with feelings that have sprung from some sort of financial burden, or something that can be settled in court.
  • Find a lawyer, apart from your spouse's, who understands the grief that you may be going through, and can help you handle it logically. 

Tara Yelman is a San Diego divorce lawyer originally from New York. She received her JD from California Western School of Law and has been practicing family law since graduating in 1995. She is currently the Managing partner of Yelman & Associates and in 2005 became a San Diego County family law settlement judge.

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