We live in the day and age of no-fault divorce. Every state in the United States has now adopted no-fault divorce laws. One of the main arguments for this is that no-fault divorce laws cut down on conflict. A concept used by those who have evidently never been through a divorce...fault or no-fault.
I received an email on Friday from a woman who has been divorced for three years. She asked me to please explain to her why her ex-husband is still angry. He had cheated, filed for a divorce, got a divorce and married the other woman. The divorce settlement was equitable. He had 50/50 custody of the children; his ex-wife had a career of her own which meant no spousal support, no giving up of any of his retirement funds since she had her own.
This readers ex got everything he wanted; he was free of his marriage and able to move on to a new life. For some reason though he refuses to attend school functions if he knows his children's mother will be there. He insists she not attend school functions during his parenting time.
One son graduated from high school in May. The ex refused to participate in any graduation functions if his ex would be present. There had to be a schedule made where two graduation parties were planned, who would get how much time and where for photos after the graduation ceremony, and on and on and on. Typical behavior for a toxic ex-spouse.
According to this reader she has bent over backwards to accommodate his childish needs but regardless of how far she goes to try to appease her ex, he remains angry. Why, she asked, "is this man who had an affair, wanted a divorce and seems to have moved on with his life so angry with me? All I did was let him have what he wanted."
I don't have any statistics from studies to back up my opinion but more than likely all that anger is a defense mechanism used to keep him from feeling what most of us feel at the end of a marriage, sadness and loss. This reader's husband has not yet done the healing she has. She allowed herself to grieve the end of her marriage. She did the work she needed to do and then she moved on.
He, on the other hand can't admit that he had an emotional investment in the marriage. Doing so feels a wee bit to destructive to his sense of justification for leaving. So, he has to be angry. He is in self-preservation mode. Sad thing is, his attempt to protect himself is only doing more damage.