We can probably all admit to a time when we contemplated things we would like to do to someone who has hurt us or made us to suffer in some way. Whether it’s keying someone’s car or ruining their reputation in a Facebook rant, the idea of exacting revenge can feel sweet. In separation and divorce the need for revenge can be overwhelming! Sweet, sweet revenge!
Unfortunately, revenge is rarely, if ever, sweet. In fact, it usually has the very opposite effect for everyone involved including the person who carried out the revenge. The need for revenge can leave everyone stuck for months, even years, in a conflict that is not only financially expensive but even worse, emotionally expensive.
In Family Mediation, I have seen couples become utterly trapped by the idea of revenge. So trapped that they are making decisions that are in no one’s best interest, especially their children’s.
When you are trying to make decisions about parenting and finances through the lens of revenge you are NEVER going to be making decisions that are in the best interest of your children.
Your children are the biggest losers no matter how you cut your cake.
Here are the hard truths about revenge.
Your kids will pay the ultimate price. When you are unable to separate your relationship with your ex-partner from their relationship as a parent to your children, your kids will get hurt.
It may feel good for a minute or two but ultimately it will not satisfy your emotional needs…and then what?
It can create a cycle of retaliation that leaves you stuck in conflict.
Revenge is EXPENSIVE! When you are separating and stuck in the revenge trap you will be wasting valuable time and money that can be better spent getting to agreements so you can move on.
There may be huge consequences for you in seeking revenge. Slander, cleaning out bank accounts, barring access to the kids, cutting up credit cards, destroying property can all potentially lead to legal or even criminal problems for you.
Revenge leaves you stuck and unable to move on to a better life for you and your kids.
Revenge is for the weak. It is the easy move. We all have our moments of weakness. The harder move is putting these feelings aside and being the responsible adult your kids need you to be. The stronger move is to start figuring out what you want the next chapter of your life to look like.
Revenge is often a cover for how scared you are of moving on.
It can be harder to uncover the opportunity that lies ahead for you. But that’s where the sweetest rewards can be found.
So, how can you avoid this need to make your ex’s life a “living hell”?! When I’m working in Family Mediation I am always aware of this natural tendency toward revenge separating parents may have. So I work proactively. I have developed tools that I use with couples that they work through before we all meet together. These tools help them to get into a mindset where they can make decisions that are in the best interest of their children. The tools help them to envision what they want for themselves in the next stage of their life and what they need to do to get there. It’s not to say the need for revenge will never rear its ugly head again and everything will be candy and roses. But these tools can provide a touchstone, a way of grounding oneself, to come back around a more productive and reasonable approach to the agreements that need to be made. It lets you have your cake and eat it too.