Anger…. don’t you just hate that feeling when you see it well up inside your ex husband.
Often, your exes reaction will be to release it. And if the people he loves are in the immediate vicinity, then look out! They will be exposed to the angry man.
In all truth, the angry man, whether he be your ex husband or ex boyfriend or whoever, is acting upon a very selfish desire.
And that desire is to blame others for his own mistakes and shortcomings.
But there is another side to this blame game. I see it happen all the time in post relationship breakups. The ex husband just can’t let go of the reality that things did not work out. And in some cases, as a result of an abusive pattern, the wife will begin to think that it is “her” fault. She might blame herself for her husband’s behavior.
It makes perfect sense, right? The husband is still angry and upset, so it has to be the wife’s fault. Right?
Wrong. There are no simple answers and reconstructing the past and trying to assign blame to relationship mishaps is rarely a constructive use of time.
Unfortunately, these patterns often develop and can result in one of the the partners in the relationship thinking they didn’t do enough in the marriage to make it work.
More often than not, it is the opposite that it true.
When one side of the marriage partnership is constantly insisting that their spouse is at fault and directs their displeasure and hostility at the other, that is usually a telltale sign of emotional abuse.
Blaming oneself following a particularly difficult breakup, separation, or divorce is definitely the wrong path to take. It is sad when relationships come to an end and it is not unusual to try and make sense of what happened.
But let me cut to the truth of this chase. Blame is not where to focus should be. Working in support of solutions, that is where the action lies.
In a moment, I am going to tell you more about a woman who once told me, “my ex husband is always angry at me. He hates and despises me. What should I do to make things better.”
She went on to explain all the things her husband had told her she did wrong in the relationship. It seemed like he spared no quarter and as a result triggered in her a lot of grief and negative self examination.
After listening to her story for a few minutes, it sounded like, quite frankly, that her husband was a real jerk, with anger management issues. In my view, she was better off without him.
The problem is when we direct too much blame for all the relationship struggles upon ourselves. When you do so, you deprive yourself of the opportunity to move on.
The truth is that marriages between ex husband and ex wives break down for a host of reasons and both parties share in the blame.
But thinking about casting or assuming blame is a backwards journey. That is not the direction anyone should be headed.
When your focus is on the past and you begin picking apart things you could have done wrong, you fall prey to some of the most common emotional reactions which plague people after a breakup or after their marriage comes to an end.
No Marriage or Relationship is a Perfect Union
My client, who had reached out to me, definitely fell into this emotional breakup trap.
She explained to me that she felt like a complete failure since she and her husband split up. She kept repeating to me that he was often angry at her during the marriage. And since they split up, his anger had not subsided much. She said she was left with a feeling of utter despair and didn’t know what to do with all of his negative outbursts.
She understood on one level that she needed to move past her conflicted feelings. She explained she that knew she was thinking too much about him. She was open to new relationships sometime in the future, but was fearful that what went wrong with her ex husband, could be repeated in the future and really didn’t know what she should do.
I did a lot of listening because I believed she needed to purge some of the feelings she was having. I believed them to be a reaction to having lived with a guy who was far too controlling and critical of her behavior, causing her to shortchange her own worth.
I explained to her that his anger was very possibly a reflection of his own perceived inadequacies. An angry guy, whether it be an ex husband or ex boyfriend, is usually coming from a place of dysfunction.
Sure, it is entirely possible for any of us to become upset with our spouse. I get sometimes get angry with my lovely wife and she get’s angry and annoyed with me. But these feelings pass very quickly and the anger is usually a reflection of our mood state. Something else is usually triggering our angry impulse to come out.
But that is not what was happening with my client.
If you have experiences with an ex husband who seems preoccupied with anger and you feel compelled to try and justify or downplay his angry behavior, then you should seriously give consideration to avoiding any contact at all to the extent that is practical.
You certainly should not be blaming yourself or allowing yourself to get roped into an argument. Chances are that is just want your ex wants to happen.
These kinds of outcomes can be further magnified during the immediate aftermath of a breakup or divorce.
When our emotional center is disrupted, it is natural to question why things turned bad.
But in the case of my client, this kind of examination led her to be too highly critical of her own actions. It effected her self confidence. Of course, this did not happen overnight. When I see behavior like this, it is usually due to negative conditioning that took place inside the marriage over time.
We spent some time talking about the many things she did in the marriage as a counter measure to the negative programming she had gotten over the years from her husband.
We talked about how she should be proud of her many good and sincere efforts to make things work.
I explained that no couple enjoys a perfectly compatible marriage or relationship.
It is our nature as human beings to be drawn to another, but that does not mean we will always effectively connect to each other.
And sometimes, as hard as this may be to process, we won’t know just how compatible we are with another person until we have had considerable time with the individual.
This kind of thinking can fly in the face of your emotional right brain’s way of processing romance, particularly in the early days. In the budding stage of romance, everything is blissful and wonderful. So it may be inconceivable to you that your lover is not the perfect match.
But finding an ideal match (or close to it) is never as easy as it may seem.
There are just too many variables to be able adequately process ahead of time whether the union will work. Try as we might to get it right before we committ to a relationship or get married, it can be difficult to be assured that the match with a prospective husband or wife will really work on most or every level.
To often, our brain chemistry can get in the way, fooling us to think the relationship is more than what it is.
This is kind of what happened to my client. She and her ex husband had met and quickly got serious about marriage. He was the old fashioned type and so there was no period of “living together” and the romance or courtship (however you wish to think about it) was not particularly long.
But that was in the past and my client was trapped inside these feelings of being inadequate and feeling generally depressed about how to proceed.
My job, as I saw it, was to help her understand that the emotions and self blame she was experiencing were not uncommon and that they would in time, pass.
In fact I turned it around for her. I explained to her that the fact that she cared enough about her marriage to enter into this self blame mode indicates that she is a very loving and caring person.
People who do not exhibit a lot of loving feelings, who are narcissistic, tend not to operate in the realm of self blaming behavior. They don’t think about their spouse or husband hating them. They don’t care about such things, because in their mind, they can do no wrong.
Where she on the other hand, opened herself up to love and was sensitive enough to consider the possibility that she may have done some things wrong in the marriage.
I further explained that her husband needed counseling if he treated her in a hateful way, explaining that hate is an all consuming emotion.
He who hates, is eventually consumed by that feeling.
Indeed, in time, she felt better about herself and put away many of the ugly and anxious feelings of the past.
Breaking Away From the Past
So what are the common emotional responses and outcomes following a breakup?
And by the way, if you are experiencing some of these outcomes we are about to discuss….just know that it’s OK.
It is part of the the cycle of mood changes people commonly experience.
The way I would suggest you think about these things is consider them a badge of courage.
I know that may be a bit tough to process because if you are one those people whose ex husband is filled with hate and is aiming some of that ugly and raw emotion at you in not so subtle ways, it can be difficult to feel courageous.
But trust me. If you have removed yourself from a marriage with a man who exhibited hateful and spiteful behavior, then you are indeed courageous for having tolerated that type of behavior for as long as you did.
Some may argue the point as to whether you were foolish to subject yourself to your ex husband’s angry and mean spirited behaviors.
But I am not too fond of those who are quick to judge. It is always easier to look in the past and realize the mistakes you may have made.
Those who are too quick to judge did not live or operate in your particular environment. Nor can anyone really fully understand the background and the push/pull of another’s relationship. Certainly not without considerable insight and training and personal knowledge of that individual’s circumstance.
Many who are quick to judge fail to appreciate the complex psychology between an abusive husband and the difficulty some victims have in unraveling themselves from dysfunctional marriage.
You do not deserve that kind of treatment and nor should you be thinking in terms of trying to make sense of your ex husband’s hateful ways.
So if your circumstance is even remotely similar to what I have described, then give yourself a break and stop thinking about what you did wrong to cause your husband to embrace hatred.
He is your ex husband for a reason.
Now, it is time to turn the corner.
In order to help you do so, let’s take a deeper dive into what you might expect.
And then we will talk about what you can do about it.
So as you read on, if you have experienced some of these behavioral outcomes, just check them off and remind yourself that better times are a coming.
When an Ex Husband Treats You in a Hateful Way – Paint Him Out of Your Life
When I think about husbands or Exes that behave badly around their former wives, I am reminded of what Forest Gump said.
I think good ole Forest could have been a really good relationship consultant. He had a way of simplifying things and getting to the kernel of truth.
As we have discussed, if you come across a hater, you need not try and make things right. Rather, it is the ex husband or ex boyfriend, whichever the case, that needs to make things right, starting with himself.
He needs to start with accepting responsibility for his own aberrant behavior. That could take time before he discovers his own mistakes.
For now, it is in your best interest to paint him out of your life.
You have your own healing that needs to take place. You should not be worrying and occupying yourself with what you can do to make him feel better or hate you less.
Even if your own moral compass is speaking to you and trying to convince you that you should do your part to ease your ex husband’s hate, stay on your own path of healing.
This is probably not the time to play Joan of Arc. Even if you are sure you still love your ex. The best thing you can do is allow for space to fill the void between the two of you. This allows for healing (for both parties) to unfold.
Now that does not necessarily mean that the two of you will never, ever interact.
Never say never, right.
But until then, stop thinking about how and why your husband might have said such hateful things. Whatever you conjure up in your mind in trying to understand any of the words and actions that may have created the hateful things he said and did, it will not be enough to make you feel better.
Rather, you will find yourself in an endless loop wondering what, if anything, you could have done to instigate his mean and ugly behavior.
So set it aside, those thoughts that lead you back to the chaos of any of those bad memories.
Check that off your “Getting Better List“.
Think of it like Forrest Gump did when he exclaimed, “Good! One less thing”.
Indeed, Forrest has quite a lot to teach us on the subject of love and breakups.
For example, he wisely exclaimed:
“My Mama always said you’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on.”
So let’s talk about some feelings you may experience.
Fear them not.
It’s OK to talk about your feelings.
It will actually help . Just don’t dwell on it.
Acknowledge you are going through a hard time.
Understand you are not alone.
And remember, the night is always darkest before the sunrise.
Grow Stronger By Understanding What You Might Face
I believe we grow stronger when we know something about what we could be facing. Once we recognize what is happening, it can help us cope better. It’s like knowing “the enemy”.
That which we fear, becomes less so when we expose it.
Unfortunately, in the aftermath following a marriage breakup with your ex, we can get thrown into an arena of emotions. There will invariably be peaks and valleys. And no one person reacts the same in the emotional situations they may be dealing with.
So let’s do an inventory of some of the negative feelings you might be dealing with or could be expected to deal with in the near future if you are coming out of a particularly difficult break up with your Ex husband.
And after proper introductions to these darker sides of our emotional mood states, I will offer a few words of advice to help you with putting things in perspective.
Despair: Expect to feel a huge tug of sadness and grief following the breakup. Crying is perfectly natural and in fact, I want you to cry it out. It helps, a lot. Don’t hold it in. That is stupid! Remember what Forrest said….”stupid is what stupid does”!
Denial: When we travel through the valley of despair, anger, and resentment, it is not unusual for people to go through a period in which they simply will not accept that the relationship has ended.
This is a perfectly normal reaction, so long as you eventually come to terms with reality. Denial is the brain’s way of buying time to wrap itself around a set of in congruent facts.
On one hand, you are thinking, “I can’t believe everything we were about is all over”. But part of your brain is also processing these other inputs you have received which clearly point to a breakup or divorce.
Sometimes it takes awhile for the brain’s emotional and logical centers to reconcile everything that is happening.
Anger: This emotional reaction can arrive late on the scene. Sometimes it can be hours or days before it reveals itself. But when it arrives, it can bust down the door.
If you have not felt anger toward your former loving partner, you very likely will. It is necessary to release your anger and resentment. Don’t allow it to remain bottled up.
For some people, a healthy way to release your angry feelings is through physical activity. You turn chemistry over to your side when you exercise or workout. Exercise promotes the release of dopamine and endorphins which in turn stimulate the reward center of your brain.
Self Blame: It is only natural for most people to look upon their situation introspectively and find fault with their past decision making. But please avoid playing the self blame game. It is entirely unhealthy and leads you down a path of negativity, which positions you poorly for potential reconciliation if that is where you are headed.
As we alluded to earlier, relationships are just simply complicated. None of us are perfectly compatible with our partners.
If your relationship ended in a breakup, I assure you that you and your significant other both made mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up over the past. If you recognize things you could have done differently, take that lesson with you.
I bet there are a lot of things you did for the relationship that were awesome.
Remember, those who dwell in the past, live in the past.
What you want to do right now is focus on the “present”. Focus on becoming the best version of yourself.
Jealousy: Don’t be surprised if feelings of jealousy consume you. If you were dumped and you later hear that your Ex is dating, jealousy will wrap it’s evil little arms around you.
Jealousy is odd in that way.
On one hand, your “left brain” (i.e. the logical, processing side of your mind) is telling you that your former relationship with your ex husband was not a good thing for you. You are happy to have put that relationship behind you.
But the right side of your brain (i.e. the emotional center) is quick to feel the pangs of jealousy, even if they involve a former lover you have discarded.
Or let’s say you are working to get your ex husband back.
Even if you have no clear knowledge of your Ex cheating, you may still feel pangs of jealousy over just about anything suggestive.
Confusion: When you have been dealt the savage blow of being dumped (or even mutually separating), you will still be plagued by many emotions and confusion is usually right in the middle of the mix.
It may feel like you have entered into some kind of Twilight Zone episode. Up is down. What was so right, now seems wrong.
This is where your sense of self can take a blow. At one time you thought your Ex was the most important thing in your life. Now you are not even sure what to think.
Relief: If you were the individual that largely engineered the breakup, you might feel some relief. But your sense of relief will usually be short lived, particularly if you and your Ex were together for a good period of time.
Usually, if you and your ex husband had a close bond covering years, it is likely that you will experience the full range emotions during the aftermath, eventually followed by a depressed mood state.
It is funny how some of the emotions work. They can sneak right into your life.
Even a relationship plagued with conflict or dependency issues can create a backlog of uncomfortable feelings when its all over. Breaking up can feel like an escape. But unless this was a highly dysfunctional relationship, don’t be surprised if your feelings of relief give way to a sense of uncertainty or other confusing emotions.
Gaining Perspective on Your Mood States
Most of your feelings, as we have described them, originate from the changes in your brain chemistry as your body is trying regulate its dependency on certain neurotransmitters (dopamine, oxytocin, vasopressin) you had grown accustomed to.
Even bad relationships can be hard to get over.
Knowing how your emotions can conspire to hijack your mood will help you during the period following your breakup.
Now That Your Ex is Carved Out of Your Life – Are You Love Sick or Love Lost?
It is certainly no picnic when you have been dumped by an Ex or have experienced a difficult divorce or separation with your ex husband.
Even if you mutually agreed to the breakup, our human psyche is not designed to turn on a dime when our emotions and brain chemicals are involved.
I am fond of saying that when emotions run high, logic runs low.
Right now, you are probably looking for answers. You are sifting through all of the emotions following the breakup and seeking to discover some balance.
You want a way out of your current predicament.
It starts with understanding what is happening to you on an emotional level.
Let’s not worry about “Love Lost”.
If you just parted ways with an Ex, it is way too soon to conclude that everything is lost, including the love that existed between the two of you.
Of course the exception to this is if you are legally divorced. While “love” may still exist in some form between the two of you, it is not likely a divorced couple will reconcile sometime in the future.
Even then, never say never. It does happen. And interestingly, about 72% of divorced couples that get back together again, remain together. I guess there is something to be said about “lessons learned”.
Do don’t give up on your relationships, completely. Don’t spend your time thinking about how your future is “screwed” or “pointless”. If you find your thoughts rolling over into that realm, stop them in their tracks.
That kind of thinking is negative and pointless.
All you are doing is borrowing anxiety from the future. Do not spend your time worrying about unknown future outcomes.
That is a fool’s game.
And I know you are no fool, otherwise you wouldn’t be here now reading this sentence!
Could You Be Love Sick?
It could be said you are love sick.
You fear that you have possibly lost the love that existed between you and your Ex. When you lose a “love”, even if it is just temporary, you will experience a variety of breakup pains.
In your mind, you are not sure if your Ex still loves you. Maybe you don’t even care, but you wonder if you will meet a “special man” in the future that you can share your life with. This uncertainty plays upon both your mind and body. It creates a variety of symptoms.
When people, who have experienced a breakup, say they are in pain, they are literally referring to both emotional and physical pain. The loss of your lover can actually make your “heart” feel like it is truly broken.
You may feel pain in your chest. Your stomach may be tied up in knots.
There is a reason why people talk about being heartbroken. The pain can be fierce and concentrated in the center of the chest area. You may feel like you have been punched in the gut. It may feel like the entire world is ending. Emotionally you are thrashing around and physically your body is trying to repel this awful feeling.
The brain treats these symptoms like you are literally ill.
The brain is convinced this is the case. And the sooner you can recover, the better, because what is happening to you can have adverse physiological effects.
Prolong stress is not your friend.
Fortunately, the road to recovery is available for anyone who wishes to get better. This is why I spend considerable time in posts throughout this website discussing the things you need to know about in order to advance your healing process.
For example, I discuss how the No Contact Principle can be a healing agent in your life. You can read about it the post below:
Your personal recovery is a core strategy within the No Contact Rule.
Psychologists and physicians now better understand how the brain processes a breakup event. The area of the brain that lights up when your suffer physical pain (e.g. falling off a bike). is the same area of the brain that is stimulated when you are dealt the blow of “social rejection”.
When in love, everything is glowing and happy.
Peel back the layers and look inside your brain and you will see it is bathed in lots of neurochemicals like dopamine and oxytocin and they make you feel really good.
Take that away suddenly, and it can be a bitch.
On one level, your brain is trying to make sense of what has happened. The other side of the brain has been hijacked by a flood of running thoughts.
And all of those neurochemicals you have grown so fond of, are running for the exits. You are left holding the bag, full of some pretty nasty stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine.
A constant dose of the love sick chemicals can really set you off.
You feel tense. Your head hurts. You have muscle aches. Your eyes hurt from reading so much about what to do. You neck is probably sore from the tension you have been holding in. And it literally feels like somebody is sitting on your chest.
I know, I know……it really sucks living like this!
But these stress chemicals eventually get flushed out of your system and there are some things you can do during the “Recovery Phase” to combat the effects of heartbreak.
So what are some of the other Love Sick Symptoms?
You should expect that some of these things could unfold in your life. Knowing what they are, ahead of time, should make you more vigilant and less reactive.
- Crying at Songs
- Appetite Loss
- Weight Gain
- Binge Eating
- Committing Petty Crimes
- Attention Seeking Behaviors
- Constantly Checking Email/Texts/Social Media
- Obsessing About Why Your Ex Left the Relationship
- Various Depressive States
- Desire to Spy on Your Ex
- Endlessly Rehearsing What You Would Say to Them in Various Situations
- Other Binge Behaviors (watching movies/shows late into the night, endlessly playing video games)
- Going on a Bender
- Your Immune System Can be Compromised
So Let’s Summarize What You Have Learned
I believe that being informed as to how certain thoughts or behaviors can invade your life, can be very helpful.
I want you to understand that living without your ex husband can in the beginning have an impact on your physical and emotional well being.
But know this. It is just a phase and you will pass through it in time.
When you were with someone for a meaningful period of time, you were connected in multiple ways.
This “connection” is both a blessing and a curse.
The blessing is all of the amazing memories and moments that are created.
The curse is you can’t help but think about all of those experiences you had together as a couple. That kind of wistful thinking can take a toll on your psyche.
You are also tied together from a biological rhythm perspective.
Your body temperature, heart rate, appetite, and blood pressure can be thrown into a tizzy when the two of you are pulled away from each other.
These reactions are all normal. Knowing about these things will help you if you experience them to any meaningful degree.
The Two Faces of Your Inner Voice
There is this thing we all have.
It is called the inner voice.
It is really fun to talk to yourself as you walk through life.
You can carry on conversations with yourself about how you are so much better without that scoundrel of a husband in your life. Your positive inner voice can pick you up when you are having a down day.
Our inner voice can be a really good friend. I know that I rely a lot on my inner voice to keep up my energy levels and to maintain a positive attitude.
But one thing we all should know is that our inner voice has an evil twin.
It is sorta like that “Gollum” creature in the Lord of the Rings movies.
If you are not familiar with Gollum, then try thinking of the “Force” in the Star Wars movies! There is the good side of the force. And there is the “dark side” of the force.
Ok…so if you have not seen either of those movies, then I am fresh out of analogies!
We all need to stand guard at the gates of our mind’s psyche and try to keep the “Dark Side” voice away.
Unfortunately, after a breakup, we are more prone to falling prey to the Dark Side.
Pointing Relationship Anger and Fear To the Light
When we feel rejected, our sense of self can take a dive.
The dark side of our inner self starts seductively chipping away at our insecurities and vulnerabilities.
Your Inner Critic (i.e. the Dark Side) loves making you feel bad. It thrives on that. It loves to take a bath in chaos and drag you along for the ride.
The Inner Critic likes to use the power of suggestion.
It will say things to you like, “you will never survive without your Ex”.
It will play on your insecurities by saying something like, “no one will ever love you again”.
Your Inner Critic thrives on sneak attacks. Suddenly, some negative thought will just pop in your head. It is trying to encourage you to do destructive things. It wants you to believe your life is devastated.
It is really important for you to understand that your Inner Critic is COMPLETELY and TOTALLY full of it!
So let’s make sure you understand that.
First of all, understand that your Inner Critic is not even real.
It is imaginary.
It came into existence in your mind because it was prodded by fear. And fear is essentially a relic from our past.
We evolved to have fear.
It was a survival mechanism to set us running away from danger. Think lions, tigers, and bears!
But your fear can be tamed, just as the dark inner voice can be quieted.
Everything your dark inner voice tells you is utterly false and not based in reality.
It exists only to sow discontent. It is truly quite weak. You can literally chase it out of your head.
It is the Positive Inner Voice you should be listening to.
It is the only inner voice that is your friend. This voice is the one that helps you out in a pinch. It is the “voice” that picks you up when you are down.
It is the voice that helps you get directed at doing things like exercising, spending time with friends & family, and starting you on a journey of recovery.
The Positive Inner Voice is much more grounded in reality. It is more pragmatic and is outward focused. It wants you to do things that can help you. It is your coach and cheerleader.
So as we conclude this post, remember to cast away those negative thoughts. Your future can truly be very bright. And if you are looking for more insights around saving your relationships with others and yourself, then I invite you to read any of my other posts.