Let Them Be Mad at Me

By Brenda L. Storey, Esq.

When parents go through a custody struggle, emotions abound.  Oftentimes, well established roles from during the intact marriage give way to new, independent roles.  This newly acquired independence can stoke the emotional fires.  Yet, the parents will need to raise their children together long after the litigation ends.   To assist, I say to my clients to let their soon-to-be spouse be mad at me.

This anger is most often seen in cases where one partner was the more dominant one or used emotional blackmail to get his/her way. When the other partner is able to “get away” and clear her/his head, there is a realization that the previous relationship roles were not healthy and do not have to continue in the same form.   When that epiphany hits, the other partner loses control.  Such loss of control can take many destructive forms, from resorting to upping the manipulation tactics to flat out anger.  Usually, that partner genuinely believes that the now independent one is wrong, and must be listening to the wrong people or  having their strings pulled by someone else.  They simply cannot accept that the person who had been in the previously dependent and/or controlled role could make such distancing decisions.  The anger, then, is directed at who must have brought about this change, which the manipulator does not see as positive change.   The target is usually the partner’s attorney.

Those with cleared minds can get upset that their chosen independence is not being credited to them.  Or, they become protective of their lawyer, as they see what they have endured in a whole new light and do not want anyone to experience what they had.  However, the controlling/manipulative partner will never understand, or accept, the free-thinking independence, nor does that matter.   So, why not let the lawyer be blamed?

The anger is diverted.  The client is not the brunt of the emotions.  This allows the client to have even more emotional space to heal and grow, and less baggage during the process.    This allows the parties to move forward, as best as they can, to parent  post-litigation.    The lawyer, in the rear view mirror, continues to be blamed for the shift in the former spouse.  Let them be angry at me.  I don’t have to raise children with them, but I assist  the client in doing exactly that by carrying the  anger directed at me.

 

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