Leaving the “R Word” Behind – Insights from Divorce Coach, Nan Cohen


Do you ever avoid “hot button” topics in conversations by reverting to one letter to describe an issue? Think about when you’ve heard these letters dropped when the related word, well, just isn’t speakable.

By Nan Cohen | October 31, 2013

When it comes to divorce, the letter “R”–for “Revenge”–represents a hot button word to avoid. I tell my clients–and my in-person or radio audiences–there is no place for Revenge in divorce.

Sure, there are aspects of divorce that fuel our vengeful instincts. We are only human, right? I hear the reasons all the time as those divorcing complete a sentence beginning with “My spouse…” with many reasons for Revenge: My spouse…had an affair, was a bad parent, brought on financial hardships, and has just plain ruined my life.

High angle view of a wedding cake figurineWhile Revenge is meant to be some form of punishment against the other party in the divorce, Revenge often has no effect on them. Revenge can give a false sense of satisfaction to the party claiming to “get back at my ex” or soon-to-be ex. In fact, this vengeful attitude may continue long after a divorce.

Have you ever been asked; “Would you jump off a cliff just because your friend does?” So to get revenge for your spouse’s extramarital affair, should you have one? When your spouse or ex tells your child that they can’t have the newest XBox, does that mean you buy one for the child just to annoy your spouse? Responses meant to “one-up” the other party don’t solve real problems. We all know that, but do we always think before acting to avoid reactions we may regret? Rehashing such issues later in the divorce or post-divorce period also doesn’t solve problems or change the past.

Indeed, in many cases you may always feel your position is the right one and the other party is still wrong. Letting go of these issues is like cleaning those old receipts and utility bills out of your desk drawer: that was then, this now. You’ll have more room for positive energy (or space in that drawer) when you throw away those things and thoughts; best to release those emotions that have no useful purpose. And you’ll be free of them. They can no longer weigh you down, attaching you to non-productive activities, like Revenge.

Remember, in divorce no one really wins. Sure, that is a hard lesson to learn. Instead of Revenge, use your lessons learned to pay it forward to yourself, your family, and, yes, your next relationship. Go for the heart of the issue and realize why you seek revenge. Was it the pain, the hurt, being used, or not being trusted? Whatever the reasons, learn from the experience. Recognize what pushes your revenge or emotional buttons. And learn tools to react in more positive ways—even if that means walking away when your first instincts may be argument, withholding finances, creating difficulty with the next child visitation. Take steps to accept and correct your negative behaviors. Move forward as our disappointments and grudges can immobilize like quicksand—preventing positive moves and attitudes

Exacting Revenge won’t make you a better person, parent or spouse. Correcting the causes of Revenge? That can make you a better person, parent or spouse. A good doctor will tell you not to treat the symptom, but treat the cause. Take the “R-word” out of your vocabulary and mindset. You’ll have more room for the words to help you to articulate a new direction, a better life.

About Nan Cohen

Nan Cohen is recognized as the go-to expert on the realities of separation and divorce, based on her own experience and long-running radio show “Dealing with Divorce”. After her marriage took a surprising turn, the young mother of a toddler girl confronted with all of the emotions and logistics of divorce, Nan learned the realities of divorce by experiencing it—a long and bitter divorce, joint custody, social stigma, and emotional turmoil. She was empowered by discovering a niche in which she could help others work through a transition from divorce to a new beginning. While she does not promote divorce, Nan does promote understanding its complexities, including custody, alimony, child support, financial settlements, parenting skills, and even dating, sex, and remarriage.

A quick-witted, practical and no-nonsense resource, Nan hosts DEALING WITH DIVORCE on Pittsburgh’s KQV 1410 AM and www.kqv.com. Here, her valued legal, family and wellness experts join her to discuss divorce and all its related issues. She been a contributor on KDKA-TV on “Pittsburgh Today Live” (on which she is scheduled to appear on Fri., April 27) and is a frequent guest expert in programs and media stories about divorce. Now, Nan’s first daughter is in college, she is mother of a daughter with her second husband, and her family supports her working with those experiencing divorce. Nan brings her reality-based perspective to individuals through consulting with divorce team professionals, one-on-one coaching, and audiences of her shows, seminars, and tools, including Dealing with Divorce: Reality Revealed, A Divorce Guide and Journal, all reachable via http://www.divorcerealityexpert.com
Facebook: Nan Cohen Total Talk.  Twitter @nanondivorce