At a recent traffic light, I pulled up next to a man whose car had the intriguing license plates “ICY WIFE”. Now as a divorce mediator, my first thought was “Wow, here’s a guy who wants to, in a very public way, carry a chip on his shoulder for as long as those plates stay on his car”. My second thought was that, by continuing to broadcast his opinion of his ex-spouse as “ICY WIFE” via these license plates, he might be having a hard time moving on with his life.
The end of a marriage carries grief, anger, and uncertainty. It can feel bewildering to make so many new decisions about: living arrangements, parenting, financial affairs. The spouse who used to be your confidant now suddenly seems to be a stranger during these conversations. Every cornerstone of your marital foundation seems to be turned upside down at the end of a marriage. And sometimes in pain, it’s normal to lash out, such as the guy with “ICY WIFE” license plates.
It’s natural to feel out of control as you navigate the rocky currents. “How will I ever feel normal again?” is a common question. Yet slowly, organically, normalcy really does come back. Life returns to normal because ex-spouses 1.) can and do resume a non-confrontational relationship, and 2.) decide to forgive each other. Yes, really! By forgiving an ex-spouse, people grant themselves a huge favor, because holding onto anger and bitterness, no matter how righteous one feels, only stokes more anger and bitterness.
Moving Past the Pain
Back to the guy with the “ICY WIFE” license plates. My hope is that he’d already moved on to a better relationship with his ex, and was driving to the DMV to change his plates. Male or female, if you’re struggling with anger, bitterness, and sadness toward your ex-spouse, gently, day-by-day, give yourself permission to let them go. Staying stuck in these emotions will guarantee that you will not, and cannot, move forward. Change what you can control, that is, your own responses and feelings, and start to feel better.