I read the article, “Divorce Mediation: The Past is Always Present” boy did it open my heart and mind. I was very angry before reading that article but thanks to it I was able to understand what might be driving my husband’s stubbornness during the mediation process.
I shared the article with him thinking it would have the same effect but I was wrong. He only seemed to become angrier. What can I do to get through to someone whose only concern is doing the opposite of what is best for both of us in an attempt to hurt me for wanting this divorce?
You know the old saying: “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” The same is true with people: you cannot control them and make them do something they don’t want to do, especially when they do not see any costs or negative consequences to their inaction. Therefore, the most constructive thing you can do is to point out to your husband how his “issues” from his past are controlling him, causing him to be a slave to those issues, and resulting in his acting in ways that ultimately are self-destructive.
Your husband may resist at first because he is so wrapped up in his efforts “to hurt (you) for wanting this divorce;” he sees the pain and frustration that he is causing you as a positive outcome: revenge. You need to gently point out to him that his behavior is, in the long run, “the opposite of what is best for both of us.”
The key word here is “us.” You can help your husband to realize that his current behavior will increase the tension and adversity of your divorce, thus causing both of you added expense and stress, discouraging your cooperation and fairness, and likely compromising your children, too.
I often cite the following Chinese proverb to my clients: “He who seeks revenge digs two graves, one for his enemy and one for himself.” The message is simple: getting even or getting revenge will ultimately destroy the perpetrator, too. Realizing that he is hurting himself in the process of trying to hurt you is the first step on the path to self-examination of his prior negative experiences that so powerfully influence his behavior today.
Keep in mind that most people avoid examining their past out of fear, not laziness or indifference. Opening the Pandora’s Box of our unpleasant experiences and memories can be truly intimidating, depressing and frightening. When we think of vampires, we conjure up all sorts of frightening images, yet just opening the coffin and letting in the daylight will destroy these scary creatures.
Similarly, shedding light on the murky pain of our past often robs those experiences of their ability to frighten and control us. If you can help your husband to see that facing his issues and their origins will both unburden and empower him, he may well change his behavior for the better–for both of you.