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Are You Harboring Resentment Against Your Ex?

3 min read

By Laura Lifshitz
Feb 09, 2021

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One of the hardest things to do during or after a divorce is let go of any resentment you might have toward an ex.


I get it. You hate her. You hate him. Your skin crawls when you hear his or her voice. Your blood pressure rises with every single email or text from this human being. Welcome to divorce.

If you still loved your ex, most likely, you wouldn't be divorced. This doesn't mean that everyone who gets divorced hates his or her spouse, as some people remain friendly afterward, but it's not unusual to have a bit of dislike for your former partner—especially if your ex is an absent co-parent, financially wrecked you, doesn't pay support, milks you for every cent, etc. 

The problem is, when you're angry, the other party feels your anger...but so do you. They say that depression is anger turned inward, right? Well, if you're angry at someone else, you're bound to feel it.

Is harboring resentment toward your ex just a waste of energy?

Time Spent Mad is Wasted Time

No one blames you for being mad at an ex who barely sees his or her kids. No one blames you for being angry at a former spouse who is going after your last penny. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to be upset. However, all the time you're spending angry isn't paying the bills, or helping your kids out. I felt very angry at my ex for his choices this past year, and then I realized I was just wasting energy I needed to be the very best single parent I could be. Think of it this way—all those pent-up feelings and bogged down emotions are keeping you from finding solutions to the problems this person is, perhaps, creating. Instead of being mad, find ways to make more money or work with your budget, ind resources to help your kids, etc.

People Don't Change No Matter How Mad You Are

I accepted a long time ago that my ex's hatred toward me isn't going to change. So, instead of RSVPing to the fights, I decided I needed to respond only when needed, and also, show kindness. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Well, I can't control someone’s else's actions, and neither can you. I can only control my own—and so I would rather behave as I feel is right. I want my own choices to make me feel good at night. I want to consider the big picture and not get entangled in the minutiae. You can only control what you do. No matter how mad you get, your ex won't change.

At the End of the Day, the Ex Wins

When you waste time being mad, or if you spend a lot of time depressed, at the end of the day—your ex wins. This person, who isn't even your spouse anymore, has managed to create distress in your life. The less negatively affected you are, the more and more you win, despite your ex's decisions. If you allow his or her every crappy move to sink your battleship, well then, my dear, you've lost.

It's Over, But Still You Refuse Joy

If you didn't want the divorce, or perhaps your ex cheated or left you with his or her lover, I understand your wrath. However, you can't make someone come back to you, no matter how hard you wish for it; and truly, if this person doesn't want you and would disrespect you, why would you want him or her back? All that time being angry is wasted. You could be moving on with someone else who's much better for you, and to you.

Being Sick with Stress Makes Your Life Worse

I know that when my ex started acting up, I got sick thanks to stress. A lot of time was spent feeling ill—literally! It was understandable given the situation, but when you decide that you are not going to let a person infringe on your happiness no matter what, you'll find that the stress and sickness weakens. Allowing yourself to hold on to resentment and anger, no matter how well-deserved, will only hurt you in the long run.

The moral of this story: Yes, it damn well sucks when an ex is a jerk, but you cannot change the person or tell him or her what to do. You are only in control of your own actions. Make sure you make decisions that sit well with you, and make time to find solutions.


If you are experiencing marital difficulties, please visit ProConnect to speak with one of our experts. To learn more about our Community, visit DivorceForce.com.
Written by Laura Lifshitz

Laura Lifshitz is a pint-sized, battery-operated, writer, comedienne, and single mother. Laura will work for chocolate. The former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate is currently writing about divorce, sex, women's issues, fitness, parenting, marriage and more for the New York Times, DivorceForce, Women's Health, Redbook, Working Mother, Pop Sugar, Your Tango and numerous other sites. Her own website is FromMTVToMommy.com.

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