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Sometimes people going through divorce behave in ways that make a given situation seem much more important than it is.

The following behaviors and the tone around them make the issue seem so pressing and imperative that it is easy to get sucked in:

  • Yelling, screaming, and other conflict
  • Lying or withholding information
  • Having bad boundaries or letting other people’s bad boundaries affect you
  • Betraying a confidence (or other types of betrayal)
  • Spying (driving by, looking at email or Facebook, etc.)
  • Spreading rumors (about your spouse, in-laws, divorce proceedings, etc.)
  • Exaggerating
  • Being mean or cruel
  • Playing the victim to illicit sympathy and attention

Your mantra needs to be, “I focus on the core values in my mission statement and goals.” This means you stay away from the ultimate time, energy, and composure vampire—drama! Drama makes everything seem urgent, and it is tempting to get caught up in it. When it crops up (and it will), take a moment to assess where the so-called crisis fits into your goals and mission for your divorce. If spending time or energy on the situation demanding your attention doesn’t help you accomplish your goals, don’t take the bait. Don’t lose your focus.

To preserve your sanity, you must learn to distinguish drama from something worthy of your attention. Drama can appear positive and exciting or negative and juicy. Be vigilant for extreme emotions in yourself and others. When you feel a body rush when faced with a situation, be on drama alert.

It is not uncommon for drama to manifest itself in situations like the following:

  • Elly’s husband knew she was on thin ice at work because he kept calling her during working hours, which was affecting her performance. He did it anyway. His bad boundaries were drama.
  • A female friend of Fred’s was Facebook friends with the man his ex-wife was dating. She gave Fred her password so he could log on as her and lurk on the man’s profile. His spying was drama.
  • Marian’s husband suggested she sell the house and divide the profits between the two of them equally, and she blew a gasket, lecturing him about how she deserved more because she was the one who cleaned the house for ten years while he was hardly ever home. Her exaggeration was drama.
  • Jim had another fight with his spouse. He headed to the bar and complained to the attractive bartender. His playing the victim to seek sympathy is drama.

When you look at these scenarios (and think of examples from your own life), how do they help accomplish the goals and mission of a peaceful divorce? The answer is that they don’t.

These feelings and behaviors have been legitimized by media, especially reality TV. It’s juicy entertainment. Drama produces a high, which makes the more mundane aspects of life feel flat, as though nothing significant is happening. None of this makes it okay for you to indulge.

It doesn’t really matter why you may engage in drama, the key is to be aware that if you get sucked in by drama, you need to de-intensify your life and find more consistent balance.
 

Do You Get Sucked into Drama?

Consider the following statements and ask if they apply to you. If you respond yes more frequently than no, chances are you are susceptible to drama and need to be more focused on your mission and goals—and leave drama to the stage and the reality shows.

  • Life with my spouse was flat and boring. I wanted more glamour than my spouse did.
  • I lie to my spouse because some things are just none of her business anymore.
  • My spouse really knows how to manipulate me.
  • I have checked up on my spouse to see if he is where he says he is going to be.
  • I have looked at my spouse’s email without her knowing about it.
  • I have maintained some of our mutual friends as “frenemies” so I can pump them for information about my spouse.
  • I look at my spouse’s cell phone bill to see who he is calling.
  • If I don’t want to tell my spouse where I am going, I don’t have to.
  • I have an online relationship with an opposite sex friend that my spouse doesn’t know about.
  • I have a credit card my spouse doesn’t know about.

Avoiding drama in your divorce will help speed your recovery.  Your focus now needs to be on yourself, and your needs and your future, not the drama of retaliation, gossip and revenge fantasies.

 

(The following is an excerpt from chapter 10, pages 225-229 of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life). Click the following to find out more information about Diana Mercer's and Katie Wennechuk's new book, "Making Divorce Work", or to purchase a copy.

Diana Mercer is an Attorney-Mediator and the founder of Peace Talks Mediation Services, and a contributor to First Wives World

She is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Penguin/Perigee 2010) (Simon & Schuster/Fireside 2001) and writes for the Huffington Post, as well as her own blog, Making Divorce Work.

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/peacetalks
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/@dianamercer

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