Vindictive Spouse During Divorce: How To Deal With It

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Vindictive Spouse During Divorce: How To Deal With It

So, your relationship has broken down. You’ve split up but it’s not over yet. You’re on the receiving end of vindictive behavior from your spiteful spouse. This can be ok for some people who are equipped to deal with it. For others, however, it can seem like you’ve been blindsided and it can make for a very difficult time. This can negatively affect your emotional well-being and lead to extremely high levels of stress. When you are dealing with a vindictive spouse during divorce, it can be quite easy to feel like you can’t cope.

In this article, we’ll talk about some of the sneaky divorce tactics that can happen, how to communicate with a vindictive person, and, most importantly, how to take care of yourself and manage negative feelings at this trying time.

Understanding Vindictiveness

understanding vindictiveness during divorce: guy looking frustrated

Why do people become vindictive during the divorce process? Typically, this is because one of the parties feels hurt in some way. I’ve listed below some of the main reasons why people can go from being best friends to being a vindictive ex.

  1. Cheating: This is the number one cause of vindictiveness and with good reason. The person who has been cheated on typically feels hurt, deceived, and disgusted by the cheating partner’s behavior. In some cases, when the third party is part of a group of mutual friends or work colleagues and known to the person who has been cheated on, it can feel like a double deception.
  2. Domestic Violence: If there has been actual domestic violence or threats of this nature, sometimes the police can get involved. Being cited in a police report can trigger an escalation and damage open communication. In more serious cases, this type of behavior can lead to a restraining order which in turn can cause even more resentment. Many people share stories of having received a string of worrisome threats either in the form of threatening text messages or face-to-face.
  3. Child Custody: Children tend to be a bone of contention because, either both partners want full custody of the children, or one doesn’t want to do their share of parenting. This can cause lots of resentment and vindictiveness as many people feel that their combative communication style is justified by their desire to look out for the best interests of their kids. In this case, vindictiveness can simply be a defense mechanism.
  4. Financial Strain: Especially where there are young children involved, where one parent has to spend time minding the children, and, as a consequence, not being able to work, spousal support regularly becomes an issue. Child support obligations can be a source of resentment when one partner doesn’t agree about visitation rights or access to the children. Where there is a joint bank account, setting clear boundaries and rules about the equitable distribution of monies in bank accounts can be vital to avoid false accusations and even further conflict. Another tactic is running up lots of debt on credit cards in order to reduce any future payout. This is why seeking the advice, at an early stage, of family law attorneys is a very good idea. 
  5. Neglect: If one spouse feels that they have been taken for granted, or neglected for the duration of the relationship, this can lead to negative emotions towards your ex.
  6. Living Arrangements: In these days of soaring house prices and high demand for rental properties, many couples realize that financial necessity dictates that they may have to live with their former spouse after their breakup. In cases where most of your money is tied up in the marital property, it may not be possible to live apart until a divorce settlement has been agreed and the marital home is sold. Even though your former spouse may have no control over the division of marital assets, it can still be possible to become vindictive towards them, feeling that they are keeping you trapped in this intolerable living arrangement.
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Self-Hypnosis Audio For Relationship Breakups

Self-hypnosis can be a great tool to help you start healing the hurt you feel and learn to be calm and strong again.

Recognizing Common Tactics

Many people who have gotten divorced will tell stories of a dirty divorce trick that happened during their divorce proceedings. Here are some of the most common ways that a dirty trick can be played on you during the complexities of a divorce.

  1. Hiding Financial Information: During a divorce, people who previously shared everything can now start massaging their financial records or trying to deflate the value of an asset in some way so as not to cost themselves as much money as it potentially could if they were 100% honest and transparent. Depending on the size of the property division it may be appropriate to get asset protection attorneys involved to protect your interests.
  2. False Allegations: During a messy divorce it it quite common to witness a drastic change in the person you thought you knew. This is normally all about one person trying to gain the upper hand, either in terms of custody of the children or in terms of the division of real estate. This can take the shape of abuse allegations, allegations of drinking or drug taking or even allegations of mental instability. In such cases, the help of an experienced divorce attorney is vital.
  3. Creating False Stories: Some people will create false stories in order to influence your support network against you. They might tell false stories to your family or friends, or quite a common tactic these days is to say something false about you on social media. 

Effective Communication Strategies

Your aim should be to communicate in a way that gets you through this “legal” phase of your relationship relatively unscathed. Here are some examples of what to say and what not to say and do:


  • Say in an accusing tone “You never ……”
  • Score points by saying “You always ……”
  • Roll your eyes
  • Be sarcastic
  • Troll your ex on social media


  • Mention how you feel “I would like if you could …..”
  • Keep it brief
  • Stick to more factual conversations rather than emotions-based discussions
  • Be clear about what your goal is – if it’s to collect the kids, then stop accusing him of not caring enough. Stick to the goal.

It may be tempting to get off a parting shot at this person you feel has let you down but all it does is make the legal process even more expensive as each bad interaction will probably have to be brought to the attention of your divorce attorney and then you’ve just cost yourself another fee for another letter, because that’s how attorneys make their money. The more time your divorce takes, the more money it ultimately costs you.

get over a relationship breakup mp3 cover

Self-Hypnosis Audio For Relationship Breakups

Self-hypnosis can be a great tool to help you start healing the hurt you feel and learn to be calm and strong again.

Co-Parenting Challenges

Divorces are so much easier to navigate if there aren’t any children. When children are involved, it gradually dawns on you that this is more complicated than you might have thought. Some people report the realization that they will never truly be free of their ex. He or she will always be involved in the lives of the kids and that means you’ll bump into each other or have family occasions where you are both obliged to be there. 

Here are some of the common pitfalls

  • I’ll Be Nice If My Ex Is Nice: You probably start out with the right objective. You want to communicate in a civil fashion for the sake of the kids. Maybe you say something that you think is being reasonable and then the ex reacts in a bad or negative way. At that moment, it’s like you have permission now to act just as badly as your ex. I’m going to suggest that you think carefully about this. If both parties adopt this strategy, it’s not going to be long until it’s an all-out war. Perhaps just commit yourself to being the better person no matter what provocation you receive. Generally speaking, if one person refuses to get drawn into conflict, pretty soon, the other person gives up trying to stir up an argument.7
  • I’ll Tel My Kids To Tell My Ex: Don’t use your kids as your method of communication. It might seem simpler. You might believe it’ll cause less friction. Think about the effect this has on the kids. It’s not their job to be a mediator between their parents. Don’t give them a job that’s not theirs. Communication between adults is a job for adults – leave the kids out of it.
  • My Ex Doesn’t Deserve Reasonable: You may be right! Why should you be reasonable if your ex has hurt you in an unacceptable way? Except you’re not right! If there are kids involved, reasonable is the goal to aim for, even though you might not feel like doing that. This means listening fairly to your ex, cutting them a bit of slack at times, and adopting a spirit of cooperation. This doesn’t mean you’ve got to try to be friends. You don’t even have to be friends, ever. But you do have to create a good working environment for the kids to have a relatively normal upbringing that doesn’t leave them with terrible emotional scars.
  • I Don’t Care About My Ex’s Opinion: To build a good working relationship with your ex for the sake of the kids, you do need to ask their opinion on things at times. One of the things most people hate is being dictated to. We all like our voice to be heard and we tend to calm down when we feel we have been heard. In most cases, your ex has a valid claim to having an opinion when it comes to their kids. If you deny this or try to get the upper hand (“I’m right and you’re wrong”), then you can’t be surprised if your ex gets angry. The best way to think is “I’m right but you’re right too”. This model of thinking opens us up to considering the other person’s opinion. When an ex feels heard, they are more likely to cooperate.
  • You Have No Right To Stop Me Seeing My Kids: Sometimes, you might have to rearrange a visitation at the last moment, or it might happen to you. This is a moment to step back and take a deep breath. Ask yourself a couple of questions. “Why did it happen?”. “What was the real reason?”. “If I was in the other person’s shoes, would I have potentially done the same thing?”. “What’s the best way to react here?” I believe it’s always ok to say something like “I just want to let you know how that made me feel, and I wonder if we can find a way to do this better in the future”.

Seeking Professional Help

I believe very few people are equipped to deal with the legalities and emotional complexities of divorce. There is no training course. No one enters into a marriage with the intention of getting divorced. Most of us never give that a second thought. We assume it’ll never happen to us. When we find ourselves in that situation, most people feel a bit blindsided. They don’t know what to do, so they turn to their friends or family for advice. Many of these people also haven’t a clue how to deal with it. At best, we get a very subjective story about one other persons divorce and we base our knowledge on that.

If there is no way back, and your relationship is definitely over, you need legal advice and good emotional support. When it comes to legal advice, select a divorce attorney that seems to have a calm, reasonable approach. Like in every profession, there are some divorce attorneys who really care about their clients and have a good moral compass. There are others who are just out to make as much money as they can. The latter type of attorney will fuel discord because it’s good for their bottom line. More disagreements mean higher fees. Ask around and find some honest reviews from real people.

When it comes to emotional support, there are numerous options. There are self-help articles (like this one). You can buy books on Amazon on breakups. There are relationship counselors you can go see. One of the least expensive ways of getting some emotional support is to download and listen to a self-hypnosis recording. I have recorded a particularly powerful recording which I believe will help you. It’s called “Get Over A Relationship Breakup” and is available to download instantly.

get over a relationship breakup mp3 cover

Self-Hypnosis Audio For Relationship Breakups

Self-hypnosis can be a great tool to help you start healing the hurt you feel and learn to be calm and strong again.

Self-Care Amidst Conflict

One of the things we tend to forget about during a divorce is to look after our own emotional needs. We need friends, but not just any friends. If our friends constantly criticize our exes, they are not doing the job of being a friend very well. If you are in the middle of a messy divorce, you need a friend who is focused on you and what you need. 

Preferably this friend will never say a bad word about your ex. They should offer non-judgment and be wise enough to know that they don’t know everything that went on in your relationship. A friend who takes sides is actually damaging you. They are validating your resentment or anger, and preventing you from achieving this good working relationship with your ex.

We also need some alone time to process our thoughts. A self-hypnosis audio can help you to train your thinking in the right direction. By listening for 30 days, you learn to let go of hurt and imagine yourself being this calm, strong person you want to be.

Picture of Author: Paul Hunter

Author: Paul Hunter

Although thousands of people read his blog every month, Paul's path to success was not an easy one. Click here to read his amazing story "From Unwanted Baby And Adopted To A Respected Self Help Blogger". If you want to send Paul a quick message, then visit his contact page here


Picture of Paul Hunter

Paul Hunter

Although thousands of people read his blog every month, Paul's path to success was not an easy one. Click here to read his amazing story "From Unwanted Baby And Adopted To A Respected Self Help Blogger". If you want to send Paul a quick message, then visit his contact page here

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