Are you dealing with a difficult partner? Are you thinking of divorce or going through one now? Nawal Houghton, Your Divorce Coach, works worldwide to focus on how to manage these types of relationships, and she spoke to T.H. and Jessica on the Divorce, etc… podcast to offer insight on the best ways to deal with them post-divorce.
Nawal simplifies her job description as such: She helps people divorce “difficult people”.
What does this mean, exactly? What defines a difficult person? If you feel as though you aren’t being heard or that your partner is controlling you, then you may be dealing with a difficult person. If you are afraid to express yourself, then that’s a red flag in a relationship as well. These difficult people are also at times narcissists, but to generalize the category of people Nawal helps people work with, we can just call them “difficult.”
Your Divorce Coach
What Nawal noticed when she was going through her own divorce was that there weren’t any resources available to her to understand how to deal with someone difficult. When you deal with a difficult person, it’s not all about just the legalities or the nitty-gritty details of the divorce taking place, it’s about how they’re communicating with you or your kids, their deliberately harmful actions, or other issues that may not be at the top of your lawyer’s mind when you come to them with these other issues popping up. Who can you go to when these start to occur? That’s where Nawal’s service, Your Divorce Coach, comes into play.
Identifying a Difficult Person
How do you know if you’re divorcing someone difficult? What do you look for?
If you feel as though you aren’t receiving empathy for how you’re feeling, you may be dealing with a difficult person. If you don’t feel free to speak out, then that’s an issue as well.
These can be problems that are difficult to identify when you’re in a marriage. You might just not be able to see what the real problem is clearly, and it can be hard to pinpoint that feeling. For T.H., she couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong, but she just knew that she was miserable. She was becoming a different version of herself and losing her true identity in her marriage. If you’re having trouble figuring out what’s wrong but know that something is wrong, you may be in a similar situation.
It’s Not You, It’s Them
A lot of times, we inadvertently think that we are the problem. When we self-reflect, we have a habit of thinking, is it me? Am I doing something wrong? Let us tell you, no. You aren’t the problem. If you panic when you get a text from your spouse, or have any physical triggers when you are dealing with this person, then you’re it’s very likely you’re dealing with a difficult individual.
This isn’t something that just happens at the end of divorce. These qualities in a person are always there but if you didn’t see them firsthand throughout the marriage, they may have just been masked by other qualities until the end. Once they’re not getting what they want, their true qualities come out, and this can be why it’s hard to identify who the real problem is in the relationship.
A key part of dealing with a difficult person is making sure to set clear boundaries. If not for yourself, then for your kids. And you’ve got to follow through on them. Nawal emphasizes the importance of avoiding setting boundaries that you won’t follow through on because they have to be things you will effectively do. So no vague threats to call the cops or anything that you might not follow through on. Don’t let them push your buttons to get to that point.
You should also make sure that these aren’t just all over text. It’s easy to fall into this pattern, but you want to make sure you are effectively communicating and maintaining your composure when dealing with a difficult ex. Email is a great way to do this. With email, you’ll have some written form of communication, which is also valuable if you end up needing to present them to a lawyer in the future.
Not Just for Partners
Keep in mind that difficult people aren’t just your partners at times. They could be your coworkers, your boss, your friends, or any other people in your life. Nawal’s tactics can help you navigate what to do in any of these situations.
Even if someone hadn’t shown signs of being a difficult person beforehand, there may be some sort of trigger that reveals this side of them. Nawal notes, “at any stage, there could be a crack point where it’s becoming slightly difficult,” and this can bring out a more problematic side to a person. It can be the pressure of divorce, having to deal with kids, or some other aspect of a relationship that gets them to snap. Making sure you can identify these qualities and how to approach them is important in making sure you handle these kinds of situations with the proper care and manner.