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5 tips for handling anger during a divorce

It's not pretty, but it's real: Divorce makes you angry. You're splitting up, and it's not what you wanted. It's not where you thought your life was going.

Perhaps it's not just about you. You also have the kids to think about. You feel like your spouse has wronged you and the children, and you're angry about it.

This feeling may be natural, but it's important not to give in to it and act out of spite.

For instance, perhaps you know that there's a certain asset -- a favorite car, for example -- that your spouse wants. You don't care about it, but you want to take it just to make sure he or she can't have it.

This is how people get trapped in long, bitter divorce cases. They spend so much time and energy fighting over something they don't even want just to get back at the other person. The anger takes over. To keep this from happening to you, here are five quick tips:

1. Write everything down.

Writing forces you to slow down and think. You don't act rashly in the heat of the moment. It can be almost like therapy, helping your anger dissipate as you work through everything logically.

2. Focus on your core values.

It's all about getting back to who you are and who you want to be. Don't let the other person define you. Don't let the divorce define you. You are someone important outside of all of these circumstances. Focus on that.

3. Find ways to burn off energy.

Don't let that energy and stress eat you alive. Some people want nothing more than to sit in the car, with the windows up, and yell. Others head to the gym or go out for a run. Whatever you have to do, put your energy into something other than fighting with your spouse.

4. Take your time.

Your marriage is ending. You're not going to get over that in two days. Don't expect to. Understand that it takes time to process this information and move forward. Give yourself time, if you need it, to get to a good place so that you can work on moving forward.

5. Focus on the kids.

Remember, your kids should be your top priority. Their best interests are what you should fight for. Ask yourself if the things you're doing are to help your kids or to get back at your spouse. This can help you identify what you're doing out of spite and what you should really spend your time and energy on.

Don't let your emotions take over the divorce. Learn where you stand, what to expect from divorce, and how to get into the best mental and emotional state to proceed productively.

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