Family Conflicts and the High Conflict Spouse
Recently, we have encountered new “Conflict Laden Participants in Divorce” like Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, Alex Baldwin, and their Spouses who have shown us how not to get divorced!
Divorce Courts are full of people like this and they are called “High Conflict People” (HCP’s). Are you glad you are not married to one of these people or are you? HCP’s seem very caring and sincere and it may take months or years before a legal professional can identify this personality disorder. HCPs may cause enormous emotional pain and excessive financial costs to their spouse and children before this disorder is brought to light.
Bill Eddy, legal specialist of the High Conflict Institute, has given a list of
The High Conflict Personality Pattern of HCP Personalities
- Rigid and uncompromising, repeating failed strategies
- Unable to heal or accept a loss
- Negative emotions dominate their thinking
- Won’t reflect on their own behavior
- Can’t empathize with others
- Preoccupied with blaming others
- Won’t accept any responsibility for problems or solutions
HCP’s stay unproductively connected to people through conflict and will continue to create conflict to maintain any sort of relationship, good or bad. Since HCP’s undermine all relationships, they constantly repeat their same patterns and usually end up divorcing repeated times. 20-30% of all couples getting divorces have at least one HCP spouse.
According to the High Conflict Institute, HCPS are driven by four primary fees:
- Fear of being ignored
- Fear of being belittled or publicity exposure
- Fear of being abandoned
- Fear of being dominated, includes fear of losing control over you, the other spouse, their money/assets, or themselves
What can the spouse of an HCP do to help bring the family conflict or divorce to completion?
- Tell your attorney what your bottom line is and stay with your decision.
- Maximize any leverage you have and stay on the course.
- Choose your battles carefully.
- Everything must be in writing.
- Work on keeping total & consistent emotional detachment from the HCP.
Just remember the HCP feels that since you are no longer together, and since you know too much about him/her, you must be discredited so that no one will think that they are the problem!
You will need to learn some practical skills on communication and response to your HCP and also when & how to let your attorney deal with this situation, how to enforce your guidelines, and hopefully, your thoughtful and reserved conduct will result in the best possible outcome.