Last week, I spent some time talking about anger as it applies to our relationships and our health. Since anger can be so much of the divorce process, I am continuing to explore it.

“Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury that provokes it.” (Seneca, Roman philosopher)

“How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.” (Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor)

Some years ago, there was a heart-breaking story in the newspaper. Two young men I will call “Bob” and “Bill”, who had been friends since elementary school, got together to watch some football. Sometime during the game, they started arguing. Bob later said he couldn’t even remember what they were arguing about. As Bill started to drive away from Bob’s house, Bob yelled, “I hope you die!” On the way home, Bill was involved in an accident and died at the scene. When Bob was told about it, he cried, “Why did I say it? He was my best friend!”

We say things and do things when we are angry we would never say or do otherwise. I have never had the desire to throw things other than words, but there have been times I have “exploded” and then wished I could take my words back the minute I said them. However, once words are spoken they are there, and even with forgiveness, they remain.

Abraham J. Heschel, a 20th century Jewish theologian and philosopher, made a statement that seems to be particularly applicable to separation and divorce situations. “In a controversy, the instant we feel anger, we have already ceased striving for truth and have begun striving for ourselves.” Obviously, there are times we need to stand up for ourselves, but according to Heschel, when we are angry is not the time.

I am going to end this part of the conversation with a quote from that well-known philosopher, J.A. Jance. Okay, she is a detective mystery writer from Seattle, but go with me on this! In her book, Betrayal of Trust, she writes, “Sometimes the best way to win a confrontation is to avoid it in the first place.”

Collaborative professionals help their clients “avoid it in the first place.” Communication without anger is much more productive, avoids much angst at the time and later, and is, well, more human.

Copyright 2013. Marjorie E. James. All rights reserved.