We don’t know who we married.

Some of us sit down at the bargaining table and discover a whole new side to the person we married. So new, in fact, that we can’t be sure if the person across the table is really our spouse or if it’s some greedy creature from outer space that has taken over our spouse’s form and brain.

The truth is that no one ever really knows who they married until a divorce gets underway. During their dating, courtship and marriage, the partners always have something to gain by ultimately smoothing out arguments or disagreements. It’s as if there is some unwritten law that prevents the crossing of spousal behavior limits and friction boundaries.

Once divorce hits, all prior restraints disappear, and all speed limits are lifted. We are free to do whatever we want. And, this is when we get our first glimpse of who we married.

Recognize that you and the person you thought you knew – and you thought knew you best – are now negotiating as strangers. You are both victims of the dynamics of divorce. You overcome this by anticipating that you will not be able to anticipate what this “stranger” will do. Expect the worst behavior imaginable, and you will not be tempted to overreact to anything your spouse throws your way.