Quarreling with your ex? Slinging words that cut like a knife in flesh? You’re not alone. We’ve all done it during our divorces. It’s ugly. Insults fly in both directions, and you hear yourself shouting a vulgar array of degrading digs. You’ve bypassed reason, and the vocal slams come from pure outrage. Within a matter of minutes, all pretense of civility is gone. Dignity and poise have evaporated. You’re both in the gutter, slapping around in the dirty verbal mud.
Check out these unbecoming and embarrassing phrases we’ve all blurted out in a fit of rage. (I’m the first to raise my hand. I’ll admit it – I said my fair share during my own divorce.) Recognize any of these gems?
“Self centered bastard!”
“Back stabbing piece of sh-t!”
“As- h-le!” (frequently accompanied by F—k—g)
And, of course, the old standby: “You lying son-of-a-bitch!”
Stop the presses. How did this happen? After all, you both agreed to meet peaceably and “work out” a touchy issue, so you can decelerate the flow of money into the lawyer’s pockets. Your intentions were honorable. The ensuing squabble? Not so much.
Honestly, sometimes it’s better to let the lawyers duke it out. It may cost you bucks, but it might save your sanity, not to mention your self-respect.
After the brawl is over, you’re driving home, fuming. Now you think of all the clever retorts you could have said. The French call it “esprit d’escalier” (wit of the staircase – you think of the perfect response as you leave). You invent real gotchas, not the shoot-from-the-hip blasts, above.
What if you stayed above the fray? What if you simply walked away from the fight, while uttering something sophisticated, wise, classy and a direct hit? Whether your ex is smart enough to “get it”, or not – it doesn’t really matter. This is for you, your pride, and a tiny bit of arrogance – always a winner in annoying the daylights out of your ex.
For this lineup of classy put-downs, we go to the master himself, The Bard, Wm. Shakespeare. Here are 8 high-brow insults for your next duke-it-out occasion. Be sure to preface it with “As The Bard would say…”:
“Away, you three inch fool!” – Taming of the Shrew
“Eat my leek.” – Henry V
“You ruinous butt. You whoreson indistinguishable cur.” – Troilus and Cressida
“Thou art like a toad: ugly and venomous.” – As You Like It
“Thou art fat as butter.” – Henry IV Part 1
“Heaven truly knows that thou are false as hell.” – Othello
“Villanous whore! Filth, thou liest!” – Othello
“A most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise breaker, the owner of no one good quality.” –All’s Well That Ends Well
He (or she) may have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about, but you’ll feel wise, witty, and oh-so-right. Or will you?
Reality check: revenge feels sweet. Truth told, sweet revenge can cause even more anger than you bargained for, and a vicious cycle begins. It’s fun to think about, but no one is really the winner when it comes to revenge. In the long run, escalating the episode with cryptic, crude responses can do you more harm than good.
Here’s what to do when the fighting gets down and dirty. I tell my clients: The #1 best retort is to simply say, “I won’t fight with you. That’s why we have lawyers.” Then, walk away. Just do it, and don’t look back.
While you’re leaving your ex in the dust behind you, you can grin and chuckle about the esprit d’escalier, and think of what old Willy Shakepeare would have said.
You preserve your self-respect, and you walk out the door with your confidence intact.
Here’s to surviving your divorce recovery with strength and courage – and keeping your sense of humor during this challenging time!
You can do this! Yes, you can!