Are you experiencing conflicting feelings for your ex despite his obvious demonstration that he's over the good and bad of you and your marriage?  Are you sometimes angry and resentful, other times jealous, missing him or unsure if you may still love him?   

Thoughts like these aren't uncommon following a divorce.  But they can delay your progress in working through all of the Stages of Divorce in an effort to let go of the your marital relationship and pain it's caused.  Both imperative in moving forward with your life.

It's confusing

Understanding your feelings and emotions is not always easy or obvious. It's especially confusing when you vacillate between positive and negative emotions for the same person.  But, rest assured, there are good reasons.  Upon divorcing someone you formerly loved, it's not always easy to eliminate thoughts of those happy times and love you once shared, despite his current actions or behavior.  -behavior that may cause opposing and righteous feelings that provide good reason for your marriage's end. 

But do you really feel the way you do? 

Sometimes you may think you feel a positive emotion for him, when actually it's a hindering fear or problem for which you personally suffer. Other times you may feel negative emotions or blame him, when it's really your own guilt for failing yourself or others, in some way. 

Then there are times you just feel "one way or the other" and the feeling is exactly representational of a current happening or recent memory of events.  And in divorce, there are plenty of happenings and memory inducers to cause anyone to suffer these roller-coaster of emotions.

Some emotions like anger, fear or surprise cause us an immediate reaction while others like sadness, resentment or jealousy tend to linger and fester.   The overall process to clarify your feelings for him may takes some time despite your outward appearance that you're totally over him and all that he once represented.

Reasons for our actions

While it may seem that the most destructive emotions are those that cause us to act immediately and in a way that misrepresents our true selves, it's these persisting emotions that incorrectly develop into more destructive or misrepresented feelings, behavior and actions.  In fact, it’s not uncommon for these emotions to build up and elicit unwarranted behavior or responses that appear to be a reaction to something entirely unrelated to what’s happening at the present moment.

It takes a great deal of self-recognition of unusual responses and self-analyzation for most of us to realize what we are feeling may be in some part or wholly unrelated to what’s immediately happening.  Also, the feelings we have may be entirely different than what we have developed through repetitious emotional thoughts about someone or something (ex-spouse and divorce).

Meaning of your feelings

Tearing down the walls of your house of pain

So, what does all this mean about the feelings you have for your ex spouse or partner?  The place you'll want to start is yourself.  It’s not easy, but you will have to tear down the walls of the ongoing emotional house you have built for yourself.  Perhaps you were unaware you put up the walls to maintain and protect these destructive feelings, but it’s time to bring them down.  This will provide you a better view of what you really feel, want and need.  

Upon doing so, you'll then be able to recognize the root issues that caused these walls to go up initially.  You'll have a stronger sense of self and actually find less reasons for self-analyzation and scrutiny because, the harbored painful memories and emotions will be acknowledged and eventually minimized.

This will be the best way to get a better understanding of what you truly feel for your ex.  Don’t be surprised if what you thought you were feeling, was actually either completely opposite or very different than what you have been experiencing.  You will best achieve some of this with the help of a counselor or therapist. 

We have a few suggestions to get down to the truth to determine what you really feel for him/her and why these feelings are unresolved:

  • Ask yourself what you really want from this person.  
  • Determine the reasons you want this and how you would feel if he/she agreed. 
  • Determine if this person is really capable of providing what you want. 
  • If you have extreme feelings, try to reverse them for a day.  Love to indifference, anger to peace, need to self-sufficiency.  Not only can this build strength, but it may be able to help you identify how you really feel.
  • If your feelings change frequently about this person, determine what triggers the different feelings.
  • Recognize you can not change anyone but yourself.  The more you strive for his/her change, the more you build your house of pain.
  • Accept that he/she may never be the person you expect, need or want; hence the reason you are divorced. 

It's also possible that your perception of the person for whom you were married was distorted based on one-sided dedication, love, commitment or even denial.  Following a divorce, you now have a more objective view of this individual and should build your new relationship accordingly. 

The hard part will be to recognize and accept the person for the man/woman he or she is today regardless of who he/she was while married.  You should discontinue to harbor old feelings about who you believed him/her to be while married. Good, bad or both.  Focus on what you want for your future and let go of the past to include your marriage, ex, lifestyle as a couple, etc.  You will then have an opportunity to define your individual feelings and accept your former spouse, and the changes you both made, as a positive decision in your life.