Before your divorce has even finished, you may feel anxious to move forward with your life. The end of your marriage was painful, but your life as a newly single person fills you with optimism. However, the anger and hurt from your marriage can linger long after your divorce. You can try to forget your resentment, but that is not the same as moving past it. Divorce therapists believe forgiveness is one of the most powerful healing tools for divorcees. Before starting a new relationship, you may need to forgive your former spouse for the end of your previous relationship.
Reasons for Resentment
You are unlikely to reach the point of forgiveness without first recognizing your resentment. You may have a valid reason to be angry at your former spouse if he or she was involved in:
- Physical or verbal abuse;
- Criminal activity; or
- Manipulative behavior.
Illinois only accepts irreconcilable differences as a reason of divorce, and many divorces are caused by that. It can be frustrating to admit that no one was to blame for your divorce. Your former spouse may be the target of your anger because you want to blame someone.
Forgiveness takes conscious effort but is not as simple as telling your former spouse “I forgive you.” If you are expecting a satisfying reaction from him or her, you will likely be disappointed. You should forgive your former spouse for your own benefit. The journey to forgiveness can take many steps, including:
- Deciding you no longer want to feel resentment;
- Identifying the experiences that make you angry;
- Describing the events that led to your divorce from an impersonal perspective;
- Assessing the role both of you played in events;
- Understanding the perspective of your former spouse in an attempt to feel empathy;
- Accepting that you cannot change the outcome of those events; and
- Focusing on what you can control moving forward.
It can be daunting to reconcile all of these thoughts on your own. A therapist who focuses on divorcees may be able to guide you.
Forgive, Not Forget
The purpose of forgiveness is to quell your unhealthy feelings of resentment. However, you can still hold your spouse accountable for his or her actions. If your spouse has a history of threatening or abusive behavior, your divorce settlement needs to protect yourself and your children. A Kane County divorce attorney with Van Larson Law, P.C., can advocate for your rights during your divorce negotiations. To schedule an appointment, call 630-879-9090.