The Collaborative Divorce Center

The Importance of Forgiveness

The Importance of Forgiveness

I am Pam Masters and I am a collaborative family lawyer, which is to say that I am a settlement specialist and I guide couples and families on the difficult journey of divorce without court involvement. I do this is ways that protects children, preserves financial assets and creates healthy co-parenting relationships.

The Importance of Forgiveness

Being able to forgive and to let go of past hurts is a critical tool in healing from divorce.  Being able to forgive is a way to keep yourself healthy both emotionally and physically.

If you hold onto old hurts, disappointments, petty annoyances, betrayals, insensitivity, and anger, you are wasting both your time and your energy. Nursing your hurt (whether real or perceived) for too long can eventually make it turn into something more—hate and extreme bitterness. 

Lack of forgiveness

can also wear you down. Being unforgiving takes both a physical and mental toll. Resentment gains momentum and chips away at the foundation of your well-being and your relationship. You may have seen my facebook post about the father who paid his last child support payment in pennies—something like 80,000 of them.  This made me so sad-both for his daughter and him.  He clearly had nursed an old hurt until it had hardened into hate and extreme bitterness and towards his own daughter.  I think I feel most sad for him because one day he will realize what he has done and his despair will be bottomless.  Holding on to hurts also bad for your physical health. Health experts at Johns Hopkins report that the act of forgiveness can reduce the risk of heart attack, lower cholesterol levels, improve sleep, reduce pain, lower your blood pressure, and decrease levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. Studies have also suggested that forgiveness provides substantial benefits.1

How to Forgive Your Partner

There are different techniques you can use to find a place of forgiveness when you have experienced betrayal. Consider each method and find the combination that works best for you.

The hurt you have suffered may make a difference. Certainly, it is more difficult to forgive a spouse for years of infidelity than it is for a more or several more minor mistakes. Try to be patient with yourself as you experiment with different strategies.

  • Be open and receptive to forgiveness.
  • When you are ready, make a conscious decision to forgive your spouse.
  • Think of a calming place or do something to distract yourself from dwelling on those thoughts, when images of the betrayal or hurt flash in your mind,
  • Refrain from throwing an error or mistake back in your spouse’s face at a later date; don’t use it as ammunition in an argument.
  • Accept that you may never know the reason for the transgression, behavior, or mistake.  Although it feels so personal, you must trust that it is NOT about you. You did not cause and  you could not have prevented it.  Your spouse’s behavior and choices are a reflection of them and only them.
  • Refrain from seeking revenge or retribution; trying to get even will only extend the pain and chances are good that this won’t really make you feel better anyway.
  • Remember that forgiveness does not mean that you condone the hurtful behavior.
  • Be patient with yourself. Being able to forgive your spouse takes time. Don’t try to hurry the process.
  • Seek professional counseling to help you let go and forgive if you are still unable to forgive, or you find yourself dwelling on the betrayal or hurt.

Collaborative divorce process helps with the healing.   Through the collaborative divorce process, you can find peace, closure, and yes, a path to forgiveness.  You can be better at divorce than you were at marriage and you can leave your marriage feeling proud of the choices you made to be kind and seek peaceful resolution.

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