When people think about divorce, they tend to imagine bitter arguments, secret infidelities and custody battles. It isn’t often that anyone makes the mental leap from divorce to forgiveness in one bound. Yet it appears that perhaps we should. Many people go to great lengths to overcome the pain they suffered as a result of divorce, and as it turns out, forgiveness may play a critical role in surviving the split.
What is forgiveness exactly? Well, there are many different opinions on what constitutes actual forgiveness. However, most sources will agree on the fact that to forgive means to make a conscious choice to let go of a wrong that was done to you. That wrong can be any number of things. Perhaps it was cruel things that were said to or about you, or a physical harm that you suffered at the hands of someone else. Either way, it hurt.
According to Frederic Luskin who researches the effects of forgiveness at Stanford, forgiveness can be summed up as…”the moment to moment experience of peace and understanding that occurs when an injured party’s suffering is reduced by the process of transforming a grievance they have held against an offending party.”
Everyone has heard the term “forgive and forget”, but we all know that forgetting is almost impossible. Also, according to studies done on the act of forgiving, it probably isn’t the best choice anyway. It is important to recall what occurred in order to know what you are forgiving, and also so that you can learn from the experience.
Another common misunderstanding about forgiveness is that by forgiving someone for something they did, you are implicitly saying that what they did was okay. This simply isn’t true. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you condone what was done, or that it would be okay to do it again. It simply means that you have chosen not to let what happened affect your mental and emotional health by holding a grudge.
Studies show that people who forgive are happier and healthier than those who hold resentments.
In fact, the first study that looked at how forgiveness improves physical health discovered that when people think about forgiving someone who hurt them, it leads to improved function of their cardiovascular and nervous systems. It has also been shown to provide a host of other health benefits, including reduced anxiety levels, reduced depression, and even a reduced vulnerability to substance abuse.
If you think about this in terms of a divorce, most divorces are fraught with anger, betrayal and resentment. While it may seem counter-intuitive, forgiving your former spouse may be the best gift you could give yourself, as it will allow you to move on to live a new life that isn’t colored by bitterness. A life in which you are stronger, happier, and healthier.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that it didn’t hurt. And it doesn’t mean that you are not still hurting. Processing pain can take a very long time, depending on the nature of the wound. However, it’s an accepted fact of modern medicine that healthy people heal faster. So if forgiveness could mean improved health, both emotionally and physically, then it appears that forgiving your former spouse may just give you a leg up on the time you’ll need to recover from the pain of your divorce.
According to the research being done at Stanford University Medical Center on the subject of forgiveness, “…a picture is emerging that forgiveness may be important not just as a religious practice, but as a component of a comprehensive vision of health.” In other words, if you hope to live a fulfilling and successful life after your divorce, then forgiveness will most likely have to play a role in it.
So perhaps it’s time you consider letting go of that old divorce grudge and move on in life. The future, healthier and happier you will be grateful for it. While we can’t help you with the forgiveness aspect of divorce, we can help you with almost every other part of the process. So if you or a loved one are considering divorce in mid-Michigan, call 517 866 1000 and speak to an experienced family law attorney about your plans. We are here to help.