You’ve moved into a new apartment, signed divorce papers and begun referring to yourself as single. Why, then, does your divorce still feel incomplete? Turns out, your work may not be finished until you grant your ex genuine forgiveness. This may be easier said than done, but it’s absolutely worth the effort. Read on to learn why:
Why Forgiveness Helps Us Heal
Forgiveness prompts tremendous health benefits, both immediately and far into the future. A noteworthy study from Hope College indicates that even brief rumination on a past transgression can immediately increase blood pressure, heart rate and sweating. Angry rumination—equated to unforgiveness—also prompts anxiety. When asked to empathize with the transgressor, however, most people experience reduced physical arousal.
In another study, those who rated their relationships as terrible suffered higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. They also scored lower in regards to their willingness to forgive. Those happy to forgive rated their relationships higher and experienced reduced cortisol levels.
How to Practice Forgiveness After Divorce
The exercise highlighted above could be key to achieving full forgiveness, no matter your spouse’s transgressions. Take a few moments to direct your thoughts to your ex’s behavior. Instead of playing the blame game, express empathy for his or her situation. You can acknowledge that your ex made poor decisions while still demonstrating compassion.
Additionally, it may help to pinpoint the lessons in your difficult experience. What did your ex-spouse’s behavior teach you about choosing a partner and maintaining a positive relationship? Could your previous turmoil have made you more resilient or empathetic? Think of yourself as one step closer to living a truly rewarding life, whether as a satisfied single or with a new romantic partner.
Don’t grant forgiveness merely for the sake of your ex or your kids (although doing so can make life easier for all family members). Do it for yourself. If you acknowledge the physical and mental health benefits of forgiveness, you’ll find it easier to grant it to a former spouse.
As you make progress on your path to forgiveness, let us assist you with the other complications of divorce. Contact the law firm of Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd. at your earliest convenience to schedule a case consultation.