Can forgiveness change the divorce?

Forgiveness. It is a word many of us struggle with. What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process a victim undergoes to change feelings and attitude and overcome negative emotions. 

Forgiveness is not for the other person, but for the person forgiving. In fact, the person who is forgiven does not even need to know. A conversation with the other person or sending a statement or a text message is not necessary. It is simply a change in the emotions and mental state and perspective of the person forgiving. It is to free the person forgiving from feeling anger or resentment or bitterness. Those negative feelings are then replaced with peace and joy. 

Can forgiveness change the divorce? Often something happened to cause the marriage to breakdown. It could be a spouse’s infidelity or dishonesty or alcohol/drug dependency or an action or inaction that causes the other spouse to feel disrespected or unappreciated. Sometimes the marriage breaks down because the parties grow apart, but even in that situation the source of the break down is an action or inaction on the part of one or both parties. Most always a party (or parties) to the divorce feel anger or resentment or pain or bitterness. Those feelings might be directed towards the other spouse or some third person. The negative feelings permeate the entire divorce process from the instructions a party gives to his or her attorney to the settlement terms. The negative feelings can cloud a party’s judgment or perception or ability to settle the case. So, how can forgiveness change the divorce?

When a party forgives their attitude and demeanor changes. They become empowered and in control of their emotions and feelings, which ultimately leads to more control in the outcome of the divorce and the divorce process all together. Emotional decision making is gone and replaced with business decision making. The party can then evaluate the issues using a cost-benefit analysis and the parties are able to have a more amicable divorce and constructive settlement discussions.  

To be honest, I struggled with my own forgiveness a few years ago. My parents are divorced, and I was carrying around the feelings of hurt, anger, pain, resentment from their divorce and my father’s remarriage. These feelings took over my actions. It wasn’t until I experienced a major health issue that I realized the impact the negative emotions were having on my life. I was not going to continue to live with those negative emotions. I wanted to feel peace and joy, and I wanted to have a better relationship with others. Before I could feel positive emotions, I had to take the challenge and forgive my parents and my stepmother. It wasn’t easy. Forgiveness is hard. It was something I did for myself. Looking back, it was one of the best decisions I made. It changed my life; it changed my health and my attitude and my relationships. It changed my own marriage and my own relationship with my daughter. 

The positive affect forgiveness has on the forgiving party extends beyond themselves and into the lives of others. Forgiveness can change the divorce process, the outcome of the divorce, the relationship of the parties to the divorce, and the relationship those parties have with their own children. 

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