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No matter your stage of divorce, your feelings about your ex may stay the same for years.  It's a liberating feeling to forgive and forget.  However, the pain you may feel associated with divorce can create emotional baggage that makes forgiveness difficult.

The baggage is heavy and will eventually be something that you should naturally want to let go.  If not, therapy is a recommended course of action. Until either occurs, we have some suggestions.

When you have to see your ex

Some of the problems with letting go is that you both have reasons that require continued interaction like co-parenting, support payments, etc.  Co-parenting involves reasonable communication with your former spouse in order to ensure each are equally vested and involved in your children's upbringing.  Unfortunately, this gives each of you an opportunity to annoy the other and continuously re-open old wounds.

Regrets be damned

Frustration over support payments for either side can be a constant reminder of how jilted you feel by your former spouse over the settlement.  It's common for many divorcees to feel regret associated with accepting a settlement that's not sufficient for future years or conversely is too much to continue to pay for years to come.  Often each side feels like they should have fought harder for a better settlement.  However, know that you did the best you were emotionally and financially able to do. 

Ironically, divorce is one of the worst times to be dividing assets like your home and life-savings since it naturally includes a great deal of emotional equity.  So, accept the settlement and let go of regrets.  They don’t help and they'll certainly stay in your way of future, maximum financial success.

A new you

Continuous contact keeps the door to your relationship open when all you really want to do is slam it shut.  It can keep you from moving forward, away from how you felt before or right after your divorce.  Regardless if it was a week ago or 10 years, the feeling can be very similar if you haven’t established a new "you" after “us”. 

The key is to move forward in a productive lifestyle.  At first this may include counseling or friend therapy to cope with the adjustment of married to single life. You will want to add in hobbies, social time and an active lifestyle to keep you "moving".   When you start to feel like things are slowing down, start thinking too much about your ex or divorce, you may want to incorporate something into your life that adds value to your everyday.   It should represent a secure step onto a path to your future.

The power of forgiveness

Now, here is the major difference between having the same negative feelings about your former spouse and letting those negative feelings effect or control your life. 

While you may have lost respect for him or no longer believe this person to be someone for whom you wish to relate, love or befriend -  you should still find a way to forgive him.

But how do you forgive someone who is still in your life, hurting you?  That is admittedly difficult for even the strongest individuals.  You no sooner develop such a sense of forgiveness for the person and they rip it apart with the same reasons why you divorced.  

However, as you know, one purpose of forgiveness is to set your emotional stress and pain free.  It's extremely helpful to forgive when the offending person is still a part of your life.  Forgiveness will get rid of the pit in your stomach every time his/her name comes up.  It gives you an ability to minimize the stress of any relationship you still share.  

Sometimes the only way to forgive someone is to do everything possible to cease contact with that person.  Make any contact with the person formal with e-mails instead of phone calls.  Limit mutual events and don't feel guilty about it.  If you must attend events mutually, be polite but don't interact no matter how harmless it seems.  As time passes, you will notice that the pain you feel will naturally diminish and forgiveness will be easier.

Make peace

It doesn’t mean you need to make peace with that person.  Rather it means you should make peace with yourself.  By now you know your ex is likely not going to change.  He's never going to be the person you want him to be.  Your ex won't come to you and announce what a terrible person he's been and ask for your forgiveness.  Really.  It’s not going to happen. least for now.  

One likely reason is that... well, you’re divorced and enough time hasn't passed for such healing.  Your spouse may feel much as you do and only time will bring about such forgiveness.

You both realized you no longer think alike, feel the same or even understand the other's point of view.  It doesn’t mean that after months or years of healing there won’t be some peace made on both sides.  But, if you're still pretty emotionally charged about how your former spouse lives, acts, talks, behaves or breathes, then chances are he feels the same. 

Let it go

So, here is the alternative.  Let the baggage go.  Know that your ex is incapable of being the person you married.  Accept this person for who he is now and no longer expect him to return to the person you want him to be.  Limit contact and/or develop a new relationship as if you're meeting this person for the first time as a co-parent or former spouse instead of as a spouse.  Expect obstacles and develop a resilience to what you may perceive as bad intentions.  

Should you ask for forgiveness?

You don’t need to make peace with him with a formal announcement or request for his forgiveness.   Neither of you may be ready for that for a long time or possibly ever.  You’ll know if and when you are ready. 

If you do make peace, it may make you feel better and possibly improve your relationship.   But, it should be genuine and with pure intention.  Don't seek forgiveness only to induce a positive response or a mutual request for forgiveness.  Eventually your true feelings will come out and that will further weaken your relationship once again. 

Accept your feelings, be honest with yourself and true to your convictions.  If you feel you wronged your ex and it would help to let him know, then go for it.  After that let the baggage fall away with a good productive lifestyle.  The better you feel about yourself, the better you'll feel about your decision to divorce and eventually make peace with your ex.


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