Surviving Divorce: Acceptance Does Not Equal Forgiveness
“It is easier to forgive an enemy than it is to forgive a friend.”
– William Blake
Forgiveness, according to many, is key to liberating yourself from the feelings of resentment that can trap us.
And to some degree, that’s true. But there may be another route to that liberating feeling. Janis Abrahms Spring, author of After the Affair, Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner has been Unfaithful, and How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom not to suggests that it’s not so much about forgiveness. It’s about acceptance.
Ok, But How?
That may be an easy concept to understand in theory. But what about in practice?
Spring suggests that spouses in this situation should take a 10-step approach.
- Honoring the full sweep of their emotions. It’s ok to be angry and hurt.
- Giving up their need for revenge but continuing to seek a just resolution. Justice doesn’t have to mean payback.
- Stemming their obsessive focus on the injury and reengaging with life. Take time-outs from rehashing the past.
- Protecting themselves from further abuse. Set clear boundaries.
- Framing the offender’s behavior in terms of the offender’s own personal struggles, which may have begun before the hurt party came on the scene. It really isn’t about you.
- Looking honestly at their own contribution to the injury. Take the time to be real with yourself about your own bad habits in the relationship.
- Challenging their false assumptions about what happened. Take a step back and question everything you’ve assumed to be true. What if it isn’t?
- Looking at the offender apart from his offense, weighing the good against the bad. Separate the person from the crime.
- Carefully deciding what kind of relationship they want with the offender. The past is written, but the future isn’t. What do you want?
- Forgiving themselves for ways they’ve blamed and shamed themselves with regard to the injury. It’s ok to acknowledge your part in mistakes…and then to move on.
These steps can help you reach a point, not of forgiveness or believing that you were wrong, but of acceptance. It’s a way to look forward instead of looking back.
Remember that you’re not alone in this process. Call my team to schedule a confidential consultation.