3 Steps To Forgiving Your Ex To Move Through Divorce

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Going through a divorce is challenging, painful, and hard. Even if you've both agree to it and are civil through the process, forgiving an ex can be tricky.

You divorced because something didn't work out in your relationship.

Maybe your spouse was irresponsible with money. Maybe they cheated on you. Did he not pick up his socks? Did she try to change you into someone you're not?

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Your anger is telling you that something is wrong. Yet, if you don't find ways to release your anger constructively, it will hurt you in the end.

First, explore what forgiveness means.

Forgiveness is not about forgetting what your spouse did to you, especially if it was sexual, emotional, or physical abuse.

Forgiveness is about taking responsibility for your own mistakes and ensuring you don't make the same mistakes again.

Forgiveness is not cheap — it takes courage to forgive others. It takes time, hard work, and commitment.

You will heal when you use the power of your anger to make changes in your life. However, in order to move ahead, you need to find a way to forgive your spouse and probably yourself, too.

Here are 3 steps to forgiving an ex after your divorce.

1. Forgive yourself.

Forgiveness is a process of loving yourself. You need to take responsibility for your part in the breakdown of your relationship.

Before you can forgive anyone else, you need to forgive yourself. Maybe you need to forgive yourself for not standing up to your partner.

Perhaps, you were emotionally abusive. Maybe you had a short temper.

To forgive yourself, you need to feel your pain, hurt, and anger. Feeling your pain does not give you an excuse to vent your anger on a person who happens to be available.

Allowing yourself to feel your rage will enable you to release your anger by using that powerful energy to make positive change.

Forgiveness takes time. Often, you can benefit from working with a religious leader if you are part of a spiritual community.

You can also benefit from working with a counselor or coach. This person can help you explore aspects of yourself that you don’t like.

Also, forgiveness calls upon you to let go of any guilt. No one is perfect. The most important thing is that you learn from your mistakes and let go of any guilt for things you are not responsible for.

Once you can accept your humanity, meaning you are not perfect, then you are ready to forgive yourself.

When you can forgive yourself, then you're prepared to begin the process of forgiving your ex-spouse.

2. Make time to grieve.

You were expecting to be in a lifelong relationship with this person. They were going to be with you to the end of life.

You had dreams of watching your children grow up together and enjoy years of being a grandparent in the future.

But, it didn't end up like that.

You're grieving the loss of family holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and more. You're grieving the loss of a companion who helped you never to feel alone.

Find people to help you process what happened in your relationship. Share stories of the good times, the OK times, and the hard times.

Don't be afraid to share any fears you may have.

To grieve requires you to feel your emotions. It's to risk being vulnerable with a person you can trust, whether it's a friend, a family member, or a professional.

Don't be afraid to allow yourself to feel your pain. Yes, the emotions and feelings are intense, but if you permit yourself to cry, you can begin to release the heaviness of the pain.

Grieving takes time, and everyone does it a little bit differently. Going through grief requires you to be gentle with yourself. You're going to feel like you are on an emotional rollercoaster.

Find people who care about you to walk with you on this journey. Find ways to express your grief — music, songs, poetry, prose, art, ceramics, photography, and more. It can help you heal.

Your grief will show up in your body, so sign up for yoga, massage, dance, and anything else that helps you to get in touch with your body. The more you feel it, the less power it will have over you.

Most importantly, remember you're not alone. There are people, including friends, family, and professionals who are ready to help you.

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3. Choose to let go of your relationship.

When you're ready, it will be time to let go of your past relationship. Some divorcees are able to keep a civil relationship if there was no physical or emotional abuse.

And it's always more complicated if you have children. Remember, your children are served best when their parents are happy.

If you were in an abusive relationship or your partner left you for someone else, you may need to cut all connections and focus on caring for yourself and your family.

Sometimes, forgiveness means that you get to the point where you know longer allow your ex to impact future relationships negatively. Some relationships are never mendable.

The worst thing you can do is hold on to your anger, making it virtually impossible to begin a healthy, new relationship. You will probably end up dating people just like your ex, because you are not willing to give up your grudges.

Some people find it helpful to have some ritual to mark the end of their relationship with friends and family.

You can do whatever you like, as long as you have some practice that names the end of the relationship and marking the beginning of this new part of your life.

You know you have let go when you can genuinely wish your ex a good life ahead. Thank them for what you learned, and choose to make some different choices in the future.

Make this post-divorce period a rich time for you.

It's a time ripe for personal growth. It's time to turn your life around and move in new directions.

Moving through a divorce and forgiveness takes time and effort. You have to make it happen. No one else can do it for you.

Please don’t make a mistake and go on the rebound into a new relationship. If you don't take the time to do your work, you will probably end up in a relationship no better than the one with your ex.

You will know you are ready to move on when you get to the point where you are present and future focused. You will find yourself renewing your hopes and dreams. The smile on your face will come back.

Finally, you do things in your life focused on what you need to fulfill your life dreams. You'll start feeling good about who you are.

Memories of your ex are going to fade into the past. You're ready to begin the next chapter of your life.

RELATED: 24 Harmful Myths About Divorce That Will Keep You From Ever Moving On

Roland Legge is a life coach who offers coaching through REL Consultants for individuals, couples, families, and executives to help them to be the best they can be. For more information, please arrange for a free 30-minute discovery call by sending an email.​

This article was originally published at REL Consultants Newsletter. Reprinted with permission from the author.