Internally, there are five steps through which we must proceed to reach the place from which we can truly forgive someone else, such as an ex-spouse:
- We first assess our part, if any, in the issue, problem or in this case, divorce.
- We build up our emotional management skills by knowing how emotions affect us and how to process them.
- We must let go of any feelings of entitlement that will block our goal of forgiveness.
- We must realize what it is we are holding on to. What is preventing us from setting appropriate boundaries and “changing the rules of engagement” with the other person?
- Finally, after these self-searching actions, we can achieve true forgiveness.
Once people are truly ready to forgive, there are six steps to overcoming the hurt of divorce for good:
- Understanding both parties’ role in the divorce.
- Forgiving the ex-spouse, which takes just one person.
- Asking the ex-spouse to accept our forgiveness, which takes both people.
- Reconciling the relationship, which takes both parties. This does not necessarily mean “getting back together,” but taking the necessary steps toward a healthy relationship.
- Restoring the relationship, which helps us move the new relationship to a healthy place.
- Growing the relationship again, which takes both parties and requires a commitment to shift the relationship to a new level that involves forgiveness, grace and perhaps even newfound trust.