Why Divorced People Should Forgive Their Exes

In a recent article in The Huffington Post, therapist Deborah Moskovitch quotes research done by Dr. Charlotte van Oyen Witvliet at Hope College in Michigan, who finds that when people “relived hurtful memories or nursed grudges about how their offenders should suffer, they sweated, their blood pressure surged, heart rate rose, and brow muscles tensed. Thoughts about the human qualities of the offender and forgiveness that set boundaries while finding even a small way to genuinely desire the offender’s growth, however, prompted a greater sense of control, calmed emotion, and comparatively lowered stress responses.”  This brought to mind the difference between how my litigation clients reported how they felt about their exes after a trial had ended their marriages, and how my collaborative law clients tell me they feel as a result of using the collaborative law process to reach settlement in their divorces.   When my clients had experienced adversarial hearings at the courthouse, their attitudes towards their former spouses hardened and, even years later when they came back to enforce or modify their decrees, their anger was often as fresh as it was when they first filed.  By comparison, when clients have worked with a communications facilitator during their collaborative divorce, they frequently reported that their relationship after divorce was cooperative and generally civil.  It was good to note that they probably were healthier too.