Letting Go of the Bitterness: Why Letting Go of Resentment is Crucial for Divorce Healing (and Maybe Even Saving Your Marriage)

Resentment in a Divorce: Avoid this Poison

As a family law attorney, I see it all – the raw emotions, the desire for justice, and the deep-seated resentment that often lingers like a persistent cough long after the decision to divorce has been made. While anger and hurt are natural reactions to the ending of a marriage, clinging onto resentment in a divorce can be a potent poison that hinders your healing, damages your future, and most importantly, hurts your children.

It’s easy to understand why resentment takes root. Broken promises, hurtful actions, and feelings of betrayal leave deep scars. However, holding onto anger, even if justified, will only trap you in a cycle of negativity. “[Resentment] keeps you emotionally tied to your ex-spouse and prevents you from creating a satisfying life for yourself.” (https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/signs-resentment)

Here’s why letting go of that bitterness is crucial for your well-being, your children, and even the possibility of saving your marriage (yes, I do believe in second chances):

1. Resentment Clouds Your Thinking and Increases Costs:

Divorce can be messy, and finances are often a major source of contention. When clouded by resentment, rational negotiation becomes an impossible task. You might cling to unfair demands, prolonging the process and driving up legal fees. Letting go of anger allows you to approach negotiations with a clear head, potentially saving significant financial resources.

2. Resentment Hinders Your Healing:

Clinging onto bitterness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person gets sick. It only hurts you. Studies have shown that prolonged resentment can lead to depression, anxiety, and even physical health problems (https://search.https://scholarworks.uni.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1400&context=grp#:~:text=The%20effects%20of%20divorce%20on%20girls%20is%20profound%20as%20well,23). By letting go of the anger, you free yourself from its negative influence and open the door to emotional healing and a happier future.

3. Resentment Poisons Co-Parenting:

Children are often the innocent victims of divorce, and co-parenting is crucial for their well-being. However, resentment makes co-parenting a constant battlefield. Every interaction becomes a trigger, making communication difficult, decisions contentious, and ultimately creating a toxic environment for your children. Letting go of anger allows you to interact with your ex in a civil manner, prioritizing your children’s needs and fostering a more positive environment for them to thrive.

It’s Never Too Late to Begin Healing:

The good news is that it’s never too late to begin the process of letting go. Here are some tips:

  • Acknowledge your feelings: Don’t suppress your anger. Validate your emotions and allow yourself to feel the hurt. Journaling or talking to a therapist can be helpful.
  • Forgive, not for them, but for yourself: Forgiveness doesn’t condone their actions but allows you to release the burden of resentment. It’s about setting yourself free, not excusing their behavior.
  • Focus on yourself and your future: Invest in your own well-being. Pursue activities you enjoy, spend time with loved ones, and prioritize your mental and physical health.
  • Seek professional guidance: If you’re struggling to let go of the anger, a therapist can equip you with tools and strategies to manage your emotions and move forward.

While saving a marriage after separation is not always possible, choosing to let go of resentment can lead to positive outcomes regardless of the path you ultimately take. You’ll find yourself better equipped to navigate the legal process, heal from the emotional wounds of divorce, and co-parent effectively, ultimately allowing yourself and your children to move forward with a brighter future.

Additional Resources:

Here is a great video I came across the other day, which served as part of the inspiration for this article (I personally endorse the YouTube channel as well): Please listen to the story of the little boy near the middle. Send out love instead of hate (even in a divorce). If that is too tall of an order, fake it ’til you make it.

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