Letting go is hard to do especially when you are in the middle of your pain, grieving, and loss. When is it too soon to let go, when is letting go well overdue, everyone has an opinion when you are going through a divorce about what is right and wrong. When I was going through my divorce people would say ‘you just need to let go.’ But no one tells you how to let go or what that looks like and it does take time. But the sooner you work out how to let go, the better off you will be.
Letting go is about clearly being able to visualise a new path for your life that is not influenced by the pain of a broken marriage or the anger and resentment toward your ex-partner who has left or not fulfilled their promised and commitment to you. We get married to the belief that the relationship will last forever. As part of that, we create a life together and we build dreams for a future with that person based on our belief that they will always be there. It is crushing when those dreams and beliefs come to an end.
Moving forward and letting go during the separation and divorce process means we have to come to terms with the fact that the dreams and hopes that we had are no longer there. For me personally, the hardest thing was coming to this realisation and letting go of what I believed was meant to be. Once I realised that it was these beliefs that were holding me back, letting go became much easier.
When going through the divorce process it is easy to fall into the trap of creating more conflict by looking back and revisiting the past instead of dealing with the “here and now”. I see client’s fall into this trap all the time. The truth is though, that discussing or even thinking about all the wrong doings in the relationship is not going to help you to resolve the issues at hand and move forward. Time wasted looking back will only prolong the divorce process and your healing process.
It is common to push back because we believe that marriage should not be coming to an end. Letting go of the past and what you believe ‘should have been’ during the divorce process not only helps us to heal our hearts and focus on the future but it also enables us to focus on protecting our legal rights and entitlements.
If you are the one who made the choice to leave the marriage it is important to make the transition with honesty and compassion for the partner you are leaving. It is not easy to make the decision to leave and it is common to feel guilty, but being kind and loving as you transition out of the relationship will make it easier for you both. If you are not honest about your reasons for leaving, it can prolong your ex-partner hanging on as they may have glimmers of hope, which is unhelpful to their healing.
If you are the partner who has been left, letting go can be more of a challenge particularity if the leaver is unable to be honest or compassionate towards you. I understand that it is hard to feel compassion for someone who has cheated on you, it takes a lot of strength! Letting go of the past wrongdoings will only help you to move forward. And further, in Australian law, the wrongdoings of the relationship have no weight in any legal entitlements you may have as we have a no-fault law. Often with a partner that leaves or cheats, it is not you but rather their own search for their own happiness that they are unable to find where they were.
I have two main ways that you can let go of your past relationship so that you can move on to your new life:
- Firstly, you need to focus on your new future. Create new plans for you and your children, both small short-term plans and larger long-term plans. When you focus in on your new pathway, life all of a sudden looks brighter again as you have plenty to look forward to.
- Secondly, it is important to proceed through the divorce process as respectfully as possible. It is not to say that you should be a doormat, you should not. Always stand up for your entitlements and those of your children. But the purpose of letting go and moving through the divorce process as quickly as possible, if you always act with integrity, are not revengeful and don’t keep revisiting the past, the process will be over before you know it.