A longtime marriage that suddenly ends can create myriad emotions for a spouse caught off guard by the life-changing moment. Many feel betrayed and sad, while others feel more intense feelings of anger and resentment, creating significant conflict that can spread throughout a family.
While forgiveness may seem out of reach, getting to that level of healing and growth can be valuable to a spouse’s state of mind and make a difference in a more peaceful end to a multi-decade union.
The emotional ending of a marriage later in life
“Gray divorce” is a term that designates couples who are 50 and older at the end of a marriage. Once a demographic considered minuscule, researchers find that this older age group continues to increase. People are living longer and having more productive lives well into their sixties and seventies, spurring what experts predict to be a growth of gray divorces by one-third by the beginning of the next decade.
What all age groups have in common is the grief that comes with the death of a marriage. Forgiveness can be a milestone that represents strength, not weakness. The several steps to get to that point take time. Whether the process lasts months or years, getting to that point of forgiving a spouse can start the healing process and eventually improve the quality of a new chapter of life.
Fred Luskin, psychologist and co-founder/director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project, created a training methodology that helps with forgiveness. Multiple research studies have validated his methods. His program focuses on forgiveness and not the painful event, denying or minimizing feelings, or even a possible reconciliation. Luskin encourages people to take back their power, be responsible for their feelings, and get their emotions under control.
In the end, it can help to facilitate improved mental and physical health, an essential component for a better quality of life, if not a bright future and a second chance in life.