Divorce Forgiveness Rituals


As our name implies, the mission of Divorce With Dignity is to provide divorce assistance, support and facilitation for those who would like to have an amicable divorce with dignity and civility. An amicable divorce starts with the willingness of the couple to forgo bitter, argumentative court proceedings in favor of peaceful negotiations, and then to move forward by letting go of past hurts and anger to make room for a happier future. Forgiveness is a big part of this, and one way to nurture forgiveness is to employ a “divorce forgiveness ritual”. To learn more about divorce forgiveness rituals, we had a chat with one of the people we refer our clients to when they are seeking help in this area.

Michael Gelbart is an integrative psychotherapist, therapeutic movement specialist and director of Shift in Perspective Counseling and Consulting, Inc., with over 25 years experience in helping people with many different types of issues including intimacy and relationship issues, marital issues, mediation and conflict resolution, transitions, divorce, and dealing with loss and grief.

When it comes to divorce, he assists the couple (together or separately) to learn how to interact with each other in a kind, respectful manner even while discussing difficult issues. Ultimately, the goal is for the couple to be able to have an amicable divorce, and then learn how to forgive each other and themselves so they can move forward in their lives.

Michael, can you tell us a little more about “divorce forgiveness rituals”?

In the Jewish tradition there is something called a “Get”, which is a “completion” ritual for releasing each other from the marital vows, both emotionally and spirtually. This enables the two people to accept the transition into a new relationship, one that allows them to be in the same room together and not be at war with each other, and helps them to allow forgiveness into the relationship. I like to use this tradition as a basis for helping divorcing people design their own divorce forgiveness rituals so they can let go of the negativity and focus on the positive.

For those who are ready to forgive themselves and their partner, a “completion” or “divorce forgiveness ritual” can be extremely healing. Such a ritual entails some kind of material embodiment and action taken with some kind of object that symbolizes a completion and letting go. Some people incorporate journaling, burning letters, or putting their feelings and intentions in writing that they may share with their former spouse. Some people even invite their former spouse to participate in the ritual, but this must be offered as a choice, not a demand. Participation in a divorce forgiveness ritual takes courage on both sides, but can have a great cleansing effect. In my own divorce experience, we performed a Get ritual and it completely shifted the energy between us and allowed us to release the negative emotions.

How do you help divorcing couples to build a new and positive kind of relationship?

Couples have many different roles that they play in a relationship, and most of these have to work well to make a relationship successful. Some of these roles are sexual partner, friend, co-parent, housemate, and financial partner. We work together to deconstruct the relationship and take inventory. What is working, and what isn’t? We look at the relationship as it truly is, and then I highlight the parts that are still working. There may still be affection or admiration, or some other positive feelings. We take those positive aspects and work to develop a new, amicable relationship that is now based on their separate lives. If they can forgive and respect each other, their new relationship is off to a great start.

We’d like to thank Michael for sharing his knowledge with us. To contact Michael, you may go to his website, email him at gelbartmichael@gmail.com, or call him at 510-357-2527.

If you would like to learn more about how Divorce With Dignity can help you achieve an amicable and cost-effective divorce, please visit our website to learn more about our holistic approach and the services we offer.

The author of this blog is not an attorney and the information contained in these blogs should not be considered legal advice. The information provided here is based on the experience of the author and some of her clients whose actual names are not mentioned. Do not hesitate to seek the advice of an attorney if you have any legal questions.

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