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A Place for Kindness in Divorce

Guest post by Evelyn Crowther

Divorce changes us. That’s obvious on many levels. We go from being part of a couple who share a home, finances, interests and a mutual set of values on what’s important in life, to two separate people who appear to disagree on everything.

At the beginning we are hopeful, perhaps naively so? We are in love with the other and full of anticipation at the great life we are going to build together.

There is a sense of invincibility about being able to withstand difficulties that will arise; after all, our love is the real thing. We communicate well, listen attentively, we are thoughtful and considerate with one another. Our lovemaking is passionate and inventive, and the concept of separation and divorce is unthinkable – something that happens to others, but not us.

For many couples, divorce can be just as passionate as those early months of new love; only the passion is expressed as anger, bitterness and hatred for the person we once cherished. It’s as if love has turned itself inside out and upside down.

Divorce might sometimes be a necessary process, but are anger and nastiness really inevitable? Is it possible to make the whole process less traumatic by simply attempting kindness? Many couples find themselves on a path of vengeance, because they have forgotten who the other person really is.

Remember what you initially loved about your spouse. What are the characteristics that drew you towards him or her? Is it possible to see beyond the current difficulties, to the person who still exists beneath the layers of grievance?

The pain of divorce makes us selfish.  We forget that the other person is hurting just as much as ourselves. We may not immediately want to see angry, manipulative or greedy behavior as a result of deep hurt, but why do we believe that we alone have the monopoly on pain?

Pain is ugly, it’s infuriating, but perhaps by relaxing our clenched fists surrounding our need to be right, we could be the one to extend small acts of grace to the other, and by so doing, open up the possibility of reciprocal kindness in return.

Kindness takes courage, but it could be a risk worth taking.

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