You Should Forgive Your Ex. What??!!

forgive your ex

By Jackie Pilossoph, Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling, Love Essentially columnist and author

Today is Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday, also known as the day of atonement. That means this is our time to repent and ask God for forgiveness of our sins. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to write about why you should forgive your ex, since it is something in divorce that in my opinion so rarely exists.

Let me set this up by validating how a divorced person might feel. Maybe your spouse left you for another women or man. You burn with anger and you feel an injustice like never before. Why is he or she allowed to end up happy while you are alone? It’s not fair!!!

Or, here is what I hear from lots of divorced men, “she kicked me out and then took my kids and now I have to pay her every month and I see my kids two nights every other weekend.”


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Another scenario is that there could possibly have been mental or physical abuse or cheating. How on earth do you forgive that??!!

I’m not saying it’s easy to forgive your ex, but I want readers to CONSIDER the following 3 reasons why you should,  and the benefits forgiveness offers YOU.

1. Forgive your ex for your children:

Every single thing you do in life, every action, every word you speak, every facial expression, every action is being watched by your children, who are eventually going to (if they don’t already) emulate millions of things you and your ex do.

Don’t you want them to learn forgiveness? Don’t they deserve to know the power of forgiveness? How it can change their lives? If your children mean the world to you (which is one of the only blanket statements I feel I can make when I write) then forgive your ex solely for your kids’ benefit.

2. Forgive your ex for yourself:

When you forgive someone, you are releasing your anger, you are showing compassion and understanding, and you are displaying behavior of grace and acceptance. Doing all of those things will help you move on, but it will also make you love yourself.


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It will make you proud of the person you are. So, in effect, you’re forgiving to benefit your own life. Who wants to walk around with anger, bitterness and that burning in them? Isn’t that exhausting? Get rid of it. I’ll go so far as to say you should tell your ex you have decided to forgive him or her. Your ex will either laugh in your face and say, “Well, I don’t forgive you,” or he or she might jump on your bandwagon, thank you for being so brave, and apologize. Whatever happens, you can know in your heart that you did the most gracious and mature thing you could have done.

3. Forgive your ex because that’s what God says we should do:

Forgiveness in the Jewish religion goes back to the 13 attributes of mercy, which are the words that God taught Moses for the people to use whenever they needed to beg for divine compassion. God said to Moses, “Whenever Israel sins, let them recite this [the Thirteen Attributes] in its proper order and I will forgive them.” Thus this appeal to God’s mercy reassures us that repentance is always possible and that God always awaits our return.”**

So, if God is willing to forgive us when we ask for forgiveness, then shouldn’t we do the same when it comes to others, no matter what?

In closing, let me say this. Forgiving your ex doesn’t mean you forget what he or she did or how they acted. It also doesn’t mean you have changed your mind on his or her behavior being OK. In other words, that you accept it. You know what happened. You know how he or she treated you. You know the truth and why you got divorced. You never have to change how you feel. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t forgive.


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Forgiving after divorce might be one of the hardest things a person has to deal with, but if you can do it, you will truly see the benefits, so much more than you realize.

Like this article? Check out, “20 Things I wish I could have told my newly separated self”

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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorce is a journey. Live it with grace, courage and gratitude. Peace and joy are on the way! Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

5 Responses to “You Should Forgive Your Ex. What??!!”

  1. Rick

    Regarding item 3 in your post:

    First, it is unfortunate that the English language does not have another word for “releasing our hurt”. It seems we use “forgiveness” for this, as well as for “pardoning the sinner” . The result is that the word “forgiveness” is used in two different ways, and this leads to much confusion about forgiveness.

    Now, as a Christian, my reference point on forgiveness is the Bible, in its entirety. It’s true that we should “forgive because that’s what God says we should do”. However, let’s see the rest of the story on forgiveness.

    In Luke 17:3b,4, Jesus says: “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

    Note what Jesus (yes, Jesus) said: The action to be taken when someone sins against you — “rebuke them”. But, if they repent — “forgive them”. Our forgiveness of them is conditional on their repentance, and, when repentance occurs, we have no choice but to forgive them.

    In fact, you yourself recognize that God’s forgiveness is condition. You wroted, “God is willing to forgive us when we ask for forgiveness”. In other words, forgiveness from God is conditional on our request for it.

    Forgiveness is a difficult subject, and worthy of study.

  2. can i get a girlfriend

    This is a topic that is close to my heart…
    Take care! Where are your contact details though?

  3. Laura

    I like this article and I have forgiven my ex. He did laugh in my face and I could only feel sorry for his bitterness and hate that he has to carry in his soul. My question is do you mean forgiveness is a “selfless” act and not a “selfish” act in your article or am I interpreting it incorrectly?

    • Jackie Pilossoph

      I actually meant to use the word “selfish” but maybe it is confusing. Yes, forgiving is a selfless act, but it is also “selfish” because you are doing it for yourself, too. Selfish can sometimes (not often) but sometimes be a good thing.


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