National Ex-Spouse Day

National Ex-Spouse Day

Is there really a National Ex-Spouse day? Yes! Reverend Ronald Coleman of Kansas City, Missouri, created National Ex-Spouse Day in 1987, as a way raise awareness of the importance of letting go of the bitterness, often left over after a divorce. In its inaugural year, Rev. Coleman offered buttons that read, "I'm OK - You're History," to help lighten the day. He hoped more people would forgive their spouses and focus on the positive aspects of their own lives.

Each year on April 14th, on National Ex-Spouse Day, those who are divorced are encouraged to forgive their former spouse and move beyond any anger, spite or regrets that may remain. Divorce is often painful and traumatic, but it is important for your own mental health, to find ways to cope with any residual anger and resentment towards your ex-spouse, so that those feelings don’t continue to have power over your heart and impact other relationships, moving forward. Regardless of whether it was an agreeable separation or not, it is important to find ways to manage the situation, especially when children are involved.

Forgiveness after a divorce is easier said than done, especially when you feel betrayed and hurt by the actions of your ex-spouse. However, forgiveness is not about excusing or giving a pass for the bad behavior of your ex; it’s a gift you give yourself. It’s about letting go of the anger that is overwhelming your heart and if unresolved, can become all-consuming and negatively impact other relationships in your life, such as with your children and future romantic partners.

Very few marriages end amicably, but there are couples who find they get along better after a divorce, than they did during the marriage. This is probably because they have forgiven their ex-spouse and have come to grips with the fact that it was not all their ex-spouse’s fault. This type of person may also be in the self-actualization phase of their life, where one realizes their full potential.

Self-actualization can mean a lot of things depending, who you ask. One of the most broadly accepted definitions comes from Abraham Maslow, a humanistic psychologist. He described self-actualization as the process of becoming everything you are capable of becoming. Some of the following can help reach the self-actualization plateau:

  • Practice acceptance. Learn to accept what comes, as it comes.
  • Live spontaneously.
  • Get comfortable with your own company.
  • Appreciate the small things in life.
  • Live authentically.
  • Develop compassion.
  • Talk to a therapist.

How do we turn these suggestions into observing National Ex-Spouse Day?

  • Come to terms with your divorce and move towards acceptance of your new reality.
  • Forgive your ex, so you can move on.
  • Find something positive about your ex-spouse, that will help ease any lasting bitterness.
  • Shift your perspective about your ex…the relationship needs to move from unhealthy spouses, to amicable professional colleauges (especially if you have children that you will be coparenting).
  • Find support in other divorcees, who have managed to come through the process in a healthy way and learn from them, about what works.
  • Find a good therapist, who is familiar with divorce recovery and who will not just listen and empathize, but will also challenge you to grow and move thru this difficult time.
  • Focus on the new chapter of your life and be intentional about leaving the past behind, and instead look towards all of the exciting possibilities ahead!
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