Review by Gayle Christ, Therapist
Getting through a divorce 21 years ago when I was 41 and my kids were 4 and 9 was one of the biggest challenges of my life. Something that helped me even more than a counselor was Debbie Ford’s 2001 book Spiritual Divorce: Divorce as a Catalyst for an Extraordinary Life. Not only did the book have a profound impact on me personally, but it also became the foundation for my work as a life coach who supports people navigating the divorce process and finding their way to creating a happier life afterwards.
The book is written for separated and divorcing men and women seeking to cope with and recover from the trauma of divorce. After reading it, I better understood myself and how I had contributed to the breakdown of my marriage. I also learned how to see both the lessons and the “gifts” that came from my divorce, so I could move forward in a healthier way into life as a single mom…and eventually into future relationships. The “gifts” of course were my children from the marriage as well as the insights I gained about myself, men, and partnership that I could only have gained by soul-searching during and after this life-shattering transition.
The late author Debbie Ford was a personal growth and self-empowerment expert and founder of the Ford Institute for Transformational Training. She used her own divorce and her workshop experiences with hundreds of clients as the basis for exercises in the book that help readers transform the sadness of divorce into profound self-discoveries. Her aim was, as the book jacket says, to offer people at the end of a relationship “a clear program for turning ruin into renewal”.
Spiritual Divorce gives you a chance to explore your inner world by discussing “Seven Spiritual Laws of Divorce” that will enable you to make peace with your past, purge toxic emotions, and free yourself from old behavior patterns. These laws are acceptance, surrender, divine guidance, responsibility, choice, forgiveness, and creation. Each chapter ends with “Healing Action Steps” that help you integrate the lessons of that law into your life.
After using the book as the blueprint for group coaching I did with separated and divorced people for years, I saw its power in helping people heal from the past and envision a brighter future. I highly recommend reading it cover to cover and doing all the exercises in it. It will help you get brutally honest with yourself and, ultimately, to transform despair into emotional wholeness. It will help you accept yourself completely, forgive yourself and others, create authentic relationships, and find the courage to love again.
As Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love, said in her critique of Spiritual Divorce, “This book is like a balm for the broken hearts of those who divorce. Debbie Ford takes an experience of devastating emotional impact and shows how to turn it into a blessing.”