I'm sure most of you (over the age of 25!) know that the title of this post is from the 1970's romantic drama "Love Story" starring Ryan O'Neal and Ali McGraw. I love this film; it's so romantic and always brings a tear to my eye every time I watch it. That quote has become so engrained into our societal culture, that you've probably heard the words "Love means never having to say you're sorry" before without realising where it's from. It's a lovely thought isn't it - being so in love with someone that even their faults endear you to them. Or that apologies are unnecessary in a loving relationship. The reality however, as we all know, is a lot more complicated than that.
When you're divorced or separated from your spouse, quite often you remember all the things you overlooked throughout your marriage or relationship. It's a horrible feeling going through painful memories of instances where he maybe belittled or bullied you. Maybe he cheated or maybe he was never supportive of your goals and dreams. Maybe he was abusive physically or emotionally. Maybe it just didn't work and you feel that you're owed an apology or some form of retribution for all the years of emotional turmoil that you had to put up with. On several occasions after my marriage ended I imagined giving my ex a piece of mind, finally saying all the things I had been too meek or too afraid to say during our marriage. I wanted him to know how much he had hurt and humiliated me. How much he had hurt and humiliated our children. How his betrayal had left me questioning my self-worth, questioning my faith, and questioning whether I was truly lovable. If he felt just 10% of the pain that I had felt afterwards that would've been enough.
Thankfully, this never happened. I was able to forgive him and leave all the anger and hurt in the past. It certainly wasn't easy, I cried a-lot and had several low days, but through the support of close friends and family, and by holding unto my faith I was able to move on, for my own sake and also the sake of my children.
Quite often we can forget that it's our kids that suffer when we're at war with our ex-spouses. The quest for revenge or retribution can become so consuming that we lose focus of what's important. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!" we may cry, as we plot and scheme for ways to humiliate him. Most of you are familiar with Greek tragedies right? Well they're called tragedies for a reason! In the play Madea, the titular character plots to get revenge against her husband for leaving her for another woman. She succeeds in the end but at great cost as she ends up fatally losing her children. The tragic outcome of this play should never become your reality!
When we feel hurt or threatened, we look for a way to quickly feel empowered again. Unfortunately as a recent high profile case is proving, things don't always go according to plan, and we're more likely to get caught up in the mess.
Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness. It's not really about the person you're forgiving - it's about you. Imagine if every time we held onto the hurt of someone's betrayal, a small piece of our heart turned black. Soon we'd have a completely black heart and by the end of our lifetimes we'd be consumed by bitterness! I don't know about you, but I fully intend on falling in love again, and you can't do that if you're still holding onto the past mistakes of your ex. By forgiving my ex, I freed myself from the emotional bondage of our divorce and was able to begin the healing process.
You may probably never get an apology or acknowledgement of wrong-doing from your ex-partner. Some people are just not equipped to apologise. To be frank, you don't need it. He's your ex. Nothing needs to be on his terms anymore, least of all your recovery journey. Choose to let go of any unresolved emotions or feelings of anger you may be carrying around, otherwise you risk attracting the same situation into your life again. The longer you wait for an apology, the longer you hold your emotions hostage, and the longer you remain a victim.
Here's a great saying that I love that may help you put things into perspective: