Take the High Road

Conflicts between two people always include two sets of facts that may or may not resemble each other. In the case of divorce, those facts are almost always influenced by emotion and personal bias. Outside of the privileged circles of the celebrities who can ‘Consciously Uncouple” without bias or ill-will, those of us in the real world often contend with some dramatic feelings when it comes to our ex and/or the entire divorce process. Sometimes, your marriage ends because someone cheats, and there is no way to reconcile a trusting relationship, so divorce becomes the only option. Sometimes there really is a wronged party. What should you do if that person is you? It seems easy enough for outsiders to say “take the high road” or push it all aside for the kids. That advice can seem a bitter pill when confronted by the reality you are living. Additionally, what happens when your ex behaves badly, and you have every reason to want to retaliate?!

If you have been cheated on, you would be among the 53% of Americans who divorce due to infidelity, according to various statistical analysis sites. That betrayal can have irreparable damage to your emotions, mental state, and even your perception of reality, never mind the decision to divorce as a result. Particularly, if you are blindsided by the cheating, you can feel like your entire life was based on lies, and question everything your spouse ever told you, and every event will become stained by this new realization. The legal end to your marriage only furthers this reality shift….because of this other person’s actions, YOUR life is irrevocably changed.

It WILL be tempting to blame the person your ex cheated with. Many a car has been keyed in the name of “you shouldn’t have messed with my man!” Ultimately, though, it is your ex-wife or husband that is responsible for breaking their legal and spiritual vows. The person that you loved has betrayed you…and that can mean the responding heartbreak can only find its outlet as pure, unreasonable fury. And that is natural. At first.

The truth is that you need to get good and mad when such an upheaval occurs. Fury has the wonderful benefit of burning away that deep sadness that comes with being lied to and replaced with another. Too much anger, and you run the risk of burning away everything else that is good in your life, including healthy relationships with your children, friends, and any future romantic opportunities. When you let that rage take over, you become that bitter person that no one wants to be around.

But, but, but…you have been done wrong! This can be equally galling when you consider that California is a no-fault state, so your ex’s egregious actions against you won’t be punished during legal proceedings, wherein in other states, infidelity can be grounds for a larger settlement towards the wronged party. Where is the justice?!, you may ask yourself.

The truth is, there is no justice when it comes to a broken heart. Those questions that you ask as a result of this treachery will never be answered in such a way as to bring you peace-Why doesn’t he/she love me? How could they lie to me? Why wasn’t I enough? What does that other person or persons have that I don’t? Knowing those answers will just lead to more, equally painful ones. At the end of the day, what you really want to know is how you, the injured party can ever trust or love again.

Taking the “high road” is never about making things better for the other person. As with forgiveness (which may never come, but we hope for your sake it does), being the better person is always going to get you more in terms of a happy result than bitterness and retribution. In fact, getting even just prolongs the hold that despair has on your entire life.

It won’t be easy, because nothing has to do with the heart and the head ever is. It won’t be fast, either. There are supposedly algorithms that tell you how long it should take to get over relationships, but mostly that is wishful thinking and wellness magazine bunk. Be sad, be mad, be sad again…whatever it takes. Know that any action you take to exact revenge will most likely prolong your agony, give your ex their own opportunities for legal recourse, and continue to paint you the unwitting dupe. Control the story you want to be told! Instead of letting people see you as the beaten victim of emotional perfidy, envision yourself as the triumphant phoenix arising from the ashes of a toxic marriage based on lies. Leave that other person out of the narrative altogether. Their power is over now. Say to yourself that you will be ok because eventually, that will be true.


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