It’s Valentine’s Day and it’s that time of the year again when we celebrate and demonstrate our most favorite four-letter word–LOVE. But let’s admit it… not everyone feels loved today. Some people are desperately trying to cope with the absence of a significant other, or they may have their significant others but might as well have none because of how unhappy they are in the relationship. That’s just the harsh reality of life. It doesn’t recognize the dates on a calendar. It can throw huge lemons at your face, yes, even on Valentine’s Day.
A Friend With A Stabbed, Bleeding Heart
That was how Valentine’s Day turned out for a friend of mine. I got a Facebook message from her this morning asking for a few words of comfort. She had just gone through a divorce last year but found out only recently that her sister-in-law is now “good friends” with her ex-husband (whom she divorced on grounds of infidelity and other forms of abuse).
She of course felt betrayed and as she described it, it felt as though she was literally stabbed in the heart. She has no idea how she’ll ever be able to face or interact with this family member again and she was hoping to hear what my thoughts were on this. Below is a copy of the response I sent to her and hopefully, other people who might be experiencing the same thing that she is, will find this helpful:
Removing The Knife And Stopping The Bleeding
Hi GF! I understand how you must be feeling right now. I felt the same way when I found out that my cousin was also good friends with my first husband after we separated. At that time, I was deeply hurt but I could not tell which part was hurting me more–was it because I expected that my cousin would be more loyal to me, or was it because I realized that she might have taken an interest in my ex? Anyway, the way I see it, you have only a few options:
- If you’re super close to your sister-in-law, then I would recommend that you talk to her personally about it and just let her know what you think and how you feel about the whole thing. It would be best that she hears it straight from you, and that you hear her explanation straight from her mouth as well. One thing I learned in life is that things aren’t always exactly as they seem when you first look at them… it is possible that she doesn’t like your ex’s “friendliness” to her either and entertaining him was just her way of being polite. Point is, you’ll never know if you don’t ask. Just remember that no matter how much you’re hurting, control your emotions as best as you can when you talk to her. Say everything that’s in your heart but say it with respect. That way, if she turns out to be a complete idiot about it, at least you were appropriate and in the end you will have nothing to feel guilty about.
- If you decide to do #1 and it fails, talk to her husband (your brother) and tell him what’s going on. This way, if she respects her husband at all, then you can count on her to submit once he tells her to stop all communications with your ex. Or if you are not that close to her in the first place, but you are close to your brother, you may skip #1 altogether and go straight to your brother and just tell him how you feel about his wife’s actions. You just have to be confident that your brother is on your side and loves you very much for you to pull this off. Otherwise, he might end up being the first one to yell at you and say “how dare you accuse my wife of such things!”. Also, if you decide to do this, this might affect their own marriage depending on how big you make this issue out to be. So be careful when you’re expressing this to your brother. Make sure you focus only on his wife’s actions being extremely hurtful to you because (fill in the blank). Avoid sounding like you are bad mouthing your sister-in-law because she is still your brother’s wife, so he might feel like he’s being pulled in opposite directions and might not be able to effectively and objectively be of help to you if he’s put on the spot.
- If you’re not that close to you sister-in-law anyway, and you’re completely over your ex, then just let them be and move on with your own life. Moving on doesn’t only mean finding a new relationship or getting involved in activities that do not concern your ex. It also means that you shouldn’t care anymore what happens to him or what he does. That includes, sadly but often true, his decision to keep certain relationships from within your own circle of friends or even your own family. You cannot control their actions or their thoughts or their choices. They are their own persons. Your sister-in-law can choose to be friends with anybody she wants even if it’s your ex and technically, you have no right to dictate what to do and what not to do. Sure, it would be nice if she does that by her own will, but like I said, if you two are not even close friends to begin with, then there’s not much for you to expect anyway. If you are not always gonna be seeing this sister-in-law, and you don’t talk on a regular basis either, then best to just ignore or avoid her. When you do get to see her, be civil, but that’s it. As you move on, just take a mental note that she is somebody you need to distance yourself from. Then forget about her or her friendship with your ex. Who cares!
- If it’s the case that you will be seeing much of her and on a regular basis, and you think you cannot just keep ignoring or avoiding her without affecting the rest of the family, then the best advice to give to you is just to forgive her. Forgiving her doesn’t mean you should expect her to suddenly stop her communication with your ex. Forgiving her means that whether or not she does so, or whether or not she realizes how much her actions or choices are hurting you, and even before she even gets the chance to apologize for it (if that happens at all), you are making a decision to not harbor ill feelings against her. This is the best advice because this follows the will of God and His commandment to love your enemies, forgive those who have wronged you and pray for those who persecute you. Definitely NOT the easiest thing to do, but forgiving her (or both of them) does a lot more for you spiritually and emotionally than it does for her. It does not mean you have to force yourself to be “friendly’ with her. Forgiving her only means that you are turning over your hurts to God, allowing Him to comfort you and heal your pains, and letting Him handle the situation for you. Just go about your daily life and don’t think about them anymore.
Ultimately, do not let them rob you of your joy. The more you think about them and what they are doing, the more the anger brews inside your heart and you don’t need that. When you divorced your ex, you were given a second shot at living a peaceful life that no longer includes him. Unknown to you, you are allowing yourself to be enslaved by him again by letting him affect you this way even when you are no longer together. That’s still giving him power over you. The past is past. Yes, it still hurts, but now you have your own life to live. So live it, and live it to the fullest. If your sister-in-law still chooses to be friends with him despite your past with this man, let her be. It may not necessarily mean that you cannot be friends with her anymore. Perhaps she refuses to “take sides” because she’s got nothing to do with whatever issues you had as a couple. So it would really be unfair to expect her to avoid the people that you decide to sever ties with. She might do it if she loves you that much but if she doesn’t, you have to learn to be fine with that and not let yourself or your relationship with her be affected. Don’t be too quick to conclude either that she doesn’t care about you at all. Although all possible excuses we can come up with on her behalf may sound lame, she may indeed have a valid reason for choosing to be friends with your ex. Give her a chance.
Stitching Up and Healing the Wound
Friends, human love will fail us, there’s no question about that. My girl friend’s ex-husband proved that to her. She’s seen it failed her again through her sister-in-law’s actions. Only one love will never fail us, will never betray us and will never break our hearts and that is God’s love. He alone can heal a stabbed and bleeding heart. Let Him. I hope that y’all sleep peacefully tonight and wake up the next morning feeling refreshed in the knowledge that God loves you all so much! =)
Have you ever experienced any form of betrayal in your life? How did you cope with it?
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