Attitude,  By Gracilis,  Love

Broken Promises

Today would have been the last day in February but the privileges of a leap year afford the opportunity for one more day in this month of love. Saint  Valentine’s day has come and gone with the effects of a double-edged sword. For some people, it was a confirmation and celebration of love while for some others, it solved mysteries and brought miseries as they discovered that their partners had been cheating on them.

In recent times, there has been an increase in the intensity of violence propagated by spouses/partners in the wake of a betrayal discovery. From verbal assaults to attempts to cut off the organ perpetrating evil, cheating is now a high-risk activity that can sometimes result in premature death. Recently I read about a woman whose husband was caught red-handed with the housemaid. This lady, unfortunately, ended her life and the lives of her two young children on the pretext that she did not trust anyone else to take care of her children. The more I read stories like this, the more I am convinced that some reactions to the pain of betrayal only reveal a much deeper problem- the lack of self-love.

Societal pressures for success in every aspect of our lives are sometimes intolerant to failures of any kind, especially in the area of relationships. Most official forms have columns for identifying one’s marital status and ticking anything apart from Married can sometimes become a source of grief. But remaining single or separating from an abusive relationship is actually a sign that we love ourselves.

Not many people love themselves enough to see themselves as distinct from their relationships. This has led many to be extremely devasted when their relationships fail, wrongly labeling themselves as failures. But a proper sense of self-identity and self-acceptance can enable us to love ourselves while affording us the courage to participate in a relationship without losing our identity or distinctiveness.

Before we can truly love another, we have to be able to love ourselves. Loving ourselves means that we have a healthy sense of who we are, our history, battles, fears, and success. It also means that we accept the fact that we sometimes fail. This necessitates the need to extend grace to ourselves when this occurs but the extension of grace should also reach others both on an individual and relationship level when they fail.

Loving ourselves means facing the truth that a partner cheated because they chose to. Although rationalizing or coming up with excuses for them might temporarily dull the pain of betrayal, it is only when we admit and face the truth that we can find true healing. We must love ourselves enough to separate ourselves from the choices people in our lives make.
Loving ourselves also means leaving others to face the consequences of their own decisions without feeling unnecessarily burdened or responsible for their actions. When we interfere with the sowing and reaping process of others, we inadvertently enable bad behaviour. Sometimes our attempt to bear the burden is actually a manifestation of selfishness as we find facing the unpleasantness of the consequences of the actions of others unappealing.

The dynamics of a relationship usually means that an individual’s choice may also affect other people with adverse consequences.

Several decades ago, the wife of one of my uncles was at a party with her friends. She noticed another lady whose baby bump was becoming evident and unfortunately one of her friends leaned over commenting on how her mate’s pregnancy had gone far . She was mad. She did not need any further explanations. She left the party and went straight home to confront my uncle who admitted his involvement. Part of her confrontation included breaking the windscreen of his car.

While I am not advocating that we do this, we should love ourselves enough to be able to confront unacceptable behaviour with individuals with whom we are in a relationship with. After the initial shock and anger, tough love demands that we talk about the issue. It is sometimes this call to order that is proof that we love them and care about the relationship. Denial, ignorance or wishing or praying things away (blaming the devil or ancestral curses) are all unhealthy responses when a partner cheats in a relationship. It is advisable to be able to unburden your heart at such times to a trusted friend or counselor especially as our emotions keep playing up. In short, we must love ourselves enough to seek help.

Loving ourselves, in a nutshell, means being true to who we are, taking responsibility for our own choices and allowing others to do the same without interfering. It means realizing that we are imperfect and can fail, It also means allowing the people in our lives to be human also. Sadly the outrageous reactions of several people show that they never seemed to have considered remotely that their partners were capable of breaking promises. While this implicit trust is commendable, it is, however, unrealistic and a set-up for disappointments. As long as we are on this side of heaven, we will encounter broken promises in varying degrees  in our relationships and it is part of loving ourselves to accommodate them and respond appropriately.

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One Comment

  • Jackie

    Well said, too many horror stories. Women just go ballistic when they find out they have been cheated on but to err is human and to forgive does not mean to forget. Cheating is such a game changer in any relationship

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