Tuesday, January 18, 2011

To Become Bitter or Better? The Choice is Yours

Today’s post has to do with a choice that people all over the world have to make each day when relationships end. Whether it’s through divorce or another means, sometimes relationships end in the least favorable ways. As a result, lives are often shattered as the painful reality of a broken relationship sets in.

When those relationships produced children, it makes the end so much more difficult to deal with. Because when there are no kids involved, the parties can just go their separate ways and never have to deal with each other again. When there are kids however, it’s not quite that easy. All parties have to adjust to the new situation. The choice that each person has to make is: will I become bitter or better as a result of this broken relationship?
As I shared in the post The Story Behind the Upbeat Dad, when I went through a divorce in the early 2000s, a gentleman who I reached out to during the process told me that instead of becoming a bitter man, I should become a better man and dad. Those words have been instrumental as I have moved on from that former relationship.
I don’t think that most people get married with the purpose of having kids and then divorcing. Yet in reality, approximately 50% of marriages in the United States end because husbands and wives come to the conclusion that it’s better for them that they go their separate ways. The reasons that these relationships end are vast. People are hurt and really have a hard time moving on. Some become bitter and develop deep resentment for their former spouse.
I recall during my divorce, I went to a class for divorcing parents. During the class, a gentleman, speaking of his soon-to-be former wife said, “I don’t want her to die; I just want her to get leprosy.” We all laughed. But most of us in the room could empathize with him. He was hurt and he wanted her to hurt as well.
Last week, I had the privilege of speaking with my former attorney. She and I have kept in touch over the years as she has seen me move on from the divorce. I reminded her of some advice she gave me as I was in the midst of the process. She told me, “The best revenge is no revenge at all; instead, it’s a life well lived.” How profound!
Perhaps you may know someone who is dealing with the ending of a relationship and there is built up bitterness and resentment. Perhaps you are that someone. Based on my experience, I know that it’s better to become better, rather than bitter. Don’t allow yourself to be consumed with feelings of hatred and anger. You only destroy yourself in the process. That can even have serious health consequences.
If you feel that you were wronged, though it may be hard, try to forgive the offending party. Because you’re not doing it for them – you’re doing it for yourself. I write this as one who is very familiar with these emotions. But can I tell you something? When you develop a heart of forgiveness, it disarms the person who you feel hurt you. They have no control or power over you. It’s really a liberating feeling. Believe me, you don’t want your life to be controlled by feelings of anger and bitterness and resentment. You’re so much better than that.
Likewise, if you were the offending party, do your best to make peace with the one who you hurt. You cannot undo what’s been done but you can always do your best to make amends. If you need to seek forgiveness, then seek it. If it’s not accepted, then that’s fine too. You can only control yourself and how you handle each situation.
After I went through my divorce and I committed to becoming better instead of bitter, it seems that everything began changing for me. The things that I thought to be impossible started to become possible. I had a peace even in the middle of what was such a turbulent time. I realized that both my former wife and I had a role to play in the ending of the marriage. I asked her to forgive me and I told her that I forgave her. I didn’t get the response that I thought I’d get but that’s fine – it wasn’t really for her – it was for me. In order for me to move on, that was a necessary step and I’m so glad that I did it.
Today, I am happily remarried with a young son. My daughter from my first marriage lives with us. And I have a positive working relationship with my former wife in raising our daughter.
I also see The Upbeat Dad as part of me becoming better instead of bitter. Having experienced the pain and disappointment that comes with a divorce, I can now share with others how they can become better after a relationship ends. I believe that my life has greater meaning now that I’ve committed to move on and share with others how they can do the same.
Life has a way of teaching us lessons that we never really wanted to learn. I sure have grown from my experience. If you find yourself at a crossroads now where you’re faced with a similar choice, I hope that you choose wisely. Will you become bitter or better? The choice is yours.
Believe me – it is better to become better than to remain bitter. Think about this and make your choice.

Enjoy your day.
The Upbeat Dad


  1. Well said! This is the first post I've read in your blog, having discovered it via a tweet. Like everything else in life, one's mood and outlook is a choice. Not enough people understand that.

  2. I love your question. I have become such a better person and parent since my divorce because I had to question some uncomfortable truths about myself. I realized that I was focusing on all the things that were going wrong with my life instead of counting my blessings. Once I started looking for the good in my life, my ex and others, all of my relationships changed for the better.

  3. Great stuff! I was scrolling to find the perfect article to share with the ladies in my organization and this is definitely it! Uh oh...I think I'm a bonafide fan now. The only way we'll move forward is to drop baggage from the past and live in the now. Thank you so much for sharing and have an Xtraordinary day!! ~League of Xtraordinary Women~

  4. You have clearly outlined the power of intention and making purposeful choices in our life. These two things go a long way to creating healing in our life.

    However some of us are carrying around so much baggage from our childhood that conscious choice and intention are enough for us to have a speedy recovery from the emotional trauma of divorce.

    This was my situation. It felt like life was over for me when I found out my 18 year relationship was coming to an end. Luckily I found the Emotional Hot Button Removal Techniques that assisted me to drop off my emotional baggage quickly.

    These techniques not only assisted me to recover from divorce, they set me free of the emotional energy that was holding me back in all areas of my life.

    Post divorce I have gone on to write a book, Divine Divorce, where I share these techniques. I have achieved my dream of having a house on the beach. And gone beyond my dreams because the beach has palm trees, which I never imagined. I have been able to be vulnerable and take risks, rather than living in a world of constant control to try and be safe.

    Upbeat Dad, thank you for the work you are doing to assist others.


  5. Of all the articles I've read on healing from divorce, yours are the ones that ring true. Thank you for sharing.