Many years after my own divorce, I felt a sudden prompting to apologize to my ex-husband for my part in our failed marriage. Since the prompting was so powerful, I thought it would be easy to do; that is, until I opened my mouth to say the words, “I’m sorry” and suddenly found the words stuck in my throat.
I could not have anticipat- ed how much pride I was still holding on to — even after all those years. On some level, I must have still thought of myself of a victim. Woe is me.

After I finally managed to spew out the two hardest words in the English lan- guage, a miracle hap- pened. The heart of my macho ex-husband broke open, releasing a flood- gate of tears. I think he was as shocked as I was when this happened. It was proof positive that grace is the gateway to redemption and humility heals hearts, and not just our own.

We didn’t reconcile, but there was a healing that took place in both off our hearts that day. I can’t think of a better reason to have swallowed my pride and let the light shine through. Hopefully, you’ll find a way, too. – Jenni Keast


ohn Gray is having a good day make that a great day. That’s what a great relationship can do for you
well, at least a new great relationship. It can make every day feel like heaven. The 70-year-old Gray, touted on Amazon as the “#1 best-selling rela- tionship author of all time,” happily confides that he’s having “the best time of my life” with his newfound love.

Finding love again is a relatively recent phenomenon for Gray. In 2018, he lost Bonnie, his wife of 32 years. She was his world. But when that world suddenly went away — cruelly snatched away by cancer — he, like the rest of us who lose some- one we love to death or divorce, grieved deeply.

Fortunately, the man who many con- sider to be the Jedi Master of interplanetary relationships (he authored Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus), knew how to grieve well. “Grieving well.” Sounds touchy-feely good. But what does that even mean? And why is it even necessary? Can’t we just move on when we feel like it, on our own timetable and in our own way?

“Not exactly,” says Gray. “Even if it’s a self-guided process, it needs to be an intentional one,” he maintains. Be it because of a death or a divorce (Gray has gone through both), griev- ing well is critical for a host of rea- sons, not the least of which it makes you better prepared to meet, and hopefully sustain, that next great love of your life. Part of grieving well actually means leaving well, Gray believes. And a good start to that “leaving well” process he says, is to find the good in that person with whom you spent years, perhaps decades, building a life with. Cultivate the belief that they did the best job they could with the tools they had.

Then tell them as much. You may not exactly be feelin’ the love towards your ex when you say it, but you may be surprised at the results.

But be careful, Gray says. Don’t con- fuse a step towards healing your heart with the sudden desire to reconcile with your former spouse. The happy ending of the film Parent Trap notwithstanding, the redemptive act of finding good in the person who caused you pain, doesn’t suddenly make that wrong person, the right person.

Time alone does not heal all wounds. How we cope with the loss of love determines the rest of our lives.”


In other words, don’t try to rewrite the ending of a bad fairy tale in a misguid- ed attempt to make it a “happy ever after” one. That first step you take to heal the rift just means you’ve done your part to walk in love and forgive- ness, and you can feel good about that.
The second part in leaving well, says Gray, is owning up to your part in the breakup. “The moment I wake up, before I put on my makeup, I say a little prayer for you” … and then “I think about what I can learn from my breakup with you to make me a bet- ter mate for someone else.” That added twist to the Arthea Franklin classic pop song isn’t a bad prayer to recite when setting yourself on the path to healing — and, ultimately, on the road to giving and receiving love again.

“Part of that redemptive process — turning something bad into something good — is resisting the temptation to think of ourselves as victims.”
Gray went through a series of self- authored reflection exercises after divorcing his first wife. He proba- bly didn’t belt out I Say a Little Prayer when he got up every morn- ing (or put on makeup), but he does credit that otherwise painful experience with showing him how to bow out gracefully — even when he was the “wronged party.” (Though according to Gray, using infidelity as a justifiable reason to divorce is just an excuse to end a relationship that really wasn’t working before that transgression.) Male vs. female, testosterone vs. estrogen, and specifically, how much of each of the two chemicals are coursing through our respec- tive biological systems at any given time, is a key theme in each of Gray’s Mars and Venus books.

Modern sensibilities to the con- trary, he doesn’t minimize the impact of those differences. “Taking the time to understand our gender differences and how those play a role in the breakdown of our marriages, is hugely impor- tant,” says Gray in his book, Mars and Venus Starting Over, a post- divorce primer that helps men and women navigate the murky world of divorce in a redemptive way.

Part of that redemptive process — turning something bad into some- thing good — is resisting the temptation to think of ourselves as victims. Whether it’s due to a mis- understanding of each other’s gen- der and how we’re innately wired to think or act, or something else altogether, playing the role of a victim after a divorce is never a productive thing.

“If we feel like a victim, it’s because we don’t understand how we contributed to the problem,” says Gray. By recognizing our own culpability, it frees me from feeling victimized. It also makes it easier for me to forgive myself.”

A lifetime of relationship counsel- ing and authoring umpteen books on the subject has taught Gray that the best way to recognize and own our part of the breakup is to be fully committed to the process of healing. “That’s what the process is for, which is to teach people responsibility,” says Gray. “To help with that, you need to allow yourself to go through all your feelings of hurt — your sor- row, your feelings of guilt, your feelings of anger, your feelings of sadness … the whole gambit. You may experience temporary relief in resisting those feelings, but you’ll be unable to fully let go.”

This “resistance to our resistance” takes work, says Gray. Self-reflection isn’t easy, he believes, because we’re so very good at fooling our- selves. Also, while feeling like a victim puts us on the moral high ground, it’s a very wobbly position to be in. A former monk to a famous Yogi during the 70s, Gray would undoubtedly agree that you don’t have to be a religious person to know the truth of Jesus’ words, “Before you take the speck out of someone else’s eye, remove the log from your own.”

Thankfully, Gray gives hurting men and women the tools to do this in a way that’s more likely to bring us the results we need to move on and do so more quickly (but not too quickly) than we would without these tools. Grey’s recovery process after his divorce took approximately nine monthsnot decades, or even years. No matter how much society tries to normalize it, divorce is devastat- ing. “Never before have we experi- enced our need for love and con- nection so agonizingly,” says Gray. “We feel that without our spouse’s love, we cannot get what we need to be happy and for our lives to be meaningful. This sense of hope- lessness magnifies the pain of our loss a hundred times.” Hence the need to process the pain so we can let go and move on. But beware of that alluring imitation of “letting go”… of cutting the pain off at the pass too soon, warns Grey.

“These people believe they have successfully moved on, but they have done so at the cost of closing the door to their hearts,” says Gray. “To avoid feeling their pain, they have moved on too quickly. As a result, they have numbed their ability to fully feel. They carry on unable to feel the love in their hearts. Their ability to grow in love and happiness is stunted.” Ouch, no one wants that! Nor would any of us intentionally set out to do that. It just happens — unless we set about making sure it doesn’t.

In Part II of this article, you’ll dis- cover Gray’s three critical steps that will help you heal the hurt. He shows you how not to just “go through it, but grow through it” What’s waiting for you on the other side? Hopefully, that next great — and lasting —relation- ship. And if you’re as lucky at love as John Gray is, it will make you feel positively giddy.


Part II: What To Do With A Broken Heart: Three Critical Steps.

For more help read, Mars and Venus Starting Over: A Practical Guide for Finding Love Again After a Painful Breakup, Divorce, or the Loss of a Loved One by John Gray
Learn more about John Gray and access his wealth of relationship resources here, including his newest book, Beyond Mars and Venus, Relationship Skills for Today’s Complex World.