I’m a better man now…

… but I still can’t get my ex to accept my apology.

I know that you need closure, says our elder. But if your ex chooses not to respond, there is nothing you can do.

Dear EWC

I’ve been divorced for seven years, and am now almost 60. In these years (much lovely solitude) I’ve learned to become more comfortable in my skin and love myself. I’ve been meditating, walking, eating better, and even found a rewarding job helping folks with mental illnesses. I’ve looked closely at my unskillful behaviors in my marriage, which lasted 20 years, and created two wonderful daughters. I’ve tried my best to focus on my shortcomings and codependent ways, and not dwell on her part. I’ve come a long way in cleaning up my side of the street. My ex still will not speak to me or acknowledge my existence. I know that I cannot rely on her for me to find closure, yet the yearning to apologize to her is very strong. I did send her a letter, but got no response. I am having difficulty in letting the past go, as I still feel guilty for my unskillful actions of the past. I don’t want to rekindle a relationship with her. I do wish her well in prayer, yet I still feel so much unresolved tension. She may most likely be over it, yet I still find myself ruminating on how life might be, how I may feel better if I could at least hear something back. I just want forgiveness to happen for both of us. I can’t seem to let it be.

Folk replies

I’m glad you’ve managed to find peace both within yourself and in your new life. But I’m sorry that, despite the hard work you’ve put into examining your past failings as a person and as a husband, that your ex will still not speak to you or acknowledge your existence. Whatever your past shortcomings, I can only assume that your wife must have been hurt terribly by them. Seven years have passed since your divorce, and although you have reached out to her for forgiveness in order to be able to finally let go of the past, she has not responded. The truth is: she may never respond. All you can do is to respect her need to heal in her own time and in her own way by continuing to keep your distance.

I know that it’s not easy to live with the fact that despite having acknowledged your past mistakes, you’re not yet forgiven. But other people’s behavior is something none of us can either change or control. What you can change, though, is what you expect from your ex-wife. If you truly want her to be at peace, then you can try to accept the fact that that part of her being at peace means choosing not to interact with you. If she is content in her new life (as you are in yours) then perhaps you can view her contentment as a kind of closure. In other words, even if your ex has not acknowledged in words that she has forgiven you, perhaps you can take her current happiness as a sign that she has moved on and no longer harbors resentment toward you.

You have apologized to your ex. That is all you can do. The ball is now in her court, and if she chooses not to hit it back, there is nothing you can do except forgive yourself and be the best man you can be going forward.

I hope this helps. I am always here if you’d like to talk more about this. Please try to write back if you can to let me know how you are managing to come to terms with your wife’s unwillingness to acknowledge you. I will be thinking of you.

Letter #: 456733
Category: Self-Improvement

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