November 2, 2014

Forgive and Let Live: Heartburn (1986)


Relationships are hard work. They are particularly difficult to navigate when problems arise; either self-inflicted or not; but most especially when they are self-inflicted. That's when your relationship is really tested, like in the instance of infidelity. Do you leave or do you stay? It may seem like an easy question to answer, but when you begin to look at all the variables (i.e. fear of being along) or people (i.e. young children) that will be affected by whatever decision you make, the results of your decision will undoubtedly become much harder to make. The late Nora Ephron knew all too well about the complexities of a navigating a relationship through infidelity as evident in the story about her own divorce in the movie Heartburn (1986). What's particularly important to note about her story is her ability to forgive and let live.

In Heartburn (1986), Rachel (Meryl Streep), presumably Nora Ephron, is a writer who is jaded with the institution of marriage when she meets and falls in love with columnist Mark (Jack Nicholson) at a wedding for a mutual friend. Though Mark has a womanizing reputation that precedes him, he too is smitten with Rachel upon their first meeting. The only problem is that despite his strong attraction to Rachel and desire to maintain a long term committed relationship with her, he ultimately seeks affection outside of their relationship when he cheats on her with a mutual friend. Surprisingly, upon realizing that Mark has cheated (while listening to a hairdresser discuss her own personal infidelity issues with her boyfriend nonetheless), Rachel not only handles the news relatively well.

In the end, Rachel decided that she couldn't reconcile with Mark, mostly because of her continued questioning of his fidelity to her; although she did initially try to get past the indiscretion. What Rachel ultimately realized is that while her marriage couldn't survive her husband's infidelity, it didn't have to break her as a person and living a life where she wold be constantly reading her husband's mail and second guessing his every move would eventually do just that. Despite how difficult a move it was- breaking up a home with two young children- Rachel left Mark with her dignity in tact, but also implemented forgive and let live. In other words, she didn't waste her time trying to get affect revenge for her broken heart, but rather simply moved on. I'm not saying you should leave or stay if you found yourself in a similar situation, but whatever you do, just do with grace and a clear conscious. Forgive and let live is probably one of the fastest ways to accomplish that.

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