Exiting With Grace

Chopped on the Food Network, is one of my favorite shows.  Every week, four chefs from across the country compete for $10,000.  They open a basket to reveal three random items such as licorice, blueberries, and sardines, and then have thirty minutes to impress the judges with their ingenuity, creativity, and cooking skills. After every round, the judges decide which chef will not move onto the next round.

Each chef comes to win $10,000. And they all have a different dream of what they will do with the money.  So when a chef sees their plate on the chopping block, their pride takes a huge hit.  Heartbroken and with their ego wounded, the losing chef accepts their fate and addresses the panel of judges. They could choose to take their apron off and throw it across the room. They could toss food at the judges or curse them out.  Or they could turn to their competitors and wish them ill will.

But this simply doesn’t happen. They choose instead to exit gracefully, grateful for the opportunity to grow from the experience.  Their last words before they walk out of the room are normally one of two phrases, “Thank you so much for this experience” or “It was an honor to cook for you.” It is also common for them to turn to their competitors and say, “Good luck.” 

Ten thousand dollars may not be at stake in our own relationships, but when they don’t work out, our expectations are dashed and our pride and ego are deflated. And like those chefs on Chopped, we have the choice to badmouth or attack our ex or choose to exit gracefully.   

When I heard the news of Heidi and Seal’s break-up, I have to admit that I gasped a little. I definitely wasn’t expecting that one. For years, I watched them on Oprah and countless other talk shows. As they shared the story of how they met, hey seemed totally in love. So, when they announced their separation, it hurt a little bit. When I saw Seal being interviewed on Ellen, I was struck by the class that he exhibited when he talked about his marriage.  He was a complete gentleman and spoke about his wife with reverence and admiration.

"You go into these things with the best intentions…You just grow apart after a while. You try and you work through it ... You do the best that you can ... The thing that I'm most proud about this great woman who I married, and I really do mean that from the bottom of my heart, is that together, she has given me four incredible gifts, four beautiful children, and she's still, in my opinion, the most wonderful woman in the world."

He also revealed that he and Heidi’s priority during their divorce was “to remain civil and do this thing with dignity.”

When we enter a relationship, we rarely think about the end. We often assume that we will be together forever. But relationships have to endure so many challenges.  Whether it is because of timing or compatibility, sometimes we just are not able to make things work out the way we imagined they would.

Like Seal and the competitors on Chopped, you can choose to exit your dashed expectations with grace and class, or choose bitterness and revenge.  The choice is yours.