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Acrimony: 13 Unforgettable Lessons

It’s been well over a year since the movie Acrimony was released, and it really made its rounds around the world, social media and also in many discussions. The production and casting were top-notch, they did a great job of portraying what the story was all about. Having been produced by Tyler Perry, no one expected less.

The popular question on peoples minds and lips was “Who is to blame for the outcome of how things went?”  This question sparked a series of discussions, heated arguments, and deep conversations. While many people spent a lot of time analyzing who was at fault for the entire story, I realized that many people missed out on the key lessons and perspectives that the movie showed. It’s never too late to have that discussion is it? So let’s delve into it!

Just in case if you’ve not watched the movie (You should), I’ll run you through a quick and rough summary.

A young lady (Melinda) fell in love with a guy (Robert) who was from a poor background, they got married and spent a lot of money funding the man’s dream. Unfortunately, the dream didn’t make much of a headway in decades. They were also unable to have children because Melinda was mad at the boyfriend who later became her husband when he cheated and she got injured in her car, this accident put her in this situation. Time went by so quickly and they both got frustrated as they made no real headway. The love was there but they were living like zombies.

In the end, the wife got tired, divorced the husband and moved on with life. The man, on the other hand, went hustling and one day his dream hit big and he became an instant millionaire. He shared some of his newfound wealth with his ex-wife and got married to another woman. But the ex-wife wanted in again fully on the already dissolved marriage, after the divorce and was mad that a new woman ‘was taking her place’. She caused many problems and at the end of the day lost her life. Sad.

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Lesson 1: Take Responsibility
The one thing we must notice from this story is that Melinda (the lady) never put herself in a position where she was responsible for anything that happened in her own story. She believed she fell in love with the man because he was a con man who always knew what to say and because he was very handsome. She said she forgave him because he knew how to say sorry. She divorced him because of her sister’s advice. She spent her money on him because he knew how to suggest what he needed and so she provided it for him. She had an anger problem because she got it from her dad. Literally, this lady was not responsible for anything that happened in her life, not one thing was her fault. She was the ‘perfect victim’ at all times.

And truthfully, many of us don’t know how similar we are to Melinda. When we recall the tale of our lives, every other thing and person is at fault but us. We say people are the reason why our relationships and friendships didn’t work out, not us. It’s the same reason why we aren’t doing great in life, it’s the same reason why we are where we are. The government is to blame for your not having a job, or your parents are the reason why you can’t live a good life. Nothing can be changed because everyone is causing you to do something you don’t want. Really?

For how long will other people be the reason for your failure? When would they stop bearing the blame? I believe it’s important to have this conversation with yourself if you fall into this category, it helps.

The reason why learning to take responsibility is important is because it helps you see where you fall short and also shows you what to do to improve. When everyone else is to blame but you, then nothing falls to you as your portion, yet it is your life that is being affected. This mindset leaves you in a space where you can stay comfortable and do nothing to improve on yourself. In glaring situations where you are at fault, the moment you point the finger at something else, you are simply saying, “I am perfect and nothing needs to come in my direction, neither do I need to improve as I wasn’t at fault.”

Lesson 2: There is no such thing as ‘No Choices’
Melinda didn’t realize that for every time she felt like she didn’t have to choose, she was actually making silent choices. How many times have you been in a situation that you felt you had no choice and just went with it? Quite a number of times, I presume Yet, in that very moment, a choice is being made. Your choice not to choose and going with the flow is a choice on its own.

Some of you are used to having other people make your decisions for you. It’s either you were brought up that way or you don’t want to take full responsibility for calling the shots and being wrong at the end, or you just love to be a passenger who isn’t saddled with the burden of having to make those decisions. So you live your life open-ended and without taking the lead. That’s obviously not good enough because it is your life, and you need to take a high level of ownership of the results you get.

How do you say you are living your life when you have no say in what direction it’s going? It’s more like you are living another person’s life. Are you willing to live your life in such a way that at any point in time along the journey you can confidently say, I chose my path and if this is where I am, it was my choices that led me here (whether good or bad), I can turn it around if I choose to? I think this aspect is worth examining too.

You see, Melinda had a series of opportunities to have left the guy, but she stylishly chose to stay with him. Yet she blamed him and her sisters for everything not working out, cutting herself the slack she believed she needed. Imagine spending close to a million dollars on someone and you say the person is at fault for making you spend that money on them, and not you the owner of the money. Hahaha, isn’t that hilarious? My country people would ask if you’ve been jazzed and hooked by voodoo.

Lesson 3: Learn to listen and value the right set of people
Her sisters warned her from the very beginning about the man she was dating and she chose to ignore them and continue with him. One of our limitations as human beings is our inability to predict the future. So we could easily turn down the best advice which could actually turn our lives around for the better regardless of how well-meaning the source might be. Many years down the line we later find out the worth of the advice we earlier got. Yet, many of us won’t change course when we find out we are wrong.

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It has happened to me that on my own, I came to a resolution from a personal experience that led me to a piece of advice that someone gave me many years or months before. Meanwhile, I couldn’t recognize that their advice actually contained the proper direction I needed at the time. It happens to many of us, and with an era in which there are so many messages flying around on social media, it’s even harder to discern what message is right to follow after. We must learn to listen to advice from others too. It’s easier for others to see you than for you to see yourself because you mostly need a mirror to do that.

This leads to who you are listening to and taking advice from. If you have wise and trusted friends, who are also growing and taking bold strides, you must learn to value their words of advice. Another important set of people who care about you should be your family (I am aware not everyone has a positive experience with family). But rightfully, the family unit should be a place of care and love. A place in which you find security and wisdom.

Time and again, Melinda ignored her sister’s advice over the years and even got married to the man without her sisters or families approval. They loved her and we’re always there to defend and advice her based on their level of knowledge and maturity. She listened to them only at her breaking point and still blamed them for advising her to get out of the marriage she was tired of.

Even her dear friend who stuck with her through childhood till they were adults always gave her great advice and stood by her even when her family didn’t. But guess what? Melinda never saw the need to believe or listen to her best friend who even connected her to the job either. You must learn to know whose voice to value, you must know who is truly in your corner and wants the best for you. Do your best to stay away from that voice that tells you to not listen to any other voice of reason but your own.

Lesson 4: Watch out for anger and other weaknesses, they can destroy!
Now let’s talk about the anger issues she had, or should we call it blinding rage? This is why I don’t believe some things in life happen out of the blues, there is always a build-up. Right from the negative experience of Melinda ramming the car into the boyfriend’s house because he was cheating and her ovaries being affected, somehow, Melinda still didn’t get the message that her anger could destroy her. In fact, it later did. She couldn’t let go. Whatever bad habits a person has, you actually have the power to overcome them if you leave them in a realm of discomfort and continue doing your best to get rid of them.

I have friends that had terrible anger issues and today you won’t even believe they are the same people because they have worked on it. Even for Melinda to sit in therapy and admit she had a serious issue to resolve was so difficult. She agreed she had an anger problem, but felt it was always justified, including her way of expressing it, which was really dangerous. A wise man said, “Whatever you don’t deal with in private, will deal with you in public.” Another one said, “If you pamper what is wrong instead of hammering it, it will later come to hammer you on the head.” It is wise to sit with your weaknesses or problems and find ways to fix them immediately.

How would a person get to a level that she shot the man she loved and wanted to stay married to, using an axe to even try chopping off his leg? Really? What could get her to that position? It was the little beast that had been fed over the years and was not contained that came out fully roaring its head. That right there is plain dangerous. It is best to kill what could kill you early on. It is easier to take out the weeds when they are little or to kill a fire when it’s just starting. It’ll take a whole lot for things to be different for you when it’s gone beyond repair.

Lesson 5: Kick against the entitlement mindset and learn to stay committed
Next lesson is that you must learn to not be so entitled to what isn’t yours anymore. Many of us have difficulties drawing the lines, Melinda did too. She made a difficult decision to divorce her husband, not listening to his pleas or tears and at the same time still wanted to 100% be in his new life after her divorce at the same time. This is us many times, we want to be one leg in and one leg out at once, with the same benefits as those who have both legs in.

There is a growing rate of people who want the benefits of commitment without actually being committed. This is because commitment is a lot of work that requires faithfulness. Meanwhile, one-offs are the easier route because you never need to think about it twice. There’s no connection, no offense, just the act, and goodbye.

I have noticed that our generation doesn’t fully understand the concept of trade-offs whereby choosing something, you can’t be a part of another thing at the same time. It’s like wanting to close your eyes and also see all that is going on around you the minute you choose to do so. You can only trade one reality for another. Esau didn’t get to eat the porridge and keep his birthright at the same time, something had to give. When you ask folks to pick out of one or two options, you’ll hear them say they will do both. Sorry, but every single decision you make equals to blocking out thousands of other possibilities you could experience.

Lesson 6: Learn forgiveness and kindness
Let’s sneak in briefly into the path of forgiveness which we saw Melinda do so well over the course of the story and her patience, tolerance, and supportiveness. At this point, I must mention that she wasn’t forced to do any of these things, even her bank could only give her funds by her signature, not by any other person’s.

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Her boyfriend cheated on her and she was wounded in the process. Despite all that, she still chose to forgive him because he was sincerely sorry it happened, and it never happened again. These days, all we hear of is how when one thing happens, the solution is to run away and never give a second chance. It is not always true, depending on the situation. Sometimes, what is needed is forgiveness, and forgiveness is practically placing your faith in someone who actually made you have reason to not do so.

I have had to forgive in a number of circumstances as well, where some people would not have batted an eyelid, but those who I forgave ended up stepping up real big! If we truly love others, a lot of the time, we can see the state of peoples hearts, that they mean no wrong, though they could need a lot of work.

At the same time, forgiveness requires wisdom. Some people can be forgiven, but should not be given the same privileges they previously had. The solution could even be distance and a lot of space because there’s the chance they’ll hurt you every time they get the opportunity. This still doesn’t mean that they aren’t forgiven.

Lesson 7: Learn to truly love and also be selfless
It takes a lot to be selfless and to truly be in support of another person’s dream, while practically abandoning your own. This was what Melinda did and was quite remarkable. Even though we see that she had an eye on the return of her investments and what it would have brought to her in return, it still doesn’t change that she was truly supportive all the same. Though many of us fall into this position too of helping others only because we see it as a way of helping ourselves. When we get no returns, then we are hurt because we feel we have wasted time. This is not always true as regarding love. The truth is love gives! The act of giving itself is what gives love fulfillment, not the other way round. The ability to even be able to give in the first place doesn’t come from a position of entitlement or demand for loyalty but from a position of gratitude.

There’s a quote that has helped to give me perspective in the area and it’s “You may not reap where you sow, but you’ll reap what you sow.” Many of us are hooked on reaping where we sowed and getting back what we sowed in the exact way we sowed it, but yet life we isn’t like that. When you realize that what you give comes back to you somehow at the end of the day, you will be more encouraged to keep sowing regardless of whether it is appreciated, undermined or whether it actually brings returns. All the good Melinda had done for her ex-husband, I believe would have still come to her in the process of time. But she wasn’t willing to wait as she wanted to command the harvest and how it would come to her. In the end, she lost her life and there was no reward.

Lessons 8: Life doesn’t always give second chances, so stay humble! 
Yes! Before I forget, there’s this part of Acrimony that people felt was very unfair. Which is the part that another woman immediately got to enjoy the fruits of Melinda’s years of labor, while Melinda herself didn’t get a second chance. We could clearly see that she was replaced by another woman. It was the same in the Bible when Esther replace Vashti, the former queen after being disrespectful to the King.

Many of us don’t know, but life doesn’t always offer second chances! Ask the elders and they’ll tell you that there are things you miss out on and you miss out on them forever. So it’s important to note that you may not always have a second chance once even if you did all the work and didn’t stay long enough to real the harvest.

We could also tend to overplay our importance to other people and also our places of work. Our perception of importance now makes us puffed up, thinking we are the best there could ever be and that our influence would be missed.

Sorry to burst your big bubble, but you are not as important as you think. There is someone somewhere much better than you, that will do better than you, and will replace you with such grace that no one will ever miss your presence, in fact, they will be thanking God for your absence! This should lead you to live a life of humility and tell you to stay teachable all the time.

Melinda probably thought her space would always be empty and she could waltz in and out at any time, but that was not true at all.

The other end of this is that you may never get someone better or better opportunities than the ones you just left behind. Melinda didn’t find a man that she felt blessed to be with, she had all sorts of complaints about him instead. It’s important to note that wherever you are now and whatever you have the chance to do, it is a privilege for you to be in that space.

Lesson 9: Have your own big dreams
It is good to have your own dreams too, no matter how small. One thing that we could see from the story, was that Melinda had no dreams. Her husband’s dreams had become her own, which is what is expected when you are married to your spouse. But at the same time, your dreams are also meant to become your doses spouse’s dream as well. Without having a partner, your life must have where it’s headed to already, that even if anything happens to your spouse, you are still on your way to accomplishing your purpose.

Melinda desired kids but didn’t try to adopt. If she actually had something else she lived for, her divorce would not have affected her so bad. She would have immediately had another place to channel her energies to, instead she spent all that time on social media, tracking her husband and dropping hate messages. It was just terrible.

Please have a dream, a vision, be a part of something bigger than you if you don’t have the capacity to start yours. Marry someone who has learnt to support your dreams and would push you in that direction as you do vice-versa. That’s what you need in a marriage.

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Plot twist: Do you know that if Melinda had a dream just as big as her husband’s, it could have thrived and he would have been drawn to spending all his time on hers than sending entries to one company like it was the only one in the world. But she didn’t have the capacity or the know-how to make things happen on her own, as she was always the victim, so there was nothing else but her husband. The man worked so hard because he realized they both were nothing without the actualization of the dreams. If Melinda owned her own company, her husband would have been able to work with her despite his criminal record.

Ladies, don’t forget to dream big too, it’s totally okay to do so. Don’t let society or other people’s expectations stop you from doing so!

Let’s visit the husband a little bit as we wrap up this post.

Lesson 10:  Stay for the longterm and value your ideas
Stick to what you believe in for the long term, regardless of the adverse situations in the way. We have to give it to this man, that he gave his all into what he did even in the face of constant discouragement. Even though at the later part, he gave up, but he still jumped back on the opportunity when he has the chance. Yet, he didn’t discard his years of hard work and sell of his invention for cheap. He knew the worth of what he was building and was ready to stay hungry for it. Giving the difficulty of his situation, it almost seemed senseless to not have sold off his invention. But at the end of the day, the investors came to terms with the fact that it was valuable and brought him in.

Do you know the value of what is in your hands? Are you ready to go hungry till others can see the value of what you have? Are you willing to not settle for less regardless of the circumstances?

Lesson 11: Diversify, Don’t always be too rigid
Diversify! This man could have done many other things with his time while he had his battery idea going. He did a couple of side jobs too that couldn’t fit the bills, we could tell. But at the same time, he could have worked on targeting other company outside the one he always wanted from childhood. He could have chosen to teach some of his skills to others at a price. I believe if he was bringing something consistent home, the level of strain that they experienced in that marriage would have been there.

Lesson 12: Learn to be apologetic while you maintain loyalty and kindness. Remember those who helped you when you were down!

These are attributes I saw Robert exhibit. I couldn’t count the number of times he said he was sorry to his wife, and he was always sincere. No doubt he felt entitled to some things too and acted out of character. But most times he was on the right side, doing his best to make the right amends. If he wasn’t gentle and patient, their marriage could not have gone far. You must learn to truly be sorry and apologetic when you are wrong and mean it! Don’t let it stop in words, let it reflect in your actions too going forward. Don’t be wrong and too proud to admit or apologize, it doesn’t make you weak but stronger!

Stay loyal if loyalty is what you are committed to doing. At no time in this marriage would you say Robert was disloyal to his wife. When he cheated on her, they were younger and in a relationship, he apologized and stayed loyal to her just like she was to him. Not many of us these days know the essence of loyalty and being able to stay the time, even when things get tough.

You see, the husband could have chosen to abandonMelinda after the divorce and but he showed kindness by giving her ten million dollars and buying off the mother’s house. He was even honest with his feelings for her by saying he still loved her. He clearly didn’t bite the hands that fed him and supported him all through his journey. Unlike many of us who would enter new spheres and will have little influence and forget those who helped us when we were down. Don’t be like that. Learn to note and document things, as much as you can, so you don’t forget to also reward those people when it is well with you.

Lesson 13: Don’t keep away vital information when it matters most
Lastly, don’t keep the most important information for last. It was wrong for Robert to not have told Melinda about his jail sentence when they were still dating and young in love. He told her too late, he was fortunate that she still chose to stay with him. In other situations, the lady would have left him immediately.

Don’t be afraid to share vital parts of you that you may not be proud of with your partner to be. If they can’t handle it, it’s okay, there’ll be someone who can. It’ll help them process much better and would make you know whether they are in it for you or for other reasons. Hiding important truths could blow things up really bad in the future, the earlier the better, they say!

If you have read to this point, you deserve a lot of credit. There is just so much to learn from that movie that reflects in our daily lives. I hope it spoke to you as it did to me?

Thanks for reading.

What lessons jumped out at you from this article and what other lessons do you think you learnt too when you watched the movie that you will like to add? I am sure I didn’t cover everything.

Let’s meet in the comments section. Would be looking forward to your response ❤

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Victory Odunjo

I'm a people person that simply wants to add value, and inspire others..

4 thoughts on “Acrimony: 13 Unforgettable Lessons”

  1. I honestly never even thought of these lessons from the movie. Anytime the movie comes up in discussions, its about deciding who was right and who was wrong. It must have taken great attention to detail to get these lessons out. It was worth the read. Well done sir.

    1. Thanks you Tomi for taking the time out to read 💪 You are totally right, most discussions were more about who was wrong. These lessons really made the difference 🌟

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