"So what are you gonna say at my funeral, now that you've killed me? 'Here lies the body of the love of my life, whose heart I broke without a gun to my head. Here lies the mother of my children, both living and dead. Rest in peace, my true love, who I took for granted.'"
These are the words Beyonce sings to husband Jay-Z on her album "Lemonade," thick with anger at what he'd done to their family. And with the release of his new album, Jay-Z pubically admitted to cheating on his wife.
He says that his decision to be unfaithful was born from the desire to not feel pain. In an interview with Dean Baquet, Jay-Z said that dealing with his relationship with his mom, selling drugs and cultural issues such as racism felt overwhelming to him, causing him to shut off all feeling. He said, "You have to survive; So you go into survival mode, and when you go into survival mode what happens? You shut down. You shut down all emotions. So even with women, you gonna shut down emotionally, so you can't connect. And then all the things happen from there: Infidelity."
It would have been easy for Jay-Z to keep his emotions on lock-down after doing the unthinkable in his marriage, but he believes this would have been the end of his relationship. "You know, most people walk away and like divorce rate is like 50 percent or something 'cause most people can't see themselves. The hardest thing is seeing pain on someone's face that you caused, and then have to deal with yourself... Most people don't want to do that. You don't want to look inside yourself. And so you walk away."
So Jay-Z decided to do the harder thing and face what he had done to see if he could repair the tragedy he had created. He leaned into the pain of the horror he had caused his wife and kids: "The strongest thing a man can do is cry — to expose your feelings, to be vulnerable in front of the world. That's real strength." And it was by facing this pain that he was able to save his marriage.
In the song, "4:44" Jay-Z says, "I'm letting you down every day/Letting you down every day/Why do I keep on running away?/Look, I apologize, often womanize.../I apologize to all the woman whom I/Toyed with you emotions because I was emotionless/I apologize 'cause at your best you are love/And because I fall short of what I say I'm all about.../What good is a ménage à trois when you have a soulmate?"
Even though Beyonce's new album expresses both her pain and anger at her husband, she eventually chooses forgiveness: "And although I promised that I couldn't stay, baby / Every promise don't work out that way," she sang. "I was served lemons, but I made lemonade."
The couple used their music to communicate their feelings honestly to each other and acheive personal catharsis. Jay-Z said, "We were using our art almost like a therapy session and we started making music together."
Together, Beyonce and Jay-Z have been able to choose to overcome the choices and consequential pain that poisoned their relationship — and continue to make that choice every day.