DEAR JON LETTERS
by Dear Jon
December 9, 2003
If a woman bawls in a forest, and there's no man to hear it, is it really nagging?
Most advice columnists are women because there is a fine line between “advice” and “nagging,” whereas, Dr. Phil just yells at you.
If the woman is out in a forest and is bawling because she expected you to be with her and you were not because you wanted some “time alone,” then you are responsible for her emotional state, and you are responsible for everything she says while out there alone, because it is not her fault that you were too inconsiderate to be out there with her.
If she is out in a forest because SHE wanted some time alone, and is bawling because she is either hurt or lost, you are to blame for not worrying about her soon enough and coming to her rescue.
Otherwise, you’re completely off the hook.
ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:
We hear a lot about "women's intuition" but don't men have an intuition too? While it may not be as developed as a woman's, certainly a man's ability to see a pass play that won't work moments before his team executes such a play must be some form of intuition? Don't you agree?
I believe that men have some intuitive power, which is why right now I have the intuition that any woman who read that first letter is concluding that I am a jerk.
ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:
A co-worker of mine is getting remarried after being recently widowed. He began dating his new wife 6 months after his first wife died. Shortly after the one year anniversary of his first wife's death, he announced his engagement to his second wife. While most people seem happy about his remarriage, I can't help but feel it's a little too soon. In your opinion, how long should a widow/widower mourn her/his spouse before dating and/or remarrying? Does length of the first marriage and whether the couple have children have any bearing on the time frame?
Thank you for taking a risk and asking Dear Jon a serious question. I don’t remember the last time I received a serious question and I don’t have time to look it up, but I think it was about 100 sorts ago.
The most striking bit about the letter is that you mention a “co-worker.” I hope this is not a means of disguising your identity, because this is the context for my reply. If the person is ACTUALLY your own brother or your widowed Dad, you needed to tell me.
Most of my advice is for you, not for him. This will be disappointing if you were hoping to print this off the website and hand it to him and say, “I thought you would find this interesting.”
To begin with, death releases the survivor from the marriage vows. This is why we say “Until death do us part.” No objective moral judgment can be cast against your co-worker. That you are unsettled regarding your co-worker’s decision indicates several possibilities:
1. You are morally insecure yourself and are projecting that insecurity on others. Awareness of motives in your own heart, such as, the need of sexual comfort, or the need for your identity to be validated through intimacy with another, is making you project these shallow needs onto the widower, and thus presume these are his motives for remarriage.
2. You are insecure in your separation and grief processes, and you are projecting that insecurity on others. This is especially true if you are married yourself, and are in a “just can’t imagine life without my wife” mode. In this view we all need to view the death of a spouse as the virtual end of our own life. If we don’t, then somehow our love was not deep enough or heroic enough.
In both of these possibilities, the problem is a lack of confidence in self which causes one’s feelings to be directed by the expectations of others. This is accompanied by the presumption that everyone else should feel and behave according to expectations rather than according to personal integrity.
3. The third possibility is that you really have a hunch, perhaps even a “discernment,” that your co-worker is on the rebound and is in way over his head way too soon.
If you were family or even close friends, and you had come to this discernment, I would say that you might be on the right track. I would encourage you to ask him if he has really worked through the trauma of separation from his first wife.
The problem is that he is your co-worker, not your father, your brother, your son, or your best friend. Even if you’re right about your hunch, you’re right only by luck. It is not your place to offer opinions about your co-worker’s private life. In fact, you have an obligation to keep quiet.
Co-workers are supposed to do two things: First, mind the business that they share, and second, mind their own business. The wisdom inherent in minding your own business has to do with specks in their eyes and logs in yours. You have to be very aware of the the filters through which you view reality before you project your perceptions onto others. It is the choice between using discretion to build your reputation for integrity, and hopping around on one foot because the other one is in your mouth all the time. For the sake of your working relationship, you should trust his judgment about his personal life so that HE can continue to trust the work you do together.
If your co-worker sits you down at lunch and asks you “So, what do you think about my life?” that is a time that you might reply, “Well, we’re all different about what makes us happy. I think that for me, six months to date and a year to marry would be too soon if my wife died. I would just need more time to sort that out.” That is really about as much as you can say, and that, ONLY if you are asked.
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