A Little Hug’ll Do Ya

One of the joys of getting my hair done is chatting with my hairdresser.  Debra is sweet, smart, and happily married to a man who was married 18 years to someone else before meeting her after his divorce.  Yesterday, I had asked her about how she got along with his family, and talk turned to His Ex.

His Ex had been a bit of a snit to her in the past, tossing verbal jabs at her during family gatherings, in the way that people do when they are hurting or resentful and don’t know how to own it directly.  Although it wasn’t easy, Debra didn’t take the bait, but responded as kindly as she could.

At one occasion early in her marriage, one of her husbands’ sons was being honored for being one of the first to deploy after 9/11.  It was an emotional occasion, and Debra could see that His Ex was having a difficult time.  No matter how strong the Marine looks in his uniform, he is still someone’s baby.  Debra elbowed her hubby and suggested that he go over to His Ex and reach out to comfort her.  He recoiled, looking at her as if she had just suggested that he kiss a shark.  “No way!  After the way she’s treated me?  Forget it.”  Debra could see that His Ex was having a hard time so after a while, Debra went over to where His Ex was sitting with her side of the family and simply gave her a hug.  His Ex burst into tears and their relationship shifted from distrust to a warm cooperation.  “We don’t go to lunch, but at least we can talk,” Debra says.  That one simple gesture opened the door to where they could relate as people, instead of their roles of Wife and His Ex.

This is Love Applied.  It’s so easy to get stuck in our stories about how awful someone is and lose sight of how awful we can be at times ourselves, although we think we are perfectly Right.  Dealing with second families takes perspective and wisdom, and a willingness to be compassionate for someone who is struggling.  It takes self-management to not lash back at someone who is taking their hurt out on you and instead, reach out with caring when the opportunity arises.  This isn’t being wimpy, far from it.  In my world, nothing justifies attacking someone else.  Taking the high road, and not responding in kind simply because it feels good in the moment, leaves you feeling better about yourself in the long run.  And your relationships will be the better for it.

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