Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Statute of Limitations on Rancor

Is there a statute of limitations on rancor?

The question arises from a letter written to Washington Post columnist Carolyn Hax. Without further ado, here it is:

My ex-wife and I divorced 21 years ago. I had a one-night stand, and she told me to hit the road. I married the one-night stand, and that marriage did not work.

During my dad's recent funeral, which she attended, she came up to me and said she "still could not forgive" me.

We had one son together and over the years we have been together for milestones in his life. He has been highly successful in his career, but his current job is stressful. He confided both to his mom and me that he has had some very dark thoughts, including of suicide. He is getting professional help.

I called the ex and suggested the three of us sit down to do whatever we can to help him. She responded that she could not do that due to her hatred of me.

I think we need to be a united front for his well-being. What can I do?

Hax is quite correct to suggest that there is very little the man can do. That is not the reason I have chosen to examine the letter.

Isn’t this woman’s anger excessive? Holding on to bitter outrage for more than two decades bespeaks a serious character flaw. And why take the occasion of her ex-husband’s father’s funeral to walk up to him and tell him that she still could not forgive him?

If you cannot be civil at a funeral, you should not be there at all.

Since we are outside of the marriage, we do not know everything that caused her to throw her husband out of the house. And yet, do you think that the punishment is commensurate with the crime? Do you think that the woman is engaging in some serious overkill?

Given her bad temperament, you might sympathize with a man who cheated on her? And, we are not obliged to sympathize with her for refusing to sit down with her ex-husband and her son, to see what they can do to help him.

There comes a time in each person’s life when he or she should put grudges aside, the better to function in the world.

Did you ask yourself what she told her son? Did you think about what she told him about his father? Is she the kind of woman who declares all out war for what appears to be a minor transgression, to the point of enlisting her son as an ally in her effort to destroy his father? Does she understand that turning a son against his father produces psychological difficulties?

When the father says that he wants the three of them to sit down together to discuss the son’s problems, he is really saying that the son’s problems have something to do with the broken home. And especially, he is saying that his wife’s bitter rancor is destroying her son. The son is successful at work... well and good. Do you think that he might have difficulty ever trusting a woman?

Keep in mind, when you set out to destroy someone for having wronged you… other people might get caught up in the maelstrom.


Korora said...

The poor kid has likely been taught by example that it is stupid not to roast one's soul in a grudge forever.

Sam L. said...

At some point, you have to put the insult behind you and get on with your life. Otherwise, your stomach will eat itself up.