Dear Carolyn: Recently, I was walking through the park on a warm summer night, and I came to the long overdue realization that I judge other people in my own head.
I'd really rather not. It's not good for the soul.
— Your Honor
Your Honor: Now, give your soul a checklist.
●Forgive vs. judge anything you yourself have done.
●Forgive anything you’ve forgiven in someone you love.
●Forgive anything that could have even one reasonable or sympathetic explanation — though thinking up as many as possible is a great exercise in compassion.
Say you’ve judged a stranger for snapping at his kids. But maybe he’s just been dumped/fired/scarily diagnosed. Forgivable, right? So forgive.
You judge someone’s cart full of junk food? Maybe her parents harped on food and weight for her entire childhood and this is her fight song. Forgiveness granted, sister.
You judge jerks for cutting you off? Maybe they didn’t see you. Let’s hear it, you imperfect driver: Gimme an F!
Forgiveness draws in; contempt pushes away.
If your soul wants details, then it can search “fundamental attribution error.” This knowledge might not eradicate your judginess completely; mental reflexes are what they are, plus some things need our scorn so we’re motivated to change them. However, it can put that judgy little voice in its place. I suspect your soul will approve.
Dear Carolyn: I've been married five years. We were together 13 years before that. We have two children under 5 and have been separated one year.
Our marriage was awful. He started a new business and had absolutely no time for me or the kids. He also resented that one of my younger siblings lived with us and said that was one reason he didn't want to be home. He was neglectful, unsupportive and became so distant. I threatened to leave, and he'd laugh.
Eventually, I discovered he had an online dating profile. He swore he never met anyone and was just seeking attention as we became strangers.
I moved back home with my family.
However, everyone — my family and his — has pushed me to try again for the kids. They said I'll regret it if I don't give the marriage one more chance, since he is apparently changed and sorry and he wants to be better. His business is more on track, and he has more time.
My heart says it's not worth it. I was so unhappy. But my mind says try again because of the kids and because our relationship prior to marriage was good.
— So Confused
So Confused: Don’t let anyone tell you what to think, do, feel, try or regret.
Observations are valuable; preconceived notions are not.
You’re the one who lived in this marriage. You know your husband — and yourself when you’re with your husband. You (will) know if his change is sincere, relevant, enough.
If you don’t want to try again, then don’t.
If you’re not sure, then stay put until you are sure, one way or another.
In the meantime, regardless, live your life in a way that feels right for now, restorative-healthy-certain for now and as likely as possible to be productive later.
Has it not occurred to these families how tough it would be “for the kids” if your second chance were unsuccessful? Be you, be patient, be sure.