In 1978, Joe Biden ran for re-election. His new wife, Jill, was a big part of his re-election effort. While on the campaign trial she would sometimes get comments from supporters about Joe’s late wife, Neilia. Some would say how much they missed Neilia while others would comment they were glad that Joe was able to find love again. Often these comments would create an awkward moments in front of the public. However, Jill was always able to smile and nod or say something witty that would diffuse a potentially embarrassing situation. Whenever Joe’s late wife came up, she was able to handle each situation with class and elegance. Eventually the references to Neilia stopped.
I bring this up because it seems like everyone who’s dated or is married to a widower has come across situations where the late wife has come up. Most of the time the comments or references are innocent enough. However, sometimes people can say things that are hurtful or make you think that they wish the late wife was alive. In these situations it’s important to remember that you can’t control the words or actions of others. All you have control over is how you respond to these situations. The more class and grace to you can display, the better chances you have of people moving on and accepting you and your relationship with a widower. If you act crude, rude, and tacky, you’re just giving people more reasons and excuses to disapprove of your relationship.
For example, a couple of weeks ago a GOW told me that her widower’s adult children weren’t accepting of her or their father’s relationship with her. At some point she reached the breaking point and posted a raunchy photograph of a scantily clad woman straddling a man on the daughter’s Facebook page. The message on the photo was that if two people are in love and happy, everyone else should leave them alone.
Now the woman probably took a lot of crap from the widower’s kids to reach that point, but she could have handled the situation a lot better. The way she reacted to their bad behavior just proved to the widower’s children that she was vulgar, cheap, and crude. She gave them not only a reason to hate her even more but gave them something they could show their father about the kind of woman he was dating. Instead of rising above their behavior, she not only stooped to their level and lowered herself a couple notches below them.
There were plenty of other alternative ways to react. She could have invited the daughter out for lunch and tried to make friends, she could have posted something nice on her Facebook wall, or could have decided to do nothing at all and gone on with her life with her head held high and not even be bothered by people who are stuck in their own grief and misery.
Keep in mind that being classy doesn’t mean being a doormat. It doesn’t mean taking continuous verbal or emotional abuse. Classy people don’t put themselves in those kinds of situations again and again and again. Rather classy people don’t let others drag them down in the mud. They know when to nod and smile, when to ignore a comment, and what situations to avoid.
So as you go to holiday parties and other activities, keep in mind that people who aren’t fond of you are watching how you act and what you say. They’re looking for reasons to ignore you and tell others what a jerk you are. Don’t give them ammunition. Instead get people to at least realize that their childish games and attitudes don’t bother you. Jill Biden was faced with many awkward and tough situations when she was first married to Joe. She always managed to come across as the better person in those situations.
Go and do likewise.