Understanding and Comprehension are often used interchangeably but these are vastly different concepts.
Comprehension means to accept that an event occurred. The event happened and people were affected because of it.
Understanding is when we connect the event to the emotions it created and have empathy for those touched by it.
So, what happens when the comprehension of an event isn’t followed by the understanding of what the impact that event had?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) iLoveMnMs33 when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for refusing to have my tattoo removed even if it makes my future husband uncomfortable and insecure?”
OP began with a brief, tragic history.
“I was a widow for 3 years before I met my fiancé (Julius).”
“I lost my husband and 4-year-old son on a boating accident.”
“When I got back on my feet after losing them, I had their names tattooed on my chest. Nothing grand, it’s just their names in cursive and two hearts.”
“When I met Julius I told him about my past.”
She was up front about her struggles to her new significant other.
“Including my depression and how I had to move back to my parents’ and depended on them for years.”
“He was very understanding and after over a year of dating, he proposed.”
Everything was fine, until…
“Yesterday, while I was getting out of the shower, Julius asked me when I plan to have my tattoo removed.”
“He said he knows someone who’s really good and he could give us a discount.”
“This was the first time he mentioned something like this to me so I wasn’t sure how to respond.”
“I just told him I have no plans of having my tattoo removed.”
“Later that day, during dinner he asked me again and I told him the same thing.”
“He said we’re about to get married and it’s time for me to move on.”
“I told him I have already moved on.”
“He said it’s hardly moving on when I still have their names on my chest, that he can see every time we’re intimate.”
“He said it makes him uncomfortable and insecure of my love for him because it looks like I can’t let go of my past.”
“He’s been giving me the cold shoulder since.”
“I told my mom about what happened and she told me she understands how Julius feels.”
OP was left to wonder,
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some were very direct.
“What the everloving f…”
“One of the realities of a relationship with a widow is that, along with their deep strength and maturity, they come into the relationship with a past partner they didn’t break up with.”
“That’s something your SO should have recognized a long time ago.”
“He doesn’t replace them in your history, he adds to your future… but only if he can accept you as you are now, including that they will always be part of you.”
“The most egregious part, to me, is him expecting you to remove both names.”
“While being intimidated by a man who’s already passed on is troubling, expecting you to erase your son’s name for him is just horrendous.”
“It doesn’t matter how short a time they’re in your arms or how long it’s been since, you never stop being a mom.”
“NTA” ~ Jazmadoodle
Others tried to give a little benefit of the doubt.
“Your first paragraph especially is beautifully put.”
“I will cut him a tiny bit of slack and point out that given her son was 4 when he passed 3 years ago, she’s probably a very young widow.”
“It’s possible he just doesn’t have the life experience to have really internalized how different a late husband is from an ex.”
“He may need your first paragraph explained to him and some time to sit with it and really wrap his head around it.”
“If he can’t, then they need to split up.” ~ Kylynara
Judgment was not reserved to SO alone.
“But a mother is certainly old enough to comprehend, and OP’s mother taking the fiancé’s side was jaw-droppingly insensitive.”
“I totally didn’t see that coming.”
“Mom can see why he feels that way?”
“What BS is that?”
“No mature adult could identify with that feeling, much less a mother who cares for her own child.”
“OP isn’t wallowing in grief or engaging in unhealthy behaviors, so what the hell mother, why aren’t you supporting your own child?”
“NTA, and I would have a think about who really is there for you in your life, you’ve had enough trauma.” ~ Organized_Khaos
Commenters showed concern for the future of the relationship.
“NTA – Erasing the tattoos aren’t going to erase them.”
“If he’s uncomfortable and insecure, that’s something he has to change, not you.”
“It doesn’t seem like he’s understanding. If he did understand, he wouldn’t have asked you to remove them.”
“I apologize if this seems harsh or offends you in any matter: They’re dead.”
“They aren’t coming back.”
“If he’s feeling this way towards two loved ones who aren’t and will never be around again, that to me is a massive red flag.”
“Is he going to have a problem when an anniversary or birthday comes around and you miss them?”
“Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting, it’s accepting and moving on with life, which is exactly what you’ve done and are currently doing.”
“If you haven’t, you wouldn’t be with him, especially considering marriage.” ~ Valuable_Ad_742
There were also personal stories.
“Not a widow, but I lost my brother and plan on getting a tattoo to remember him.”
“(I just keep chickening out because I’ve never gotten a tattoo and am terrified of needles).”
“But if anyone told me that I needed to remove the tattoo because they felt threatened by a dead person’s name and memory, I’d nope the f*ck out of there” ~ smallsaltybread
“First, I’m very sorry for your loss.”
“I got married very young and lost my husband in an accident.”
“I have 2 tattoos in his memory.”
“Now I’ve since been married for 10 years and have 2 children with my amazing husband.”
“He has never had a problem with my tattoos to my first husband.”
“When we met, I still wore my ring and had some of his belongings.”
“I’ve since gotten rid of everything, but my husband was so patient in letting me move on in my own time.”
“He knew there was no reason to be jealous of a dead man, and that I’ve moved on and love him more than anything, even with my tattoos.”
“I hope your fiance comes around to understand that your memorial tattoos does not take away from your love for him.” ~ Ezybrezy_CleverGirl
“First I wanna say I am so sorry for your loss.”
“Second you are NTA.”
“I had my ex-husband’s name tattooed on my ring finger and when I got my last tattoo I had it covered because I thought it would make my boyfriend uncomfortable.”
“He said I didn’t have to do that because of him because he knows it’s over.”
“You have a memorial tattoo for your husband and child.”
“Does he have issue with your kids name on there too??”
“You didn’t split up your family was taken from you.”
“That’s completely different.”
“Your fiance is being very cruel, callous and insecure. He needs to accept this because it’s a part of you. His behavior is unacceptable.” ~ TimeBomb666
There was even concern that this could lead to more controlling behaviors.
“Tbh it’s a big red flag that he waited to bring up this issue until after they were engaged.”
“He waited until things were more official and she was more invested in the relationship, therefore less likely to immediately end things.”
“It’s not uncommon for abusers to hide their full controlling natures until after marriage, when their significant others are legally and financially bound to them, therefore making it more difficult to get away.”
“His behavior is a big red flag IMO” ~ Proud_Hotel_5160
“Honestly I’m not sure he’s actually insecure, I could just be paranoid but seeing ‘When are you getting your tattoo removed’ with ZERO discussion prior I see someone who believes they control you and fully believes they have the right to make demands of you.”
“Especially when it’s right after engagements or weddings.”
“When that didn’t work then came out the emotional ‘oh it makes me insecure’ which feels like something that should have been during the First refusal if true, not repeating the question/demand (brought up again at dinner).”
“Giving an excuse towards her that’s based on Her (it’s time to move on and tattoo means she hasn’t), and then saying it.” ~ StrykerC13
Commenters pointed out that Julius has some stuff to work out.
“I am so sorry for your loss.”
“And yes it might be awkward for your fiance to be reminded of your past when you are intimate- but this is your son and your deceased husband’s name!”
“Not some ‘property of Dave’ college stupidity.”
“The fact that Julius couldn’t even bring up his discomfort- just went straight to asking when you would have a tattoo removed as if it was a sure thing, he has no idea what dating a widow means.”
“Let alone a woman who’s lost a child- there is no name for that because we don’t even like to think of it.”
“He needs to do some serious deep thinking before he even deserves a chance to ask for her forgiveness.” ~ Fianna9
Comprehending a tragedy is the cold acceptance that the even happened.
Understanding is knowing that you should take cookies to the afflicted person to make their day a little less horrible.
The former is a good start, but the latter is essential.
Be wary of those who comprehend your difficulties without understanding them.