New Website

Regular visitors to my site will notice that I've launched a new website. It's something I've wanted to do for the last year or so but haven't had the time to do it until now. 

The biggest reason for the change was that I wanted something that would look good on phones. That goal has been achieved. There were other technical changes I wanted enabled as well, including the ability for people to subscribe to blog posts.

There is still more work to be done. Over the next couple weeks I'll be launching a new and improved store for those who'd like personalized copies of my books. Other improvements, including tweaking the look and feel a bit, are on their way too.

I'm still finding some bugs on the site. If you happen to notice something, please send me an email or leave a comment below and I'll work to resolve them as fast as possible.

Thanks for reading.

Widower Wednesday: What Red Flags Should I Look for When Dating a Widower?

Widower Wednesday

Recently I received an email from a GOW who had just started dating a widower. Though the relationship was still in the early stages, she wanted to know what red flags she should be on the lookout for so she could know if he was ready to move on or not.

I’ve previously posted a list of red flags that anyone dating a widower should be aware of. While that list covers the biggest, most common ones, it doesn’t take into account other warning signs that the widower may not be ready to move on or individual circumstances, wants, and needs that come with each relationship. So, here are three things GOWs can do to see if there are other red flags they should be worried about.

1. Know What You Want in a Relationship

Before you can identify other red flags in any relationship, it’s important to know what you’re looking for when it comes to a man. You need to have a good idea what values you want a potential partner and what behavior you expect from him before you can identify red flags. Once you know what you want, compare that list to the widower’s values and actions. Do you feel that he loves and respects you or do you feel mistreated and unsure if how he feels about you? Mark anything that doesn’t line up with what you expect as a possible red flag.

2. Figure Out if You're Making Grief-Related Excuses for His Behavior

After you've identified potential red flags, take a step back and see if you’re making grief-related excuses for his behavior. You determine if you're putting up with a widower's actions, comments, and behavior that you wouldn't tolerate from a divorced of single man. If you are, you need to stop making excuses for his behavior. Allowing someone to misbehave for any reason is simply going to encourage them to keep doing it. You need to put your foot down and start treating him like you would any other guy you'd date and see if he's willing to move on or not.

3. Decide What You Can and Can't Live With

After going through the first two steps, take a long, honest look at the widower and decide if he was to stay exactly the same person as he is today (red flags and all), could you see yourself spending the rest of your life with him? Not everyone is going to line up perfectly with what we want in a spouse. What you need to decide is if the red flags you've identified are things you can live with or deal breakers. If you can't live with them, then you need to decide how much more time and energy you're willing to invest in the relationship that's not going anywhere.

Don't be afraid to walk away from a relationship that's not going anywhere. Breaking up isn't fun or easy, but in the long run it beats staying in a relationship that's not going anywhere. Have the courage to be honest with yourself and the widower about any red flags. You'll both be better off for it.

Room for Two FREE on Kindle

My first book, Room for Two, is free on Kindle starting today. It will be available as a free download through Friday, September 26.

It's also available for free in the Amazon stores for CanadaUK, Australia, Japan, France, Brazil, IndiaSpain, Italy, Mexico, and Germany.

If you don't have a Kindle you can download  Kindle app for your phone, tablet, or computer for free.

Read the first three chapters of Room for Two here.

About Room for Two

"Sweetie, I'm home." I tried to put as much kindness into my voice as possible. I didn't want to have another argument - at least not right away.



A gunshot echoed from our bedroom, followed by the sound of a bullet casing skipping along a wall.

Everything slowed down.


When a life is destroyed, when guilt says you played a role in its destruction, how do you face the days ahead?

Twenty-six-year-old Abel Keogh chooses to ignore the promptings he receives concerning his wife's mental illness, and now he feels he is to blame for her choices. If only he had listened . . .

At some point in our lives, each of us face devastating afflictions and must eventually cope with loss. Regardless of how it happens, the outcome is still the same - we are left isolated, alone, wondering what we could have done differently, and where we can turn for peace.

This is Abel's story in his own words. His search for peace and the miracle that follows is proof that love and hope can endure, despite the struggles and tragedies that shape each of our lives.



Widower Wednesday: Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend

Widower Wednesday

Note: I've got a fun announcement coming out Monday. If you want to be the first to know about it, sign up for my newsletter.


Dana posted the following comment on a recent Widower Wednesday post.

I am a widower and want to know if it is OK to propose to my girlfriend and give her the engagement diamond I bought 30 years ago for my first wife.  It is large, beautiful, and I was planning to get it set in something my girlfriend would adore.  The diamond is special to me (more than any new store-bought one could ever be) and has been a token of my love for 30+ years.  Thoughts?

The diamond probably has a lot of meaning to you but it's probably not going to have the same sentimental value to your girlfriend. This isn't a diamond that your grandmother had or even your mother had.  We're talking about a diamond that was worn by your late wife.

Think about that.

Would you wear a wedding band that your girlfriends ex or late husband would have worn? Wouldn't you rather have something that was meant something to you?

Your girlfriend is a different person. If you're going to ask her to spend the rest of her life with you, the least you can do is give her a new diamond or other precious stone—something that has special meaning for her.  You're starting a new chapter in your life. There's no reason to make your past life a part of it.

As for your late wife's diamond, keep is somewhere special and safe and don't let the feelings, emotions, or memories that come with it interfere with your new relationship.

Widower Wednesday: Trigger Warnings

Widower Wednesday

Recently on the Dating a Widower Facebook group, there was a thread from a GOW worried how often the W might be forced to think about the late wife. The reason for her concern was that there were people with the same name as the late wife, places, and other things that could trigger a memory of her or their times together. When asked about whether or not it triggered memories of the past, the widower shrugged it off and said it wasn’t a big deal. The GOW wanted to know if he was telling the truth or sparing her feelings.

Here’s my take: Everyone has something that will trigger certain memories or emotions.  A song, for example, might bring back memories from high school, a first kiss or dance, or a vacation. For others a smell might trigger memories of grandmother’s house, a stay in the hospital, or a job. Some of these memories might be good. Other times the memory might be bad. The point is that everyone, including widowers, has them.

There could be 100 different things that set off a memory of time with late wife. But so what? There’s nothing a GOW or WOW can do about memory triggers. They happen whether we want them to or not.

The bigger concern should be how does the widower deal with memory triggers? Unless his loss is recent (18 months or less), most widowers are able to deal with these the same way other people do: they relive the memory for a second or two and then go on with their life. Once or twice a week something might trigger a memory of my past life with the late wife but 99.9 percent of the time no one knows that such an event has ever happened. But nearly 100 times a week I’ll have something trigger a memory about Marathon Girl or my kids.

And that’s the way it should be.

For example last night our five-year-old son came into our room sleep walking. After I put him back in bed, I had a short conversation with Marathon Girl about our oldest kid and how he used to sleep walk and how that freaked us out the first time it happened. One the way home from work I drove past an apartment complex that Marathon Girl and I lived in for a year. That triggered some nice memories. Then at work earlier in the day I overheard a co-worker telling someone else a story about her kids that sent a cascade of memories of my own children through my mind. Nothing happened to trigger a memory of my past life.

So unless triggers put him in a funk or get him talking incessantly about his past, stop worrying about it. Instead work on creating memories with him so that when he hears a song or sees something it reminds him about his new life instead of his old one. The time you spend together, the more triggers you’ll create.

Widower Wednesday: Out-of-Control Teenage Daughters and Widowers

Widower Wednesday

From the Inbox comes the following:


I know this is not an issue that you have had to deal with personally, but I am in hope that your readers may be able to offer up some advice on how they have met the challenges of helping raise a child, specifically a teenager daughter, amidst the many obstacles of being a stepparent, the teenage years, the lack of authority, and a father who is reluctant to set down rules and boundaries.  It is greatly affecting not only the relationship between he and I, but the relationship that his daughter and I have tried to build over the last couple of years.

The most recent development is her admission to him that she feels like everything had changed (her freedoms) only since I came into the picture.  This admission came, not surprisingly, after we put some restrictions on her phone use.  She has failed to realize that as she matures, new rules and boundaries go along with that and her father seems ill equipped or reluctant to explain this to her.  I should note that I don't say or do anything until I've discussed it with the W, but she still chooses to believe that it is coming from me, and not through her father and I arriving at a mutual decision.




While I don’t have any experience being a step-parent, I do have experience being a father. It’s never good for any child to have one parent who’s doing their best to be a good mom or dad with the other parent is only passively involved. Even though I don’t have teenagers yet, my kids are always testing boundaries and trying to find out if Marathon Girl or I will give in on certain issues.

Based on what you said, her dad needs to start set rules and boundaries. Odds are she'll listen to him more than you. Then the two of you need to get on the same page as far as what these boundaries are and what the punishments are if they rules are broken. Two different set of expectations only cause confusion and the problems you're experiencing. The two of you need to get on the same page. While that may not solve all the issues, it’s a necessary starting point in order to address the problems she’s causing.

Hope this helps,


Readers? What suggestions do you have for N?


My Very Own Frankenfood

For the most part the garden has been a smashing success. Still, there are some things that haven't worked out and I'm taking note so I don't repeat the same mistakes next year.

Like my squash.

See the above photo. I planted the squash too close to a zucchini plant. The result has been my own kind of freakish frankenfood. Aside from looking weird, the skin of the squash is so think, it's nearly impossible to peel. Which sucks because squash is one of my favorite foods and this year's crop is pretty much uneatable.  (Note: Marathon Girl did cook one up and the taste was fine but that hard peel just sucked.)

So next year I'm planting the squash and zucchini farther apart. Maybe on opposite sides of the garden. And if my squash does cross pollinate with something, I hope it turns into something like this.



Widower Wednesday: Hey Jealousy

Widower Wednesday

Last week someone using the name Uberconfused posted the following question on past post.

Hi Abel!

I have been dating my guy (A) for over 6 months now. In my books it has been 10 months but according to him we weren’t dating the first half of our relationship! Anyways, that’s not why I’m writing. A’s wife passed away two years ago from a brain tumor. He has a three year old and a seven year old. I have totally committed myself to being whatever being a part of his life entails including going to Disney with him and the girls, AND his late wife’s mom and sister! I really didn’t want to because I was uncomfortable with vacationing with them but it turned out to be a good vacation.

So now I am basically living at the house he bought a year ago, the talk of babies and marriage has come up and when I explain to A that I want all the things he’s already had with his late wife, like an engagement and the party and a wedding and babies his response is “I can’t guarantee that we’ll get married or have babies, but I will love you for the rest of my life.” This makes me really upset though j should add that he canceled his vasectomy to be with me because that was a deal breaker for me. He says he can’t see the future and maybe we won’t even be able to have a child! So I’m frustrated and annoyed and think his answer is bogus. So this has all happened in the last week. And then yesterday when I made a comment about checking with me about the girls going away for the weekend he made it perfectly clear that they are his daughters and not to question him about the decisions he makes.

So that’s not even why I’m writing . . . because his wife died of a brain tumor, he holds an annual fundraising gala in her honor. I think it’s a great cause and have helped out with donations and selling tickets as much as I can, even though it really makes me uncomfortable :( and every time his sister’s post a pic of him and his wife on the gala Facebook page I feel jealous… and I don’t really know what to do about it. I love him and the girls, but I truly worry that I’m missing out on some of the things I want and that I’m going to forever live in her shadow. I don’t want to feel jealous of her and I certainly don’t want to be her replacement.



In any relationship, it’s important to know what your deal breakers are. If getting married and having kids of your own are very important to you, then be sure you’re dating someone who wants the same things. If he says he doesn't know if he wants kids, take him at his word. At that point you need to decide how much more time and energy you want to invest in someone who’s probably not going to give you marriage or kids.

As for the annual fundraising gala, don’t participate or help out if it makes you uncomfortable. Have something else planned with friends for the day and tell the widower you hope the event goes well. And after it’s all over, ask him how long he plans on holding these events and decide if it’s something you can live with.

If you’re in a relationship where you constantly feel like second place or you’re missing out on things important things, it’s time to re-evaluate the relationship. Decide what you can and can’t live with. If you feel like your wants and needs aren't a priority with him, there’s probably a reason for that.

Garden Update: Cabbage

Happy to report that the garden is doing well. Most of the food we've been eating for dinner comes from the garden and we haven't had to buy fresh vegetables from the store in several weeks. This year I've also been able to grow some food that I have tried before. For example, yesterday we picked and ate the first cabbage I've ever grown. It tasted great. From the looks of things there are another five cabbages on the way. Considering this is my first attempt growing cabbage, I'm thrilled with the results thus far.

Grand Canyon (North Rim)

"You ever been to the Grand Canyon? Its pretty, but that's not the thing of it. You can sit on the edge of that big ol' thing and those rocks... the cliffs and rocks are so old... it took so long for that thing to get like that... and it ain't done either! It happens right there while your watching it. Its happening right now as we are sitting here in this ugly town. When you sit on the edge of that thing, you realize what a joke we people really are... what big heads we have thinking that what we do is gonna matter all that much... thinking that our time here means diddly to those rocks. Just a split second we have been here, the whole lot of us. That's a piece of time so small to even get a name. Those rocks are laughing at me right now, me and my worries... Yeah, its real humorous, that Grand Canyon. Its laughing at me right now. You know what I felt like? I felt like a gnat that lands on the ass of a cow chewing his cud on the side of the road that you drive by doing 70 mph."  -- Danny Glover, Grand Canyon.

North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, July 15, 2014



Widower Wednesday: Second Place

Widower Wednesday

From the inbox comes the following question:

How do I handle the days when the widower I'm dating is missing his wife. It reminds me that no matter how much he loves me I will never be the one he really wishes he could be with. I feel I'll never know what it's like to be that loved and cherished and wanted. I dated a widower once before and I couldn't handle this feeling. I truly love this man and I am trying so hard to accept this. Do you have any advice?



Hi T.,

You shouldn't be dating someone who still wishes he was with someone else. It doesn't matter if that person is alive or dead. You should feel just as loved and cherished as the late wife. Widowers who are serious about starting a new chapter in their lives with someone else should be able to put their love and feelings for the late wife in a special place in their heart and give 99.9% of their time and attention to the woman they are with now. If you're widower can't do that, you're always going to feel second best. You need to decide if that's a relationship you can live with.

Hope this helps,


Grilled Peaches

We had a neighborhood party on Independence Day. I always enjoy these activities because there’s plenty for the kids to do and I get a chance to chat with neighbors and get to know them better. And there’s the food. A big, yummy potluck dinner where I get to try new things to eat. The highlight was trying grilled peaches—something I had never considered grilling before. Here’s a pic as they cooked on the neighbors grill.

Before you cook then, you brush on a light coat of oil on the bottom so they don't stick to the grill. Cook them on the top shelf for 5-10 minutes. (Cooking time varies depending on how hot the grill is on the inside. Cook until their slightly squishy when you squeeze them. To server you top them with a spoonful of a delicious mixture of Greek yogurt, honey, and cinnamon.

The result is this warm mouthful of yumminess. It's like manna from heaven. Only better.

Widower Wednesday: Online Dating Profiles

Widower Wednesday

The following question was recently left on this post by Sonia.

I was recently matched with a man online who is widowed. I'm interested in meeting him and we have plans to meet this week. My problem is two of his profile pictures are of him and his deceased wife. Forget dealing with photos in the house; she's a part of his dating profile! I feel weird about it. Is it a red flag? Should this concern me? Or is he just oblivious? I don't want to inadvertently run from a potentially great man, but I also don't want to put myself in the middle of something that could be a disaster.


This is a first for me. I've never heard of someone posting a photo of the widower and the late wife on a dating site. You didn't mention how old the widower is? Is he getting on and years and doesn't understand internet dating etiquette? My level of concern really depends on how long he's been widowed. Recent widowers, especially those new to the dating game, are pretty clueless when it comes to things like how the photos of their late spouse can affect potential relationships. If he's been widowed for awhile and been dating for a bit, he should know better.

That being said, I don't see a problem with going on a date to get a better feel of where he's at emotionally and if those online pictures should be something you should be really concerned about. My personal opinion is that it's hard to get a real feel for someone unless you can spend some time with them in person.

So go out for coffee or lunch. Something short and sweet. If after one date you feel, he's not ready then time to move on to another profile.

Hope this helps.


Where's Abel?

I'll be participating in the first annual Indie Author Hub Writing & Publishing Conference tomorrow (June 7) a the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Provo Utah. About the conference:

That's right, it's conference time! Not just any conference, but a conference targeted toward all aspects of indie publishing. This year, our self-published keynote speaker is NYT bestselling author of A Different Blue, Amy Harmon. We will also have 21 breakout classes in three tracks: writing, book creation, and marketing/business. We are so excited to have many experienced and successful self-published authors and other professionals who have agreed to share their time with us.

You can find more information about the conference here.

Widower Wednesday: Did I End Things Too Soon?

Widower Wednesday

The Ultimate Dating Guide for Widowers is now available on iTunes. A paperback version as well as Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords ebooks are also available. For those who have asked for signed copies, I should have some copies available in my store in a few weeks. (Thanks for your patience.) If you're unsure if the book is for you or the widower you're dating, you can read Chapter 1 here.


Below is a recent email exchange I had with a GOW. A few personal details have been omitted to protect the privacy of the sender. Emails shared with permission.

Hi Abel,

I need your advice. I've been dating a widower for 5 months. We met a few months after his late wife's death. Things were going great until one day I learned that he was making daily trips to the cemetery to visit his late wife's grave. I didn't feel he was ready for a relationship so I ended things. That was two weeks ago. Now I’m having second thoughts that I might have been too hasty. Should I have been more patient?



Hi D.,

I need a little more information before I answer your question. When you asked the widower why he visited his late wife's grave every day, what did he say?




I didn't ask him. I don't really know why he went to her grave every day.




Are you still on speaking terms with him? If so, why not ask him and see what he says.




I haven't talked to the widower since I ended things. He's texted me a couple times but I haven't responded. I don’t want to be one of those women I read about in your blog and books that go back to the widower and nothing has changed. Are you saying that I should contact him again? I don't want to get serious with someone who won't make me number 1. Thanks for your help.




In general, you are correct. You don't want to get back with a widower if he's not going to make you number one. But I'm not asking you to do that. All I'm suggesting is if you want to know if ending the relationship was a mistake, you need to know why he was visiting his wife's grave every day. I'm not saying get back together with him rather just have a chat in order to help determine whether or not he's actually ready for a serious relationship with you.




I know it's been a week since you heard from me but I wanted to update you on my story. The day after reading your email, I texted him and asked if we could talk. He agreed. We went out for coffee and after making small talk for a minute I asked him about the cemetery visits. He told me that he just felt it was what he was supposed to do. He had no idea that his actions were hurting me. He said he was willing to stop visiting the grave if it would mean that I would give him a second chance. I told him that I didn't think that was something I could ask of him and that he should be able to visit her as often as he wanted but that he should also keep my feelings in mind.

To make a long story short, we are back together. I feel like an idiot for not talking to him about it when it first came up. It would have saved us both a lot of hurt feelings and heartache had I simply talked to him. He hasn't visited her grave in the last week but Memorial Day is coming up next week and I told him that he could visit her on that day if he wanted and my feelings wouldn't be hurt. I don't know if he's going to pay her a visit but I think I can live with him going to see her once in a while. I don't want to dictate what he can and can't do. We're both adults and I'm sure we'll figure out something that we can both live with.

Thanks again for your help.


The Best Commencement Address of 2014

Every year I surf around the internet for the best commencement address that go out to new graduates. Past winners have included Steve Jobs and David McCullough, Jr. It's a harder task than you think since most commencement addresses are pretty much the same. The best ones, at least in my opinion, are those that not only speak from experience but speak from the heart. It's hard to combine the two. This year the best commencement address of 2014 goes to Adm. William H. McRaven who delivered it to the graduates of the University of Texas at Austin. You can watch it below.