Archive for May, 2011
A quick update on those who submitted stories for the Dating a Widower book: I’ve gone through and made the initial selection for the stories. If you’re stories been selected, you should get a formal email next week letting you know. There were lots of good stories and I’m still debating whether or not to include a section of stories at the end.
In the meantime, I realized that I forgot to ask if anyone has stories to share about online memorials to the LW. It’s a new chapter I created and yesterday I didn’t get any stories about that because—like an idiot—I forgot to ask for them. So if anyone wants to share a story about the problems caused by online memorials and how you overcame those problems, please email them to me. Stories must be submitted by Wednesday June 1. Thanks!
Also, if you have a minute, check out a great Miss Manners column on a family adjusting to a widower’s new wife. I thought Miss Manners’ advice was spot on. Hat Tip: Lindesy, who posted it over at the Dating a Widower Facebook group.
Sometimes I’ll get emails from women who are dating a widower but feel like a mistress because the widower keeps their relationship a secret. When it’s just the two of them, he treats her like a queen. However, if there’s a party, vacation, dinner, or other activity where friends, family, or others who knew the LW might be present, the widower goes alone. Just a few of the excuses a widower gives for his behavior include:
- His family/friends think it’s too soon for him to start dating again
- His family/friends are still grieving
- If his family/friends knew he was in a relationship it would cause problems and he’d rather keep the peace
- It’s none of their business who he’s dating
- His family/friends are boring and doesn’t want to trouble them
Part of me can understand that a widower might not want others knowing that he’s dating again—especially if it’s soon after the late wife’s death. Often those who are closest to a widower have the hardest time seeing him with someone else. When I started dating again, I kept my activities from just about everyone. However, there’s a difference between not telling someone about a date and hiding a serious relationship. Once a widower becomes serious with someone, the widower needs to let others know. It doesn’t have to be a big, formal announcement but he needs to let others know that there’s someone else in his life. The tone and the way the widower does this can go a long way to getting friends and family to open up to the new woman and the relationship.
What I don’t understand is why women put up with this type of behavior. And don’t tell me it’s because you think he’s a great guy. Great guys don’t treat their girlfriends like mistresses or call girls. Great guys aren’t ashamed of the women they’re dating. Usually they’re more than happy to introduce them to friends and family, take them out in public places, and pretty much want to show you off to the world.
So if you’re feeling like a mistress, it’s probably because you’re being treated like one. Unless you enjoy being someone’s secret lover, stand up for yourself. Life’s too short to waste it on men who aren’t willing to let the world know what a great catch they’ve found. You deserve to be treated like a queen. Last time I looked, queens aren’t hidden from the world.
May 25th, 2011
According to the New York Times, more and more college graduates are unable to find jobs after graduation; those who do are being paid less than graduates who got their degrees before the recession.
The median starting salary for students graduating from four-year colleges in 2009 and 2010 was $27,000, down from $30,000 for those who entered the work force in 2006 to 2008, according to a study released on Wednesday by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. That is a decline of 10 percent, even before taking inflation into account.
Of course, these are the lucky ones — the graduates who found a job. Among the members of the class of 2010, just 56 percent had held at least one job by this spring, when the survey was conducted. That compares with 90 percent of graduates from the classes of 2006 and 2007. (Some have gone for further education or opted out of the labor force, while many are still pounding the pavement.)
From the sad stories of unemployed or underemployed college graduates in the article, most of them seem shocked that college didn’t lead to the riches and careers they were told awaited them once they had a diploma in their hands.
The value of a college degree—or at least the perceived value—is part of the problem. When most kids graduate from high school they’ve had at least a decade about the importance of college being drilled into their heads. Most graduate believing that if they want to make anything of their lives, they need a college degree. Trade school, post secondary certifications, or other educational paths are often scoffed at by “educators” even when those may be a good solution for many high school students.
While it’s certainly true that college can lead to higher or better paying jobs than those who don’t pursue a college education, the number of college graduates waiting tables, working as telemarketers, or performing other jobs that don’t require any education or training except a high school diploma is rising. Part of this due to the recession and the fact there are fewer jobs awaiting graduates. However, a bigger problem is that the market is flooded with college graduates who have degrees that are absolutely useless when it comes to getting jobs in the real world. Rubbing salt in the wounds is that many of these students graduated with mountains of debt.
College isn’t for everyone; college degrees aren’t for everyone. Instead of telling students that college is the only path to success, we need to let students know that there are many ways to make it in the world and that college is just one of many choices. Since the real world is often a better teacher than any classroom, many students might even be better off not going to college and seeing what the real world is like before deciding whether or not to pursue a college degree or another path.
Unfortunately the education industrial complex gets a lot of money from the status quo and is unlikely to change anytime soon. It’s probably to take a generation of debt-laden, pissed off graduates before any meaningful education reform is even discussed.
May 24th, 2011
Whenever I see this sign, I can’t help but think someone’s trying to tell Marathon Girl to slow down.
May 22nd, 2011
A big THANK YOU to all those who submitted a story to the forthcoming Dating a Widower book. I received over 100 submissions. I spent part of the weekend categorizing them and reading as many as time allowed. I still have another 50 or so to read through. I’m hoping to have final selections done in the next two weeks. If your story is selected, I hope to let you know no later than the first half of June.
I’m short on time today so instead of posting some dating a widower advice, I’d like to get some feedback from readers of this column.
As many of you know, I’ve operated a Dating a Widower Facebook group for the last 18 months or so. For the most part the group has been a big success. Right now it has nearly 300 members and a very active discussion thread going on. (Feel free to join if you aren’t already part of it.)
Facebook has recently changed the way the groups work and have required group administrators to upgrade the groups or lose them. A couple of weeks ago I upgraded the DAW group. As a result this resulted in some changes to the group—some good, others not so good.
On the good side, the Facebook group is now totally private. No one, except for other members of the group, can see the posts. The changes also make it easier for members to see when there have been updates to the group. Since the upgrade, the number of discussion threads has increased dramatically.
The one major downside is that now that all discussion threads are posted on the group’s wall, it’s more difficult so sort through topics. Sometimes multiple threads with similar or the same topics are going on simultaneously. As a result several members have asked if I’d be open to starting a discussion board on my site or elsewhere that’s easier to navigate.
Starting a private DAW discussion board on my website would be easy and affordable. All I have to do is push a button on the backend and pay an extra two or three dollars a month to keep it operational. Neither is a problem for me right now.
Personally, I’d rather keep the Facebook group going. The way I look at it people are more likely to visit their Facebook page than my site every day. With the group upgrade, seeing if there are new posts or discussion threads. My biggest worry is that having two discussion groups (my site and Facebook) would decrease overall participation. I’d rather have one strong, active group then two weak groups. However, I’m willing to consider starting one on this site enough people express interest.
So email me or leave comments below on what you think. Is the Facebook group good enough or would you rather have a discussion board–one that might take the place of the Facebook group? I’ll take comments over the next couple weeks and let you know of my decision by the end of June.
May 18th, 2011
Me: For the first time since buying a Kindle for Marathon Girl, I’ve ordered hard copies of two books. They arrived—
Question Man: Wait a minute. I thought you guys loved the Kindle. Why are you ordering hard copies of books now?
Me: We do love MG’s Kindle; so much so that we probably need a second one. Good thing Father’s Day is coming up next month. (Hint, hint, hint!) However, I have a hard time reading non-fiction books on the Kindle.
Question Man: Have a hard time reading them? Is there a formatting issue with the non-fiction books.
Me: No, it’s not a formatting issue. When I read non-fiction (with the exception of memoirs) I’m a prolific note taker. I underline a lot of passages, make tons of notes in the margins, and use my own shorthand for cross referencing purposes.
Question Man: Did you know you can highlight passages, take notes, and mark up Kindle eBooks just about any way you want?
Me: Yes, I know. The problem is that it takes considerably more time for me to take notes with the Kindle—at least twice as long if I had the paper book and pencil in my hand. It wouldn’t be a big deal if I was just highlighting a handful of passages or only had a few notes. However, my note taking gets pretty extensive. Hence the reason I ordered hard copies.
Question Man: Well why don’t you download a Kindle app for your computer and highlight and take notes at lightning speed?
Me: I have downloaded the Kindle App on my PC. It’s way faster to highlight and take notes. The problem is I stare at a computer screen all day for work plus the hour or two I squeeze in for writing. By the time I get around to reading, my eyes don’t want to stare at a backlit screen anymore. They need a break.
Question Man: So what’s your solution?
Me: Well, a second Kindle would help. (Hint, hint, hint!) That would give me more time to practice highlighting and note taking. But for now I’m sticking with paperbacks—at least for non-fiction. That means Story Engineering and Cool IT will reside in paperback on my shelf for now. Fiction however will always find a home on my Kindle. Hopefully I can find a solution before I need to buy another non-fiction book.
Question Man: Will you let us know if you find a solution?
Me: You bet. And if anyone out there has any tips, please let me know.
May 17th, 2011
May 15th, 2011
Just a reminder that today’s the day to submit your stories for consideration for the upcoming Dating a Widower book. (If you ask nicely, I might let one or two trickle in this weekend. ). The real life examples you submit can be either positive or “learning” dating a widower experiences or something in between. Basically we’re looking for any kind of story that can help women navigate the murky waters that come with dating a widower.
Though you’re welcome to write about any dating a widower topic, I’m especially looking for stories that can answer the following questions:
- How to get your widower to open up and talk to you about your relationship?
- How you overcame insecurities in the bedroom about being compared to the late wife?
- What have widowers done to make you feel like Number 1?
- When did you realize it was time to end the relationship with a widower?
- How did you deal with the widower’s adult children who weren’t accepting of their dad’s new relationship?
- How did you get the widower’s minor children to accept you as the new “mom”?
- How did you deal with special days like the late wife’s birthday, and wedding anniversary and other holidays?
To submit your story for consideration, send me an email. Please keep submissions to 500 words or less. You can submit more than one story but please send them in different emails. (This way I can sort them by topic better.) All submissions must be received by May 13, 2011.
The author of any story that makes it into the book will receive a free copy of the Dating a Widower book up publication. To protect your privacy, you can publish your story under a pen name if you wish.
If you have any questions about submitting a story let me know.
Thanks, and I’m looking forward to reading what you have to share.
May 13th, 2011
FINAL REMINDER: Friday is the last day to submit your story for the upcoming Dating A Widower book. Thanks to all those who have already shared your story. I’ll start reading them this weekend and should have selections made by the end of the month. To submit your story, just send me an email.
Going through the dating and marriage routine with Marathon Girl was a very different experience than dating and marrying the late wife. Since I had a fairly successful (albeit short) marriage the first time around, I had a better idea of what qualities any future spouse had to have and what trivial issues I could live with.
For example, something I looked for the second time around was someone who was good with money and could live within a budget. The late wife was pretty good with money (as am I) and it was nice not to have money worries hanging over our marriage. As I started dating again, I realized I’d have a hard time spending my life with someone who had a hard time controlling their spending or mountains of unpaid consumer debt no matter how pretty or smart she was. After getting to know Marathon Girl while we were dating, it was a relief to know she had the same view about finances, money, and spending as me. On the other hand, I could have cared less what kind of music Marathon Girl liked, whether she was a morning or a night person, or liked sushi. Those things weren’t important to me or having a successful marriage.
Sometimes I’ll receive emails from someone who’s dating a widower and even though he’s done a decent job of moving on and treating the new woman like number one, there are other issues that the woman is having a hard time with. For example, the widower may be a complete slob and the woman a neat freak. He may have problems with excessive alcohol consumption, drugs use, or pornography or issues with spending money wisely, getting it on in the bedroom, or finding steady employment. Other times it may boil down to different religious or political views may come between the couple. Whatever the problem is the question that is asked is whether or not it’s worth waiting around to see if he changes.
My advice is always the same: Never settle for a relationship with anyone if the person has any issue or habit you can’t live with. Dating a widower is more than just making sure he’s moved on and is ready to start a new life. It’s about knowing he is someone you can see yourself spending the rest of your life with if he never changes.
We’re all imperfect and have bad habits and issues we’re struggling with. Some people try to improve their lives. Others are happy just the way they are. What you need to decide is whether or not the foibles and imperfections of the widower is something you can live with. When I married Marathon Girl I do assuming that there was a zero change she may never like sushi. Eight years in, she still hates it. However, I knew I could live with her and love her even if she hated it for the rest of our lives together. On the other hand, I knew I was marrying some who had similar values and beliefs as myself—something I couldn’t compromise on if I was going to happily spend the rest of my life with someone.
Life is short. We can choose to live it with someone who we can love or someone who will drive us crazy. Others may like relationship drama, but I prefer waking up next to someone who I can’t wait to spend another day together. Whoever you become involved in a relationship with, at some point you’re going to know whether or not he is someone you can see yourself spending the rest of your life with. It is at that moment we need to have the courage to either live with it or move on. It may not be an easy choice, but it’s one that can have a profound affect on the rest of your life. Therefore, choose wisely.
May 11th, 2011
Had a great time at the Storymakers writing conference this weekend. I’ll post a bunch on my Facebook page later, but thought I’d post the one below so James Dashner knows how much we all worship him.
Gregg Luke, James Dashner, Traci Hunter Abramson, and me.
May 8th, 2011
Just a reminder that there are nine days left to submit your story for consideration in the forthcoming Dating a Widower book. Though I’ve asked for a list of specific stories, you’re free to submit any story that that you think will help women who are dating a widower.
One of the things I’ve learned over the years is the importance of relationships. In the writing and publishing world it’s amazing how far a good relationship with agents, publishers, editors, and other industry movers and shakers will take authors along the path of publication. It’s just as, if not more important, than being able to write and tell a good story. In the business world often business deals or hiring decisions made simply because of past relationships between two people. Whether the relationship is with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances, or complete strangers, how we treat and interact with people defines who we are and, I believe, will make up a good portion of how we’ll be judged by God in the next life.
Relationships aren’t static. As we grow older and experience life events, we’re forced to make changes that redefine relationships. For example, when I got married the first time, my relationship with my single friends changed. I still maintained the friendships but I ended up spending less time with them (or sometimes taking the wife along) because Krista was the top priority in my life. I had to make similar adjustments to relationships with friends and family when I married Marathon Girl. I never ended or lost any friendships when I got married either time but simply redefined how much time I spent with them.
One of the adjustments widowers have a hard time making is redefining relationships with the in-laws after they become serious with a new woman. At least once a week I’ll get an email from a woman saying she feels like number two because the widower still spends a lot of time with LW’s family or is involved in some annual activities and traditions with that family when she wishes they would start some traditions of their own.
From the emails I receive it seems that widowers who have a hard time adjusting the relationship with the LW’s family are those who were already on good terms with the in-laws when the LW was alive and/or those who grew even closer to the in-laws after their wife died. Often these widowers are oblivious that the amount of time they spend with the LW’s family is problem until the new girlfriend or wife mentions it.
Redefining relationships after a life changing event is tricky and I don’t claim to have done it well in every instance (more on that in a minute). I’m also not going to say how much time a widower who’s remarried or is in a serious relations with someone else should or should not spend with the LW’s family. There are too many factors such as children (if any), geography, and how open the LW’s family is to the new woman that make it difficult to give a definitive answer. However, successfully adjusting relationships involves knowing one’s priorities and communicating with others who may find their relationship changed the most. A widower needs to know which relationship (new wife or GF, or LW’s family) is most important than organize his life and priorities accordingly while being man enough to lovingly let family, friends, and others know how his new life could affect the relationships. The widower also needs to understand that no everyone may be happy with his new priorities so he’ll need to have the courage to stand by what he thinks is important while letting those who are offended know that he values their relationship. It’s a delicate balancing act but one that needs to be done to successfully start a new life with someone else.
All this is probably easier said than done. I know it was easier for me to adjust the relationship with Krista’s family then it is for other widowers. First, there were no living children from my marriage to Krista. Also, for a variety of reasons, I never got along good with Krista’s parents. After our daughter’s funeral, I never spoke to them again. I did maintain relationships with Krista’s brother, her grandmother, and a few other family members but even those have gone by the way side. And I have no one to blame for that other than myself. It been about 18 months since I last spoke (well, emailed actually) Krista’s brother. When I tried to get hold of him last month to invite him to my book party, my attempts (email, phone, etc.) were unsuccessful. He has a new email address and phone number and I don’t have them. (No, he’s not on Facebook or other social media sites.) Though I have no regrets about making Marathon Girl and our family numero uno, I never intended my relationship with Krista’s brother to wither and die.
So to those widowers who have a good relationship with your late wife’s family, please understand that making a new life with someone else is going to require adjusting relationships not only with the LW’s family but with friends and others too. However, if you value these relationships, please do a better balancing act than I did. You won’t be able to please everyone but at least let them know how much they mean to you.
To women who find themselves feeling like number two to the LW’s family, please talk to your widower about this and let him know how you feel while being understanding that these people were part of his previous life and it’s unrealistic to expect him to simply boot them out of his life just because you’re in it.
Finally, Scott, if you’re reading this, please take this post as an apology. If you happen to read this, please send me an email. It’s been a while since we talked. I’d like to catch up.
May 4th, 2011