Archive for August, 2011
Before we get into today’s column, I did want you all to know that Dating a Widower: Starting a Relationship with a Man Who’s Starting Over is done and will be available for purchase next week. I apologize for the delay but there are several marketing and PR things I had to get in order first before I make the official announcement. If you want to be the first to know, get on my email list or check this blog next week for the big announcement. If you want to pre-order a personalized copy, you can do so here. Otherwise
Now on to Part II of The Sainted Late Wife.
One of the things I’ve noticed from reading last week’s and this week’s stories is how big of an influence the widower can have on whether or not the girlfriend or wife feels compared. When the widower doesn’t compare, it seems to make it easier for the girlfriend or wife to deal with “sainting” comments that friends or family may make. Ultimately it’s up to the GOW or WOW to recognize that the late wife was just as human as she no matter what anyone else says. However, widowers through their words and action can make this realization a lot easier.
Here are this week’s stories:
LW was a very strong willed and hard-headed woman. Given more time in this life, things would probably have smoothed out as she and Wâ s family/friends came to know each other better, but there was a fair amount of conflict in the short time that she was a part of his life.
And yet, I experienced my share of GOW angst–feeling as though I lived in the shadow of someone who would always be there, glowing perfection, no matter what I did.
So much of the comparison between a GOW/WOW and the LW takes place primarily in the mind of the new woman. I realize that there are outside factors in some situations: maybe the W makes comments about how â LW did it this way, or there are still shrines hanging in various homes. But many of us also have an internal dialogue that tells us we will never be good enough to walk in the shoes of the LW.
About nine months in, I was at a point where I was ready to give up. Much as I loved my W, I just couldnâ t take the feeling of being the second-best or replacement part. My internal dialogue constantly reminded me that she was there first, and that I could never take her place.
My W happens to have a close relative who is a very unique person. She’s very blunt, but she is also by nature very kind. I called her one day in tears, and let it all pour out. She listened without judgment, and then she told me I was wrong.
Without being at all catty, she told me very frankly that LW was far from perfect, and that their marriage was also far from perfect. Without ever having to say a bad word about either of them, she made me see that both of them were completely human and that their relationship was likewise a normal human relationship. As she talked, I realized that she was right. I was trying to compare my totally human self with a completely inhuman ideal that had never existed.
I realize that not everyone is lucky enough to have a friend/family member who is able to speak truthfully to who the LW was. But if you can find someone you trust, then I strongly suggest taking a leap and asking them some questions. If there is someone whose discretion you can have faith in, and talk openly with, you have struck gold.
Even the most seemingly saintly woman was not a saint. She had PMS and cranky days, just like you do. She dented the car and burned dinner and pouted once in a while, just like you do. It doesn’t mean she was a bad person, any more than it means that you are–it means she was human. And coming to terms with her humanity is the greatest gift that you can give yourself, and your W.
My husband has been very good to me. There are two things that stand out in my mind that he has done to reassure me that he loves me for who I am.
First, before he proposed to me my husband spoke to his children and explained to them that he wanted to marry me. He also explained that he could not keep pictures of his first wife displayed around the entire house when he was thinking of marrying another woman. He had them help him take the pictures down and offered to help hang them in their rooms. He did this about a month before he proposed, giving his children time to adjust to the change.
Second, he has always told me what he appreciates about me specifically. Some times he tells me that these are areas his first wife did not do well in, so he appreciated these qualities in me so much more. He has never compared the two of us, he has never bad mouthed his first wife, I know he still loves her very much but he has always done his best to make me realize what qualities I have that are unique and make me special in his eyes.
[Note: These is an excerpt from Annie's blog (which you should all check out) where she describes living in the same home as the late wife. She gave me permission to share. I encourage you to read the full post here.]
The wives of polygamists refer to themselves as “sister-wives”. I think this is meant to impose a familial feel to circumstances that could easily dissolve into something competitive and downright ugly were it not for the veneer of a pseudo-relationship that the term implies. Despite my own negative views on the subject of plural marriage, I wonder if the term doesn’t more aptly describe my relationship with Shelley than any other.
I live in the house that Shelley called home. The colors on the wall and the decor are hers. The garden out back is the one she designed, which Rob dutifully spent hours creating for her, and the planters all around the front and back grew the flowers she planted. The next door neighbor was her very good friend and sang at her memorial.
Now the home decorations disappear, or are replaced, and Rob and I tend the garden together. The planters overflow in the warm months with blooms my daughter picked out, and she has adopted Shelley’s dear friend, following Charlotte around as she gardens and visiting via the back porch door which is nearly always open to her.
There is a room in the basement that until our recent garage sale was crammed almost to the ceiling with things that mostly belonged to Shelley once, and what wasn’t there sat on shelves and in cabinets and hung in closets upstairs and down. I helped her daughters go through those boxes of her clothes and what they didn’t want I sorted for donations, idly wondering if it was too creepy to claim the walking shorts I am certain would have fit me had I worked up the courage to try them on.
Sisters do not choose each other. They are born into families and learn to co-exist. Sometimes quite happily and lovingly. Sometimes not at all. More often than not such relationships fall somewhere in between mutual understanding and merely a shared heritage. Shelley and I did not choose each other. Rob chose us. First her and then me. Though today I feel that I have a life that is all my own, it still owes something to the foundations laid by this not quite sister of mine who I know only from the stories and actions of my husband and step-daughters. In my earliest days here on the Canadian prairie where I live in the abandoned shell of another woman’s life, I felt a presence that I can’t say for sure was hers but that seemed to be studying and watching. It was neither welcoming nor repelling. Just there. I haven’t felt that for a while. Perhaps I have been judged and found adequate. I choose to think so.
Read the post in its entirety.
W has not openly compared me to lw. Whatever competition there is comes from me and my thoughts (i.e., I don’t have red hair, I suck at golf, and I am not into public service, but rather a behind the scenes person.)
I feel the most insecure about these moments at W’s house. Never at mine. When he is here, I am proud of the life I have and the confidence I feel on my home turf.
I imagine he does compare on some level. But frankly I do too. I also compare him to others i have known and loved . . . but not in a bad way. More of a aha way . . . that this is different than what I’ve known and I like it.
I have had so many comparisons made it’s hard to write them all, some are direct like ”Carol never wore pink nail varnish or lipstick.” Others more subtle like, “They were perfect together and made for each other. It was such a sad thing to lose her, they were so in love!”
W has tried to reinforce my good points, the reasons he loves me, my qualities, kindness etc! He continues to say I am not a replacement for LW and he has never seen me that why. He says he makes his own choices an she has chosen me! He has recently touched base with all his friends to discuss boundaries as too much was being said, too many comparisons being made!
August 31st, 2011
Yesterday I did a book signing at a local Barnes & Noble with seven other authors. They table I was sitting at was set across from the section where people could look at and examine Nooks. It was interesting to watch how busy the Nook stations were for the three hours we were there—especially the Kid’s Nook station. Parents and their kids would walk in and instead of heading to the kid’s section in the back, they’d run straight to the (kid) Nooks. I saw many Nooks get sold, half of which by my estimation were bought for the kids.
My first book came out before eReaders were popular. The biggest difference I’ve noticed between book signings then and now is that at least half the people who stop by the table ask if the books are available in eBook format. (Earlier this hummer I had a lady pull her Kindle out of her purse and download one of my books instead of buying a paper copy.) It got me thinking if the popularity of eBooks will have an adverse effect on author signings.
Here’s what I predict: In the next two or three years the number of author book signings will plummet. Mostly this will be because more bookstores will close and those that do remain will have less foot traffic than they do now. The other part for this decline will be that authors without a large readership or those just starting out will find book signings to be less and less productive way to spend their time and will find other ways (mostly online) to grow their readership and fans.
That’s not to say book signings will completely go away –just transform. Instead of walking into your local bookstore and seeing an author sitting behind a table with copies of his or her books, book signings will become more like social events. They’ll become a great way for readers to meet their favorite author in person. (You’re starting to see more ticketed events when a big name author releases a book. Usually a hardback version of their book is included in the price of the ticket.) They’re could be music, food, and all the trappings of a party. And if you add a limited number of tickets to an event for the bigger name authors, you build up hype and it quickly becomes a must attend event. This change will be great for well-known authors with a large fan base but a problem for new and midlist authors or those with small number of readers. That means the authors who know how to market themselves and their work will be the ones who reap the biggest benefit from this shift.
This change will be good for both authors and bookstores. Those who are good at selling themselves and their books will see more signings and bookstores will be able to stay afloat in part from the profits of these events. Those who aren’t as adept at this won’t find themselves behind tables at bookstores anymore. That means instead of sitting behind a table they can spend their time working on their latest book or find other (read: more productive) ways to build their audience.
August 28th, 2011
A joke that was recently posted on the Dating a Widower Facebook Group goes something like this:
In a hurry, the man walked out into the street and managed to snag a taxi that was passing by.
What luck, he thought, as he slid into the cab.
“Perfect timing,” the cabbie said. “You’re just like Bill.”
“Who?” asked the man.
“Bill Smith,” said the cabbie. “There’s a guy who did everything right. Like my coming along when you needed a cab. It would have happened like that to Bill every time.”
“I don’t believe you,” the man said to the cabbie. “There are always a few clouds over everybody.”
“Not Bill,” said the cabbie. “He was a terrific athlete. He could have gone on the pro tour in tennis. He could golf with the pros. He sang like an opera baritone and danced like a Broadway star.”
“Bill was really something, huh?”
“Oh, yeah,” continued the cabbie. “Bill had a memory like a trap. Could remember everybody’s birthday. He knew all about wine, which fork to eat with. He could fix anything. Not like me. I change a fuse, and the whole neighborhood blacks out.”
“No wonder you remember him,” the man said.
“Well, I never actually met Bill,” said the cabbie.
“Then how in the world do you know so much about him?” the man asked.
“I married his widow,” the cabbie replied.
I think most people who are dating a widower can relate to the above joke. Often it seems like the late wife was the most perfect person who ever lived. Yet the late wife was just as human as everyone else and had her faults and bad moments too. The problem is that after someone dies those who are left behind usually remember only the good things about the deceased. This can make it hard for those who are dating a widower to feel like they can never be as good a wife or mother as the dead.
So what’s the best way to deal with it?
I’ve tried several times to come up with my thoughts on the topic but have been unable to come up with I consider helpful. Instead, I’ve asked readers to contribute stories about how they’ve dealt with it. I received so many good ones that I’m going to make this a two part essay. Look for another for or five essays on this topic next week. Hopefully you find their stories helpful. If you have a story you want to share, it’s not too late. Email it to me by Monday and I’ll include it in next week’s column.
I am fortunate that my soon-to-be husband has never, ever made comparisons between me and his late wife, nor has he laid down expectations that I do things the way she did them. (Ditto with his friends and family, who have been nothing but supportive of our relationship and welcoming toward me.) He has always loved me for who I am, and has told me so time and again. In fact, as much as he loved his late wife, he was thankful that widowhood gave him the opportunity to fill his life with new experiences and people.
So what do I have to add to the discussion of the sainted dead wife? Perhaps worse than the widower or his friends and family making comparisons is this: You making those comparisons and judgments on your own. I fell into that trap, and it took me a while to get out.
Deb seemed like super woman in my eyes. She kept horses, she quilted, she was a talented athlete and a loving mother, she was an amazing gardener, she worked the farm with her husband, she could drive a tractor with finesse and confidence, she endured 17 years of chemotherapy, surgeries, hospitalizations and pain/discomfort that accompanied her cancer, and she never complained or said “Why me?”
I used to wonder, how can this wonderful man put up with me after 23 years of living with a brave and intelligent woman like her? I am scared of horses, I have never driven a tractor (even now that I live on a farm), my gardening prowess is mediocre at best, I am terrible at sports, and I am grumpy as hell if I don’t get a good night’s sleep. I am also impatient, have no mechanical aptitude and sometimes feel as if I have no confidence in myself.
My fiancé is also the first to acknowledge that Deb could be a hard-ass, she had a cantankerous relationship with their son, she gave up early any attempts to have her own career in the field she had studied, and though she could grow flowers, she could not arrange them in a vase to save her life.
In essence, Deb was a human being, and so am I. She had strengths and weaknesses, accomplishments and failures. So do I.
I realized I was only taking inventory of my weaknesses when I compared myself to Deb. I overlooked my strengths. These include making a successful career doing what I love, being financially self-sufficient, making a wonderful life as a single person with good friendships and meaningful activities, and having the tenacity and discipline to be able to ride my bicycle 100 miles in a day. I think Deb would have admired these accomplishments, just as I admire and respect hers.
But more importantly, I learned that if my fiancé didn’t compare me to Deb, then I shouldn’t either, whether the comparisons are based on positive attributes or negative ones. Admiration and respect are good. Comparisons are crazy-making.
Both my fiancé and his late wife have taught me this valuable lesson, and have helped me appreciate my self-worth without making comparisons to anyone.
I feel as though I am the most fortunate wife of a former widower on the planet. My husband has not once verbalized a comparison between his LW and me. I have never even been given the impression that he was doing such. He has never said or done a single thing to make me feel anything less than number 1. So of course then, I never had problem with LW comparison, right? Wrong.
Instead of outward comparisons or contrasts from my widower or their friends, it happened internally. I did it to myself. I always wondered where I stood- how I measured up. I never knew the woman. I only had tiny snippets of her life that I collected from various conversations over time. Some of them include:
- Her laughter could light up a room
- She was always so kind
- You never saw her without a smile on her face
- While she battled cancer, her first thought was always about others
- She loved to help others less fortunate
How in the world could I compete with that? I figured my W thought, “Well, Nina’s all good and well. She’s a fine ol’ gal, but she’s no LW.”
I certainly couldn’t ask how I measured up. I had to deal with that demon on my own- in my own time- in my own way. I almost had to get to know her in my own way, grieve her loss in my own way, and then finally move on without her presence… in my own way. So, I had to lose her too. Now I no longer resent her for simply being here before me. She doesn’t constantly eat at my conscience. She just simply- was.
Practically growing up with his LW has been one of the toughest things to deal with while dating my W. I’m compared to her very often. She and I were best friends in High School and the years afterward and I was a bridesmaid in her wedding to my current boyfriend. We shared a lot (never thought it would be a love interest). We dated for the first time together, drove for the first time together, graduated together, found first loves around the same time, etc. She and I were close as friends that grow up together can be.
When she died, a part of me died. I was there for her family and friends, including her very young widower. When he and I started seeing one another in a different light, just six weeks after she passed away, no one was prepared or ready to deal with that. When people started to find out about us, many jumped to conclusions that W was replacing her with me, since we were similar in so many ways.
There is no way to sugar-coat the way I felt—it hurt. I am an individual, with thoughts and opinions, expressions and features that are all my own. Some things she thought were funny/silly/stupid/good/bad and I didn’t agree. There are still so many things that we did have in common. I did worry about where the W’s mind was when he took a liking to me so soon after she passed away. Was he out of his mind? Was he really into me or was he just needing that attention and affection? Did he like me because I knew her and knew how much he loved her a missed her? Did he pick me because I just happened to be available at that time? Did this happen because God has a plan for us? So many questions that I had no answer for.
Her family had and still has a hard time with us. At first, they felt like I was robbing Matt of his grief. They thought, “Well, Molly has a bubbly personality, and so did LW, so maybe she just temporarily fills that hole for him.” They loved her with everything they have, and are more traumatized by this because of her surprise death at the young age of 26. At her funeral, and most funerals, the clear message was how wonderful, sweet, kind, loving, joyful she was. Now, throw in that her husband, six weeks later, has a new lady in his life. She (me) can never be a perfect as this woman that hundreds of people are mourning. She doesn’t hold a candle to this icon that reigns with perfection of womanhood, marriage, loyalty, etc. She is the bad guy and has taken this precious dedication of life of the LW and smashed it into the ground. At least, that’s how they may have seen it.
I’ve coped with being compared to her and to not ever being able to match up to her for them. That is something I will never be able to be compared to, nor do I want to. However, when it comes to my boyfriend, he has ended comparing us. He has seen that I am me, individually me, with my quirks, passions, desires and dreams that are all mine and he loves me for that. Originally, I appealed to him because I was available, but over some time and deep thought on this situation, he began to love me as me, not because I was her friend.
I think many of the comparisons are all in our heads. For example, I would imagine he was thinking about her when I was helping him cook in her kitchen and judging me lesser cooking skills. I would imagine he was thinking about her when a love song would play. I would imagine he was thinking about her when he was intimate with me comparing our body differences. I would ask questions about her and then i wish i didn’t know because I would them have more ammunition to compare myself to her.
He is still very close with her family. When I attended their events I would imagine they were comparing me to her and thinking I wasn’t good enough for him. My W carried a picture of his LW in his wallet. It’s her picture from the year they met. She’s absolutely beautiful. This picture made me feel so inadequate. I was never that beautiful in my youth. Or at least I never felt I was. But who knows if she felt the same about herself. We are all pretty insecure and self conscious.
I realize now that was only my own insecurities coming out. Thinking back I can’t recall anyone ever actually comparing us, at least not to my face. It really was all in my imagination. i was really the only one comparing the two of us. It’s all that negative self talk that we GOW’s have to stop ourselves from dwelling on.
August 24th, 2011
Today’s Widower Wednesday column is running late today. It will be posted today but probably not until late tonight.
I apologize for the delay.
August 24th, 2011
From Forbes, California Wages War On Single-Family Homes:
In recent years, homeowners have been made to feel a bit like villains rather than the victims of hard times, Wall Street shenanigans and inept regulators. Instead of being praised for braving the elements, suburban homeowners have been made to feel responsible for everything from the Great Recession to obesity to global warming.
In California, the assault on the house has gained official sanction. Once the heartland of the American dream, the Golden State has begun implementing new planning laws designed to combat global warming. These draconian measures could lead to a ban on the construction of private residences, particularly on the suburban fringe. The new legislation’s goal is to cram future generations of Californians into multi-family apartment buildings, turning them from car-driving suburbanites into strap-hanging urbanistas.
Ultimately the density agenda reflects less a credible strategy to reduce GHG [greenhouse gases] than a push among planners to “force” Californians, as one explained to me, out of their homes and into apartments. In pursuit of their “cramming” agenda planners have also have enlisted powerful allies – or perhaps better understood as ” useful idiots” — developers and speculators who see profit in the eradication of the single family by forcibly boosting the value of urban core properties.
From The Third, Chapter 2
[Ransom] stopped in what had once been a bedroom. The walls were painted pink with big brown polka dots. The color combination was not to his liking. Still, he stood in the middle of the room and wondered who had lived in the house over the last hundred years. He wondered whether the home had seemed small and cramped or large and spacious to its occupants. He felt a twinge of jealously. This home was easily twice as large as his apartment. It probably boasted eighteen hundred square feet. Granted, he had recycled homes twice this size, but still, he’d love to be able to give his boys their own rooms and paint the walls their favorite colors.
Ransom headed to the backyard. . . . Ransom stood up and looked around the yard. It was about a quarter acre in size. He found his mind drifting back to his two boys and wondered how they’d enjoy having this much space to run around. The play area next to their apartment building was crowded with kids, and there was always a fight for the swings or other playground equipment. But if they lived in this house, his two boys would have their own place to play. He stood for a minute and imagined them running around the yard, chasing each other and playing on the swings. The thought of his boys made him smile.
From Chapter 11
“Sometimes I feel this whole city is on the brink of chaos. We live cramped together, stacked on top of one another like rats in a lab. We spend most of our weekends standing in line to buy half-rotten food. People treat each other like animals in a survival-of-the-fittest contest. Sometimes I wish we lived in one of those homes I recycle—one with more living space and a yard.” He turned so he was looking at Teya. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have an extra bedroom, a fruit tree or two, and maybe a little garden? There’s a huge cherry tree at the house I’m taking down now. I don’t think I’ve had a cherry since James was born. I want a giant orchard with enough peaches, cherries, and apples to feed our family and share with others. Doesn’t that sound good to you?”
Hat Tip: HitCoffee
August 19th, 2011
I need your help. One of the most frequent topics I’m asked to write on is how to deal with the feelings of being compared to the late wife. As you know, the late wife often becomes a saint once she passes on. Sometimes she was a saint in real life. Either way it’s common to feel like you’re competing against a perfect person and being held to a high standard of perfection by the widower and/or his/her family and friends.
I’ve tried several times to write on this topic but don’t feel like I’ve done the topic justice. As a result, I’ve never posted my thoughts on that matter. This is where you come in. I’d like you to email me your stories on how you’ve dealt with feeling like you’re competing with a saint or things your widower had done to make you feel that he loves you for who you are. (I’ll use a pseudonym if you don’t want your first name published). Again, this is one of the most common topics I’m asked to write on so your story could help a lot of women. I’ll include a few thoughts as well, but I’d rather have the focus be on you and your stories. All I ask is that you keep the email to 500 words or less and let me know if you want your real first name used or for me to come up with an alias. So send me an email. If you want to see a Widower Wednesday column that contains past contributions from readers, click here.
Thanks in advance for your help.
This week I’m publishing the introduction and first chapter from the upcoming Dating a Widower book as well as the story’s from readers that I accepted. The manuscript is just going through typesetting right now for those who want a hard copy. eBooks (Kindle and Nook to start with) are ready to go live once I push the button. Look for an official announcement soon.
You’ve met a man that knocks you off your feet. Everything about him is perfect except for one thing: He’s a widower. And that makes you pause. Is he ready to move on and start a new life with me? Is he done grieving? If the relationship works out, will he love me as much as the late wife? These and a thousand other questions go through your head. Well, you’re in luck.
The purpose of this book isn’t to discourage you from dating a widower. Rather, it’s to 1) give you insight into the heart and mind of a widower so you can better understand his behavior and 2) help you decide for yourself if the widower you’re dating is ready to start a new life with you, or whether he’s just looking to fill the hole in his heart.
As a widower who has since remarried, I’ve seen too many men (myself included) start dating before they’re emotionally ready to make serious commitments to the women they claim to love. I’ve also corresponded with hundreds of women who have fallen in love with men who claimed to be ready to move on but, in the end, were not. Most of these women could have avoided heartache if they’d been aware of the red flags.
The good news is that there are many widowers out there who are ready to make room in their heart for another person. As I write this, I’ve been married to Julianna for eight years. I also personally know many other widowers who are happily remarried. We know how fortunate and blessed we are to have someone else we can spend the rest of our lives with.
I hope the widower you’re dating is one of those men.
Chapter 1: Widowers—They’re Still Men!
Widowers are men. It doesn’t matter how long they were married, how their wife died, or how long it’s been since their wife passed on—widowers act, think, and grieve like men. There are no widower issues—only man issues.
When you think of widowers as men, you can better understand the motivations and reasons behind their actions and decide for yourself whether he’s ready to move on and start a new life with you, or simply looking to fill the hole in his heart or for someone to warm his bed at night.
When it comes to men, there are five things you need to know about them that affects their behavior after they’ve lost a spouse.
- Widowers Have an Internal Need for Relationships
A few weeks after my late wife, Krista, and I were married, we had dinner with her grandmother, a widow. During dinner, her grandmother told us that a neighbor and good friend had recently passed away after a long illness. After we expressed our condolences, her grandmother told us how the woman’s husband had stopped by to invite her to the funeral. After she told the man she planned on coming, the man had then told Krista’s grandmother he’d be calling on her soon.
Krista and I were floored. How could anyone even think about dating someone else when their wife wasn’t even buried yet? On the way home from dinner that night, I told Krista that if she died, I’d never remarry. Krista gave my arm a squeeze and told me she felt the same way.
Two years after that conversation, Krista committed suicide. In the months following her death, I found myself wanting to date again. I felt guilty for having these feelings. I thought there was something wrong with me; perhaps I was angry at Krista about taking her own life, and as a result, I was trying to get even with her. But the desire to date again grew stronger with each passing day. Finally, I gave in to the feelings and signed up with an online dating site and went on my first widower date a few weeks later. Later I met a wonderful woman named Julianna. We fell in love and were married 15 months after Krista died. (As I write this, we’re a month shy of celebrating our eighth anniversary.)
It wasn’t until after I remarried and started researching how men grieve that I realized my desire to date again so soon after Krista’s death was natural. After losing a spouse, most widowers find that the richness and purpose life once held is gone. Their life feels broken, and they want to fix it. The most logical way to do that? Find another woman. And while there’s nothing wrong with dating months or weeks after a spouse dies, most widowers who start dating again are still grieving the loss of their spouse. They’re not emotionally ready to make long-term or serious commitments to the women they’re dating.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop widowers from telling the women they’re dating that they love them and are ready to start a new life. A lot of women end up falling in love with widowers, only to end up with a broken heart after the widowers unexpectedly tell them they’re not ready to move on.
- Widowers Will Stay in Relationships with Women They Don’t Love
Because widowers have a strong desire to be in a relationship, they will get serious with women they don’t really love. Most widowers are just happy to have a woman in their life again. Often, their loneliness is so acute that they’ll attach themselves to the first person who shows the slightest interest in them. Having someone who will hold them and tell them how much they’re needed or loved will overcome the nagging feeling in the back of their mind that the relationship isn’t right—at least for a while.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell which men are serious about moving on and which are just looking for someone to lessen the ache in their hearts. Both types of widowers will treat you like a queen, tell you how much they love you, and do other things that make you feel like the center of their universe. However, widowers who aren’t serious about starting over with you can only fake these relationships for so long. Sooner or later, the doubts that have been nagging them since they first became serious with you will overwhelm their desire for companionship. Once they reach that point, those widowers who still have a shred of manliness in them will tell you the relationship isn’t working out and end it.
Soon after I started dating, I became serious with a woman I’ll call Jennifer. We were friends before I was married to Krista, and after her death, we reconnected. I flirted with her, started dating her, and eventually told her I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. During our relationship, I never loved Jennifer—at least, not in the way you need to love someone to spend the rest of your life with them.
When we were together, I couldn’t see myself marrying or having a family with her. Despite these reservations, I didn’t want to lose her. Having Jennifer in my life brought a sense of normalcy that had been missing since Krista died. Having someone at my side was better than having no one. Eventually I ended the relationship, but it came at a high price. I lost a good friend, and Jennifer ended up with a broken heart and confused feelings.
If you want to avoid giving your heart to a man who’s not ready to move on, my advice is to take things slowly—especially in the first few months of the relationship. It’s also a good way to learn if the widower is looking for a long-term relationship or looking to fill the hole in his heart. A widower who sees a potential long-term, committed relationship with you will be fine taking things slow. He’ll patiently wait for you to be ready while finding ways to prove his feelings for you. If he’s just looking for sex, companionship, or a therapist, he’ll push you to speed things up, threaten to date other people, or quickly lose interest in the relationship.
When a relationship is new and the guy seems like a great catch, it’s very easy to get emotionally swept up the moment and overlook possible warning signs that he’s not ready to open his heart to you However, taking things slow when it comes to physical or emotional intimacy is a small price to pay in order to avoid getting your heart crushed.
- Widowers Pursue Women They’re Interested In
Men, by nature, are pursuers. When the right woman catches their eye, they’ll do just about anything and everything they can to show the woman how much they love them.
The same is true for widowers. When widowers find someone they truly love, they’ll put aside the grief and make you the number one person in their hearts and minds. Widowers who are ready to move on will voluntarily take down photos of the late wife, remove the wedding ring, and make you feel like the only woman he’s ever loved. Nothing will stop them from starting a new life with someone else—including their grief. It may not happen overnight, but you’ll see steady progress from the widower and have little doubt that he’s making room in his heart for you.
The best way to tell if a man is interested in pursuing you is to give him a chance to take the lead in the relationship. Let him plan dates and other activities, and let him initiate most of the communication. Doing this accomplishes two things. First, it forces the widower to decide how serious he is about you. A man who has doubts about the relationship will eventually grow tired of having to prove his love to someone when they aren’t really interested. Eventually he’ll end it.
Second, this helps him make room in his heart for you. Widowers prove their love through actions and sacrifice. The more they can prove their love through actions, the easier it is for them to develop the deep love needed to put their grief aside and start a new life. Without this deep love, it’s extremely difficult for him to make room in his heart for you.
I want to make one thing clear: There’s nothing wrong with setting up dates or calling him. I’m not saying you have to let him initiate everything. But if you find yourself doing most of the heavy lifting in the relationship, it’s easy for him to simply go along for the ride instead of deciding if the relationship is right for him.
There’s a part of me that believes I never would have gotten serious with Jennifer had she let me take more of the lead when we started dating. Because of the doubts in the back of my mind, I hesitated to set up dates and other activities once it became clear that there was a mutual interest in taking things forward. Jennifer, however, had no problem taking the lead. And I had no problem letting her. After all, it felt nice to have someone who wanted to be at my side as often as possible. All I had to do was tell her that I loved her and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I never really had to prove those feelings because Jennifer was eager to take charge.
Julianna, on the other hand, behaved in the opposite way. In addition to having a somewhat shy personality, she also had a lot of concerns about dating a widower and was hesitant to get involved with someone whose late wife had only been dead six months. It quickly became obvious that the only chance I had at winning her heart was to prove to her that I was ready to make her number one in my heart. It took about three months of dating before she felt comfortable becoming serious with me.
During that time, I did everything I could to show her that I was ready to start a new life with her. And in the end, I not only proved my love to her, but proved to myself that I could heal from the loss of a spouse, open my heart to someone else, and love that person just as much.
- Men Can Only Actively Love One Woman at a Time
Most women wouldn’t get involved with a divorced man who was still angry and bitter toward an ex-wife or a single man who was still anguishing over a failed romance. Yet many women will fall in love with a widower who’s still mourning for his late spouse. These women usually believe that if they’re patient and are there for him while he grieves, he’ll eventually move on.
Nothing could be further from the truth. While the human heart has a great capacity for love, widowers can only actively love one woman at a time. It doesn’t matter if the woman is alive or dead; they can only devote their thoughts, feelings, and attention to one woman. If they’re constantly thinking about the late wife, they won’t be able to do what it takes to move on and love someone else.
In order to move on, widowers need to focus their time, energy, and attention on you, instead of the late wife. This means that their utmost thoughts and feelings are on you and your happiness, and not on how much they miss the dead spouse. Widowers who are truly ready for a long-term, committed relationship won’t have a problem taking this step.
Some widowers can give you their full attention for a short time. For example, when I dated Jennifer, I was able to focus my attention and thoughts on her when we were together. However, when I wasn’t in her presence or talking to her, my thoughts quickly returned to Krista and the life we had together. As a result, I was never able to find a place in my heart for Jennifer.
I didn’t have that problem with Julianna. In fact, I couldn’t get her out of my mind. My thoughts and attention were always focused on her and her happiness. Because I was so focused on Julianna, I became less and less focused on my loss. This made it easier for me to lock up my love for Krista and make room in my heart for Julianna.
Don’t be afraid to end a relationship with a widower who can’t make you number one in his heart and mind. Better to cut your losses than waste your time competing with a ghost, because the ghost will always win.
- A Widower’s Actions Speak Louder than Words
A widower will tell you that he loves you, that you’re pretty, and will say other sweet nothings in order to get attention, sex, companionship, or anything else he wants out of the relationship. A widower’s desire to plug the hole in his heart is often so intense that he’ll tell you whatever he thinks you want to hear because it feels good to have someone by his side again.
Don’t listen to a widower’s flattering words. Instead, focus on his actions. If you go to his house and her clothes are still in the closet, her pictures are all over the walls, her ashes are displayed prominently, and her voice is still on the answering machine, it doesn’t matter how many times he says he loves you and wants to spend the rest of his life with you. He’s not ready to move on and start a new life. If a widower really loves you, his actions and words will align.
When I dated Jennifer, my words and actions never matched up. I told her she was the center of my universe, yet there wasn’t one photo of her hanging up at my house. I told her that she was number one in my heart, yet I constantly found myself talking about my late wife, instead of our relationship. I said I wanted to have a future with her, but hesitated in telling my family and friends that I was even dating her.
It wasn’t that way with Julianna. I was quick to put photos of her up all over the house. I constantly talked about the life, future, and family I wanted to have with her. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone—even complete strangers—that I was dating the most wonderful woman in the world. My actions and words were one and the same. I told her she had the number one spot in my heart, then went out and proved it to her every single day.
Stories of Women Dating Widowers
I hesitate to call our courtship and marriage a success because I don’t see love and long-term relationships in the black and white manner of women’s magazines or dating self-help books. Success is relative even if failure is painted with a universal brush.
When I asked my husband, Rob, why he thought we succeeded when other couples in our situation fail, he replied only half-jokingly, “It was my stellar personality.” That’s not quite true, but it’s not entirely incorrect, either. Relationships that work depend on both partners wanting them to do so.
When we met, I had been widowed for 11 months. Rob’s wife had died four months earlier. While I’d begun dating, he’d decided to wait to give himself time to recuperate from Shelley’s death and the months he’d spent taking care of her.
We cultivated a “just friends” relationship, which began with meeting via an online widowed support board and eventually took itself offline using email, IM and the telephone.
Rob was the one who suggested elevating our friendship to dating. Before that I was content, despite knowing that our relationship was a bit flirtier than “just friends.” However, I didn’t try to analyze his actions or read between his words. Like any man, Rob said what he meant, and his actions spoke just as clearly. If a man is interested, he tells you, and if there is a potential long-term option, he acts.
Both of us being widowed probably made things easier. I didn’t have to wonder how he felt, nor did I take anything related to his grief personally. Our relationship was a separate issue. Grief is not a couple’s activity, and it’s not an obstacle to moving on with someone else. The right person is more motivation than any widower needs to pack up the past and build a new life. If new love stirred grief up, it was acknowledged, and then we moved on. If he’d hemmed and hawed or had thrown up continual roadblocks in the form of his late wife, children or in-laws, I would have known that he wasn’t really serious about us.
I used those things to put off suitors who didn’t interest me or with whom I saw no potential for a long-term relationship. It’s easier than saying, “I’m not that into you.”
Does grief come up? Yes, but only a little bit. If a widower loves you, grief won’t derail what you have together. With time, patience and shared effort, you can build a lasting relationship just like any couple does.
Rob made it clear that I was his priority. He was considerate of his daughters’ conflicted reactions to us but did not let their grief dictate his decisions. He let family and friends know that he was a grown man who knew his own mind and heart. Not that we met with much active interference or criticism. Most people expressed support and genuine happiness for us.
Bottom line is that our actions set the tone for our children, family and friends. We knew what we wanted, acted accordingly and whatever issues came up were discussed and dealt with immediately—just like any other healthy relationship. Widowed people fall in love, and they do live happily ever after—again.
August 17th, 2011
Final cover and subtitle for the Dating a Widower book. Should be available within two weeks. Thanks to everyone who gave feedback on the covers and subtitles. It wouldn’t have turned out this good without all of your help and insight.
August 12th, 2011
Quick Dating a Widower book update: I received the final manuscript back from the proofreader this morning and final cover art back from the graphic designer a few days ago. All that’s left to be done is to get the type setting done for the paperback version and some uploading and device testing for the eBooks. Assuming that all goes well Dating a Widower should be available within the next two weeks.
A subject that came up on the Dating a Widower Facebook group last week was on was that of widowers who wants relationship vs. widowers who want companionship. I thought it was a great thread and thought I’d share my thoughts on the subject.
If you’re dating a widower, one of the first things you need to know is that not every widower is looking for a relationship. Some are simply looking for companionship. It’s important to realize this distinction because a lot of people assume that just because a widower has a profile on an online dating site or has otherwise entered the dating waters that he’s looking for the same kind of relationship that you are.
So what’s the difference?
Widowers who are looking for companionship just want someone to spend time with. They’ll string a woman along and tell her whatever he thinks she wants to hear just so she won’t leave. They’ll use her for a night, a week, a month, or more until she no longer fills his need then they’ll move on to their next conquest. Widowers looking for companionship are fully aware that they’re using women and stringing them along. They don’t care about the feelings or heart of the woman they’re dating. All they’re concerned about is plugging the big empty hole in their heart with anyone who they can sucker into spending time with them.
When I was dating Jennifer, I never really wanted a relationship with her—just companionship. (Read Room for Two if you don’t know the story.) However, I didn’t care about her feelings or that she thought the relationship was heading toward marriage when I fully knew it would never get that far. All I was concerned about was having someone to talk to and spend time with on occasion because it helped me feel that my life was back to normal. She was filling an emotional need and that’s all I cared about.
Widowers who are looking for a relationship want more than just a one night stand or someone they can use to gratify the big empty feeling in their heart. They actually care about the feelings of the person they’re dating and make that person the top priority in their life. They’re (usually) mentally and emotionally ready to start a new relationship with someone else. Once they fall in love with someone, they don’t have a problem letting their date know what kind of long-term relationship they’re looking for.
When I was dating Marathon Girl, my first concern was for her happiness and well being. Yes, it was nice to spend time with someone and have them at my side. However, it wasn’t my heart that I was concerned about but hers. I knew she had concerns about dating me but I was patient with her while she worked through her issues. More importantly I was willing and able to talk about the relationship I wanted with her. I wasn’t afraid to talk about long-term commitment, marriage, or where I saw the two of us in two months or the next year. I was always trying to find ways to move the relationship forward to the goal we both shared—marriage.
If you want to avoid being strung around by a widower, it’s important that you figure out as early as possible if the guy you’re dating is looking for a relationship or companionship. The best way to do that is to take your time before becoming emotionally or physically involved with him However, patience will pay off in the long run because those who just want companionship will eventually run out of patience and reveal their true intentions. They’ll have difficulty taking the relationship slow because you’re not fulfilling their emotional or physical needs.
Taking things slow can be a hard thing to do at first—especially if the two of you get along really good right off the bat. However, it’s the best way to out those who are just looking companionship. I know if Jennifer had pushed back or wanted to take things slow, I doubt our relationship would have become as serious as it did.
One thing to keep in mind is that even if the widower wants a relationship and is ready to make room in his heart for someone else—that person may not be you. It takes more than simply having the same relationships goals to make things work. Personality, shared interests, physical attractiveness, life goals, and thousands of other little things play into whether or not there’s a long term potential. However, most people can figure those things out on their own. It’s knowing whether a widower is interested in you or himself that takes time.
August 10th, 2011
I’ll be presenting a workshop on writing Powerful Non-fiction at the Utah Valley University Book Academy, October 6, 2011. The workshop will focus on writing memoirs and how to write ordinary moments in such a way that they convey meaning and turn them into thought-provoking stories.
There’ll also be other great writers including Sarah M. Eden, Gregg Luke, Elana Johnson, and Dan Wells.
More information on the conference, including registration information, can be found here.
August 9th, 2011
Ever since I bought Marathon Girl a Kindle and we officially made the switch to eBooks, the problem we’ve run into is not enough eBook devices (one) for the two of us to share. I installed a Kindle reader on my laptop but quickly realized didn’t like reading a book off a computer screen. So for the past few months we’ve been forced to race to the Kindle to see who gets to use it. Since Marathon Girl is much faster than me—even when she’s pregnant—that means she gets to the Kindle first leaving me with the laptop or a paperback (shudder).
Thankfully we’ve found a solution—albeit from an unexpected source.
A few weeks ago I received an iPad 2 as a gift. After playing around with it for a few minutes the first thing I installed was the Kindle app. I didn’t have high hopes that this was going to solve our eBook problem as it has a back-lit screen but figured it couldn’t hurt to try. Much to my surprise I actually enjoy reading eBooks on the iPad. I’m not sure if it’s because the screen is smaller than my computer, that I hold the screen at a different angle, or the fact that it’s lighter than my laptop. Whatever the reason I can actually read eBooks on it for long periods of time without getting the headache that accompanies reading them from my computer. As an added bonus Marathon Girl and I can even read the same book at the same time—something that’s really cool if it’s a book we’ve both been dying to read.
I still prefer the Kindle over the iPad (it’s smaller, lighter, and has non-backlit screen) but I can live with using the iPad–at least until we find it in our budget to get another Kindle. Plus, I won’t be losing Kindle races to Marathon Girl anymore. That will be a nice boost to my ego.
August 7th, 2011
Brecklyn Keogh was born Wednesday. She weighs 8 lbs. 11 oz. and is 21 1/2 in. long — our biggest baby so far.
Both mom and baby are doing well.
August 3rd, 2011
Widower Wednesday is on a one week baby break. Hopefully this means I’ll have good news to share soon.
If you need your Widower Wednesday fix, check out my past columns.
Widower Wednesday will resume next week.
August 3rd, 2011