Occasionally I like to highlight reader success stories when it comes to widower relationships. Today's story comes from Jodi. Enjoy!
I met J when I went to work as a nurse in the hospital he worked at. He was married at the time and we always had a good working relationship and were friendly towards each other. Through the grapevine at work I heard that his wife at the time had battled cancer on and off. Soon she became very ill with another type of cancer. I left my job at the hospital shortly after, though we remained friends on social media. When his wife passed, I was truly sad for him and his daughter and expressed my condolences to him through social media.
About 11 months after his late wife had passed, he would occasionally send me messages on Facebook. We agreed to go on a date a couple of months later. His late wife had been gone just shy of a year and a half at this point. I was not sure what to expect from him as I had never dated a widower before and always said I would not. We had a great time as he was always a funny and sweet man. We started seeing each other and soon developed strong feelings toward each other. I asked several times if he was truly ready to date and he said he was. He dated some casually before me, though not much and nothing real serious.
The night he told me he loved me for the first time, he started out by telling me that he still loved the late wife and thought about and missed her every day. He said if he could get her back, he would. He followed this statement by telling me he loved me.
I was totally confused. I loved this man and wanted him to love me too. I did tell him I loved him but because of what he said I was not sure where this left me. I cried myself to sleep that night after he fell asleep.
The next day I called him to break things off. Based on what he said the night before, I did not feel he was truly ready and how could he really love me if he still felt that way for late wife? There was also much drama with his 21-year-old daughter who felt that he should live with her, his family, and the memories of the late wife. He was very upset and begged me not to break things off, saying he was only trying to be honest with me and that late wife was gone, he was not still "in love" with her as he could not be "in love" with a deceased woman. He promised me that he was in love with me and wanted to share a life together. As far as his daughter was concerned, she would be a work in progress and he felt he should do what made him happy. I decided to stay and see how things turned out, against what my gut was telling me. My heart was saying something totally different and I was sure I would end up a broken heart again and left to deal with my stupidity.
We did have some bumps in the road here and there. I would not go to his home as he told me that pictures of the late wife were up still, some of her clothes still hanging in his closet, and what sounded like a shrine to the late wife that included a urn with her ashes, a leather bound book from her memorial service, and a picture of her on an antique table in his home. Plus his daughter lived at home and was nothing short of a spoiled, drama queen who wanted no other woman in her mother’s home. I told him I would not deal with this stuff and did not want to see the late wife everywhere. If he was ready to share his life with someone else, this stuff should be packed away. I bought the book Dating a Widower and shared it with J. We both read and discussed it and he could see where I was coming from. He agreed to make changes at his home but had to do so slowly as not to upset his daughter too much.
We discussed marriage and I informed him that I would not accept a proposal from him until all of the late wife things were taken care of in his home. He took down pictures, bagged up the late wife’s clothes for his daughter to go through then donate. He was to put the "shrine" in his daughter’s room.
I made it very clear to J that I would never accept being put second to late wife nor would I tolerate him letting his daughter disrespect me or my daughter or treat us badly. He never did any of this. He did put us first and moved on with a life with me, despite major objections from his daughter. She has chosen to stay away and not involve herself in his life. While it is hard for him not to have her in his life, he has moved on. The rest of his family was very supportive of whatever made him happy.
We were married four days ago and we could not be happier. We have very few late wife issues because he has moved on to a life with me. He always puts me first. He has told me that he loves me more than he ever loved anyone else, no exceptions and I believe him. We will have struggles—all marriages do—but those will most likely have nothing to do with his former widower status or late wife issues.