From the inbox comes the following from a widower:
I’m a recent widower getting back into the dating scene. What’s the best way to present my widower status to prospective dates in dating profile. I’m old fashioned and operate under the assumption that one is single (never married) unless otherwise stated. I ask because the dating site I’m on doesn’t list relationship status so it’s up to me to present it. I feel obligated to have that out in the open so they don’t find out later.
What do I say so my profile doesn’t across as needy or sad but that I’m serious about moving on. Do I mention that she died from cancer? I have read all the articles on your website and want to let those who have an aversion to any possible baggage know early but I also don’t want to scare anyone away.
What a great question!
First, I find it odd that your online dating site doesn’t post a person’s relationship status? I haven’t been in the dating world for over a decade but it seems like the early online dating sites that I used at least made you post your marital status (single, divorced, widowed). Apparently things have changed since I tried them out.
As to your online profile, I would mention it, but not make a big deal about it. Just saying you’re a widower isn’t enough because most women are going to want to know how long you’ve been widowed, how your late wife died, and whether or not you’re ready to move on. I wouldn’t make that the very first thing on your profile but put it somewhere in the first paragraph. Being widowed is part of who you are but not the only part. You have interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes just like anyone else. Those need to come out too.
So write a catchy sentence or two about yourself then adds something like this: “I lost my late wife of 10 years to breast cancer 6 months ago and am looking to start a new chapter in my life.” Play around with it so it best meets your unique circumstances. You can add another sentence or two after that or start a new paragraph after. But that should be enough to let someone know your status and at least help them decide if that’s something they want to consider.
Like I said earlier, I’ve been out of the online dating game for awhile. Ladies, how much widower information would you like to see in an online profile? Is that too much? Too little? Let me and C. know in the comments below.
After last week’s column on parenting, several of you commented or emailed that the advice was too simplistic for behavioral problems with teens or adult children who aren’t accepting of the new spouse and wanted some additional ideas to help with what can be a difficult transition. So today I’m going to over some additional suggestions specifically about dealing with teenagers (read: minor children still living at home) and adult children who aren’t thrilled that their widowed father decided to remarry.
Before I dive into more detail there are two things that need to be understood:
No matter the age of your kids or your step-kids, all the best parenting in the world by you or a widower doesn’t guarantee their love or acceptance. You can’t cry, manipulate and try to force anyone to like you. Love and acceptance only achieved when both parties want it to happen and then work hard to make a relationship work. If you or the other party doesn’t want things to work out, it will never happen. The only way to overcome this with a lot of love and patience. Seeing the fruits of your labors may take years or decades. In some cases it may never come at all.|
Successfully blending families is extremely difficult. Statically most marriages where one or more of the people bring a minor children living at home end in divorce. The stress and problems that comes with trying to get different parenting styles and values to mesh is hard for everyone. Too often parents in blending families find themselves giving too much time and attention to the new spouse or to the kids—leaving the other party feeling uncared for or neglected. The suggestions below are ideas that can help you beat the odds.
So with that in mind, let’s start with teenage (minor) children who live at home first:
Show a united front. This applies when it comes to all parenting issues, discipline, limits, boundaries, house rules, etc. You and the widower can disagree in private but you’ve got to show that you’re united when it comes to parenting and all the things that go into that when you’re facing the kids. Kids aren’t stupid. They will exploit any perceived division they can find—especially if they’re already upset with their widowed father for dating or remarrying.
Have regular family meetings. Have a set place and time where the kids and vent, complain, or talk about family issues or anything else. Let this be a safe place where they can say what they want. It’s a good way to get their concerns and feelings out there. It may not solve any problems but, if done right, it should give you a good idea of issues and problems they’re struggling with.
Try to keep open lines of communication with them. They may hate you or resent you but they should know that you’re willing to talk and listen to them whenever they want to vent. It’s up to them to take advantage of this, but they should always know that you’re willing to be there for them when necessary.
Strike the right balance between your marriage and his/your kids. Make sure the kids still have enough time with widowed dad that the still feel valued by him. It’s when they feel pushed aside, problems generally arise. As every family is different, it’s hard to say what this involves. It’s a tricky balance as too much time attention on the new spouse or the kids and blow up any marriage. You and the widower need to figure out what works best for your marriage.
Don’t ever talk bad about their mom. It doesn’t matter if their mom was a drunk who could care less about their kids or the perfect parent. Don’t talk bad about her, the way she ran the house, or say anything else negative about her. Constant comparisons from his kids may drive you up the wall, but resist the urge to disparage the late wife. You don’t have to hold her up as a saint, but you shouldn’t make her seem like the devil.
It’s sad when adults insist on acting like a baby who throws a fit when he or she doesn’t get their way. Sadly, age is no guarantee of maturity and many adults can act worse than children when one or the other person makes decisions that upset the other person. For example, my dad and one of my brothers haven’t talked to each other in in years over some stupid matter. It breaks my heart to see them at odds with each other but in the end it’s up to both of them to grow up and overcome their differences. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t but they’re old enough to work it out on their own.
If one of your adult children or the adult child or a widower is upset that their mom or dad is remarrying, there’s not much you can do about that. However, you should insist that they treat your new partner with respect. If they can’t do that than one possible consequence of their actions is that they don’t get to see their mom or dad as much. Maybe you don’t attend certain events, parties, or functions. It’s not an ideal situation but if you teach them that they can manipulate your and control your life by whining, complaining, and talking bad about your partner, then it’s only going to get worse instead of better.
Some things you can do to get over their resistance include:
Set a good example. Show them that you can be happy again and that you’ve taken responsibility for your own happiness. This doesn’t mean you rub the relationship in their face but it does mean that you say nice things about your new spouse and how happy he or she makes you.
Let them know you love them. Let them know that you’re always willing to reengage or have them over to your place if they’re willing to treat your new partner with respect. (Remember, respect doesn’t mean acceptance.)
Be patient. Most adult kids eventually come around to accepting the new spouse. Sometimes just letting them come to terms with your choices in their own time is the best way for them to accept it.
Several weeks ago I asked for major issues when it comes to dating widowers with minor and adult children. As I’ve been reading (horror) stories about issues girlfriends and wives of widowers face on a daily basis when it comes to the widower’s children, it’s become apparent that most of these cases have little to do with the children’s grief and more to do with widowers abdicating their parental responsibility.
Before all the widows and widowers out there jump on me for not understanding what it’s like to be a widowed parent, let me explain what I’ve seen and how I’ve reached that conclusion.
I’m a father of six young kids. I’m not a perfect parent by any means. But as I reviewed my parenting skills over the years, I became apparent the times I’ve let my parental responsibilities slide the most is when there’s been a lot of stress in my life such as job loss, moving, financial issues, and bad jobs.
During these times it was easy to let the kids get away with bad behavior or let other things slide (like not doing their daily jobs or homework) that I normally would have come down on them for because of the stress and guilt I was feeling. It was hard for me to feel like being a parent when I was more worried about finding a new job, whether we had enough money to pay the bills, etc. If the kids were happy (or seemed happy) then it was one less thing I had to worry about.
Yet it was during these times we had the most behavioral issues with our kids. At the time I thought it was because they were feeling the stress that Mom and Dad were feeling. And that may have played a small role in their behavior but the bigger issues what that Dad wasn’t enforcing boundaries or consequences when he needed to.
I see similar patterns in the emails and comments from GOWs and WOWs when it comes to widowers and their kids. Most of them mention that the widower is coping with being a single parent along with other stresses in their life. Many of them mention that the widower feels guilty about not having their mom around or not being there for them like they want because, as a single parent, they have more duties and responsibilities to juggle. And as a result, they’re less likely to lay out clear behavioral boundaries and enforce consequences when one of their children crosses the line
For example, every time the GOW visits the home, one of the kids might make rude or insulting comments to the GOW or tell her that their dad is just using her for sex—many times it’s done right under the widower’s nose. When confronted with the bad behavior, the widower will make excuses for their behavior or say that he’ll talk to them about it. Yet each time the GOW visits, the bad behavior continues.
Kids aren’t stupid. They learn early on how to exploit their parent’s weaknesses. If they realize they can call Dad’s new girlfriend names and insult her without fear of punishment, they will do so over and over again. Lack of parenting—not grief—is the main reason behavioral problems like this continue unabated.
The first thing the widower needs to talk to the kids and tell them what is and isn’t acceptable way to treat the new woman. Then he needs to spell out the consequences if they treat her badly. Finally he needs to follow through and enforce punishment if they flaunt the rules. Generally their behavior will change rather quickly if this happens. And, yes, this strategy also works for adult children who are no longer living at home.
It’s not easy to be a widowed parent and I don’t envy anyone that has that burden thrust upon them. Were Marathon Girl to pass on tomorrow and I unexpectedly found myself a single parent of six young kids, I honestly don’t know how well I’d handle that responsibility.
But death of a spouse, job loss, financial difficulties, or any of the hundreds of bad things that happen to people every day can’t be an excuse for parents to abdicate someone from being a mom or a dad to their kids.
Even non-widowed people.
When stuff happens, parents of all stripes have to stop making excuses, dig in and still be the great mom and dad they were before things hit the fan. It may not be easy, but in the end it will be worth it.
More on children, grief, and parenting next week . . .
On a similar note, Annie left a link to the Christopher Titus video below in a comment a few weeks ago. Forward to about 34 minutes in and catch his take on bad parenting. It’s a riot–in a sad sort of way. (Please note that I try to keep this blog family friendly that his comedy routine does contain some coarse language. It’s not excessive but if that’s not your cup of tea, you’ve been warned.)
Two emails with a common theme in this week’s Widower Wednesday Column. Here’s the first.
The widower I was dating for 6 months recently broke things off. Needless to say I was heartbroken. A few days after the breakup he called me up and asked if we could just be friends. Is it possible to just be friends with a widower or is this only going to lead to more heartache?
When a widower wants to “just be friends” he’s looking for someone who can be there for emotional support, a booty call, or someone to hang around with occasionally without having to put in any effort on his part. He’s looking out for his needs—not yours. If that’s the kind of relationship you want, then go ahead and be “friends” with him. But if you’re looking for a relationship where you’re treated like a queen, it’s time to move on.
And here’s the second one:
I’m a recent widower who’s become friends with a recent widow. We’re in the friendship stage of things and that seems to suit us both just fine. Do you think it’s possible to maintain a platonic relationships as long as you consistently reaffirm boundaries or is it bound to lead to something more serious down the road.
It’s possible to just remain friends with someone of the opposite sex but it’s very difficult—especially if you’re spending a lot of time with that person and sharing a lot of personal information. At some point hormones and emotions kick in and someone will start to view the other person as something more than friends.
So a lot of it depends on how often you and the widow are seeing and communicating with each other. If you see each other each other once a week like at a support group, then you’re more likely to remain friends. However, if you’re texting/emailing/calling/seeing each other every day or several times a week, at some point something one or both of you are going to start see the relationship as something else.
Having a friendship turn into something more serious isn’t a bad thing (unless one or both of you are married to someone else). Just don’t trick yourself into thinking that it’s possible to maintain a platonic relationship if you spend a lot of time together.
Last Thursday I had a chance to teach a boot camp at a writing conference. I had a group of four talented, aspiring writers who took turns reading a couple chapters on their projects, then, as a group, we talked about what we liked about their writing and what could be done to improve their manuscripts. It was the first time I taught it and I really enjoyed the experience. I was especially impressed with the quality of writing from the four people at my table.
Me and four awesome writers at Storymakers Boot Camp, Thursday, May 9, 2013
One of the writers at my table was writing a guide for women in an abusive relationship. She had been in an abusive marriage for many years and was fortunate enough to get out of it with her life. What was really interesting, however, was the lessons that she was trying to get across to her readers are very similar to the messages in my books and my Widower Wednesday columns.
For example, there were warning signs in the first couple of dates that he was controlling and manipulative but she ignored the warning signs. As the relationship become more serious, she ignored her gut feelings that she needed to end things and move on because for every bad moment they had there was a good one. Finally, when she realized she was in an abusive situation, she felt that if she just stuck with it that he’d eventually come around and be the good man that she saw glimpses of from time to time. It took her nearly a decade to get herself and two children out of that relationship. Though she’s smarter and wiser now, she admitted that she could have avoided 10 years of physical and mental anguish if she had just followed her instincts from the very beginning
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that dating a widower is the same as being in an abusive relationship (though there are some widowers you use their widower status to mentally and emotionally manipulate family members and the women they date). Rather, we all have an innate ability to know when something isn’t right with the person we’re dating or married to. Yet despite this ability it’s easy to ignore the red flags or gut feelings when we really love that person and see so much potential in that relationship. It’s also easy to deceive ourselves and think that a person will change and make us the center of his universe if we’re patient and wait for him to realize how lucky he is. That rarely, if ever, happens.
If you think the widower isn’t ready to make you the center of his universe, you probably have good reason for feeling that way. Ignore or rationalize widower red flags and warning signs at your own peril.
Note: I’m behind on email from readers. If you’ve sent me something in the last week and I haven’t responded, please be patient. I hope to be caught up by the weekend.
First, thanks to everyone who is giving ideas and feedback for a series of columns on dating a widower when children (his or yours) are involved. I’m still taking ideas and feedback for the next week. If you’d like to share your story, leave a comment here or on the DAW Facebook group, or send me an email.
My column two weeks ago on wills and prenuptial agreements started an interesting side discussion in the comment section on inheritances and what, if anything should go to the widower’s children or his second wife’s children. Though I’m not going to dive into the subject of inheritances today, frequent visitor and commentator Annie has written a great column on it that I encourage you to read.
But the side discussion got me thinking about becoming one with your (future) spouse. A lot of the emails that reach my inbox there’s a tendency for at least one person in the relationship to become extremely possessive about their “stuff”. Whatever possessions they bring to the marriage divided up between his and hers. Fights ensue whether or not to put his couch or her couch in the living room. The couple has separate checking accounts, cars, and other things. One woman recently wrote about the frustration she felt when she and her husband went on vacation and split all the expenses of the trip 50/50. After they got back, her husband started complaining that she hadn’t paid her fair share of the trip.
If you want a long, successful marriage, there shouldn’t be any idea that there are his things and your things. Everything belongs to both of you—and yes that includes things that may have belonged to the late wife.
Both Marathon Girl and I didn’t have much in terms of material possessions when we got married though I probably had a few more things simply because of my previous marriage. In the weeks before the wedding we decided which things of hers and mine would be moving with us to our new apartment. The things we decided not to take were either given to family members or thrift stores. There was no discussion about whose stuff this was going to be after we were married because we both felt that whatever we brought into the relationship would become ours.
The kitchen table that my late wife bought for a steal a year into my first marriage was never thought of as “Krista’s table.” It was our table and served us well for the first seven or eight years of our marriage until we needed and bought a new one. Same went for our cars, pots and pans, books, and the small amount of money I made from selling my house right a few weeks before we tied the knot.
If there are things from the late wife that the widower wants to leave his children, or family heirlooms you want to leave yours, then give it to them now (if the kids or adults) or find a safe place to store them until the kids are old enough to decide if they’re even something they want. But don’t let those items fill up your home and become a source of contention. It’s simply not worth it.
Sometimes becoming one it means re-evaluating and re-prioritizing relationships with others. Maybe becoming means less time with the late wife’s family or less time with friends or with coworkers in order to spend more time with your spouse. Marathon Girl and I moved about 30 miles away after we were married in part because we thought it would be easier to spend more time with each other and rely on each other more if we lived in a city where we didn’t know anyone and had to make a fresh start.
The more things come between spouses and divide them the weaker their marriage becomes and the easier it becomes to fall apart. However, you should both have the desire to become one and make each other a stronger and better person. Whether that means combine the checking accounts, material possessions, or moving to another city, your marriage and your spouse should come first. Period.
If you can’t see yourself giving up some possessions, re-prioritizing other relationships, or starting over in a new home or city in order to make your marriage work, then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate the relationship and decide if the person you’re dating is someone you really want to spend the rest of your life with.
Lately it seems like the biggest issue in my inbox from GOWs and WOWs have to do with children. In some cases problems have do with the complexity of blending families. Sometimes it’s the widower’s adult or minor children or the GOW’s children that are the problem. Other times it’s the widower who uses his grief (or his children’s grief) as an excuse not to be a parent anymore.
Widower relationships when children are involved is a topic I’ve only addressed occasionally in these columns as Marathon Girl and myself didn’t bring any (living) children into the relationship. However, as a father of six now, I’m seeing a lot of themes and patterns in my inbox and discovering that a lot of the issues aren’t really widower or grief problems but due to a lack of parenting. As a result, I’m ready to write more about these topics.
In order to meet the needs of as many readers as possible, here’s what I’d like you to do: In the comment section below, list the top three issues you’ve had to deal with if you, the widower, or both of you have children. It doesn’t matter if the children are young and still live at home or grown up with families of their own—I want to know what have been the pain points of blending families, parenting, and moving forward when you and/or the widower have brought kids to the relationship. If you don’t feel comfortable posting these in public, you can send me an email with the information.
In a couple of weeks, I’ll post the results from the comments, my email, and the Dating a Widower Facebook group and, at the very least, write a series of columns about the top issues. Maybe something more will come out of it but it’s an issue I’m not going to sidestep anymore.
Leave your top 3 issues below. And if you have successfully navigated the problem, please include some information on how you solved it.
Thanks and looking forward to hearing what you have to say.
The last couple of weeks I’ve got several emails in regards to prenuptial agreements. Here’s one form a GOW who gave me permission to share it with readers.
I’m dating a widower who is very well off financially. Since we’ve become serious his children has expressed concern to their father about what will happen to his estate should he pass on before I do. I understand their concern but at the same time I don’t want to be left with nothing should he die. (I don’t have much.) I’m not marrying him for his money. I’m in my 60′s and have lived frugally most of my life and don’t need or want much. However, at the same time I don’t want to find myself turned out of his house with nowhere to live go should he pass on before me. I’m happy to sign a prenuptial agreement if he wants but worry that I’ll sound like I’m greedy if I bring up the subject of his finances and money. What is the best way to handle this situation?
If you’re in a serious relationship and the two of you have talked about spending the rest of your lives together, you need to able to talk about things like money, finances, and the with him. The sooner you do it, the better it will be for you, him, and anyone else involved in this situation. When you have some time alone, bring up your concerns and let him know why you’re asking these questions. You’re not being greedy by bringing up the subject. It’s something you need to know now so you can decide what consequences you might face should the two of you get married or move in together.
If you both come to an agreement or understanding, then have the legal paperwork drawn up. Hire an independent attorney review them before you sign anything just to make sure you really understand what you’re getting yourself into. Just understand that as of now it’s his wealth and he’s free to do whatever he wants with it. He can give it all to you, his kids, his favorite charity, or a pet cat. He’s under no obligation right now it to you, his kids, or anyone else.
I think that you’ll find out that this conversation isn’t a big of deal to him as you’re making it out to be. Most people don’t have a problem discussing this with someone they want to spend the rest of their life with. Widowers are somewhat more willing to have these conversations since they’ve already lost someone and understand the consequences of having (or not having) a will or other legal agreements in place should their spouse die. Just don’t wait to do it or have things changed after your married. Life is short. All it takes is a sudden heart attack or car accident to end things. It should be agreed upon and taken care of sooner rather than later.
Occasionally someone will send me an email with either an incomplete or no email address to respond to. Today I’ll answer one email that the sender forgot to include a reply email address.
I am engaged to a widower and was wondering if you had any gift giving recommendations for the first anniversary of his late wife. It’s the day after tomorrow. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
I have to admit that I’ve never heard of a GOW or WOW getting a gift for the widower on the anniversary of his late wife’s death. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen but just that I’ve never known a woman dating a widower to do it. I’m curious as to why you feel the need to give him something.
Generally on the first anniversary it’s better if the widower to let the widower take the lead and decide how he wants to spend the day. Hopefully he won’t let this sad anniversary get him down and he’ll realize how much progress he’s made over the last year and that he now has another great woman in his life. But if you really feel that giving him something will help, find a sympathy card or just send him a quick email or text letting him know you’re thinking about him. But leave it at that. Don’t make a big deal out of a day that tends to focus people on the past and their loss. Instead hope that he has the good sense to focus on the people he has in his life and all the other blessings that he has.
Another question from a widower this week. Next week I’ll go back to addressing questions from GOWs and WOWs.
I lost my wife three months ago after a tragic accident. This may sound crazy to most people but I feel like dating again. Is it normal for men to feel this way so soon after the death of a spouse? What pointers would you give someone in my situation who decided to start dating again?
You’ve asked some great questions. First, no there’s nothing wrong with feeling the need to date so soon after the death of your wife. Though how soon widowers have this feeling varies from person to person, wanting to date again is natural and normal. So don’t feel bad or guilty about wanting to take that step.
As for dating again, I generally suggest taking things slow when widowers first start dating again. Most widowers need to learn how to get their dating legs back before they get serious. Date several different people with no other intention other than to learn how to do it again. After a date or two, take some time to think about if this is a step you’re ready to take or need to wait awhile before trying it again.
Keep in mind that problems generally occur is when widowers get attached to the first or second person they date. It’s natural to feel the need for companionship but getting serious with someone right off the bat usually leads to problems. That’s why dating casually for awhile can help you sort out your feelings and avoid leading someone into a serious relationship before you’re ready to take that step.
Dating again is a fun adventure. Ease yourself in to it and enjoy starting this new chapter of your life.
For the next couple weeks I’m answering emails from widowers. Here is today’s question:
My wife passed away a little over a year ago. We were married for 17 years. I started dating six month after she died. After dating around for a bit I finally started dating someone exclusively last month. She’s a great woman and I feel fortunate to have such a smart, attractive, and wonderful woman to get to know better.
The problem is that I can’t sort out my feelings about her. I like her, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t know if I’m love with her or just happy to have someone in my life again. I don’t want to be like so many widowers I read about on your blog that string along women just because they want someone—anyone—in their life instead of a serious relationship.
I feel like I have a million feelings I’m trying to sort through and can’t make heads or tails of them. How do widowers know when they’re really in love again?
What a great question! The answer is surprisingly simple: You know you’re really in love again when you have the same feelings for the new woman as you did the late wife. Love is exactly the same the second time around as it was the first time.
This is something I wish I would have known when I was first dating again. Before I met Marathon Girl I got serious with a girl who I’ll call Jennifer. Whenever I was with her there was something in the back of my mind that kept telling me the relationship wasn’t the right one for me. Like you, I was dealing with a million different feelings and thought I was feeling that way because of guilt or not having fully grieved the late wife.
Then Marathon Girl came along. With her the relationship never felt wrong. Several times early in our relationship it freaked me out that I had the same feelings I had for the late wife. Then one day it I realized the reason I felt this way was because I loved her just as much and that there’s wasn’t anything wrong or weird about having those feelings.
Whether or not you have these feelings for the woman you’re currently dating is only something you know. And maybe it might take a little more dating before you know for sure. But hopefully this will help you sort them out and know whether or not you want to continue the relationship.
For those who missed the announcement, Life with a Widower is now available in paperback. You can order it from Amazon here. If you’d like a signed copy, you can get one here. For those who have ordered books by Sunday night or shared their story in my book, all copies were mailed Monday morning.
Sometimes I’ll get emails from widowers who are looking to move on and date again but unsure about the best way to proceed. Over the next couple weeks I’ll address these questions. Today’s questions is from widower who is trying to better understand how women he might date feel about his wearing a wedding ring. Readers, this is your chance to leave a comment and help him out!
I’m interested in starting to date causally again. I’ve read through your posts and understand that most women feel uncomfortable dating a widower if he’s still wearing a wedding ring. My question to you is this: Instead of taking my wedding ring off, what if I wore it on my right hand instead of my left? Would that still make them uncomfortable?
Wearing the wedding ring on your right hand instead of your left is definitely a step in the right direction but odds are its still going to make most women uncomfortable—especially if the ring looks like a wedding band. When most women see a widower wearing a wedding ring (no matter what hand it’s on), they wonder why the widower is dating again and if he’s really ready to move on. Do you really want those thoughts going through your date’s mind?
However, the bigger question is this: If you want to date again (albeit casually), why do you feel the need to wear the ring at all? In a past column I wrote that widowers shouldn’t be wearing one on their hand when they’re out on a date. I understand that taking the ring off can be a difficult step but if it’s something you need to do if you’re serious about taking this step in your life. If you can’t bear to be without it for a couple of hours, why not wear it on a necklace around your neck or put it in your pocket while you’re out—somewhere where you know where it is but your date can’t and won’t see it. I wore mine on a necklace for several months and I don’t think any of the women I dated casually were aware of it. (I took it off once Marathon Girl and I got serious. Read Room for Two if you want the full story.) That might be a good comprise that can make you and your date feel comfortable as you take this step.
Good luck and let me what you do and how it turns out.
Book Update: Technical issues with Amazon are stopping me from announcing the paperback version of Life with a Widower. It is available but for some reason isn’t displaying on their site. I’m working with technical support to resolve the issue and should have it available later this week. In the meantime, you can pre-order signed copies from my store if you would like one. I will ship signed copies next week. Thanks for your patience. Now on to today’w Widower Wednesday column.
The late wife was very well endowed. I am not. My widower says the standard things that men say to their women who have small breasts: “Your breasts are fine,” “I love you for what you have, not for what you don’t have” or “More than a handful is too much.”
I worry that I’ll never be able to make the widower happy in that area. Do you think the widower cares how big my breasts are or am I making much to do about nothing?
Looking for any thoughts on the matter.
One of the problems women dating widowers needlessly create for themselves starts when they compare themselves to the late wife. Even though it’s normal to be curious on how you measure up to the past, you need to stop doing it. Comparing yourself to a dead woman does nothing to strengthen your relationship and focus either of you on the present or future. It causes needless anxiety and worry and men find it very unattractive.
You and the late wife are two unique individuals. Not only are the size of your breasts different but you probably most other physical features, personality, and other characteristics are different too. That’s not a bad thing. And odds are the widower doesn’t spend a great deal of time thinking about it.
What you need to realize is this: If the widower wasn’t attracted to you, he wouldn’t be with you. Really. It’s true. Men who are in serious, committed relationship like about the entire package—not just one or two physical characteristics. When you bring up the breast size issue (or any other comparisons to the late wife) you come across as insecure and needy. Men don’t like being around unconfident women. It drives them crazy.
Men like and are attracted to women who are happy with themselves. If you think you’re not as valuable to the widower as the late wife, then the widower is eventually going to pick up on that vibe. And if it’s a vibe gets over and over again, he’s not going to find you as attractive because your insecurity will drive him up the wall.
So be confident and happy with who you are—not who you aren’t. You’ll be surprised how fast you feel different about in yourself. Not only that the widower will pick up on it too. Good things will happen as a result.
Book Update: For those who missed the announcement, Life with a Widower is available in Kindle, Nook, and Kobo ebook formats. A paperback version will be available next week.
Back in December the American Psychiatric Association unveiled a proposed new version of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. For those who don’t know, this thick tome is the bible of psychiatric diagnoses. Proposed changes to this latest version are always controversial and the latest is no different. An article in Wired sums the biggest controversy as it relates to grief and depression.
The change, contained in new revisions to the DSM-5, a set of standards used to categorize mental illness, eliminates the so-called bereavement exclusion, which exempts grieving people from diagnoses of depression for two months unless their symptoms are self-destructively extreme. Under the new standards, depression can be more easily diagnosed just two weeks after a death.
“Virtually everyone who is grieving has milder symptoms of depression. What the bereavement exclusion did is separate the normal responses from the severe ones,” such as feelings of worthlessness or suicidal impulses, said psychiatrist Jerome Wakefield of New York University, who studies bereavement and depression.
“This goes over a line. If you can pathologize this kind of feeling, any kind of suffering can be a disorder. It’s a disagreement over the boundaries of normality,” Wakefield said. “What kind of world do you want to have? One where intense, negative feelings we don’t like are labeled as disorders, or a world where people grieve?”
“I think a good clinician can separate the two,” said Jan Fawcett, a University of New Mexico psychiatrist and head of the DSM-5 working group that authored the change, of normal grief and clinical depression. “We feel that clinicians have been making this judgment all along.”
In response to the criticisms, the DSM-5?s authors added a footnote instructing clinicians to take recent loss into account when evaluating mild depressive symptoms. To the critics, a footnote doesn’t provide the recognition of grief’s normality contained in the bereavement exclusion.
Many psychiatrists do, however, support the decision. They say distinguishing between grief-related depression and regular depression is illogical. “Defenders of the removal of the exclusion ask, ‘Why should people be denied the diagnosis if their stressor happens to be bereavement, whereas other sufferers whose stressor is job loss, for example, are not?’” said psychiatrist Richard McNally of Harvard University.
Considering how closely symptoms of grief and depression overlap, I don’t think this change is a good thing. Most people who go and see a doctor about depression know usually see their primary care physician or (in some cases) nurse practitioners—not a psychiatrist. In the rushed atmosphere of doctor’s offices, I have a hard time seeing doctors or nurse practitioners being able to determine two weeks out whether or not the person could benefit from medication or will recover just fine on their own. Had this rule been in affect when I lost my late wife, odds are I and many of my friends and family would have been a prime candidate for antidepressants and would have been for at least six to eight months after her death.
For most people there’s something helpful about going through the emotional roller coaster when you lose a loved one. For example, had I not hit the bottom emotionally, I don’t know if there would have been enough motivation to turn my life around as fast as I did. Most people recover and lead normal, happy lives after the death of someone they love and I have a hard time seeing how medicating an otherwise healthy person during this time would help them move on faster. While some people could benefit from antidepressants during this time, it seems to be that they would either be ones who have depression or might be predisposed to become clinically depressed.
As for those who are dating widowers, my concern is that being with someone who may not be adequate dealing with their grief because of medication might be in for a rude awaking once the widowers prescription comes to an end. But as I wrote this I realize that no one has ever mentioned whether or not their widower has taken antidepressants for grief or something else. I’m curious as to how that affected their relationship (if at all). Leave your comments on your experiences or thoughts regarding this proposed change in the comments below.
If you’re dating or married to a widower, you’ve encountered relationship issues that other couples just don’t have to deal with. Whether it’s the comments on his late wife’s Facebook page or the tattoo commemorating the love of his life, there are some situations that are unique to widower relationships.
That’s where Life with a Widower comes in. Drawing on over a decade of experience helping women in relationships with widowers, I tackle the most common, day-to-day widower relationship challenges so you can gracefully navigate and overcome them. A few of the topics include:
The best way to handle events held in the late wife’s memory
How to keep the late wife out of the bedroom
Tips and tricks to improve communication with your widower
How to forgive a widower who’s hurt you and decide whether you should give him a second chance
The book also includes over a dozen stories from women who have experienced similar challenges and tells how they overcame seemingly impossible situations.
Whether you’re married to a widower, dating one, or in a long-term relationship, Life with a Widower will help you think through these challenges to develop a successful, fulfilling relationship.