Widower Wednesday: Widowers Wearing Wedding Rings


First, if you’ve emailed me in the last week with a widower question and haven’t received a response, please be patient. I’m in the middle of proofing the galleys for The Third. It’s a very slow and time intensive process and I’ve had to put all email replies to the backburner for the rest of the week. I’ll be catching up on emails next week.

Now on to today’s Widower Wednesday topic.

I receive two emails in my inbox about widowers wearing their wedding rings when they’re dating. One woman had just returned from a first date with a recent widower and noticed that he was still wearing his wedding ring on his left hand. The second was from a woman who’s been with a widower for several months. He’s been wearing ring on his right hand which hadn’t bothered the woman much until she learned it was the late wife’s wedding band. This made her feel very uncomfortable. Both women wanted to know if wearing the rings are a sign that these widowers aren’t ready to move on.

A ring is a symbol of his commitment to the late wife and their marriage. Once a widower has agreed to a serious, committed relationship with the new woman, the wedding ring should be removed from his finger put away. I would hope that most widowers would realize that wearing a wedding ring could cause a level of discomfort with the women they’re first dating and take it off beforehand. But not all widowers think of such things when the start dating again.

But is wearing a ring a sign the widower’s not ready to move on?

Well, it depends. I’m inclined to give the recent widower on the first date the benefit of the doubt. While I can see how that would make the woman he’s dating uncomfortable, I don’t necessarily see it as a sign that that he’s not ready to move on. The widower may not even give the ring on his finger a second thought. So, aside from the ring, if everything else went well, I don’t see a problem with going out again while keeping your eyes wide open for other signs he’s not moving on.

As to the second example, since the emailer made it sound like they’re in a committed relationship I think the ring should go. If the ring is the only red flags he exhibits, I’d be concerned but not too worried about it. I’d have a talk with him about the ring and let him know how it makes you feel. However, don’t ask him to take it off. That’s something he should want to do on his own. If he’s exhibiting other red flags in addition to the ring, I’d be more concerned.

As far as my experience goes, I never wore a wedding ring on my fingers when I started dating. Soon after my late wife died, I put it on a chain around my neck. I removed it once I realized it was coming between Marathon Girl and me. (Read Room for Two if you want the complete story.) I didn’t have a problem removing it and putting it in a box because I was ready to start a new life with Marathon Girl and couldn’t wait for the day I could wear a new ring that would symbolize our love and commitment to each other.

Widowers who are ready to start a new life shouldn’t have a problem removing it. While it’s just a public symbol, it is one that symbolizes a past life. Once they’ve started a committed relationship with someone else, it’s time to put the old ring away.