Widower Wednesday: Ask Marathon Girl

Widower Wednesday

Last week one of the threads on the Dating a Widower Facebook group spawned a series of questions. After reading Room for Two, someone wanted to know more about Marathon Girl's side of the story. So I took some questions from the ladies of the group and asked Marathon Girl to answer them. I've posted the first two questions below.

If you have other questions you'd like to ask Marathon Girl, post them in the comments below or send me an email and we'll post them in the coming weeks.

Question from Lorie: How did you know Abel was ready to move on and make you number one?

Marathon Girl: The first big sign to me that Abel was ready to move on was he put his old wedding band away for good. To me that was the last big thing from the past he was holding on to. Mentally I think he was ready to move on but he still had to take that step of taking it off and putting it away. Once he took that step, I was ready to have conversations about the two of us spending the rest of our lives together. After that it was making sure that his actions matched his words. There wasn't much debate in my mind that he wasn't ready. There were small setbacks from time to time but mostly there were giant leaps forward. I couldn't have married him if I had any doubts about his readiness to make me the center of his universe.

Two questions from Jessica: 1) After reading Room for Two, I want to know why you decided to go to the cemetery with Abel on anniversary of his late wife's death. 2) Why did you want to know so much about Krista when the two of you were dating?

Marathon Girl: Losing a spouse helped make Abel the man he was then and is today. I didn't want to cut myself from that part of his life. I wanted to see how Abel was doing and have a better understanding of where he was. I also wanted to support him if he needed me. I didn't think I could do that staying at home. It wasn't an easy thing to see your husband crying over someone that he loved but I did it because I felt it was the right thing to do for Abel and our relationship. I have no regrets about that decision and am glad that I did it.

As for your second question, I'm an inquisitive person by nature. Abel loved someone enough to marry her. In order to better understand Abel and where he was coming from and what he had been through, I needed to know more about his relationship with Krista. If I pretended that she never existed, I'd be losing out on learning more about Abel and who he is and what made him the man that he was when I was dating him. It was also good to know about the kind of relationship Abel wanted the second time around.  I'm glad I did it as I was able to get a better picture of the man I was dating and how his first relationship influenced and shaped him.

A Proposal: 10 Years Later

 Ten years ago today I knelt on the ground and proposed to Marathon Girl. Thankfully, she said “Yes!”

The best part, the moment I will remember for the rest of my life, is utter surprise then happiness on her face when I proposed. Hollywood couldn’t have scripted a better reaction.

The other memory that stands out is driving home as the setting sun cast an orange haze over everything, happy beyond belief and wondering what the future would hold for the two of us.

Life, of course, never turns out the way you think it will. There are always things that crop up that you never image or expect. But overall, I think it’s turned out better I ever thought it would as we drove home that warm December day.

So thanks, Marathon Girl, for saying “Yes!” I know I wouldn’t be as happy, successful, or have a wonderful family to come home to each night if it wasn’t for you and your sweet influence.

8 Years and Counting

Seven Years Together

Eight years ago, Marathon Girl and I took each other by the hand and become husband and wife. There is no one I’d rather have by my side through the ups and downs that is part of life. I’m looking forward to spending the rest of our lives and eternity together. I couldn't ask for a better companion.

Thanks for eight great years, sweetheart. Looking forward to the next eighty with you.

Marathon Girl is Marathon Girl Again

Marathon Girl

Congratulations to Marathon Girl who completed her fastest marathon time in five years, finishing in a Boston Marathon qualifying time of approximately 3:28.13. I say approximately because that’s what her stopwatch read said when she crossed the finish line. Her official race time, however, isn’t posted on the official race result site for some reason.

We’re contacting them to see what happened. Hopefully we can figure out why her race time wasn’t posted along with everyone else. Marathon Girl wants to run Boston and even though she could run another marathon and quality without too much difficulty, she does want her race time to count in case she’s unable to run another marathon before Boston.

That aside, it was great to cheer Marathon Girl on as she crossed the finish line and to see the smile on her face after she realized how fast she was running again. She trained hard for this marathon and it was nice to see all of her hard work pay off.

Update: The went through the data and found Marathon Girl’s time. It’s officially 3:28:49.2 or about 7:58 per mile! Updated results here.

Dating and Marriage: One Regret

Dating and Marriage

A discussion over on the Dating a Widower Facebook group got me thinking about the time people spend between dating and marrying. The conventional wisdom seems to be to date as long as possible to make sure you really know the person.

Having gone through a long courtship (the late wife) and a fast one (Marathon Girl) I've learned that the amount of time you date isn't as important as knowing what you want in a future spouse and not wasting time with someone who isn't compatible and doesn't meet your standards.

Though the late wife and I knew each other for years, we didn't start dating until we were both in college. (I was a junior; she a freshman.) After a year of steady dating, I decided to serve an LDS mission to Bulgaria. Had I not done that, we probably would have spent another year dating before we got married. When I returned home, our relationship picked up where it left off. I could have asked her to marry be a few months after returning home.

But I didn't.

It took over a year before we finally tied the knot because I was worried about being able to finish school, pay the bills and still find time to get to know each other better. Even though we were both crazy about each other, I thought it would be easier if we could save more money and get as much schooling out of the way first.

Looking back, the only regret I have about the marriage to my late wife is that we didn't get married six months sooner. All my fears were unfounded. After we married, we both worked two jobs and attended school full time—albeit only for a semester. Somehow, despite our busy lives, we still managed to find time for each other and build on our relationship. If anything, going through the pressure that came with our hectic lives actually brought us closer together in ways that waiting another six month or a year never could have done.

After the late wife died, I stumbled back in to the dating waters. I met Marathon Girl. Our courtship lasted a total of nine months. If it wasn't for a handful of widower-related issues, the total time from dating to marriage might have been two or three months sooner.

After the second time around I learned that the amount of time we were going to date wasn't nearly as important as making sure we were compatible in ways that were important to each other. After a month of serious dating, I realized she was perfect for me.

• I was physically attracted to her • We enjoyed a lot of the same activities • We shared similar views about money and finances • We had the same religious, moral, and philosophical values • We shared similar views about family and parenthood • She had the emotional qualities that were a good compliment to my own

Once I realized Marathon Girl matched up in all the important ways, I knew I could spend this life and the next with her. Dating was fun but having been married before, I realized we could build up our relationship more as husband and wife. I asked her to marry me six months after we started dating. She accepted and we set a date 11 weeks down the road. (Yes, friends and family on both sides of our family worried we were taking things too fast or that I wasn't ready to move on but the mostly bit their tongues, respected our decision, and wished us luck.)

February 28th will mark seven wonderful years together. Waiting a few more months or even another year to tie the knot wouldn't have strengthened our relationship or made ourselves any surer that we were meant for each other. All it would have done is dragged out the inevitable.

Once you meet that special person that meets your criteria for a future spouse, it's not going to matter if you date them for 2-3 years or 2-3 months before getting married. If the person is right for you, you'll find a way to work together and enjoy the good times and the bad. We all have one life to live. The question, then, is how we choose to live it.

As to my whirlwind courtship with Marathon Girl, I have no regrets.

Marathon Girl: The Best Wife in the World

When I mentioned that my novel, The Third, had found a home with a publisher last week, I failed to publicly thank Marathon Girl. Without her support, the book never would have found its way from my imagination to paper. I feel extremely lucky to have such a wonderful wife. Marathon Girl understands that writing for me is like running for her and that we both need to do it. I know a lot of relationships where one or both spouses aren’t supportive of the other person’s goals and I’m grateful for a wife that does what she can to support me.

Between a fulltime job, four cute but very active kids, church responsibilities, spending quality alone time together, and everything else that comes with life, somehow we find time for her to train and run marathons and me to put out the occasional book. (I chalk it up to her superior organizational skills.) It’s not always easy and sometimes a stressful process but I want everyone to know that I’d probably still be stuck in a first draft somewhere if it wasn’t for giving me the hour or two I needed several nights a week to finish it.

And I’m looking forward to giving Marathon Girl the time and support she needs to run a marathon this summer. I can’t wait to see her cross the finish line with a smile on her face.

Family Runs

It’s no secret that Marathon Girl and I love running together. Some of our first and best dates were waking up at 5:00 a.m. and enjoy long runs together. Even after six years of marriage, we like the bonding experience that comes from spending 30-60 minutes running side by side. As our family’s grown, however, running as a couple has been more and more difficult. After the birth of our first child, we bought a running stroller and were still able to run together several times a week. But after second and third child arrived—and we bought a double-wide running stroller to compliment our single one—running together become something we’d do every week or 10 days together.

Then number four came in January and having the chance to run together came to a screeching halt. There were too many kids and not enough running stroller seats to make running as a family feasible.

It was hard not having time running together. It was time that Marathon Girl and I needed—even if it was only once a week.

Then two months ago our oldest learned to ride his bike without training wheels. While we were watching him zip up and down the sidewalk the idea came to Marathon Girl that maybe he could keep up with us as we ran. So the next day she took him on a test run/ride with found out that not only could he bike our four mile course without any difficulty, but he could ride faster than she could run.

So we started we started weekly family runs. We put the younger three in the running strollers and the oldest on his bike. It’s worked out so well that it’s something our three oldest kids really look forward to. (Number four is too young to express an opinion. He usually falls asleep a few minutes into it. I guess that means he likes it.) I get home from work and all three kids run into the garage and excitedly tell me that we’re all going for a family run then climb in the running strollers or get on their bike in anticipation.

I’m glad the kids like it and hope it’s something we can continue for years to come. It’s turned into nice family time and give Marathon Girl and me a chance to reconnect in a way that brought us together in the first place.

Love Happens: A Movie About Me And Marathon Girl???

Looks like lots of simliarities between the trailer for the movie Love Happens and my own life. Of course my book came after I met Marathon Girl and everything in the book actually happened. But MG is just as cute, if not cuter, than Jennifer Aniston. Even though it's a chick flick, I just might have to see this show with MG. :-)
LOVE HAPPENS: Movie Trailer - The funniest videos clips are here

Widowers: They’re Still Men!

Widowers: They're Still Men!

Sometimes I feel like a broken record when it comes to the issues involved with dating a widower. Widowers are men. That means they act and behave like men. And men aren’t that hard to understand. If you start viewing your widower as a man instead of a widower, you’ll be able to quickly identify whether or not they’re ready to date again and, more importantly, are serious about you.

In the hopes that women can better understand widowers, here are five things that will give you some insight into men so you know whether or not they’re ready for a serious, committed relationship.

1. Men can’t be forced into loving someone

For some reason women have this idea they can charm a man into loving them. It doesn’t matter if he’s a widower, divorced, or a bachelor. Women think that somehow they can open a man’s eyes and make them see what a great catch she is.

Here’s the truth: You can’t. When it comes to love, men will figure out rather quickly whether or you’re one they want to spend the rest of their life with. When it comes to widowers, there’s nothing special you can do or say that will make the widower snap out of his grief. If he thinks you’re worth keeping, he’ll do that all on his own.

What you can do is learn how to dress nice, flirt, and learn how to get a man’s attention so he’ll ask you out and get to know you better. Let it be known that Marathon Girl didn’t do anything to help me put the grief for the late wife aside. The first time I saw her I had put my eyes back in my head and pick my jaw off the floor because she was so damn sexy. Then, after I got to know her better, I realized that not only was she hot but she had everything else I wanted in a future spouse. I knew she was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I also realized the only way that was going to happen if I moved on with my life. It wasn’t a hard choice. I would have run 100 miles over shards of broken glass just to have her smile at me. After six years of marriage, she has the same affect on me.

And it’s not just me. Over the years I’ve been in touch with lots of widowers who have remarried and they all say the same thing: when the right person comes along, getting over grief is a cinch.

2. Men are, by nature, pursuers

When it comes to relationships, men do better when they’re the one pursing you. If you’re pursing them, you may get a few dates out of it but odds are you’re not going to get a committed relationship from your efforts.

When widowers decide to enter the dating waters after the death of their spouse, they’re often fighting feelings of whether or not they’re ready to date and if they can make room in their heart for another woman. This often makes widower hesitant to take the lead. Women can often sense this hesitancy and tend to take control of the relationship.

Don’t do this. Men need to decide for themselves if you’re worth it. Making this decision for them is only asking for heartache if you perceive the relationship as getting serious. With widowers, having to decide to ask you out or plan a date forces them to come to grips with their internal struggle of whether or not they’re ready to date again and whether or not you’re worth it. (See #1.)

Keep in mind that this applies to the early stages of a relationship where men need to decide if you’re worth it. As the relationship becomes more serious and you become more comfortable with each other, then you can step in. Once they feel like they’ve conquered the relationship and made you the center of their universe, they’ll do whatever you want.

3. Men can only actively love one person at a time

Would you date a man who was still angry over a recent divorce or getting over a breakup with his girlfriend? No? Then why on earth do you date a man who says he’s still grieving his late wife?

Men can only actively love one person at a time. If they still have strong feelings for another person—regardless of whether that person is alive or dead—you’re going to be the rebound relationship. Is that something you really want?

Widowers have to learn how to put their love for the late wife aside and actively love you. This doesn’t mean they stop loving the late wife but it means their utmost thoughts and feelings are for you. Playing second fiddle to an ex-wife or ex-girlfriend is bad enough. It’s even worse when the person is dead.

Avoid men who still clinging to the past. If you don’t, you’re not only in for a roller coaster ride but there’s a broken heart for you at the end.

4. Men’s actions speak louder than their words

Talk is not only cheap, it can be very seductive. Don’t listen to a man’s flattering words. It doesn’t matter how many times a man says he loves you or cares about you. When a guy really loves you, his actions and words will align. Not only will he say you’re the center of his universe, you’ll feel like it too.

Don’t start making excuses for a widower’s behavior because he’s still “grieving.” If he says he’s not giving you the attention, love, and dedication you want because he’s struggling to move on that means 1) he’s not ready for a serious relationship or 2) he’s simply using you for companionship, sex, to fill the hole in his heart, or a combination of the three.

Don’t settle of a second tier relationship. You deserve better. A lot better. Find someone who will treat you like a queen instead of giving you excuses why he can’t make you numero uno.

5. Men don’t equate sex with commitment

My inbox overfloweth with emails from women dating widowers who are dumped soon after sleeping with them. The women generally attribute the widowers’ behavior to some grief related issues and want to know what they can do about it. My answer: nothing.

With men, sex doesn't equal commitment. This goes for single and divorced men and widowers. If the man wasn’t a widower, most women would realized that they had just been used for their bodies. But because he’s a widower and “grieving” most women aren’t quick to what just happened.

You want a committed relationship, get the man to sacrifice for you. Have him prove his love. As Alisa Goodwin Snell, licensed therapist and author of “Dating Game Secrets for Marrying a Good Man” writes:

Sacrifice is deeply connected to love. If you are excessively available, eager to please, quick to meet his needs, and reluctant to express your feelings or needs, you will deny him the opportunity to sacrifice for you. This will turn him off to you and the relationship, due to your lack of faith and trust in him, while also preventing him from developing deep love for you.

If you’re looking for a serious, long term relationship with a guy, zip your legs and wait to see if it's you he wants or sex. If a guy’s looking to use you just for sex, he can only put a seductive façade for so long. Sooner or later the real him will appear. Better to be cautious and make sure the widower is serious about you then to end up with a one night stand and regretting it.

Remember, widowers are men. They act and behave like men. Most widower issues are really man issues. Never the term widower make you think otherwise. Understand men and 99% of any widower-related issues will be solved.

Other widower-related articles by Abel

  • Up with Grief NEW!
  • Dating and Marriage: One Regret NEW!
  • Widowers: They're Still Men! NEW!
  • 10 Dating Tips for Widows and Widowers
  • Photos of the Dead Wife
  • 5 Signs a Widower is Serious About Your Relationship
  • How Vice President Joe Biden Dealt with Grief
  • Life with a Widower
  • Dating a Widower
  • The Grief Industry
  • Suicide Survivor
  • A Letter to Elizabeth
  • Sex and Intimacy with Widowers
  • The Widowerhood Excuse
  • How to Talk to a Widower
  • Red Flags to Watch for When Dating A Widower
  • Coming Up for Air

    There are many blog posts I’ve wanted to write over the last month but simply haven’t had the time. Fr the last 10 days I’ve been feverishly working on a final rewrite of my novel. Now it’s done and off to an editor for some feedback. Once look over and implement her suggestions, then it’s off to three decision makers at publishing houses expressed interest in reading it. Hopefully I’ll have some good news in regards to my yet-to-be-titled book before the end of the summer. (Maybe I’ll stage some sort of title contest if I’m unable to come up with one on my own.) I’ve been writing so much the last month that today I was thinking about what I was going to do after the kids were in bed and realized that with no novel to write, I have no idea what to do with myself. Okay, that’s not entirely true. There’s a big stack of books on my nightstand I need to read and a past blog post I need to turn into an essay. But before I do any of that, I need to take Marathon Girl out on lots of dates. You know, the kind where we get a babysitter for the kids and we have some time alone. She’s been VERY patient and supportive during the entire novel-writing process and needs to be rewarded with nice dinners, movies she’s wanted to see, a long 10-mile run together, and maybe a night where we drop the kids off with the in-laws or my parents and just have 24 hours to ourselves.

    Until then, it feels nice to be able to breathe again.

    Gym Wuss No More

    jogging in the snow

    There's one downside about working out at the gym: I've become a wuss about running in the cold.

    It wasn't always this way.

    A couple years ago it didn't matter if the temperature outside was twenty below zero. I'd just put on an extra sweatshirt and head outside at 5:00 a.m. and run, run, run.

    Then to accommodate a new work schedule and other demands on my time, I started working out at the gym during lunch. It was convenient, but because I was running indoors, I lost the ability to shrug off cold temperatures.

    Until this weekend.

    Since I had about 10 days off, I needed to run. Sure, I can miss a day here or there and not have it be a big deal. But I can't miss 10 days in a row.

    I'd go crazy.

    While the gym is conveniently located close to my place of employment, its many locations are NOT convenient from my home. So driving to the closest gym every day wasn't an option.

    And by my second day off, I was pacing the living room, looking out at the snow, trying to find the courage to go running.

    Then Marathon Girl walked by.

    "What's wrong?" she asked.

    "I need to go running," I said.

    "Well, why don't you go?"

    "It's cold outside."

    Marathon Girl gave me one of those "This is the ‘man' I've married?" looks. That look alone should have been enough to get me out the door. But sometimes, when I really don't want to do something, I dig in my heels and become really stubborn.

    I dug in my heels.

    "It's below freezing outside," I said.

    Marathon Girl just stared at me.

    "It's way below freezing," I said.

    Marathon Girl just stared at me.

    "I could die from exposure and then you'd be a widow with three point five kids to raise."

    Marathon Girl just stares at me.

    I finally get the message. She's been walking everyday in the cold, hoping to get this baby out of her with no luck. Why am I being such a wuss?

    So I tucked my tail between my legs and went running.

    I came back 40 minutes later, sweating and feeling great.

    "You survived," Marathon Girl said.

    I smiled. "Not only did I survive, but it was great to breathe in the cold, winter air."

    Marathon Girl just smiled and returned to her book.

    I'm a gym wuss no more.

    My Life: Seven Years Later

    My latest post on the OpentoHope site was posted today.

    November tenth is a day that creeps up on me now.

    It wasn’t always this way.

    In past years it was a day heavy with memories, emotions, and unanswered questions.

    Now it’s a day just like any other.

    This year it wasn’t until after lunch that I looked at the calendar in my office and noted the date. Suddenly, I realized what day it was. I pushed my laptop to the side and looked out the window at the green grass and sunshine. In seconds the memory of hearing a gunshot from our bedroom and finding my late wife’s lifeless body flashed through my mind followed by a tinge of the raw terror that flowed through my body that afternoon.

    You can read it in its entirity here.