For the next couple of weeks I'm sharing some success stories that women have had with their widowers. You can read the first story here. This week's story is below.
I had my first date with Stephen on July 3, 2013. We met on Match.com at the end of June, just 4 months after his LW took her own life in a prescription drug overdose. She died just a few months before their 10 year wedding anniversary, and they had dated 5 years before that. As he was only 32 at the time of her death and 33 when we met, he had spent most of her life with her. I was reasonably sure that he wasn't ready for a relationship when we started dating, but I took a chance on simply meeting someone new, as I had not gone out on a first date in a long time myself. I quickly discovered the Dating a Widower Facebook group and got a lot of support from there. Those women became my lifeline. I also found Abel Keogh's books, Dating a Widower, Life with a Widower,and Room for Two. Dating a Widower and Life with a Widower helped me realize I wasn't alone in my feelings and experiences. Room for Two gave me an idea of some of the experiences that Stephen may have had in dealing with the death of his late wife and the experiences of dating again after many years of marriage.
The first few months we dated were a bit awkward, with lots of stories about "my wife", even when they weren't related to the topic at hand. Those stopped when I told him that it made me feel uncomfortable and asked him to refer to her by his name. When we started dating, all of her clothes were still in the closet, her makeup and stuff was in the bathroom, and there was a large framed portrait in the living room. He lived in a one-bedroom apartment, so all things being considered, the living room was the best place for it. The clothing and picture went away after about 7 months of dating, which coincided with the anniversary of her passing. It took a lot of prompting and some tears on my part, but I also knew he had to do it on his time. It was really hard, though, hearing him tell me that he loved me, kissing and cuddling on his couch, while seeing a picture of his LW almost staring at us on the living room wall.
In the early spring, we started to talk about a future together. He told me that he wanted to marry me, but still seemed reluctant to really move forward and was unable to explain why. It was like getting married was just an idea, instead of something he was serious about. When I asked questions, he seemed to emotionally pull away. I didn't understand, and contemplated throwing in the towel and walking away. Around the time of our one year anniversary, we took a trip to visit my parents out of state. I was sure that he was going to ask my dad's permission to propose. He didn't, and again, I contemplated walking away. This went on for quite awhile. In early October, I bought him a Kindle copy of Abel's book Room for Two, as I thought reading about another man's journey as a survivor or suicide may speak to him. He read the book and then went on a Mens' retreat with our church. Both of those things really worked wonders,but something was still missing. I think that only Stephen would be able to speak to what that was, because I still had a deadline in my head of when I was going to walk away. I'm 37 years old and knew that I could only spend so much time in a relationship that was stagnant, before I had to move on.
Thanksgiving weekend, we traveled out of town to spend the holiday with my mom's side of the family. That morning, before everyone came over, he and I took a walk. He told me how much he loved me and asked me to marry him. When we got back to the house, he asked my dad's permission, and here we are.
If I were to provide any words of wisdom, it would be to communicate. Use words, not texts or emails. We share a religion and tried to pray together when times were really tough. No relationship is perfect, because nobody is perfect. Set realistic expectations, but don't let a W get away with stuff just because he's a W. Best wishes to all of you.