Widower Wednesday: Cutting Your Losses

Just a reminder that if you’re engaged or married to a widower or even divorced from a widower, I’m looking for real life stories to share in my next book Marrying a Widower. If you’re interested in submitting, read the submission guidelines then email me your story. Submissions are due February 15.


Lately it seems like I’ve received a lot of emails from women who are unhappily married to widowers. No, these aren’t submissions from my next book but women who are trying to figure out if they should be looking for a divorce instead of try to save the marriage.  Most of these women constantly feel like number two because months or years after tying the knot the house still overflows with her pictures or belongings, the widower still grieving, or he’s always talking and comparing the new woman to the late wife. As a result, these women have reached a breaking point and want to know what direction they should take.

So if you find yourself in a seemingly dead-end relationship with a widower, here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Decide if the relationship is worth saving. You need to evaluate your feelings for the widower, and whether or not you want to expend the mental, emotional, and physical effort to it’s worth one last shot.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking things will get better if you do something differently or if you just hang in there long enough the widower will come to his senses. If the widower’s going to let the late wife go and move forward with you, it’s something he has to do on his own--something he wants to do. Also, if the relationship is abusive in any way, don’t hang around and try to fix things—move out immediately.
  • Talk to the widower. If you decide you want to try to make things work you need to talk to the widower and come up with a course of action to improve hte relationship. One of the common themes that run throughout these emails I receive is that a lot of women are unsure how to even bring up her wedding dress in the closet or his constant visits to the cemetery. If the relationship has any change of working, you’ve got to be able to talk to him about how you’re feeling and why he’s acting the way he is. There is no hope of anything changing until both of you can articulate your feelings to each other in a clear, concise manner.
  • Come up with a plan of action. If the widower agrees to make changes, both of you need to come up with plan of how to improve things. Maybe it involves inviting his kids over to take anything of the late wife’s before it’s sent to goodwill or thrown away. Maybe it involves martial or grief counseling. Whatever it takes to make it work, lip service doesn’t cut it. Either the widower backs up his words with actions or it’s time to end things.
  • Know when to cut your losses. If the widower doesn’t fulfill his promises or shows no signs of changing you need to end the relationship and move on. Divorce or breaking up is never pleasant but it’s a better alternative than living like number two for the rest of your life. Have the courage to cut your losses and start anew. That initial step can be painful but you’ll be a lot better off in the long run from getting away from someone who’s stuck in the past and can’t make you the center of his universe.

Remember, a marriage or any other relationship can only work if both parties are willing to work on it. If you fell like you're doing all the heavy lifting, it's time to evaluate where things stand and whether it's a good idea to get out before things get worse.