Book update: Just waiting on the final hi-res cover for The Ultimate Dating Guide for Widowers. Once I have that, the book will be available soon. If you'd like to be the first to know about the availability of the book, be sure to join my email list. People on the list will be the first to know when it's available.
A comment that was recently left on a past Widower Wednesday column asks for help:
John was happily married for 38 yrs. We started dating 10 months ago, meet on a website. He’s been widowed 4 yrs. & 2 mo’s now. He claims to love me but somehow I feel that he’s holding back due to guilt.
Here’s the problem: His deceased wife, shortly before she died, ask him to promise to Never be with another women Ever! He made this promise knowing he wouldn’t keep it, but wanted to not cause her any further pain, emotional or otherwise. He’s a wonderful, caring man who appears to want to go on w/ his life, but only so far as his guilt will let him. He says he’s “over this guilt re: his promise” but I don’t really feel he is as I can feel him holding back…in all ways.
He hardly touches me during sex, foreplay wise, almost as though “he shouldn’t touch or enjoy me too much”. He says he’s committed to me, but doubts that he’ll ever marry again. (I would like to be married again but am willing to let that go as long as I know he truly loves me). His grown sons (36 & 38 yrs. old) are still single & are almost too close & dependent on him. He “allows” this, it seems because I believe his wife made him feel responsible for them for the rest of their lives. I feel they need to grow up and move on w/ their own lives, thus freeing John to do so also. His sons and I have a good relationship. John is extremely close to his deceased wife’s family/sisters and her best friend. Even 4 yrs. after his wife’s passing, they all still call on every anniversary: her b’day, their wedding day, the anniversary of her death, etc.
I believe this helps to prevent John from being able to truly move on. He admits that the frequent calls on anniversaries makes his pain worse, but says he’ll never tell them that. The sisters and best friend of wife, all know about the promise she made John give and told him most likely she didn’t meant it and that it was o.k. for him to date. BUT, it seems it’s only o.k. for him to date…..Not be really in love w/ another woman. He still has many, many pix’s of his wife, sons, and himself all over his house, including his bedroom. He took out the ones of just the two of them together, at my request. He does try to please me, but it’s limited to what he feels comfortable with.
I wonder if I’m wasting my time, will I ever be on the same level as his deceased wife was, even if not married, in his heart. I love him dearly, he’s an easy man to love but after reading your books, I don’t want to be taken care of. Am I just a “place holder” for her?
You've got a host of concerns here but it seems like most of them could be taken care of if John really wanted to take care of them. For example, John knows the calls from friends and family on special dates hold him back but he won't do anything about it. He allows his two adult children to be overly dependent on him. He also allows his "promise" to his deceased wife get in the way of your sex life and hold back in other ways.
Does this sound like a widower who's ready to start a new life with someone else?
This isn't a man who's ready to make you or anyone else number one in his heart. Widowers who are truly ready to start a new life with someone else figure out a way overcome the obstacles that present themselves. They man up and politely tell friends and family that he loves talking to them but doesn't need their anniversary calls anymore. He can choose not to use a "promise" he made to his wife as an excuse to hold back. Yet after 10 months together he doesn't do any of these things. If he's not willing to make baby steps at making you number one, odds are things aren't going to change 10 months or 10 years from now.
The best thing those in your situation can do is decide what you can and can't live with, set boundaries, and let the widower know what you want from the relationship. At that point it's up to him to decide if he values you enough to make you number one in his heart. If he's not willing to do that, find someone who's willing to treat you like a queen.