Widower Wednesday: I Said "Yes" When I Should Have Said "No"

Widower Wednesday

Dear Abel,

I did something stupid and was wondering if you could help me fix the mess I’m in. I’m dating a widower.  Until last week, things were going great. What happened? Last week was the second anniversary of his late wife’s death. He asked if he could post a picture of them on his Facebook profile. I said “Yes” even though I really wanted to say “No!” The next day the photo went up on Facebook. In addition to having to see the photo, there were dozens of comments from friends, family, and the widower about how much she was missed. It finally got to the point where I couldn't take it anymore and had to get off Facebook. This is obviously affecting my attitude because the widower keeps asking if I’m okay. I tell him I’m fine even though I’m not. I don’t feel like I can talk about this or ask him to take it down because I told him “Yes” in the first place.

I suppose you’re wondering, why did I say “Yes” and why won’t I tell him how I really feeling now. I was trying to be nice and accommodating. I didn't want to be seen as the girl that pretends he was never married or had a life before he met me. I’m okay with his past. I’m okay with the fact he was married. The more I think about it, the more I realize I’m more upset at myself for not being honest with him about my feelings than the actual photograph or comments. I feel that I could have avoided this entire situation if I had just been honest but I was too worried about how the widower would react if I said “No.”

I want to have an amazing relationship with this man and need to get this off my chest. How do I walk this back without hurting his feelings or ruining our relationship?

Thanks in advance for any advice or suggestions,



Hi M.,

You’re not alone in this dilemma. It common in many relationships (not just widower ones) to want to be accommodating instead of being honest in order to avoid a fight, disagreement, or anything that could damage the relationship. This may work in the short term but long term just makes the relationships worse as boundaries aren't set and couples don’t learn how to communicate with each other.

Here’s what I suggest you do: Find a time when you can talk without interruption and explain to him why you said “Yes” when you really wanted to say “No.” Apologize for not being honest, tell him that it won’t happen again and you’ll be open with him in the future. Let him know that you want him to be honest about his feelings too. I don’t know how he’s going to react but if he’s a good a guy as you say he is, he’ll use this opportunity as a learning experience and use it to make your communication and overall relationship stronger.

At this point, I wouldn't ask him to remove the photo from his Facebook page. If anything, have the photo serve as a reminder of the consequences of not speaking up and being honest about your feelings and that this is a situation you want to avoid in the future.