Widower Wednesday: Memorial Tattoos

In the spirit of walking the walk when it comes to putting your spouse first, Marathon Girl and I took a trip to southern Utah, without the kids(!), for three days last week. It was a great chance to rest, relax, and put each other first. Our relationship is stronger because of it. I highly recommend planning a getaway with your own spouse if you feel the relationship needs it.


Last week I received an email from a woman who is dating a widower (wife died 2 years ago, they’ve been dating 15 months) who is doing everything right. He’s made her feel like #1 through his actions (as opposed to his words), and done everything he can to provide a safe, loving home for her and her children, and recently proposed. She’s looking forward to a long and happy life with this man.

There’s only one problem. There’s a small memorial tattoo (a heart with the late wife’s initials inside the heart) on the widower’s chest. Every time the woman sees the tattoo it serves as a reminder of his past love and life with her. Though she’s accepted his past and past marriage and the fact that he will always love her, the constant reminder is driving her crazy.

She’s talked about the tattoo with the widower. He doesn’t see a problem with keeping it. He says it was something he got when he thought he’d never love again and doesn’t think it’s something that needs to go. He also doesn’t want to go through the pain of having it removed.

The woman doesn’t want to lose this great man but doesn’t know if she can live seeing the tattoo every day for the rest of her life and wanted to know if she should learn to live with it or cut and run before she goes nuts.

My thoughts: If the tattoo bothers you that much, then maybe it’s best to move on. You’ve had 15 months to adjust to the tattoo and apparently it’s bothering you more now than the first time you saw it. Just keep in mind that you might be losing an otherwise great guy. I’m not faulting you for feeling this way (Marathon Girl wouldn’t have married me if I had one) just asking you to weigh the pros and cons of ending things over the tattoo.

However, I’m wondering if a compromise can be reached. Have you asked him about altering the tattoo? What if he filled in the heart or altered it in some other way so it obscures the late wife’s initials or doesn’t look like a memorial tattoo. Seems like that way he keeps the tattoo but turns it into something that’s not just a reminder of his past life. Maybe the two of you could visit the parlor where it was done and see if the people there have some ideas or options for the two of you to consider.

From your email, he seems like a great guy—a cut above most widowers who start dating again. If it’s just the tattoo and only the tattoo issue that’s bothering you then I’d try to find a way around it. It sounds like you have a relationships where you talk to each other, bring it up. See if the two of you can find a solution that makes you both happy.


I know there are women who read this column who are with or dated widowers with memorial tattoos. How did you guys deal with it? Any suggestions on how to resolve this issue?