Widower Wednesday: What I Learned at Boot Camp

Last Thursday I had a chance to teach a boot camp at a writing conference. I had a group of four talented, aspiring writers who took turns reading a couple chapters on their projects, then, as a group, we talked about what we liked about their writing and what could be done to improve their manuscripts. It was the first time I taught it and I really enjoyed the experience. I was especially impressed with the quality of writing from the four people at my table.

One of the writers at my table was writing a guide for women in an abusive relationship. She had been in an abusive marriage for many years and was fortunate enough to get out of it with her life. What was really interesting, however, was the lessons that she was trying to get across to her readers are very similar to the messages in my books and my Widower Wednesday columns.

For example, there were warning signs in the first couple of dates that he was controlling and manipulative but she ignored the warning signs. As the relationship become more serious, she ignored her gut feelings that she needed to end things and move on because for every bad moment they had there was a good one. Finally, when she realized she was in an abusive situation, she felt that if she just stuck with it that he’d eventually come around and be the good man that she saw glimpses of from time to time. It took her nearly a decade to get herself and two children out of that relationship. Though she’s smarter and wiser now, she admitted that she could have avoided 10 years of physical and mental anguish if she had just followed her instincts from the very beginning

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that dating a widower is the same as being in an abusive relationship (though there are some widowers you use their widower status to mentally and emotionally manipulate family members and the women they date). Rather, we all have an innate ability to know when something isn’t right with the person we’re dating or married to. Yet despite this ability it’s easy to ignore the red flags or gut feelings when we really love that person and see so much potential in that relationship. It’s also easy to deceive ourselves and think that a person will change and make us the center of his universe if we’re patient and wait for him to realize how lucky he is. That rarely, if ever, happens.

If you think the widower isn’t ready to make you the center of his universe, you probably have good reason for feeling that way. Ignore or rationalize widower red flags and warning signs at your own peril.


Note: I’m behind on email from readers. If you’ve sent me something in the last week and I haven’t responded, please be patient. I hope to be caught up by the weekend.