Share Your Story

I’m in the midst of writing my final widower relationship guide. Tentatively titled Life with a Widower, the book will focus on the most common problems and issues not covered in my first two books. I’m hoping to have the book available before the end of the year.

And this is where I need your help.

My other two relationship books, Dating a Widower and Marrying a Widower have included wonderful stories from women who were dating or married to a widower. These stories have added insight to the chapter and helped countless others who are in a relationship with a widower. For this book I need stories from those who are or have been in a relationship with a widower. It doesn’t matter if you just dated a widower once or have been happily married to one for 30 years, if you have a story to share, send it in.

I’m looking for stories that can address the following situations:

  • How did the late wife’s Facebook page or other online memorials affect your relationship?
  • What happened when you gave your widower a second chance at the relationship?
  • How did get the strength and courage to end the relationship with a widower even though you were still in love with him?
  • If the widower told you about his sex life with the late wife, how did this impact your relationship?
  • How did memorial tattoos interfere with or enhance your relationship?
  • What are some ways you learned to better communicate with a widower?
  • How did you forgive a widower that dumped you, used you, or otherwise hurt you?
  • What did you widower do when friends and family kept trying to memorialize the late wife?
  • How did a long distance relationship with a widower work out?
  • Does your widower participate in annual events (like 5k runs) for the late wife or work in behalf of charities, foundations, or scholarships for the late wife? If yes, has that hindered or helped your relationship?

I’m looking for success stories as well as ones where things didn’t work out. Basically if you have a story that you think can help other girlfriends of widowers and wives of widowers with their current relationship I want to hear from you!

Please keep submissions between 250-750 words. You can submit more than one story but please send them in different emails. (This way I can organize them for quick reference.) Stories are due no later than Thursday, November 1, 2012. You can submit them by sending an email to writer@abelkeogh.com.

If your story is selected, you’ll receive a free copy of the new book as soon as it’s published. To protect your privacy, you can publish your story under a pen name if you wish.

Thanks for your help,

Abel

Helen Dennis: Learning to date after losing a spouse

A chapter of Dating a Widower (not Marrying a Widower as mentioned in the column) was extensivly quoted mentioned and quoted from in a Helen Dennis column in the Long Beach Press-Telegram in answer to the following question:

My father is 80 years old and lost his wife of 60 years about six months ago. He moved to a retirement community with lots of available women. The problem is that his first try at dating has backfired. He is distraught over what he perceives as a failure. I think he moved too fast, wanting to live with this woman after dating for only a few weeks. I would like to gently advise him without preaching. I might add, my mother did everything for him and was a full-time homemaker. Do you have any suggestions?

You can read Helen's answer here.

 

Final Call for Dating A Widower Stories

Just a reminder that today's the day to submit your stories for consideration for the upcoming Dating a Widower book. (If you ask nicely, I might let one or two trickle in this weekend. :-) ). The real life examples you submit can be either positive or “learning” dating a widower experiences or something in between. Basically we’re looking for any kind of story that can help women navigate the murky waters that come with dating a widower. Though you’re welcome to write about any dating a widower topic, I'm especially looking for stories that can answer the following questions:

  • How to get your widower to open up and talk to you about your relationship?
  • How you overcame insecurities in the bedroom about being compared to the late wife?
  • What have widowers done to make you feel like Number 1?
  • When did you realize it was time to end the relationship with a widower?
  • How did you deal with the widower’s adult children who weren’t accepting of their dad’s new relationship?
  • How did you get the widower’s minor children to accept you as the new “mom”?
  • How did you deal with special days like the late wife’s birthday, and wedding anniversary and other holidays?

To submit your story for consideration, send me an email. Please keep submissions to 500 words or less. You can submit more than one story but please send them in different emails. (This way I can sort them by topic better.) All submissions must be received by May 13, 2011.

The author of any story that makes it into the book will receive a free copy of the Dating a Widower book up publication. To protect your privacy, you can publish your story under a pen name if you wish.

If you have any questions about submitting a story let me know.

Thanks, and I’m looking forward to reading what you have to share.

Dating a Widower Book Update

Quick update on the status of the Dating a Widower guide. All the feedback from beta readers was received last week. I appreciate all of them taking the time to read it and give me their thoughts. Though the overall feedback was positive, several beta readers expressed concerns that the book was a little off the mark of what it was trying to accomplish. After taking time to review everything, I’ve decided to rewrite certain sections of the book before it goes to press. So, the book is still on track to come out this year, but with all the rewriting that needs to be done, the release date is going to be pushed back until November. And, yes, I’ll still need about 10 people or so to review the second version. Email me if you’re interested in reviewing the new book.

On the upside, I was finally able to find someone who actually knows how to design book covers. I’m hoping to have it finalized no later than next week. I’ll post it here as soon as it’s ready to go.

Thanks again to all those who took the time to read it and give me feedback.

Looking for Beta Readers

As you know, there’s little useful information out there about Dating a Widower. As a result, I’ve been writing a Dating A Widower book. It’s a short (approximately 10,000 word) guide that talks about the ins and outs of dating a widower. The guide is based on my own experience, emails I’ve received from women dating widowers over the last 5 years, and insights gleaned on this board. Right now I’m looking for 15-20 beta readers who are willing to read the book and give me some objective feedback on the content. If you’re selected to be a beta reader, I’ll give you a free hard or e-copy after the book has gone to press. I’d also like 2-3 widowers to read the book as well.

If you’re interested in being a beta reader, send me an email letting me know your interest along with your email address so I can email you a draft. The draft will be sent sometime next week. You’ll have two weeks to review the manuscript.

UPDATE:I want to give everyone a big THANK YOU for everyone who expressed interest in becoming a beta reader for my Dating a Widower book. Afer I posted the request on the Dating A Widower Facebook group I had over 100 responses from those expressing interest in becoming beta readers. I only expected 20-30. The amount of interest tells me there’s huge, untapped demand for this kind of information. I hope my book can provide the information about dating a widower that can help you with the common relationship issues that arise.

As much as I would like to get everyone’s feedback, I don’t have the bandwidth to read over 100 critiques of the manuscript. As of now I’m limiting the number of GOW/WOW readers to 20 and widowers to 5.

I’m still wading through all the messages and trying to fill the remaining spots. You’ll get a message from me if you’re selected. If you don’t receive a message from me, please don’t take it personally. I still want your input. After the first round of critiques, I plan on posting a couple of chapters on this board for further review. I’ll send out a general email when those are ready to go.

Thanks again for your overwhelming responses. And please feel free to post any issues you have on this Facebook board or email me your questions.

Dating and Marriage: No Regrets

Dating and Marriage

Writing in response to my Dating and Marriage: One Regret post David asks the following questions.

Abel,

I’m truly glad things worked out for you.

I don’t know your story, other than your late wife shot herself to death when she was pregnant. Personally, I could never marry someone in the kind of short time periods you talk about. And I wonder (and feel really uncomfortable saying this… but you have chosen to make your life public) how you maintain this opinion given what happened in your first relationship?

Doesn’t a long courtship give you the opportunity to see warning signs about how a person copes with challenges? I have been dating my girlfriend for a year and a half and I am learning what works and what doesn’t work with her, and then I have to think about whether I can cope with that effectively in the long term.

My response:

David,

Some background on my relationship with my late wife: we grew up in the same neighborhood. I knew her for years before we started dating.

During the time we dated and there was no indication whatsoever that she was suicidal or would emotionally change once she became pregnant.

When we decided to have a child after two years of marriage there was no indication she’d go off the deep end and take her own life. All of the warning signs occurred after she became pregnant—and even then the warning signs weren’t always crystal clear. Extending out our courtship another month or another year wouldn’t have given me some vital piece of information that would have made me change my mind about marrying her.

If anything losing her taught me that I shouldn’t waste time dating or courting someone once I know I’ve found the right person. That’s why when I realized I could spend the rest of my life happily married to Marathon Girl (and that she felt the same way), there was no point in dating anymore. We’ve been happily married now for seven years.

Like all couples we’ve had good and bad moments in our relationship but I can say that an extra month or even an extra year of courting wouldn’t have changed our minds about each other.

I’m not saying you should rush into marriage, but at some point all the dating in the world isn’t going to give you any further insight into that person. Then you have to ask yourself if you’d be willing to experience all of life’s good and bad moments with that person and no one else. If you are, then what’s the point in dating for another two months or two years?

In my experience and those of my friends, extended courtships (1 year or longer) aren’t any more successful than those who married within months after meeting each other. If anything, those in long courtships stand to lose the most if the relationship doesn’t end in marriage because they invested more time in it. I personally believe if you date someone for a year and you still don’t know whether or not that person’s right for you, then the answer is “no” and it’s time to quit wasting each other’s time.

There are no guarantees in this life, David. Whether married or single, we’ll go through periods of joy and heartache, riches and poverty. People we love will sometimes make stupid choices. If I could go back in time, I’d still marry my late wife even if I knew how things would end. Furthermore, I have no qualms about my whirlwind courtship with Marathon Girl. Even if she was to be taken from me tomorrow, I have absolutely no regrets about getting down on my knee and asking her to be my wife and spending seven wonderful years with her. I refuse to live in fear of things that are out of my control.

We all have the ability to discern and judge for ourselves whether or not the person we’re dating is the one person we hope to spend the rest of our lives with. It’s not just learning how someone reacts to challenges that’s important because I guarantee life’s going to throw you curveballs at you that neither of you will anticipate. It’s about whether we love someone enough to hold their hand and take a leap of faith and experience life together as husband and wife.

The question for you, David, is whether or not you love this woman enough to take that step.

Death do us part; then on to Match.com

Dating a Widower I got a brief mention in a Florida Weekly dating column on widowers making the transition to a new relationship and the challenges that come with it. My "Dating a Widower" Facebook group even got a mention. :-)

Vicki Kennedy makes for a striking widow. Now that she's said she won't fill her husband's senate seat, she has stepped firmly into the national conscience as a public figure of grief. The First Lady holds her hand at presidential conferences and liberals everywhere speak her name at prayer circles. At 55, she might some day remarry. But the odds are against it.

If things were different and Vicki passed before Teddy, chances are he'd be married this time next year. In fact, men are four times more likely to remarry after losing a spouse; 61 percent of men start dating within the first two years, compared to just 19 percent of women. It's ironic that the same men who hem and haw about being dragged into marriage — there's a reason women set ultimatums — are the ones who rush to find a ball and chain so soon after losing their spouse.

You can read the entire article here.

Widowers: They’re Still Men!

Widowers: They're Still Men!

Sometimes I feel like a broken record when it comes to the issues involved with dating a widower. Widowers are men. That means they act and behave like men. And men aren’t that hard to understand. If you start viewing your widower as a man instead of a widower, you’ll be able to quickly identify whether or not they’re ready to date again and, more importantly, are serious about you.

In the hopes that women can better understand widowers, here are five things that will give you some insight into men so you know whether or not they’re ready for a serious, committed relationship.

1. Men can’t be forced into loving someone

For some reason women have this idea they can charm a man into loving them. It doesn’t matter if he’s a widower, divorced, or a bachelor. Women think that somehow they can open a man’s eyes and make them see what a great catch she is.

Here’s the truth: You can’t. When it comes to love, men will figure out rather quickly whether or you’re one they want to spend the rest of their life with. When it comes to widowers, there’s nothing special you can do or say that will make the widower snap out of his grief. If he thinks you’re worth keeping, he’ll do that all on his own.

What you can do is learn how to dress nice, flirt, and learn how to get a man’s attention so he’ll ask you out and get to know you better. Let it be known that Marathon Girl didn’t do anything to help me put the grief for the late wife aside. The first time I saw her I had put my eyes back in my head and pick my jaw off the floor because she was so damn sexy. Then, after I got to know her better, I realized that not only was she hot but she had everything else I wanted in a future spouse. I knew she was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I also realized the only way that was going to happen if I moved on with my life. It wasn’t a hard choice. I would have run 100 miles over shards of broken glass just to have her smile at me. After six years of marriage, she has the same affect on me.

And it’s not just me. Over the years I’ve been in touch with lots of widowers who have remarried and they all say the same thing: when the right person comes along, getting over grief is a cinch.

2. Men are, by nature, pursuers

When it comes to relationships, men do better when they’re the one pursing you. If you’re pursing them, you may get a few dates out of it but odds are you’re not going to get a committed relationship from your efforts.

When widowers decide to enter the dating waters after the death of their spouse, they’re often fighting feelings of whether or not they’re ready to date and if they can make room in their heart for another woman. This often makes widower hesitant to take the lead. Women can often sense this hesitancy and tend to take control of the relationship.

Don’t do this. Men need to decide for themselves if you’re worth it. Making this decision for them is only asking for heartache if you perceive the relationship as getting serious. With widowers, having to decide to ask you out or plan a date forces them to come to grips with their internal struggle of whether or not they’re ready to date again and whether or not you’re worth it. (See #1.)

Keep in mind that this applies to the early stages of a relationship where men need to decide if you’re worth it. As the relationship becomes more serious and you become more comfortable with each other, then you can step in. Once they feel like they’ve conquered the relationship and made you the center of their universe, they’ll do whatever you want.

3. Men can only actively love one person at a time

Would you date a man who was still angry over a recent divorce or getting over a breakup with his girlfriend? No? Then why on earth do you date a man who says he’s still grieving his late wife?

Men can only actively love one person at a time. If they still have strong feelings for another person—regardless of whether that person is alive or dead—you’re going to be the rebound relationship. Is that something you really want?

Widowers have to learn how to put their love for the late wife aside and actively love you. This doesn’t mean they stop loving the late wife but it means their utmost thoughts and feelings are for you. Playing second fiddle to an ex-wife or ex-girlfriend is bad enough. It’s even worse when the person is dead.

Avoid men who still clinging to the past. If you don’t, you’re not only in for a roller coaster ride but there’s a broken heart for you at the end.

4. Men’s actions speak louder than their words

Talk is not only cheap, it can be very seductive. Don’t listen to a man’s flattering words. It doesn’t matter how many times a man says he loves you or cares about you. When a guy really loves you, his actions and words will align. Not only will he say you’re the center of his universe, you’ll feel like it too.

Don’t start making excuses for a widower’s behavior because he’s still “grieving.” If he says he’s not giving you the attention, love, and dedication you want because he’s struggling to move on that means 1) he’s not ready for a serious relationship or 2) he’s simply using you for companionship, sex, to fill the hole in his heart, or a combination of the three.

Don’t settle of a second tier relationship. You deserve better. A lot better. Find someone who will treat you like a queen instead of giving you excuses why he can’t make you numero uno.

5. Men don’t equate sex with commitment

My inbox overfloweth with emails from women dating widowers who are dumped soon after sleeping with them. The women generally attribute the widowers’ behavior to some grief related issues and want to know what they can do about it. My answer: nothing.

With men, sex doesn't equal commitment. This goes for single and divorced men and widowers. If the man wasn’t a widower, most women would realized that they had just been used for their bodies. But because he’s a widower and “grieving” most women aren’t quick to what just happened.

You want a committed relationship, get the man to sacrifice for you. Have him prove his love. As Alisa Goodwin Snell, licensed therapist and author of “Dating Game Secrets for Marrying a Good Man” writes:

Sacrifice is deeply connected to love. If you are excessively available, eager to please, quick to meet his needs, and reluctant to express your feelings or needs, you will deny him the opportunity to sacrifice for you. This will turn him off to you and the relationship, due to your lack of faith and trust in him, while also preventing him from developing deep love for you.

If you’re looking for a serious, long term relationship with a guy, zip your legs and wait to see if it's you he wants or sex. If a guy’s looking to use you just for sex, he can only put a seductive façade for so long. Sooner or later the real him will appear. Better to be cautious and make sure the widower is serious about you then to end up with a one night stand and regretting it.

Remember, widowers are men. They act and behave like men. Most widower issues are really man issues. Never the term widower make you think otherwise. Understand men and 99% of any widower-related issues will be solved.

Other widower-related articles by Abel

  • Up with Grief NEW!
  • Dating and Marriage: One Regret NEW!
  • Widowers: They're Still Men! NEW!
  • 10 Dating Tips for Widows and Widowers
  • Photos of the Dead Wife
  • 5 Signs a Widower is Serious About Your Relationship
  • How Vice President Joe Biden Dealt with Grief
  • Life with a Widower
  • Dating a Widower
  • The Grief Industry
  • Suicide Survivor
  • A Letter to Elizabeth
  • Sex and Intimacy with Widowers
  • The Widowerhood Excuse
  • How to Talk to a Widower
  • Red Flags to Watch for When Dating A Widower
  • The Other Love of His Life

    Amy Paturel has the My Turn column in the latest issue of Newsweek which, interestingly, deals with her fiancé and herself having to make peace with the dead wife before they could move on. A lot of her emotions echo what women who are dating widowers have emailed me over the years. Writes Patruel:

    I pored over her pictures trying to learn everything I could about the woman who came before me. She would always hold a place in Brandon's heart, so I needed to know who she was.

    A chill came over me when I visited her memorial page and read through the online guest book: "No one could ever fill her shoes," someone wrote. That launched me into my next search: "dating a widower." Every site I visited warned of men who disappear after a few months out of guilt, those who constantly draw comparisons to their late spouse and those who live in the tragic state of "what if?" Brandon hadn't done any of those things.

    But then I read this: "If he has pictures of her on the walls, clothes of hers in the closet and trinkets of their life together on display, he is not ready."

    Brandon insisted he wanted to move on, that she was dead and he was not. He even avoided the red flags I had read about. About a month into the relationship, the ring came off. Pictures were tucked away and replaced. Slowly, her clothes began to disappear from the closet.

    Yet I still grappled with the feeling that I might never measure up to what he lost. In his mind, she will always be 33 and beautiful. Me? I'll get gray hair, wrinkled skin and flabby thighs. What's more, their relationship will remain perfect, frozen forever in newlywed bliss. In six short months, they didn't weather the storms that come with age and time: sleepless nights caring for newborns, arguments over money, in-law drama.

    Her essay is a good vignette on what it takes for both people to find peace and start a new life together.

    You can read Paturel’s essay here.

    (Thanks for the link, Erin!)

    The Widowerhood Excuse

    Let's say you're dating a guy who pledged his undying love to you one day but the very next day became withdrawn told you he wasn't ready for a relationship. Let's say you dated him for several months and he exhibited this erratic behavior on a consistent basis. Would you stay with this guy or end the relationship? Most people would realize he wasn't ready for a serious, committed relationship and would move on. What if you were dating someone who was exactly the same as person in the previous paragraph with one notable exception: this man also happened to be a widower. Would you be more tolerant of his behavior hoping that he'd eventually commit or would you end things with him?

    Unfortunately, there's a tendency to put up with behavior from widowers that women wouldn't put up with from single men. Slap the widower label on someone and suddenly their widowerhood becomes an excuse for all sorts of screwy behavior. If the he's not willing to commit to you, it's because he's still grieving. If he gets angry when you try to talk with him about your relationship, it's because his wife died. If the widower keeps the house like a monument to the dearly departed wife it's nothing to worry about (he'll move on eventually), it's because he's still sad. If he tells you he feels guilty about spending time with you and needs some space -- well, you get the point.

    If you're involved with a relationship with a widower, you should expect the same treatment from him as you would from anyone else you were dating. Don't let his widowerhood give you an excuse to cut him some slack. Yes, dating a widower comes with some very unique issues and challenges, but that doesn't mean the widower is allowed to put you through the emotional wringer whenever he feels like it. And you shouldn't enable his bad behavior by excusing his unwillingness to have a loving, committed relationship because of his marital status. Men will generally rise to whatever standards you hold them to. If you lower the bar, they'll find a reason to meet your lowered expectations.

    When I was dating Marathon Girl, it became readily apparent that she wasn't going to change the way she wanted to be treated simply because I had lost a wife and daughter. She let me know early on her reservations about dating a widower and told me if she didn't feel the relationship was moving forward, she had no qualms about ending it. She was not going to settle for someone who wasn't going to treat her like the number one woman in his life.

    Marathon Girl was patient when hard moments came and always willing to listen if I needed to talk, but her high expectations made me realize something: if I really wanted a serious, committed relationship with her, I was going to have to make the necessary mental and emotional effort to move on. Excuses would not be tolerated. Marathon Girl's high expectations are one of the main reasons I was able to move on and marry her as quickly as I did.

    Your relationship with a widower should be moving forward to marriage or wherever long term goal the two of you have for the relationship. There may be a day or two where things don't go as planned, but all relationships had bad days. Ninety nine days out of 100 the widower should make you feel like you're the number one woman in his life. If he's struggling in giving you the loving, committed relationship you want, in a loving, caring way let him know how you expect to be treated. And don't be afraid to let him know that if he's not meeting your expectations, you will end the relationship.

    Remember that not all widowers are ready for a serious relationship. Some widowers date simply because they want company. Some date before they're ready -- while they are still heavily grieving for the loss of their wife. And some know they can use their grief as an excuse for getting away with a lot of bad behavior. You need to make sure you're not dating one of these men.

    If you're not looking for something serious but want a relationship that comes with extreme ups and downs or abusive behavior then sit back and let the widower take you on an emotional roller coaster. However, if you want a loving, committed relationship then demand the same treatment from him as you would from any other man you were dating. If a widower really loves you, he will treat you like the number one woman in his life. He won't let his grief or loss serve as an excuse. He will do what it takes to make you feel loved and important. He will not only tell you that he loves you but show you that he loves you. He will treat you the way you deserve to be treated.

    Don't settle for anything less.

    ***

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    More widower-related articles by Abel Keogh

  • Up with Grief NEW!
  • Dating and Marriage: One Regret NEW!
  • Widowers: They're Still Men! NEW!
  • 10 Dating Tips for Widows and Widowers
  • Photos of the Dead Wife
  • 5 Signs a Widower is Serious About Your Relationship
  • How Vice President Joe Biden Dealt with Grief
  • Life with a Widower
  • Dating a Widower
  • The Grief Industry
  • Suicide Survivor
  • A Letter to Elizabeth
  • Sex and Intimacy with Widowers
  • The Widowerhood Excuse
  • How to Talk to a Widower
  • Red Flags to Watch for When Dating A Widower