Everyone has a past history of prior love relationships: ex-boyfriends or ex-husbands, past lovers, and/or former friends. Each person from our past has contributed in some way to our personal growth. Even if the relationship ended badly, most people can honestly admit that they learned a lesson, gained insight or wisdom, and used the experience to forge a better understanding of self. If personal growth is a good thing, then it makes sense that we should be grateful to the people from our pasts, as they have played a part in molding our unique characters.
Alas, it’s hard to dole out praise to these folks if, for some reason, we harbor old resentments against them. If they broke our hearts or hurt us deeply, human nature interferes with our ability to say, “Thanks for all you did to help make me the person I have become!” but in truth, that’s precisely what the experience these relationships have afforded us has done.
If you are married, do you believe that your spouse has changed you in a positive way? Do you believe that you have changed your spouse? Have you made each other stronger, happier, more patient, understanding, caring, or loving? More importantly, have you helped each other to grow as individual people? I’m sure a majority of married folk would respond “yes” to all of these questions.
Then why does a WOW (or a GOW, for that matter) find it so difficult to not give credit where credit is due and be grateful to the late wife for the positive influence she had on her husband?
Perhaps it’s because GOWs and WOWs are not afforded the luxury of “closure”. Unlike divorced men, widowers did not choose to leave their wives. Death chose FOR them. And unlike divorced men who fall out of love with their ex-wives, widowers will always feel a great deal of love for their late wives. This lack of closure in a widower’s past tends to extend to their future wives to some degree. The late wife, unlike the ex-wife, is not “locked out” of her husband’s heart. Thus, a widower’s new wife must learn to share the same space in his heart that the late wife occupies.
This is a difficult thing for any woman to do. We are a jealous and possessive gender, and find it absurd to accept that our spouses can love two women at the same time. This jealousy can fuel the fires of insecurity rapidly. To overcome feeling “second best”, we tend to compete with the late wife’s memory, vying for that coveted “first place” position in our husbands’ memory. Yet this becomes a frustrating “two steps forward, one step back” race to the finish. In the whirlwind of negative emotions that ensues, we become blinded to one important reality: The widowed men with whom we fell in love would perhaps not be a perfect match for us today had they not been happily married before.
Because my husband was happily married once before, he learned how to be a great husband, which has benefited me immensely as his new wife. Because he kept his first “in sickness and in health” wedding vow while he cared for a dying wife, he has proven his worth as an honorable, upstanding, and loyal man. And most importantly, because his late wife loved him dearly and respected him greatly, he was encouraged toward personal growth and evolved into the man of my dreams.
I urge all WOWs ad GOWs to reap the benefits of the their husbands’ late wives’ legacies and, in gratitude, give credit where credit is due. This is an important part of Loving A Widower...