Monday, April 6, 2009

The "Fits and Starts" Of Dating A WIdower

Although my book “PAST: Perfect! PRESENT: Tense! Insights From One Woman’s Journey As The Wife Of A Widower” primarily addresses women married to widowers, I do occasionally receive e-mails from women who are in serious committed premarital relationships with widowers as well. These brave souls seem to share one issue in common: struggling to overcome the “fits and starts” initiated by their previously widowed boyfriends who emotionally withdraw from the relationship when grief is triggered.

The following is an example of “fits and starts” from a recent letter I received:

“I have been dating a widower for the past two years. His wife died five years ago. He says they were very happy and everyone I meet tells me how wonderful she was. Initially, he dove right into the relationship and we seemed to be the perfect match. After six months of dating, he withdrew and said he had to work out in his mind issues that were about him and his wife, and he wasn't ready to discuss them with me. He is very close to his late wife’s family and they celebrate her birthday and death every year. It was during the time of this anniversary that he retreated. We got back together a few months later for another eight months, but now the same thing has happened at the same time of the year.”

“Do you think these are issues about his wife and that even after such a long time he is still not ready to move on or perhaps his problems stem from other issues? He is a lovely man...kind, generous, thoughtful, and I love him dearly. How can I gently communicate more with him about this? I did have a fear of bringing “her” up initially, but tried to do it once in awhile. I have not visited her grave with him but really do want to. Is there hope?”


Typically, a widower who has re-entered the dating scene does so with much trepidation. This is “virgin territory” to him, yet he chooses to take each step one at a time and deal with the issues as they arise. One of the issues he may face is “guilt by betrayal”. If I had to venture a guess based on what I have researched about widowers (since I don’t know each one personally), I would say that this writer’s widower is exhibiting classic "guilt by betrayal" issues since he typically backs away from her during his late wife's death anniversary.

This pattern usually affects widowed men who were faithful and happy in their marriages, shared a child with their late spouse, and/or were married for a decade or longer. At this time, he feels guilty for a variety of reasons, such as the simple acts of:

1.) Living ("Why do *I* deserve to live when “she” (late spouse/girlfriend/fiancée) didn't? There's something WRONG with that!")
2.) Being happy ("How can I be - or how do I deserve to be - happy when "she" is gone? It feels so WRONG!")
3.) Moving on ("Shouldn't life just STOP because “she” is gone? Wouldn't it be more of a memorial in her honor for me to remain celibate/single/miserable? What's WRONG with me?")

Widowers such as this typically:

1.) Have no one to talk to about their confusing feelings, so they stuff these emotions deep inside until an event (such as another funeral he attends, or the death/wedding/birthday anniversary of his late significant other) brings these feelings to the surface).
2.) Have no idea how or where to find someone to validate their feelings and discover that they are a perfectly normal (but temporary) part of the emotional grief cycle.
3.) Have family/friends holding them back and prodding their guilt.

I truly believe that it is NOT healthy for a widower to be commemorating his late wife's birthday/anniversary with his late wife’s parents each year. They may be the sweetest people on earth and have no intentions of making the widower feel guilty, but they are!

The former in-laws are a sore subject among WOWs/GOWs. Some are very accepting and kind, some are not. Those who are not have a hard time accepting that their daughter's beloved husband has chosen to move on with his life. Their rationale is:

1.) Sadness: ("I guess he didn't love her as much as he says he did since he has now chosen to betray her by loving again and moving on.")
2.) Confusion: ("How could he "replace" our perfect daughter with a cheap imitation?")
3.) Anger: ("How DARE he dance in her ashes and dishonor her memory like that?!")

In-laws like these often subconsciously PULL the widower into their own grief cycles to "wise him up" and try to make him realize that his behavior is wrong (even though it's NOT!). They do this by bringing him along to the cemetery or making him the guest of honor at their late daughter's birthday parties. Their motivation is FEAR. They are afraid that their beloved child will be forgotten if they stop celebrating her life, and they feel that the widower's steps beyond bereavement are a sure sign that he, too, has negated the late wife's existence. They use guilt tactics by preying on the widower's obligatory feelings.

Some in-laws feel that by including the widower in their celebrations, they are doing "the right thing": helping him with his grief - "We don't want Bill to be alone today. He needs us. We need him. We should all be together." What they don't realize is that everyone who has lost a loved one (including "Bill") deals with grief in their own way and needs to be able to work it out WITHOUT outside interference. It should be "Bill's" choice about how to handle those special grief occasions when they occur, not theirs.

In-laws such as these may also be motivated by their concern for their grandchild(ren). They are afraid that the widower, in his loneliness, will latch onto anyone in a skirt and forget about his child(ren)'s feelings, thereby putting the child(ren) at risk for yet another roller coaster of emotional upheaval. They may also fear that the new woman in the widower's life has ulterior motives: "She wants to make our grandchild (or the widower) forget our daughter!" or "She's USING him as a paycheck or to support her own child(ren)! They are typically - and NORMALLY - skeptical about her.

If you are a GOW who struggles with the issue of “fits and starts” with your widowed boyfriend, there are some things you can do to alleviate this cycle of guilt and grief (but be forewarned - these tidbits of advice first require you to be a tower of strength and push your insecurities aside):

1.) TALK, TALK, TALK! TALK to him about his late wife! Urge him to tell you about her. Doing so makes her REAL and not the saint he would rather put on some unattainable (by YOU!) pedestal.
2.) TALK, TALK, TALK,! TALK about your issues, how they make you feel, and how the two of you can work on them together as a team. You are a part of his life and, by default, of his grief. As such, you deserve to be heard.
3.) HONOR his late wife by allowing his children their feelings. Let them discuss their mother openly. DO NOT talk negatively about their mother in their presence.
4.) DO NOT question your boyfriend’s love for you or compare it to his love for his late wife. You can "own" your insecurities without allowing them to become a wedge between you.
5.) TALK TO your boyfriend's former in-laws. Ignoring them just fuels their fire and validates their negative feelings about you. Don't be afraid to discuss their daughter with them, since avoidance of the subject only perpetuates the saintly icon they have formulated in their minds. Discussing her shows that you are willing to accept the role she played in your boyfriend’s heart and in defining his character.
6.) Speak lovingly, without judgement and with great empathy, to everyone who knew the late wife and/or loved her. This shows great understanding and strength of character on your part.

When your widower boyfriend starts to withdraw into “fits and starts” mode, gently redirect him with your understanding. If he typically withdraws on “anniversaries” associated with his late wife, be bold and offer a shoulder for him to lean on. Encourage him to discuss his feelings with you while reminding him that although you may never understand the complexity and depth of his grief emotions, you care enough about him to listen with an open mind and an open heart. Be patient and understanding, and you will be rewarded with new hope. Time, the great healer, is on your side.



(Copyright 2003-2009 Julie Donner Andersen. All rights reserved. Reprints only by written permission of author.)

87 comments:

  1. well said. I feel exactly of what you are talking about. i am a widower.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Im dating a widower. When i met him his wife had only been gone for four months. At this point it's been 10 months. Like most women in this situation i thought i could help him through it. Im starting to think this was a mistake. He has called me her name on at least three occasions and has apologized. Ive taken it in stride. I cant possibly understand what he is going through. As understanding as i am it still hurts. I dont want to be selfish and make demands such as "take her pictures down": but doesnt have one pic of me up in.his home. To top it all off I decided to check his facebook page. Its not private or anything. He is still publically"writing love letters" to her. Wishing her happy birthday and going in to say he"can't wait to getto heaven to be with her again. Im torn. He is a great guy. I just don't want to be used

      Delete
    2. At four months, he was still pretty fresh in his grief--even at ten months. Maybe suggest putting up a picture of the two of you? I assume the public writing to her will wane over time as he processes his grief, and he'll take down some picture of her up and put more of you up.

      Ultimately it's up to you if you're willing to put up with the situation. Some are able to date widowers, and some are suited for other relationships, nothing wrong with it either way.

      I know this post was from a few months ago, so this advice goes for anyone reading this in a similar situation.

      Delete
    3. I am writing this hoping that the blog is still up and running.
      I have know my boyfriend for almost 12 years now. We have been close acquaintances all of those years but lost track when he met his (late) wife and dated, got married and had their son. When their son was 4 months old she found a lump in her breast and fought with cancer for 3 years. She just passed away in March. A week after her passing he started to make moves on me. I was very hesitant and did A LOT of research on this topic as well as blogs and I made SURE that everything was moving at HIS pace, HIS phonecalls, HIS everything. Its been almost 6 months now and I have become extremely close to his son and have been spending almost all of my time with him and my son and his son, like a family. We have discussed moving in together but he says he's not ready, which is fine. I am just a little bit scared. He has told me that he loves me but only when he chooses to. Every thing in this relationship has moved on his pace and terms and I don't think I have ever been so patient. I guess what I am getting at is I would like some recommendations on books about moving into a serious relationship with him and also how to be a truly amazing mother to both his son and my own 7 year old. I care so much about making a happy family for all of us but I don't want to neglect my own goals. I am so glad that this website is here!!!!

      Delete
    4. Late reply to the Feb 24th 2014 poster:

      I lost my wife two years ago and only recently started dating again. The name thing is most likely just because he got used to her name. I had a bit of trouble in the first few months with occasionally calling my girlfriend my widows name.

      The birthday thing is normal, at least to my knowledge, but the "can't wait till heaven" bit seems a lot like he's still a little caught up over it, took me a little over a year to get past that part.

      Late reply to the May 29th 2014 poster:

      It takes a while, but the pictures do start to change. Took me nearly two years (5 months in the new relationship) to have done so at work, and I've gotten down to just a few old photos at home in less noticeable spots. It's a process.

      Dating a widower isn't for everyone perhaps, and every widower will be different. The one mentioned in the Feb 2014 post above probably started dating too soon for him.

      Having said that it's all relative, some people may be ready to date after only a couple of months and some take longer or even never date. The question that troubles a lot of us is "when is right", and the answer is when you're ready. Sometimes you feel ready before you really are, it's something you really don't figure out until you start dating again.

      Late reply to the Aug 20th 2014 poster:

      As far as books go I can't help you there, the author here seems to know what she is talking about so that may be a good start, but I can't say for certain since I haven't read the book.

      I got a bit antsy after about a month but I'm glad I didn't start dating then. Then again I seem to be a bit on the slower side then most so take it with a grain of salt.

      (mostly for new readers in the same situation)
      The first half year mark is bad, think of it like how you might celebrate half year anniversaries and such. It's a big deal to him and the first one should be treated like how you would treat the anniversary of his wifes death. Wait until 2-3 weeks after and mention moving in (etc) again, his head will be a whole lot clearer by that time.

      I'd also like to take a moment to endorse what the writer has said, it's pretty spot on.

      As a general note, the anniversary is a sore area and your widower really needs to feel your support around those times. Even if he has trouble showing or expressing it, trust me, it means the world to him.

      If any new people have questions and have read this far I'll try to come back here a few times to add what support I can, it helps me to talk about this stuff, and I don't really have anyone to do so with. (my family is really gun shy of the topic and my friends don't get it at all, not that my family understands much either but that's another issue)

      Delete
    5. Dec. 12,2015

      I have been dating a widower for two months now, his wife has been gone almost six months now. He is kind, loving, open, and compassionate. I love that he shares all these milestones with me, traditions they had, pictures.. we laugh and I encourage him to openly love her. She was a large part of his life and has molded him into the man he is today and for her I am grateful for all these things. She will always be a part of his life, his home and his future. Don't get me wrong, there are good days and bad days, and you have to feel your partner out and communicate his and your needs. I feel very fortunate to have this man in my life and even if it is not a forever thing, I will cherish every moment and continue to be there and support him always.

      God Bless everyone on their journey for love and through grief. Life is amazing, embrace and enjoy each-other.

      Delete
    6. In my opinion, and from personal experience, you are spot on in your advice.

      Delete
  2. this all true and i feel better now that i have read some understanding liteture.

    ReplyDelete
  3. TO Anonymous of July 5: Please join us at The Official WOW/GOW MEssage Board, found at my website at http://www.juliedonnerandersen.com. We are 500+ members strong, all WOWs and GOWs who, like you, enjoy the commeraderie of knowing you are NOT alone! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am dating a widower and he has a key ring with her name on it and pictures of her in the house, she now seems on a pedestal I am feeling very disressed by this and dont know how to cope

    ReplyDelete
  5. Tough as it is for a GOW, "canonizing" his LW is actually very normal behaviour for a grieving widower, and the good news is, it DOES pass! Please join us at The Official WOW/GOW Message Board, found at my website at http://www.juliedonnerandersen.com.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have just started seeing a widower. He is an amazing man. Does not w ant his 15 year old daughter to know about us. Nor does he want his in-laws to know. He says he is protecting her in case we don't work out. Also the in-laws wouldn't approve of him dating. He said he don't care what they think. However he is not ready to have me meet any of the family. We've been seeing each other for about a month. He says he wants to take things slow. He wants to be happy. Sex has already happened. A quickie while he was between a delivery and a pick up. It had been so long for him he felt bad because it didn't last as long as he wanted. I didn't care I was just happy that he felt comfortable with me enough to want to. He said next time his daughter spends the night at her friends he is going to have me over. I'm not pushing him or the issue. She comes first. She is his child and I respect him for putting her first and being such a devoted father. When I was at his place I never saw a lot of photos of the LW. He had one in their room of their wedding. However all of her belongings were already gone. He had said that his mother came and helped him pack it all up. He did not say that it was away or given away. However that really doesn't matter. What matters to me is he says that he wants to be happy and start moving on in his life. However he does want to do it slowly. He also told me that because of him wanting to move on slowly he won't be mad at me if someone else Comes along in my life and I want to be with that man. I was honest when I told him that when he came into my life I was not looking for anyone. And I an still not looking. Hopefully that gave him some reassurance about us. I know it is going to be hard after looking his wife just 13 months ago.

      Delete
    2. I too have been dating for a year and 1/2 and this is exactly what I am going through, but the main person pulling him back is his 16 year old daughter. I have stepped away from her and tried to be there for her too - it's so challenging. I too was not looking for anyone when we started dating, but he is a good man and we are happy when we are together, however, there is definitely approximately 3 times a year he pulls back and I feel like I only have 60% of him - he acts differently with me, not as loving and just a bit removed. which makes me cautious.

      Do you think counseling would be a good suggestion for the daughter and him?

      Delete
  6. My pleasure to come across your blog and read it, keep posting.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've been dating a widower for more than 3 years - he only recently donated her clothes to a charity shop when I refused to live out of a suitcase but he still holds onto 2 dresses and a coat. He wants me to move in but I feel marginalised.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It takes time, I donated most of my wife's clothes fairly quickly, but held on to certain shirts etc that had a lot of meaning, or were favorites of mine. After I started dating again I started taking more of it down and put it with clothes that I'm going to donate this weekend (hopefully, I have a bad memory for things I need to do).

      My favorite shirt of my LW and her wedding dress are the last surviors currently, but I figure they will go out before my GOW moves in.

      Hope it helps.
      -A. Widower

      Delete
  8. I believe most people keep "souvenirs" of past relationships, and this is perfectly normal. Ws are no different. Compromise! Allow him to keep the items he wishes, but ask him to store them out of sight. Getting rid of most of LW's clothing is a healthy start, but these things have to be done in baby steps as as not to overwhelm him. Please join us at The Official WOW/GOW Message Board, found at my website at http://www.juliedonnerandersen.com.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Does iget easier? One year together and we still have one photo of them together that he won't take down!

    ReplyDelete
  10. One picture? Well, it's sure better than the house looking like a shrine! Again, compromise is key. If he has taken down ALL but one, then that's progress a-mundo! Erasing all evidence of LW from his house will not erase her from his heart - that is not what you want! For more on thi ssubject, please join us at The Official WOW/GOW Message Board, found at my website at http://www.juliedonnerandersen.com.

    ReplyDelete
  11. My boyfriend and I am going through a very difficult time right dealing with his inlaws. We recently started dating and they just found out yesterday. We did keep it to ourselves for about a month, which we probably should have just been up front and honest from the beginning. However, he didn't know how to bring it up without hurting them and we didn't know that what we had was going to become this serious. Well unfortunately, instead of hearing from us...they heard it from his 8 year old son. I have his brother in law, his fiance and some of their friends posting very immature things on facebook about me...that I'm a homewrecking wh***, karma will get me, etc. I know that we aren't doing anything wrong, I also know that they don't see it that way. I've tried explaing that I am not trying to take his late wife's place and that we're not doing this to hurt anyone. They don't want to hear it. Is there any advice that anyone could possible give me? This is tearing me up inside. Very hurtful and I'm not trying to play the victim, I just finally found happiness with a guy-something I thought wasn't going to happen for me-and now I'm scared that it's going to fall apart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If he is serious about you, he will step up and say something to the former in-laws. He will see the disrespect to you as a disrespect to him if he has any intention on making you his wife.

      Delete
  12. i started dating a widower 5 months after his wife passed away suddenly, we were high school sweethearts & it seemed like we were meant to meet again, at the start his adult daughter was very suspicous of my intentions & told her dad she would never accept any woman in his life, she was grieving for her mum & had depression, now a year later she is ready to meet me & i have been invited to her wedding, i had met some of his family & i just don't feel comfortable, i am constantly thinking that they all would want his wife there instead of me.
    They were married for 28 years, she was a really wonderful person i am told, i even went to school with her but she was not in my circle of friends.
    it is her 2 year anniversary & i found myself hacking into his facebook to see what he wrote, this is wrong right ? i don't think i am coping seeing as i done this,he wrote on facebook that he wished she was here so that has upset me, he still has her makeup in his bathroom & her photo on his ipod , i do understand family photos of the walls i am fine with that but the ipod as well is not fine , it has been 2 years, the anxiety is getting to me i think, i already am convinced the daughter will never accept me & will only tolerate our relationship as she loves her dad. He eventually wants me to move in live with him in the house that he & his wife built, she died not long after it was finished, i feel like i am drowning in doubt & just want to run but i love him, any advice please

    ReplyDelete
  13. Since his LW died only 5 mos. prior to your dating, you have since been a lovely distraction from the grief work he MUST accomplish before he is ready for more than you have now. It's not your fault...and it's not his, either. It's grief's. Your situation is not uncommon...most of the GOWs on my message board have similar issues and problems. Please join us! (The Official WOW/GOW Message Board can be found via my website at http://www.juliedonnerandersen.com).

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have a friend whom I've known for several years. We worked in the same organization. His wife passed unexpectedly 2 years ago. After a week of her death, he contacted me and we've been on the phone every day. He has felt it was easier to talk to me than any of his family. We've never dated. He has started talking to other women who are interested in having a relationship with him but he is not interested. He doesn't have the same type of conversations with others as he does with me. I have helped him go through his grieving and still continue to do so. I've also begun to have alot of feelings for him and at times, he has told me he has feelings for me but neither one of us are ready to start a relationship. I am divorced and we both agree now isn't the right time. He feels guilty about thinking of starting over with someone else and then he feels even more guilty about how his son and his family and his deceased wife's family will feel. He says he is getting older and he doesn't want to be alone and then again he feels that he is destined to be alone. I feel he isn't ready for any type of relationship and shouldn't worry about it right now. He tells me he doesn't want me to leave him because he has grown used to me, but he feels eventually I will move on and he expects this. I would like to start a relationship with him but I don't want to wait forever either. He has also told me that if we were to have a relationship, I would never be able to meet his son or his family. I would have to be a secret. What kind of thinking is this?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sounds like your W is still deeply entrenched in his grief journey. The thing is, grief is a lone journey, meaning no one can do it for him - he must do the hard work by himself. You have been a lovely distraction from this work which, sadly, has enabled him to stay stuck. Well-meaning as you probably have been, you have become his crutch. The fact that he has asked you to be his "secret" tells me that he cannot bear to release his guilt and stand up for his life choices, which means he A.) is certainly not ready for a relationship right now, and B.) needs professional help in the form of grief counselling or bevreavement recovery classes. Bottom line: he is depressed, and nothing you say or do will truly help him recover until he chooses to help himself. For more on this, please join me and the over 750 members of The Official WOW/GOW Message Board at my website: http://www.juliedonnerandesen.com.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I, too, met my boyfriend 5 months after his wife's passing. Our relationship progressed quickly, with him leading it and me eagerly involved. However, it has deteriorated the past few months, and now he wants to "take a break." I don't think he ever grieved his late wife. I love him tremendously, but he has treated me poorly the past couple of months. Is there any hope of him getting back to his "normal" self and for us?

    ReplyDelete
  17. The thing is, Anonymous,the loss of a spouse is far from "normal", and leaves a W to find a different kind of normalcy for his upturned and confusing new life. Since there are no guidebooks or roadmaps to grief, a W does the best he can to muddle through. Some start new relationships far too soon, as the good feelings they bring are loevly distractions from the hard work grief requires. However,m grief, like an insolent child, will not be ignored for long. Eventually, latent grief catches up, and the results to a GOW can be devastating, as you are now experiencing. However, all is not lost. For more on this subject, please join me and the over 770 members at The Official WOW/GOW Message Board, found va my website at http://www.juliedonnerandersen.com.

    ReplyDelete
  18. i have finally given in the cause of trying too hard to be accepted by the youngest daughter as she forever makes it clear i am not part of the family. Her dad reinforces this and i feel like a petulant child in the wrong but i cant help it and as new photos of his late wife and him keep appearing i am losing tolerance and empathy for the young person aged 21 yrs. i am fed up with the games. i am also really angry that the local pub put his dead wifes funeral programme up in the pub a week after we got married i havent been in there since i have had cancer myself and it makes me feel that i shouldnt be here shall i give up on this marriage and walk away it would be the simple way out of all this hurt i feel

    ReplyDelete
  19. I am seeing a man who lost his wife in March of last year. He has a 12 year old daughter.He has been really honest with me and says that he does have odd bad days especially around important dates. I have done all of the things that have been suggested above and most of the time i am ok with things but there are just a few times when i struggle. He tells me he loves me and i understand that he will always love his late wife but i find that hard sometimes and the other thing i find difficult is the cemetery thing, his daughter tells me he goes every week but he never mentions it. I understand it might be because its a private thing but i dont know how i should feel, i know i shouldnt feel threatened by it and i try to be undersatnding but i find it hard.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Anonymous,

    Grave-visiting is a normal, healthy function of grief. Since it's only been a little over a year since your W's LW passed, I wouldn't be too concerned. Have you ever asked your W to come along when he visits? It can be quite a bonding experience for your relationship, as it opens up lines of communication you may never had before! Your issue is not so uncommon. For more on this subject, please join me and the over 800 GOWs and WOWs at the Official WOW/GOW Message Board, found at my website: juliedonnerandersen.com.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi
    I have been dating a Widower for nearly 18 months now, he lost his wife 3.5years ago, suddenly to a blood clot. I too suffered a clot and nealry didn't make it, this is how we got talking through mutual freinds. When we first starting seeing each other he kept me a secret, for 8 months to be exact, he still had a lot of support from LW's friends and think he was worried how they would be, especially with me knowing some of them. He was correct as they were all very hostile to me, one in particular, she posted their wedding photos on a social website, knowing I would see them. They were together 10 years but only got married 8 weeks before she past. I deleted my freind and sent a message to her jsut saying I understand her need to grieve but I would rather not see the photo's, she went mad, posting comments that were abussive etc, it was all very stressful. I did go to see her before Xmas to try and smooth the way a bit as a rift between all our friends was forming, it hasn't really worked. My boyfriend doesn't push me now but does still want contact with these people, I find it very difficult when they have been so mean. Two weeks ago I went to his parents, 'couple photo's' occupy every space you can think of, his Mum called me by LW's name twice in the space of 5 minutes! It was awful! He was cross with her, but the best is yet to come, at the weekend we woke up and he said 'It's time to get up Carol' (her name!) How do you deal with all of this, the photo's, the name calling, some of his friends say 'oh, Carol wore red nail varnish not pink' One recently said, 'oh did he jsut call you Carol? Has he done that before'?
    I split from my hubby two years ago and haven't got many 'couple' friends left...they were all mostly his friends, so it is not like I can address the balance with my own friends. Everytime we get with his I dread waht's coming next! Please please help, I feel like I am going mad! I love him, he says he loves me, but I am ready to walk away :(

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi Denise,

    You have many different questions within your post, and they are all normal GOW issues, but instead of replying here, please join me and the other 800+ GOWs and WOWs at the Official WOW/GOW Message Board, found via my website at juliedonnerandersen.com. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi there, I am dating a widower a year, his wife passed 5 years ago, her family and he are very close tho I haven't met them. I haven't met any of his family actually partially due to my schedule and also due to his fear of them comparing me to his late wife. Now I am pregnant with his child (he has no kids) and he expects me to move into his house (in another town) where I will know no one, where he and his wife lived, there are 6 pictures of her around the house and I feel like I would be suffocated by it all. Her family still visit him and I haven't met his family - I feel like running for the hills and find it very difficult to convey how i feel to him and get upset when I think about the thoughts of living in his house where I know absol noone in the area - help! Thank you, Jo

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi Jo,

    Sound slike your W is willing and able to stand by his life choices, so I wouldn;t worry too much about moving in with him. It's about the two of you and your child-to-be..a new family of your own! - and not about "other people". You will soon make new friends. :) As for his in-laws...if they love him, they'll want him to be happy. Sounds like he is! I understand your nervousness, but most former in-laws (LW's parents, etc.) can be quite accomodating and genuinely welcoming. The ones that aren't or don't.....don't matter! Who needs toxic people in their lives? ;)

    As for th epictures....Talk to your W, luv. Chance sare, he's not aware of them. Men aren't decorators like we are. Compromise is key: if he wants to keep them - and indeed, he has that right, why not ask if they could at least be put out of (your) sight?

    Comon and join the WOW/GOW Message Board, found on my website at juliedonnerandersen.com. There are h undreds of women who walk in your shoes and can relate to your issues. See you there!

    Blessings...JDA

    ReplyDelete
  25. My exW and I dated for 6.5 months until he broke up with me about a week and a half ago. His wife died about a year and a half before we met and started dating. Our relationship moved pretty quickly, as I’ve heard happens with W’s who are new to the dating scene. Although my W had done some online dating before meeting me, I was the first real relationship he had since she died suddenly. I worried about the “rebound” effect and whether having a relationship with me would bring up some guilt or other issues he wasn’t ready for.

    Things were going so well though, and it was pretty clear to me and to those who knew us that he was falling in love with me. I decided to tell him how I felt and said I love you about three weeks before we broke up. In those three weeks he told me that he wasn’t sure he was there yet, which I understood. We also went to my friends’ wedding together. When we were back at his house after the wedding, I was getting ready to go home. We kissed goodbye and he immediately looked at her picture. It was a week after that when he broke up with me – telling me he wasn’t there emotionally, and didn’t think I was “Mrs. Right”. I have my own thoughts on the term “Mrs. Right” – especially coming from someone who was happily married for 15 years. I told him that I worried because he didn’t talk about her much. I know some widowers talk about their late wives too much, but by not talking about her I worried that he was holding in his grief and guilt.

    I am trying not to hold on to unrealistic hope, but is it possible for the “rebound” GOW to become more than just a rebound once the widower works out his feelings? Is it worth pursuing a reunion with my W? I haven’t talked to him or texted him since he broke up with me. I’m trying to give him space and I’m trying to keep myself from getting hurt. But I miss him so much, and if there’s a chance that he can open his heart to me, I don’t want to mess it up.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I'm dating a widower with three minor children. I love all four of them. What I don't love is the deceased wife's sister and my boyfriend's sister. They have been pretty awful towards me. First the deceased wife's sister, the first time I met her at a holiday party at her house, she took me to the family room that was filled with people and told me, "This is my sister's death room." I was horrified. Is this a new greeting I was unaware of? I found it weird. Apparently, she kidnapped her dying sister from her own husband and decided where her sister would die -- not with her husband and children. Then the widower's sister recently told me -- after I was attempting to send an engagement gift to her son and future daughter-in-law -- that I "made everyone in the family uncomfortable" and "there's no commitment here; you're not part of this family." That was in response to sending a gift to her kid? After all, my boyfriend is her son's Godfather. Must be another welcome wagon tip I missed. My boyfriend is not standing up for me, so I'm pulling back completely from family events. I'm not sure this is the right move, but I don't think loving him and his children requires me to be mistreated by his family. Everything I know about his deceased wife says she was a lovely person. But lovely or not, she's not coming back. His house is filled with pictures of her and after 15 months of dating him, sleeping with him, playing a "mommy" role to his kids, there is not one picture of me. I'm starting to feel a little used here. Advice?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Just began seeing a widower with a 2 yr old precious little girl. He's doing the single daddy job marvelously... with help from his parents. I was engaged to be married but broke it off about 5 months ago, and his wife died 7.5 months ago, but we really enjoy each others company... I thot that I should maybe read about dating a widower, specifically because we haven't talked about her much. I get bits and pieces out of him, but I haven't asked any direct questions. I feel like I am waiting for him to want to tell me. He has mentioned a couple times that he'll tell me anything I want to know, just ask. I don't want to cross any lines or push him toward one of these depression type times. Advice? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I am so glad to have found your site. It is a great support. I started seeing a man who has been widowed for 1 1/2 years after 28 years of marriage. We started off very slowly and then decided that we were not looking for each other so we would be companions. He felt out told me that he had never seen himself as being in a relationship again and then there I was. We kind of do the 2 steps forward, 1 step back at times. He has two grown but young daughters and about 2 weeks ago everyone was in town and they (him and his kids) included me in everything and I am everything....the day after they left, he said "I feel life coming at me way to fast" - I took that cue and (although I don't think I push) just gently backed off. To make a long story short over the past two weeks we have gone out but not as much (and when we are not, I know he is home because I can see him on line)- he has given me signs of a continued relationship....for instance he decided he wanted to meet my parents and we all went out, and he asked me to go on this trip with him in 2013. I am a bit confused but I feel if I just give him the space he needs and yet still let him know I am there for him....he will work this out. Is this correct or is there something more or different I should be doing. Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. I have been dating a widower for about 18 months and we have a newborn baby. He also has a child to his previous partner. Things were really great for a while but since the last anniversary of her death (she has been gone for 31/2 years and she died in his arms) he has not been the same. He told me that heris not ready for me to be a mother to his child and he has stooped seeing both me and our child. It has come as a shock to me and I don't know what to do.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Dear Anonymous (from April 19),
    Since your W experienced a "fits and starts" episode immediately following the visit from his daughters - that visit being the first time they al met you - I have to wonder if his kids said anything to him to put him in such a funk? Regardless, these kinds of "panic attacks" can and often do happen in almost every GOW/W relationship. You are not alone! For more info, please join The Official WOW/GOW Message Board at my website www.juliedonnerandersen.com.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Dear Anonymous (from May 23rd),

    It's tricky to determine what constitutes "grief behaviour" and what is just a quirk in a W's personality. While your W appeared to have had a change of heart immediately proceeding his LW's DOD (date of death), it may have been coincidence. Perhaps he simply feels overwhelmed with a new baby, a new partner, and a life that MAY be quite different from the one he had before you. All you can do at this point is try to communicate with him about what he's feeling, or suggest counselling. For suppotr for YOU, please join The Official WOW/GOW Message Board at my website, www.juliedonnerandersen.com.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I’m 47 and my ex is 53 he is a widower of two years. After the death of his wife (about 9 months later) he dated one other women and it last about 5 months on and off. We meet and where only friends we would talk at the local pub likes friends do. We went out on a few casual dates started seeing each other more and more, we have a lot of things in common and I thought we had an understanding, I have been divorced for 6 years after a 19 yr marriage, he was married for 23 yrs before the death of his wife, I knew going into this relationship that he was no were near the commitment status that I was, but over time it seems like he was ready to move forward (not to forget his wife, but to get on with life)In this 14 months we have taken each other to every family affairs,introduced each other to family/friends, he recently introduced me to his deceased wife’s family. He has a place at the beach and a place in the mountains that he told me to leave things there (clothes, shoes, etc. He and I would seldom have conversations of the future and our life together as we grew older. In this relationship I have been the chaser I was always ready to go whenever he called. As time went on we spent more and more time together as a couple with out the commitment, neither one of us had anything to tie us down at home so
    we were both free to get and go when ever either one of us would call. For about the last 4 months our relationship became very comfortable and we told each other that we loved one another!! But in reality I didn’t think he meant it the same way that I did, I was saying it from my heart and I feel he was saying it from his head… could it have been me not understanding his personality ??? I truly fell in love with this guy and as I type this I have a gut wrenching feeling in my stomach.
    Three weeks ago I felt something wasn’t right, not a big deal, but something was on his mind. I asked him if there was something he wanted to talk about and he said no everything is fine “what? Don’t I make you happy” I told him he did and I enjoy every moment with him, the next morning we woke up he did the whole break up thing! Saying that he just don’t feel like he can give me what I need (commitment) and that is seems like Im not happy, and I calmly as I could said thank you for your honesty (of course I had tears running down my face) I knew there was nothing I could do if he didn’t want to be in this relationship,I was crying on his shoulder he said “Im going to tell you something that is really going to confuse you” he said I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you, I want you to move in with me” he then told me that he just put me through a test that if I would have walked out then he would have known my love was not sincere. everything was fine for the next two days then the text/calls with slowing down and not wanting to see me then he was away for work (a week after the above conversation) he called me and told me we shouldn’t see each other! I did'nt speak to him for three weeks, I did send a letter and texted me “I got your letter today. I would like to stay friends; I guess we will have to see how things work out”. I called him after about 4 weeks about getting my things from him and text him a few days later to tell him "I wasnt sad because he let me go I was sad because I HAVE to let him go!!! he texted back and said "I hope you nunderstand, I'm sorry but I dont think I can be in a committed relationship yet, you deserve better" I said I Love You and he responded with Love you too!! he brought me my thing, then he left, I texted him and asked if we could meet sometime this week to chat not as ex lovers but as renewed friends and he responed with I would like that....
    What does all this mean “heLP”. I love him and want him back in my life, any suggestions are welcome. Thank you in advance!!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Dear Anonymous,

    The hadrest thing for a GOW to do is to be able to tell the difference between what constitutes "greif-related behaviour" an what is just plain ol' bad/cad behaviour. The fact that your W started dating so soon after his loss leads me to believe that his sudden break-up with you is grief-based. He may simply be backtracking to the point in his grie journey where he left off before you came into his life. You see, when it comes to an early-grief W, a GOW can be a lovely distraction from the hard work grief requires before a W can be deemed healthy enough to re-enter the dating scene. For more on this, please join me and the over 2,000+ members of The Offcial WOW/GOW Message Board, found via my website at juliedonnerandersen.com. You are NOT alone!

    ReplyDelete
  34. I have been living with a widower for almost 4 years. However, this has been quite a challenge in terms of having to put up with the challenges of a widower.
    However, his son's girlfriend chooses to talk about his decreased wife in my company even at the dinner table, which makes me feel uncomfortable.How do I cope with this situation? Should I tell my partner's son's girlfriend about my discomfort?
    Need your advice. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  35. Dear Anonymous,

    It depends on the girl's intent. Do you believe she is bringing up LW to spite you somehow...or is she just making conversation? Do you believe she may be doing this at her boyfriend's instigation (does the son have issues with you?)? Perhaps it would be more proper for W to chat with the girl, explaining that, while he will always love and remmeber his LW, it is making his NEW love (you!) uncomfortable. I always believe these kinds of issues shold be dealt with by the W himself. Would be bill willing to stand up for you?

    ReplyDelete
  36. I am engaged to and living with a widower. He has been widowed for almost 3 years now. My dilemma is that I will share something with him that I want to do and he paints a picture of having done that with his deceased wife. This does not feel good to me, bursts my bubble. Don't know what to do about it or whether I should even feel hurt. Help please.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Dear Anonymous,

    You wonder whether you should feel hurt. If you feel hurt, then you feel hurt! Your GOW/WOW feelings are valid and worthy annd they indeed matter, so own your feelings! It's OK to have them, and you have a right to be comfortable in your realtionship, so speak up! Communication is key to a relationship with a W.

    Most GOWs and WOWs don't appreciate hearing a W speak, ad nauseum, about his "good times" with LW, the places they visited, and the fun they had. But in your W's defense, he is probably just trying to be helpful in considering your feelings: he likely realizes you probably don't want to go to the same places he and LW did, so he is communicating to you that he has "been there, done that".

    This is a good time for a 3C's talk: Explain to him how his travelogues about places he and LW visited make you feel, then come up with a keyword or phrase to stop the behaviour before it escalates. For example, if you suggest going to Paris but he and LW had already been there, he could say "Done it!" and that would be your mutual keyphrase to move on to another suggestion.

    Of course, there are a few GOWs and WOWs who are not bothered by the fact that W and LW had been to the same places. After all, visiting them with GOW/WOW IS different because W and she are a NEW couple and will likely experience the same locales in a different way, making their own special memories.

    Either way you deal with this issue is YOUR unique way, and neither is wrong nor wrong. Whatever works for YOU is what counts!

    ReplyDelete
  38. I have been dating a widower who's wife died over 3 1/2 yrs ago, for over a year now. It's been off and on most of the time. The times it's off is when he pulls away and says it's never going to work because he doesn't want a long term relationship. I have told him I am a relationship person so he is right it won"t work. Then a few days later he wants to hang out with me and take it slow. During a off time he called and wanted me to go to dinner with him on his wife's birthday. I did and it was nice! We started seeing each other, having a good time..almost inseparable. I left for Germany for several months to spend time with my daughter who just had a baby.He insisted on driving me and also insisted on taking care of my belongings and car while away. He wanted to meet my parents as i took my dogs to stay with them. He has also introduced me to his mother and took me over another time to see her as well. While I am in Germany we agreed it is cheaper for me to call him which I have almost daily until he brought up once again he does not want a LT relationship with anyone. He wants me to continue o call and that my things are safe at his house, and he wants to pick me up at the airport when I return. Should I continue with this? I do care very much for him and have been trying hard to give space and time but my emotions are getting exhausted. Maybe I should have never agreed to see him again since I am a relationship person, but I thought with time he would change his mind since he keeps calling o and texting wanting to spend time. Also I should mention he goes to the bar every night because he doesn't want to be home and refuses to bring me to his home.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Dear Anonymous,

    It is tricky to determine what is grief-related behaviour, and what is simply a character flaw. As it has been 3.5 yrs. since your W became a W, I have my doubts as to his behaviour being grief-related. He seems to be more of a commitmentphobe, and there are many red flags pointing to that conclusion.

    Being a GOW requires a great deal of patience, but you have to guard your heart, too. When a W has asked for a break, it is imperative that a GOW protects heself emotionally. Accomplishing this is not easy,but basically, what she needs to do is to go on with he life as if W was not in it. She must be good to herself in ALL ways: spirtually, mentally, phsyically, and psychologically.

    For more on "guarding your heart" as a GOW, plesae join me and the 2,000+ members of The Official WOW/GOW Message Board, found at my website: http://www.juliedonnerandersen.com.

    ReplyDelete
  40. How do I help my partner deal with things like anniversaries. His wife died must after christmas and now he absolutely hates christmas and totally withdraws from me. I dont know if I should support him or give him space. Its been 4 years and we have an 8mth old child together. I feel like I mean nothing to him this time of year and it really hurts me. I don't know what goes on in his head. Maybe he moved on too soon?

    ReplyDelete
  41. Dear Anonymous,

    Christmas and other holidays are always hard for survivors, especially so if a W has lost his LW close to a major holiday. The significance of it being a religious holiday is also key, as some survivors have yet to reconcile their loss with God. Thesew things take time. How much time is dependent on each survivor.

    If you don't know what goes on in his head, perhaps it's time to find out! Communication in every GOW/W or WOW/W relationship is KEY to its survival. PLease view another blog post about the 3C's Of Communication. This is a process of talking to your partner that really works.

    As well, please join the other members and me at The Official WOW/GOW Message Board which can be accessed via free registration on my website at juliedonnerandersen.com.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I have been dating this wonderful man for about 8 months. It seems a perfect match. At first, we got along perfectly. He was the ultimate gentleman and hero of a boyfriend.
    It has changed. He is less attentive, less considerate, stopped the special gentleman things he did, and I have noticed lately he is quick to anger and impatient. It starts when we disagree on something and he will not consider my opinion or when I have to point out that he isn't listening or he isn't considering my feelings on something. When he ignores what I say it really upsets me & he makes me feel lately like the dumb blond new girlfriend who he is just physically attracted to and who has no say so. HE doesn't seem to see that. Things get heated , then he starts yelling and says that I am yelling as loud...we both feel right, but it is clear he is screaming. I say that I have never had this problem and he says the same. I wish I had a video, it is clear he is impatient and in a way distant and then he seems to explode. IT only happened a couple times but I think it is a bad sign. I can't help but feel he holds resentment deep down for his wife's death and on top of it all, he and everyone acts like I can never compare to her. he does say that they fought maybe 3 times in there long term marriage. but that is because I know his late wife's opinion was more highly valued, that is why they fought less. I think we have a problem there. is the reverse blame when he yells just a guy thing, or could he be angry at me because he is not ready really to date?
    Everyone does view her a classic "saint-like".HE had to wait the classic "1 year" before telling anyone of me. For the first, time last week I entered his house because his late wife's mom lives there. I told him I thought it was too soon if he feels uncomfortable, but he says it is out of respect for the family. The whole time I felt like a hidden mistress-very insignificant. His wife was highly respected and adored at their church & was a successful businesswoman.so it is impossible to follow that. I think I am special too, but I am scared that he can't see that because it is too soon and he is still too close to his wife & deep down never had enough time to grieve.
    I wonder as time goes by he sees me differently & he was just caught up in a desire just to be with someone. . so I am giving this time after our last fight. not sure what to do. I will not take blame for his misguided anger.but i don't want to lose him. I think it can be worked out.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Dear Anonymous of Jan. 5, 2013,

    You bring up many different issues, and because of lack of space here, I cannot answer them all but would like to help you. Please join me and the other members of The Official WOW/GOW Message Board, found at my website at http://www.juliedonnerandersen.com. You are NOT alone, and your issues MATTER!

    ReplyDelete
  44. So glad to have found this site. Been dating my widower for 15 months. The 2nd anniversary of her death just passed this weekend. I gave him space, supported him through it. He asked me to come over recently, he was in the shower when I got there. By the shrine in the livingroom where we hang out and watch TV is his LWs urn and picture. Normally this doesnt bother me, guess I am used to it. On the floor were 2 balloons saying I love you that he must have picked up over the weekend. I know I am suppose to communicate to him but it shook me to the core and I had to leave. I called him and he asked me what happened. I explained about seeing the balloons and he said they are just balloons. The core of the issue is, he cant tell me how he feels about me verbally. We spend every waking minute together and his actions do speak louder than his words but seeing the balloons in front of the shrine made me feel disrespected. He is not picking up my calls nor understanding how I feel. Did I over react?

    ReplyDelete
  45. Dear Anonymous (of March 19, 2013),

    Is it disrespectful for him to love his LW at the same time he loves you? Well, ask yourself this: Is it disrespectful of LW's memory for him to love YOU? Of course not! It is possible...even probable!...for people to love more than one person at a time. The human heart is a vast, fertile land, and can accomodate many different people. Take, for example a mother: Does she love her first child LESS when the next comes along? No! Does she love the second child less because her love for the first was/is so strong? No! A mother loves ALL her children for the unique and special individuals they are. In the same way, so, too, can a W love his LW and his GOW simultaneously.

    For more on this and other GOW issues, please join the over 2000 members and me at The Official WOW/GOW Message Board, found at my website at http://www.juliedonnerandersen.com.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd like to add that he's likely struggling with the thought of whether its disrespectful to his GOW to love his LW and vise versa. I still do sometimes.

      A. Widower

      Delete
  46. Very nice to have a place to talk about these issues. I have been seeing a man who has been widowed for five years. We have been together for three years. He says his relationship with his past wife was good. We started out in a very loving, caring relationship, then I realized he is very connected to his former in-laws. He told me he lived in an apartment in the same house as his mother-in-law lives in to help support her and her family. They gave the title to him and her daughter, in return they took care of repairs, taxes, updating, ect. This was fine while her daughter was alive. Now, it is just his mother-in-law and her boyfriend who live there. The apt. is actually a large room and bath in the main house. I was in love and tried to accept this situation. When I was brought up there his mother-in-law was angry, jealous, territorial. My boyfriend couldn't understand why she reacted this way, said it was me that brought that out in her. After some time, he decided I shouldn't go up there. I was renting a camp, and eventually bought a trailer. I was hurt, felt like I was the outsider, felt punished. His attitude towards me changed. He thought I had a negative attitude. Since then I have reconciled with his mother-in-law, it still feels strange. She so dependent on him. He spends half his time with me, and half with her at his house. I tell him I wish we could progress, but he says he says that he's not sure how good this relationship is going to be. He is a good man, helps renovate my trailer. He helps with bills and is very generous. I feel he is being taken advantage of by his former in-laws, that because of his living situation, he is stuck in complicated grief.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Hi, I have been dating a widower for 15 months his wife has been dead 20 mths. He has nursed her through cancer for 5 years; they had been married for 25 years. He was a really lovely guy; very early on he said he wanted marriage again, I was rushing things and we have now split up. I keep blaming myself for trying to move things too quick, but realistically what would have been the chances of success, when I had met him so soon after his wife had died? I feel so guilty and it is tearing me apart I loved him so much. ANO

    ReplyDelete
  48. I've read your book and this site for the past 6 months and have never posted a comment, but I am so confused, I need help to see through the fog of a relationship I have w/ a W.

    We met 11 months after the sudden death of his 47 yr old wife of 17 yrs. She had 3 children from a previous marriage and my W helped raise her children, now adults. My W ironically has known my own adult sons for the past 10 yrs - they worked with him on and off in construction.

    My problem is this: I fell hard for him. I am divorced, and hadn't dated for 15 yrs, I wasn't interested in dating after being married to an abusive man and father. I never expected to love a man again, and my W definitely is a family man. My W is stuck with very large medical bills for his LWs hospital bills as he had no health insurance when his wife died. Last Sept. he was at the point of losing everything, and I offered him a place to live, as I have a large home and live alone.

    We are intimate, but he has never told me he loves me and says he can't say it and he won't lead me on. He refuses to hug or kiss me, though we do have a sexual relationship that is good. He tells his family that we are roommates only, yet we do everything together and he does introduce me to his friends and family, though initially it was very slow, one at a time. After being together for a year, he told me he will never marry again and repeat what happened to the love of his life, though I am beginning to suspect he uses that. He is trustworthy and faithful, but after 16 months of being together, it is very hurtful for him to remind me constantly that we are NOT boyfriend/girlfriend. This confuses me. I have tried communicating repeatedly but lately he shuts down and feels angry when I try to get him to open up and understand my perspective. He keeps telling me I am going too fast and expect too much, but i don't want to keep living with a man who has no intention of commitment or love. I feel confused because often his actions indicate that he does indeed love me. Should I insist he move out? I am so confused and care for him deeply, but his lifestyle is beginning to cause me financial burden and I can't and don't want to keep supporting him if he has no intention of every loving me.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Dear Anonymous of June 24th,

    If, after 16 mos, your W cannot say he loves you, yet comntinues to reap the benefits of a relationship, I believe he is afraid of commitment. This may or may not have anything to do with his status as a widower (although it likely does). If you are beginning to feel like you are being used, then please make a proactive decision to be honest with him about your needs. You needn't give him an ultimatum, but rather, explain to him how you are feeling and allow him to contribute HIS honesty. With his truth, you can make a more sound decision. Frankly, in my opinion, he needs to either "sh!t or get off the pot", as my wise grandma would say! For more, please join me and the over 3,000 members of The Offcial WOW/GOW Message Board, found on my website at http://www.juliedonnerandersen.com.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Thanks for your reply. I did ask him to be honest with me, and he says he is afraid to ever love a woman again because he never wants to experience the pain of losing another woman he loves. I believe he is being honest, but that moves me no closer to what I need from the relationship. He is not a demonstrative man, but he has shown me love in other ways by many things he does for me. He keeps telling me he needs time. I don't know whether to keep giving him time, or to move on.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I began dating a widower 19 months ago (his wife died 2 1/2 years ago at the same time as my ex-husband and I split up. I moved in with him one year after we met. Our relationship has been tested, more by myself than him due to my current low self esteem which is getting worse! His house was overwhelmed with pictures of his late wife and he constantly referred to her as his wife rather than by her name or late wife. We are working on these things - most of the pictures have come down and we are making decisions together, although ultimately he has the final word. The big problem I believe is his adult children (son 26 and daughter 24). They are polite to me after a rocky start - in particular his daughter with tears and pressure not to date as she believed it was too soon. For them to be friendly is probably too soon and I respect their need for time (my daughter has been fine and very accepting).
    What concerns me most is my partner's overwhelming need to protect them from everything and spend money on them like water. His daughter in particular can do no wrong - he is always talking about her as being wonderful (almost walks on water) and if she wants something/anything he buys it for her. His son is not far behind. This I have to live with but I am unhappy about the influence his daughter in particular has over our relationship. I recently indicated that one day I would like us to marry and my partner made it clear he wanted the "children" to be settled first. I get the impression that his children are very against the idea of him marrying again and worse that they do not tust my motives and this has influenced the way he feels about me as his level of trust seems to have diminished. He has recently started talking about halving all expenses and in a hotel it was very embarassing when he asked the receptionist to split the bill on two cards - I was so embarrassed and asked him afterwards if we could not have just paid (I was happy to pay on my card and did in the end) and sorted out splitting the costs afterwards (very easy to transfer money across). All this and his daughter has an open cheque book! His son and daughter can stay with us without notice whenever they want, yet I have to check with him about my daughter first and now have to book her into a hotel for a night when she is due to visit soon (from a long distance) as his children are going to be there and he felt it might be uncomfortable for them. I feel like a visitor when his children are in the house - I have mentioned this but his response is that it will get better. The result is that I am starting to seriously resent his children and in particualr his daughter's persistent interference. My self esteem has nose dived and I am paranoid that he will break-up with me, even though he tells me he loves me and wants to be with me for the rest of my life.

    ReplyDelete
  52. I have been with my W boyfriend for a little over a year. His wife died suddenly 4 yrs ago when she was 33 from a thyroid storm. He is perfect in every way, he spoils me, tells me he loves me, we have a brilliant sex life and we spend time away together. The problem is, I have never met any of his family or friends. They know about me but I don't know why he's reluctant to let me meet his parents. His LW has a son who is now 16 but he lives with his real dad. My W treated the boy as his own when his LW was alive as they all lived together. He still sees the boy which I think is a really good quality in my W. So I guess what I am saying is everything is perfect except 1) I've yet to meet family & friends 2) He's said he'll never live with anyone again, he's happy living on his own 3) At 53, I am almost 12 years older than him.
    I was single for 14 yrs before he came along. He was the instigator of the relationship. I was prepared to spend the rest of my life alone but now I've met him, I want to spend the rest of my life with him but I don't want to always live apart. Because of our work, we both do shift work, we only get to see each other for 2 or 3 days every couple of weeks. When he's not here, I spend my days in my pyjamas sitting on the sofa thinking about him. I'm 53 and he's 42 for goodness sake, why can't I just be happy with the way things are? He hasn't got pics of her anywhere and although he told me about her and how she died when we first met, he doesn't really mention her now. He's said a few things about her sister/brother/dad but he doesn't go over the top. Is it possible that he feels like he's slightly betraying his LW by loving me and that's why I'm not part of his life outside 'us'. My days are just passing me by in a haze when he's not here. I spend hours checking his LW sisters facebook page in case his LW is mentioned. There are pics of her and I just torment myself when I look at them. I love and want him so much. He doesn't even know that I've seen pics of her and her family. I feel like I am actually going crazy.

    ReplyDelete
  53. I dated a man for 4 mo and strongly feel that is step-daughter; 19 his replaced is dead wife. He didn't want me around her or the family. His wife had died suddenly 5 yrs ago. I strongly care for him but could not find where I fit into his life. we had a big fight and ended the relationship.

    ReplyDelete
  54. I have been dating a widow for 3 months. July was the 1 year anniversary of his wife death. To celebrate, he and his family took his wife's mother out to dinner. I was not included but I can accept that. He was concerned how she would take it that he is dating someone. I can also understand that. Before this, we always spent weekends together. The week after the anniversary, he told me that he needs some time. It has now been 2 weeks and I haven't heard from him. I texted him to find out how he is doing. He didn't respond. I really like this guy even though I detected some hot and cold signals I wanted to try. I thought we had something special. If he wont respond to my text, don't know what to think. Can you help me understand?
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. (I'm a widower of almost 2 years)

      He's likely just caught up in it. My last anniversary snuck up on me and I was a little unavailable for a couple weeks afterwards, there was a little extra guilt from a "how could I have forgotten it was coming up" and I hadn't forgotten about it, I just hadn't counted down the days the way I have been doing.

      Sometimes when important dates pass I get cold a couple weeks ahead of time, sometimes its only on the day, and sometimes it starts on the day and encompasses the following weeks.

      Please be patient and be supportive (at least as much as you can be while he isn't responding). Let him know that while you don't know what he is going through that you understand it's a lot to process and that you are there for him.

      Hope it helps.
      A. Widower

      P.S. I am not a robot

      Delete
  55. My husband (he was widowed 2 yeas ago) and his adult kids have been invited to the wedding of his wife's nephew's. I was invited too, but feel a little reluctant to attend because it is so close to the date she died two years ago. Should I attend?

    ReplyDelete
  56. Ive recently started dating a great man. He lost his wife a year ago. We both have children. His are 2 and 4 and my son is 6. I really like this man and want it to work out, however, im finding myself getting jealous a little. His home is definitely a shrine to her. I almost feel as though I'm stealing someone elses family. I hear she was an amazing mother from his friends and I just wonder if I will be compared to her by others forever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The jealousy thing is certainly understandable, and the shrine thing rings a little truer than I'd like to admit. He'll likely adjust, especially once you've been together for a few months and have pictures of your own. He probably either A) doesn't notice the "shrine effect" in the home and won't until he is going to put up a picture of you, or B) he's nervous about it but feels that he'll be judged if he starts taking any of it down.

      It's a very awkward position for him and all I can really say as far as advice goes is to be supportive and make memories with him. He'll put up pictures of those memories with you and that will likely resolve things. If not, when he does have pictures of you and you've been dating for a few months ask him if he has a picture of such and such sometime and breach the subject by saying that you'd like to see pictures of the two of you around the house.

      Hope that helps.
      -A. Widower

      Delete
  57. I have been dating a widower for 2 months. He lost his wife of 3 yrs (but they were companions for 27 yrs prior to marriage).. I have let him take the lead in everything we do from picking when he wants to see me, when we go on dates, what we do and where we go. I have always given my opinion and input when he asks. Just after the New Year 2015 holiday, he told me that he wasn't ready to date or for a relationship yet--maybe in 3months, 6 months, 1 year-he couldn't tell me. What he said to me was he would still like to go out and do things with me but remain just friends and when he felt like he was ready to move on-I should expect him to call me up.. This man's words mean a lot to him, and he tells me he doesn't lie. My feelings towards him are complicated--I wasn't in-love with him nor do I think I really "loved" him; it was more of an extremely emotional and deep caring for him and I do feel as though one day I could truly love this man with all my heart but how do I get past his words of "just being a friend"; "dating on occasion" when for the past two months we have already been very intimate with each other and when I stare into his eyes I can see his soul and pain and is wanting to be happy without the feelings of guilt and betrayal and I know he could see through my eyes because every time he did-he would turn away and tear up.. The last thing he said to me on our 'goodbye' hug and kiss was I will text you and make plans for dinner this weekend, I do not want to hurt you, I will be thinking about you tonight when I go home"-- and the last thing I said was that I didn't want to let him go- I wanted to continue to give him the biggest, tightest hug and hang on as long as I could and that in my heart I knew he was a good guy for me. I even re-iterated to him that I felt as though he was worth my time to wait until he was ready...
    Now this am, I still have those same feelings but my gut is telling me that he wont call me and that I was just there to test the waters for his dating-readiness and I feel as though I just lost my true love--
    how do I proceed with him??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's hard to say. Around the anniversary, when things get really mixed up, he might feel like he's string you along and think he's protecting you by putting distance between the two of you.

      Maybe he's found that he really isn't ready yet but doesn't want to let you go, which seems to be the case. He's just stepping back to put the breaks on things and give himself room.

      I had some issues adjusting after I started dating again but already had the space I needed due to a very hectic (but temporary) work schedule.

      He may (as I did) feel like he's putting too much pressure on you and wants to give you the opportunity to leave incase you felt trapped.

      If you still want to date him then stick around and help him, if not then let him know. Don't treat it so much as a break up, but as sort of a reset (for lack of a better term).

      Hope this helped.

      - A. Widower

      Delete
  58. Very interesting post, I've never seen a post about dating a widower before! I think that ultimately everyone embraces a new start, and time does heal pain, so if you find the one and he has lost someone in his life, it shouldn't matter too much! It's the perfect opportunity to bring happiness back into someone's life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well said - A. Widower

      Delete
  59. I am glad I found these posts and interested to hearing all of your thoughts and feelings. I have never done anything like this before but I would be grateful for any advice.
    I was drawn to a Widower of just 3 years with a 10 year old son on a dating site and we started chatting, we got on really well and it then led to hours of talking on the phone and we clicked completely. We met up the following week for coffee and as expected and discussed, there was also chemistry there and we were looking forward to a date at the weekend. Apart from ups and downs of coping as a mum and dad, working etc, he has a sick Mum. She was taken into hospital directly after we had met plus he is going through the process of selling her property. He contacted me to say that he has to be with his Mum therefore our date was off for Saturday, which I totally understood.
    Following the weekend, he contacted me and told me that he has so much going on right now with everything I have described above that it wouldnt be fair on me for him to not be able to give me his all and that when he sees his mum being ill it has triggered something inside him as to whether he is ready for a relationship. He said he feels guilty all round right now to his Mum, his boy and doesn't want to feel more guilt at not being what he wants to be for me.
    I can't begin to understand how hard all of this is for him because all I see is a lovely man whom I would love to get to know more. He said that he's not saying never and to give him a couple of weeks.
    should I leave it longer than this? what do I say? Or do I just wait? He still pops onto the dating site but I know thats just chat for him without a connection and his subscription runs out next week.
    I'm hoping for some hopeful feedback.
    Kind regards

    ReplyDelete
  60. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  61. I have been dating a widow of two years for two months through suicede the anniversary came and she went silent for over a week then text saying she needed a few weeks to get herself together mentally. My question is how long do I give her with no contact and for space ? I answered her text saying we would talk when she was ready

    ReplyDelete
  62. My W lost his wife to suicide about 7 years ago. When we met he said he couldn't love. I don't feel jealous of her and he has just one pic in a very out of the way place. I can't imagine the emotional confusion he must go through. I enjoy our time together. Once in a while, my insecurities show up and i pull away from him. He maintains that he misses me and not long after i am with him again. He shows me he cares and won't tell me he loves me. I guess i am waiting for him to realize i don't want him to not love her or that he must love me the same way. I have hopes that he will acknowledge the love he has and can feel safe that i won't leave him.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Help! My adult, single daughter has taken up with a man twelve years older than her and they first got together and slept together only 12 days after his wife's death from cancer. My daughter is 26 and the young man is 38. His former wife was 35 and died at home in their bed surrounded by family. After the family went home, he pursued my daughter. In less than two months he has taken her on two trip, bought her a Porsche, and is giving her all his former wife's jewelry. BUT, he hides her in a hotel when his former inlaws come to town.......which is often.

    ReplyDelete
  64. well i started dating my BF about 9 months after his wife pasted from a 4 year battle with cancer he was married to her for about 14 year and they had 3 young son's. I met in high school years ago and thru a close mutual friend i heard his story, and our close friend played match maker and reconnected us. I had concerns knowing his wife had pasted only 9 months before our first date, but i knew as long as we went slow and had a close friendship first things would be good and they have been now 4 years into our relationship. I moved in with him almost a year ago. pictures of his wife still hang on the walls and the boys talk often of their mother. i know i have the rest of my life with him so im in no rush to remove pictures/nick nack ect... it seems to help the kids knowing even tho i live there nothing much has changed. However it's been a year and all my things are still boxed up stacked in the garage and storage. i have only a few things out in the house. i figured as time went on little by little things would be moved, maybe his wife's things nick nacks and pictures would slowly be packed away and room for my things would find a home in the house, after a year there nothing has moved. I long for my things and to create a home that feels more like my home, but that has happened i keep saying i have the rest of my life with him so give more time. but as we head into year two of "living together" my restless feeling of needing to create a home that feels more like "me" gets only stronger. what can i do?

    ReplyDelete
  65. Thank you! Then I think that I'm doing it right. Only problem that I have is the kids to understanding that he also needs someone. They're giving me/us a tough time. I believe in prayer and this too shall pass.

    ReplyDelete
  66. I have known my W for about 30 years. He worked with my late husband and we knew both W and LW on a social basis. My W also has done accounting work for me since my husband passed 16 years ago. His LW passed in February and he asked me out for dinner in April. Things have progressed steadily and although he is a man of few words I feel his love for me in his actions and deeds. He has two grown children who are very accepting; his family is lovely and recently his mother passed. His in-laws are mixed - some are accepting with his moving on and others very opposed. He and this LW were married 38 years. My difficulty is that the LW clothes, jewelry, make-up and even purse are in the same place they were the day she passed. He has said "I haven't decluttered in here" and "there is a lot of stuff I have to get rid of" but he hasn't done anything with it. I think he is ready for me to move in however I don't feel that LW has left yet. I think in some ways he doesn't "see" the things - they have always been there and for him they are just things. I am just not sure how to start the conversation or if I should ask to have these removed. I would enjoy hearing some thoughts on this subject.

    ReplyDelete
  67. After being divorced for 6 years I finally decided to get back into the dating scene. So I created a profile on one of the dating sites and viewed some of the profiles. There was one man I was particularly drawn to, though I didn't text him. He intact texted me first and we chatted for about 2 weeks. He was always so polite and respectful. In the beginning he did tell me that he has been a widower for 7 years already. He had 2 sons aged 10 and 12. The anniversary of his wife's death is 03 May. On the 29/04/2016 he asked me if I'm in love with him. It was difficult for me to answer his question becoz I had neither met him nor had I spoken to him, we only texted each other. I responded with how I felt very attracted to him and that all my heart wants to do is just love him and his sons coz that's exactly what I felt. He suddenly surprised me with " I love you too". I hadn't told him I love him, I just told him what my heart was telling me. Anyways this is declaration of his feelings came 3 days before the anniversary of his wife's death. He deleted and blocked my numbers since his declaration. I'm left confused about what's going on but I'm going to reason to myself that he feels guilty about confessing these feelings to me. And after reading this blog I now understand what he must be going through. I'm going to give him space to work out his feelings. He seems level- headed so I don't think he just says things like that so easily. If he contacts me again I'll know he went on a guilt trip , but if he doesn't I love and respect myself enough to know that I don't deserve to be used as a rebound. I'm going to walk away with my head high and pray he accepts he has to move on with his life. I never got the chance to meet him and I probably never will but I definitely won't allow him to immortalise his LW in me. Yes he has lost a dear one and I'll never know the feeling of losing the love of my life but I'm important to me too. I respect and love myself to walk away gracefully.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous May 2. Your story is very similar to mine. My Widower has gone AWOL. We made plans for last weekend then told me that he has being seeing someonelse who I found out was his wife's gone who the ex-inlaws 'gave' him. We live in the mid-century again. I found out yesterday that I'm pregnant, sent him a text and have so far not gotten a response.

      Delete
  68. I have been dating a W for about 2 years, he had left his wife, who then was diagnosed with cancer. He was at her side when she passed, yet had moved out prior. All is going well except the sister in law keeps in contact and showers him with expensive gifts and travel. Now she wants to take him back to where they used to vacation every summer, and where they got married. he wants me to go along and i go back and forth with whether I should. I do think the sister in law will be there too. what to do?

    ReplyDelete
  69. I have been dating a guy whose wife died 5 years ago after 24 years of marriage. They had one child together, who is in his upper 20's. We met almost 3 years ago and initially started out as just friends, him crying at each session about his wife and/or a girlfriend he had before me who had dumped him. We just really got into a relationship about 7 months ago after I gently told him that it just wasn't working for me. I feel that I am nothing but someone filling a void. He takes me to his in-laws every other weekend and to birthday celebrations that they have. But he has yet to take me out to a nice dinner or away somewhere, which to me would be feeding our relationship. All holidays are spent with her family, which I initially understood for their child but after having spent the Christmas holidays and New Years alone so that he can be with his child and his wife's family for the second year I am wondering if this is the correct relationship for me. I don't want to spend all my holidays by myself . . . I do have kids myself and we get together but they also have in-laws that they see leaving me alone at least half of every holiday. My boyfriend has not removed anything of hers from the house . . . hasn't even moved anything to dust around her belongings. He wants to always be at his house instead of coming to mine. On top of everthing being centered around her family, at almost 60 he has decided to go back and get a masters thus decreasing any further any time that we could be together. I just need to know if the relationship I am in is just to fill a void or heading somewhere.

    ReplyDelete
  70. I have been widowed 18 mths, after a 29 year marriage. I am dating a man whose wife of almost 40 years died. I cannot stand his son and 2 of his grandkids. My late husband had 2 kids & grandkids but they lived far away and I never had to deal with them. I am really struggling with this. I never had children of my own, by choice. - NO patience. It is coming up to 1 year since we started dating. I love him, but nowhere near as much as I did my husband. Do I run, or so I stay???? He does not want to sell nor rent his house. I do not want to sell my place, and Strata says no rentals. I cannot see us being physically together any time in the future - except for the occasional over night here & there.

    ReplyDelete