I always feel bad for the first GOW to come into a W's life. She becomes the proving ground; the waters that W tests before he jumps into the proverbial relationship-after-LW pool; the one on whom the W cuts his relationship teeth. For many Ws, it has been years if not decades since they've been with any woman besides their LWs. These Ws have spent those years honing their marriages, getting to know ONE woman's personality, fine-tuning their responses and sensitivities to suit only HER. Then they try out the very same stuff on a new woman, and are befuddled as to why the stuff that worked when it came to LW isn't making any headway with the new GOW! These "virgin" Ws must think all women are alike, and that using their one-size-fits-all relationship tactics will work on all women since they worked with their LWs. Wrong! Since all people are different, why would their LW experiences even come close to working with the new GOW? Sure, some things SHOULD remain the same: men should alweays treat women with resect and be gentlemen. But I'm talking about those virgin Ws who, in their first real relationships since their LWs died, tend to stumble along like clods...until they realize they cannot and should not treat the new GOW exactly as they did the LW.
A poor newbie GOW has an unenviable position with a virgin W. As his "first" since LW, the new GOW wears many hats: she is a teacher; the one who, as described above, patiently instructs him in proper post-LW relationship behaviour. She is a mother; the one who gently soothes his aching heart with her love. She is a nurse; the one who tends his inner wounds, all the while trying not to become too personally involved (but failing) so his pain will not become her own. She is a therapist; the one who listens sympathetically and patiently as he works through his grief. She is an engineer; the one who systematically works out a plan for their future together, using every conceivable force in nature to move him gently onward and forward. She is overworked, underpaid, and hardly appreciated. Is it any wonder she is exhausted and constantly worrying about her "job security" - where she personally fits into virgin W's heart?
Ah, but then she remembers her "benefits package"! Virgin W is hard work, to be sure, but there ARE perks. Were it not for these perks, new GOW just might start looking for another job. Instead, she remains steadast and devoted, hoping the pay-off for her efforts will be the brass...er, diamond....ring: that wonderful pre-retirement bonus of having helped to invent a new man from a formerly hopeless one; a man who has learned that the past is indeed the past and that the present and future CAN be more wonderful, thanks to the GOW.
And yet, so many GOWs bail out before they reach the pay-off, and I can't blame them. It's only human to think, "There must be an easier job than this!" and worrying she'll never reach retirement age and that golden handshake!! However, their efforts never die in vain. The next GOW to come along enjoys the benefits of the first GOW's hard work. Thus, the first GOWs last hat must be that of a writer: one who scribes onto virgin W's heart those words that make him think, motivate him to change, and inspire him to do so. It's all any writer can ask. ;)