Thursday, November 19, 2009

Does Your Widower Say "I Love You"...or Not?

Men do not give their hearts away easily, do they?!grrr....! Yet when they do, it is like the BEST gift of all. How long do you suppose it takes to determine if you love someone? Seems like we ladies fall in love rather easily. We say "I love you" to our best friends, our parents, and even minor players in our lives like soccer coaches and teachers...lol! It's so easy for us! On the other hand, men tend to take their time. I suppose the difference is that women FEEL their way, hearts first, while men tend to work out their emotions with their brains first. They don't want to risk anything until they are sure they can handle what comes after the "I love you". Feelings can be uncomfortable for some men, even embarrassing. I guess it's how some of them are raised to be tough and strong, and NOT to show emotion. But Lord love a man who finally gets in touch with his feminine side!

So who's right? Is it better to wait until you are 100% sure you love someone before blurting out the words, or is it better to just let your heart do the talking? Hmmm....'tis a quandry the world may never know. One thing's for sure: those who are waiting for their men to take the "I Love You" leap of faith must first determine if the man is worth the wait. Those whose impatience gets the best of them risk pushing their men into an ultimatum they may not be ready to face.

It's so hard to wait for something we really want. (Just ask my 9 yr. old, whose Christmas list just keeps getting longer. lol) Things that come too easily are not as deeply appreciated. Remember, if a man said "I love you" TOO easily, we would be suspisious of that, too! I confes that I said the words first, too. But in my case, I got the same back in return, so I can't relate to those who pine for the day when they hear those precious words. I'm not sure I could be as patient as some of you who wait. You have my admiration!

I truly believe that a mature man (not only in age but life experience, as well as inner maturity) doesn't say ILY unless or until he can back up his mouth with actions. Saying ILY is not something a mature man takes lightly. He knows the significance not only of the words themselves, but everything behind them, i.e., commitment. Commitment is a BIG thing for most men. They know it is life-changing, as it changes the dynamics of a relationship from casual to deeply involved. It means planning a future, respecting his love's needs and views, and sharing his heart and soul, faults and all. It means accepting what he cannot change, and having the courage to face whatever may come. It is risky because most mature men enjoy control, yet since they cannot see the future, it's like a leap off a bridge for them....a leap of faith.

Most mature men will not say ILY just because they know their love wants to hear those words. Being that commitment is attached to uttering those words, he thinks looong and hard before saying them, for all the reasons heretofore mentioned.Now...add the fact that said man is a widower, and saying ILY takes on a whole different realm of significance: It means setting the past in its proper place, once and for all. It is a casting-off of all things formerly familiar, and accepting that something new (yet still wonderful!) is about to happen. It means overcoming all the guilt feelings that normally and usually accompany loving again after loss. It means overcoming any fear of losing someone else (you!) to death once again. It means working out the delicate dance of loving the LW AND a new love at the same time. It means giving up his comfort zone of post-grief that he has worked so hard to achieve for himself by making room for new love and the new life that comes with her. It means juggling the emotions and attitudes of friends and family who knew and loved the LW. But most of all, saying ILY means he is ready...to commit, to live again, and to love again with his whole, healed heart.

Some men are reluctant to say the words until they are confident that they will hear them in return. Women are like that, too! But because men are not really good at expressing themselves emotionally BEFORE those three little words are uttered, women tend to have the harder job of saying it first because they don't have much "prior knowledge" to feed their confidence about hearing it back. In that respect, men would be wise to at least allude to the fact that they are in love, that the women he love sis #1 in his heart and the center of his universe - barring all others - and that the he sees a future with her.

I think we women can learn a lot from mature men in this respect. We ladies tend to burst forth with ILYs based on sheer emotion, sometimes without really thinking it through. Sometimes, women manipulate men with those words by going on a fishing expedition, hoping to hear the same in return, and are disappointed when they aren't. Some women I know can make a go out of loving ANY ol' man who comes along and gives them a wink, because it is easy for them to live with (or overlook) the man's major faults, or because they are afraid of being alone.

Don't get me wrong. For MOST women, saying ILY is just as significant, but I truly believe there is a vast difference between the sexes in one main respect: when a woman says ILY, she is, first and foremost, expressing emotion/feelings. When a man says it, he has done a great deal of soul-searching prior to saying it, and when he does finally say it, he is expressing not only emotion, but also his depth of commitment to the woman AND to the future. Knowing this, hearing ILY from the man you love is truly a gift unlike no other.

I find it interesting that we women need to hear those words so badly when we KNOW in our heart of hearts that the men we love DO love us, even if they don't say it. We know the sun will rise tomorrow, but do we constantly need to hear from the weatherman that this is true? Sure, an inexperienvced child needs to be verbally reminded that the stove is HOT and may hurt her, but grown-ups know from experience and maturity that the stove is hot. I never heard my father utter the words "I love you" to my mother in the 50+ years they were married, but there was and is nooo doubt in my mind that they love/loved each other deeply. How can we, as grown women, need soooo much verbal affirmation, when instead, we should be relying on our wisdom and life experience to affirm to OURSELVES that these men love us, instead of constantly seeking approval from said men?!

Faith is believing in things unseen, yet felt. Where is your faith in your self, your relationship, and your men? Is the verbal affirmation of his love MORE important that his ACTS of love? The constant need for verbal affirmation of love sometimes masks a deeper need to feel worthy of that love. To feel worthy of love, you only need to look in the mirror, ladies. You ARE worthy. You ARE loved!

I think it's fine if a woman can live without hearing ILY, so long as she is SHOWN love. That it works for both you and your W means your relationship is cemented by equitable agreement, i.e., neither one of you feels either is missing out on anything by not hearing those words. However, many women - myself included - DO have a need to not only be shown love but also HEAR those three little words from the men we love. "Actions speak louder than words" is fine...as long as both people embrace this as a life motto. However, when one person from the couple feels slighted because their need to hear ILY is so strong, a problem arises that needs addressing.

There IS no "right or wrong" regarding our personal needs when it comes to relationships. Needs are needs - personal and unique to each individual person. Some people need affection, while others are uncomfortable with it. Some people need sappy greeting cards to commemorate every holiday, birthday, and anniversary, while others are fine with less materialistic acknowledgements of loving feelings. The point is, none of us should have to feel guilty about having needs, and no one should have to explain why they do or do not have them. I respect other people's needs, even though I may not understand them, and especially if they differ greatly from my own. Doesn't that essentially define the word "tolerance"...something this world could use a lot more of?

Thus, those who may judge, laugh at, or otherwise minimize my personal need to hear those three little words from my husband aren't even worthy of consideration in my book since they're not me and couldn't possibly understand my intimately personal choices....just as I could not possibly understand theirs. Whatever works for a relationship in the "ILY" department may be fine for one particular couple, but may not be for another. Relationships work best when both people MUTUALLY agree on any issue as it pertains to their relationship. C'est la vie!! :)

2 comments:

  1. My guy tells me and shows me he loves me all the time. The thing I am struggling with is he has not told anyone else as in his parents ,brothers ect that he loves me. I suspect he is hesitant to let others know how he feels because they may think it is too soon after the death of his LW. I have brought this issue up to him and he really gave no reason. Maybe he feels if he makes it public how he feels than it really cements the fact that his LW is in the past and he has a new future without her. He has done so well in every other area of this crazy journey.

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  2. I am thoroughly enjoying this web site and it has opened my eyes to so many things. I am a GOW, unique in that I knew him 40+yrs. ago, was his 'first' love. He cried at my wedding.
    8 months ago he found me after searching for 4 yrs. - to tell me he was(then) madly in love with me, and later he thought he 'still' was in love with me.

    5 months after romantic emails, laughing and crying about the past - the children we might have had, instant physical attraction, he did a 360 degree turn.
    Stating he 'wasn't ready for a relationship', he was 'devoted' to his wife, did not wish to live together, get married etc. Broke my heart but WE worked thru it. I am learning to be patient, allow him to complete his grieving (he says he doesn't think he every did grieve) - threw himself into work, and raising a young child. LW was seriously ill for 5 yrs., before her death.
    Your blog & excerpts from the book have given me hope and knowledge in how to do the right thing. I know we love each other, yet time will heal and mend his broken heart.
    Thank you Julie so much for showing us through your experiences, how to love our W's. Fantastic insight..and with 'HIS' love, we can prevail.

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