Sunday, May 6, 2012

Guarding Your Heart While Dating A Widower

Recently, a GOW on The Official WOW/GOW Message Board said that her intuition is telling her something bad is about to happen in her relationship. She can't explain it, but nevertheless, the fear seems very real despite any authenticity.

I have said before on the Board that I am not a believer in intuition. Intuition, to me, is currently defined - societally speaking - as some kind of magical force based on nothing more than a "feeling". Realistically and scientifically, I believe it makes more sense that intuition is based on past experience, coupled with the fallout insecurity that came with a particularly bad one; either a bad experience that was personally experienced, or one that was overheard, witnessed, read about, or happened to someone else.

Thus, I believe intuition is based on previously digested fear, and a new experience is tweaking and poking that stored former knowledge to the surface. Whenever someone tells me they have a "feeling" or bases a decision on "intuition", I want them to ask themselves one important question: Am I presently reacting this way based on something bad that happened to me/that I personally witnessed/that happened to someone else/that I read about? Therefore, in my opinion, intuition is nothing more than a bad experience of some sort that set roots in fear that this bad experience will either happen again (if you had the bad experience) or will happen to you (if the bad experience happened to someone else or was witnessed/read about/overheard).

That being said, I believe intuition is not always a bad thing! It is the brain's subconscious way of protecting you from a possible disaster. It is a recalling of information stored long ago that is resurfacing, giving you an "edge" over naivety. And that can really come in handy! However, more likely than not, when women speak of "intuition", it is their insecurity talking, and it is based on one or more of the following: a need that has gone unmet, a question still left unanswered, a lack of closure on a past bad experience, and/or an unresolved fear.

When a GOW believes her intuition is warning her that something bad is about to happen, I truly, without a shadow of a doubt, believe she is reacting to her fear that A.) W will hurt her like someone else did in the past (former boyfriend, perhaps), B.) that she has done or is doing something wrong; something to deserve an unforeseen bad experience (i.e, low self-esteem; feeling of unworthiness), and/or C.) her new vulnerability has given control of her emotions over to her W - and he is unpredictable at best - so she feels she is constantly standing on quicksand and never on solid ground.

So, you’re probably wondering what all this “shrink talk” has to do with you, right?

To combat the insecurity provoked by intuition, one must guard their heart. Though seemingly complicated, it’s really not. All it takes to guard your heart is to take W out of the equation and remember the woman you were before he came into your life. You were OK without him then. You were a worthwhile, responsible, level-headed, decisive, happy person. You based decisions on the knowledge and facts available to you, i.e, you didn’t rely on intuition but on solid research, trusted and tried-and-true advice, and proven information. You lived your life for YOU, not for anyone else. Even if you have children who were (and still are) your life’s priority(ies), you made time for yourself…time to enjoy life and celebrate your personhood. You had control of the reins of your life and your emotions. You didn’t allow others to treat you like dirt, and if for whatever reason you did, you didn’t keep them on your list of friends for long. You trusted yourself to make good decisions, and you executed those decisions with confidence. You believed in yourself and your abilities. And even if you allowed self-doubt to creep onto your heart once in awhile, you immediately went to work to regain lost ground, and you fought back hard to get your footing back.

When it comes to GOW/W relationships, guarding her heart is vital to a GOW’s survival, especially when a W isn’t very committed or communicative, or seems to be dragging his feet through grief recovery. In these relationships, the GOW has no other choice but to protect herself. This doesn’t mean she has to put up a wall around her heart. Doing this would keep her from experiencing a bad experience, but would also keep her from experiencing the JOYS of the relationship. Instead, guarding her heart means she must revert back to the woman she was before her W…the confident, dependable, strong, decisive woman who lived by her own set of rules, took control of her life, trusted in herself and her abilities, relied on her faith and tapped into the strength that came from solidly archived knowledge of life, knew her boundaries and executed them when needed, made herself a priority, faced her fears head-on then danced in their ashes when she burned through them, and enjoyed her life despite its occasional disappointments.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" Challenge

First of all, please forgive my absence from this blog for so long! I had battle dsome major health issues, but am happy to say that I have recently been handled a clean bill of health and am back to my duties helping Ws, GOWs and WOWs wherever and whenever I can, and more often than ever before! Thank you to those of you sent words of encouragement and those who prayed for me. Prayer WORKS! :)

Now...onto today's blog:

All GOWs struggle with grief-related issues in their relationships with Ws. Some issues are small and easy to fix, and happen early enough in the relationship to not seem so impervious. Other issues seem so hurtful and insurmountable, they can cause a GOW to feel like giving up. The challenge is to know when to hang in there and when to move on, and that’s no easy task! Sadly, when it comes to loving a W, there’s no right or wrong answer for this $64,000 question! The dynamics of every relationship differ from one couple to the next dramatically, and every individual GOW handles this challenge (call it the "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" challenge) in her own way, based on her unique character traits (strengths AND weaknesses) and background (i.e., insecurity or fear of abandonment issues). But there ARE some "rules of thumb" every GOW should remember when considering the "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" challenge.

Basically, I believe you should stay and fight if you meet these criteria:

If you believe:

~that there is still work to be done in the relationship to improve it,

~that some of that work is YOUR responsibility and you are willing to try something new, be more patient, gain a new perspective, and work a little harder,

~that you are happy and MOST of your needs are being met, even though his grief issues seem to tip the balance in his favor for now until he reaches recovery,

~that you are 100% certain that your W's occasional insensitive treatment of you is solely based on grief issues and not on "jerk behaviour" and/or a lack of character or moral fiber, and that his present treatment of you is more good than bad,

~that your W is 100% committed to the relationship and is willing to heed and use The Three C's with you,

~that you are 100% convinced that your W is a moral kind of guy who would not purposely mislead, lie to, or cheat on you,

~that your issues regarding his LW are based solely on obvious grief behaviours and not concoctions manufactured by a deep-seeded insecurity you may have always battled in your life,

~that you are in the relationship for all the right reasons, and not wrong ones like fear of being alone or fear that you may never find another man,

~that you can fully and completely embrace and respect his past, his LW, and his memory of her without losing your personhood in the process,

~that you are capable of guarding your heart as you and your W work together towards his grief recovery,

~that you can capably dismiss any assumptions & expectations - and eliminate any timelines - as far as his rate of healing and, instead, let him lead,

And, finally,

~that you can be selfless when needed, but lay your personal boundaries when warranted.

Now, I know there are "other W bloggers" (who will remain anonymous as they are not WORTHY of mention here) who feel that a GOW should cut ties and run at the first hint of grief-related struggle within a GOW/W relationship. But it is my belief that ALL relationships - not just those with a W - are hard work, and as such, jumping ship seems foolhardy if not premature. It IS possible to "hang in there" when the going gets tough, especially if you feel your W is worth the effort.

God bless, and until next time, just keep loving your W....and if you reach a point where you are considering the "Should I Stay or Should I Go" challenge, please join the over 1000 members and me at always supportive and very interactive Official WOW/GOW Message Board, found at my website: www.juliedonnerandersen.com.