Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More About Dating a Widower

I received this comment recently to my post about Dating a Widower:

Help me somebody ! I have been searching for advice on dating a widower for days now and this is the only one that truly hit the mark! EXCELLENT ADVICE.

Terry, how far do we step back to give him time to properly grieve? Realize that it all depends on the individual and our circumstance are slightly different.

After being the sole caregiver for over 10 years to my mom and he having cared for his wife while working from home for 8 years, we met through a mutual friend who saw that both of us needed to get out of the house.

We met 4 month after his wife passed and 3 weeks after Mom. We quickly became intimate within the first week of dating. Although our dates have mostly consist of going shopping at Lowes while redecorating his home. Sticky for both of us which is why I have stepped back to allow space for him to dismantle visible touches of his wife throughout the house.

He does not appear to be the least bit apprehensive about moving on. It's been 2 months since we met and we're planning a weekend trip this coming weekend, which happens to be his wife's birthday.

We both realize that we entered into this relationship from different places and that I desire more then he's prepared to give, yet my stepping back seems to threaten him. Hoping not to step back too far and give another the opportunity for this caring, loving man.


Dear Justified:

Thanks very much for the kind words. Just to be clear, I'm not a psychologist or a bereavement counselor, but as usual I have an opinion on everything.

After serving as the sole caregiver to your mother for over 10 years, I imagine her death brought with it a ton of feelings, including sadness and perhaps anger and relief. It also had to leave a giant hole in your life.

Three weeks after your mother's death, a seemingly great man walks into your life and fills that hole. And makes you happy. And makes you feel electrifyingly alive.

But you say you want more than he does from the relationship. You say that he seems threatened when you step back in an effort to protect yourself.

I don't know this man, so I don't know if he's really motivated to move on, or if he's wacking his way through grief with a machete. I am less concerned about him because you're the one who's been asked (whether verbally or not) not to move forward but not to move back, either.

I wish I could cast a spell that would give me the solution to your problem (seriously, I do). Instead, I'm going to ask you to take extremely good care of yourself. You've spent much of your life in service to another person (and good for you; the world needs more people like you). But it's time to look after yourself.

This is critical. You've spent 10 years of your life taking care of someone else. That means you are used to taking care of someone else. It comes naturally to you. Taking care of yourself? Well, that may not come naturally to you at all.

See this man, sure, but don't fall into the trap of spending all your time with him. Give him a chance to be that loving and caring man you describe, but be open to the possibility that there's another man out there for you.

This is your time to rediscover the interests that fell away when you took full responsibility for your mother, so please rediscover them. If that means playing tennis, play tennis. If it means writing fiction, join a writers' group. If it means antique cars, join a club that caters to people who are into classic automobiles. Your friend had it right: Keep getting out of the house.

I really hope this helps, and if you'd like, please give me an update on the weekend away.

Readers, any advice you'd like to share with Justified? Please leave a comment.


Jane said...

I am licensed only to practice speech pathology, but like Terri, I have an opinion on everything as well.

Your remark -- that most of your dates are spent at Lowe's shopping for supplies to decorate his house -- screamed loudly to me. This appears, on the face, to be about him. Yes, it is fine to help someone decorate. It is also great to go shopping. But to have the majority of your dates consumed by this one-sided activity suggests to me that 1) he is self-centered or self-absorbed; and/or 2) he is still grieving; and/or 3) you don't matter to him.

Take Terri's advice - learn how to enjoy you. Take that first step on looking after you, even if you need help from a counselor to do it. If he wants to come along, fine. If he calls and wants to go out and you have tennis scheduled, do not cancel your tennis. It appears that you are doing a lot of waiting on him. Start waiting on you. You only go around once in this old world. Have some fun!

Terry said...

Thanks for sharing your perspective, Jane. "Start waiting on you?" I love it!

Elaine Williams said...

Both comments are wonderful advice. I'll stick my two cents in here, since we all seem to be women with opinions that need to be heard! :-) I am a widow of almost 5 years, and I know they say men are different, sometimes, in the grief process. However, two months, three months, nine months is nothing in the grief process. You think you're moving on but in reality you may not have processed what is really going on, that loss in your life. It's too easy to jump into dating too early, not even realizing you just want to fill that void. So yes, take care of yourself, plan your own adventures but also include your friend if that's what works for you. You come first. Make yourself happy by yourself and then think about whatever your next step may be, for YOU. Good luck. Elaine

Sassy said...

I think that sometimes you have to meet and even date people to discover what you DON'T want. So I would step back and think of this man as a stepping stone to get back to your life and figure out that you want and don't want.

Terry and Jane are right. Start to enjoy YOU. Good luck.