Widower in search of…

Dear Dr. Neimeyer,

I am a widower (although I don’t like this moniker) after more than 30 years of marriage. I don’t understand why “widowers” are not in the highest demand. We have proven our capacity for commitment, as well as have tons of experience in child rearing, relationships, and the refinement of how to love a woman. If not, we would be in the divorced category. I fulfilled my marriage vows and am willing to love and be loved again.

It seems by most articles I have read, that many men are in denial that their wonderful wife is gone and not coming back. So it’s hard for them to think of doing it again with a new leading lady and a few prop changes. I am not one of these men.

Kent

Dear Kent,

I clearly hear your readiness to open your heart and life to a new love, in a way that draws on the lessons in living and loving that you learned in a long and satisfying relationship with your wife.  The good news is that, statistically at least, you are in a better position than your female counterparts to realize that dream, if only because by the time we reach our 60s women outnumber men, and the ratio tilts more in your favor with each year that passes.

But of course there are more than statistics at play in determining the prospects of remarriage.  As you point out, many widowed persons are not yet ready for new intimacy or new commitment, and some will choose to remain single for the rest of their lives.  Family reactions, as in the form of the reluctance of grown children to accept a “replacement” for their deceased parent, also can pose obstacles.  So too can grief and trauma from the previous loss; some people, having struggled with the illness and death of their previous partners, may hold back from allowing themselves to love, and become vulnerable to new hurt.

But for each of these cases, there are others in which people find love, companionship and meaning in a new relationship in later life, just as you are inclined to.  When the time is right, and you have made peace with your loss, open yourself to gain.  Get in the social mix.  Join a meet-up of like minded people.  Take a dance class.  Ask someone out for a coffee.  In a way that feels natural, even if a little anxious, stretch into possibility, but without the press to find “Mrs. Right” right away.  After all, your history of loyalty to your previous wife across 30+ years suggests that you are likely to want to make a mutual choice that will endure for the long haul.

Dr. Neimeyer

One comment on “Widower in search of…

  1. One of the reasons women don’t want to date widowers is because they wax and wane between their loyalty to their departed spouses and any possible commitment to a new partner. I also do not like some of their attitudes towards divorced women, as if we are all failures, which is also displayed in Kent’s request for assistance. I have heard many complaints from other women who give details of bad comparisons that widowers make between their late “paragon of virtue” and anyone else. The problem with control freaks (particularly adult daughters who want to get their several pounds of flesh out of Dad and prevent him from moving on) is also off-putting.

    For several years, I have known a widower who seems quite nice. Although he does not appear to be looking for anyone new 7 years after his wife’s passing, he becomes too friendly with the available women from our club. When a woman responds with attention and caring, he becomes almost afraid of speaking to her, starts to mind his own business but watches her from a safe distance. Then after a while, he gets too friendly again.

    I cannot tell you how annoyed I have become with this person. He seems to have stepped into the role of “husband” to his youngest daughter who is a sole parent. While I think it is acceptable for him to help her out at times, she seems to have unloaded most of her parenting responsibilities on him. At a recent BBQ, he told us he has dinner at her place once a week, but he nearly always has to do the cooking and washing dishes himself due to the demands of her employer. Her phone rings and next thing she has to spend a long time on her computer. Someone suggested she should turn off her phone until after SHE has cooked and SHE has washed the dishes.

    The woman is a control freak and a user, and seems to have used Dad’s grief to her own advantage.

    I’m sure if I brought another man along to one of our club functions, this guy would be most put out and sulking. My general view is that he should be sent to a therapist, as his behaviour puts me on edge. Other people seem to be waiting for him to ask me out, but I do not believe it will ever happen. I have tried observing the way he interacts with other women and, despite his friendly polite nature, I think they have all learned to avoid him.

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