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.


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

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