If you’re thinking about whether to date a widower, you should pay special attention to how to do it right.
A widowed man inevitably goes through a sort of a personal crisis not many people experience in their dating years of life.
This is why you should always bear in mind that things cannot be the same as if you were dating a single or even a divorced man.
There are things you can do to make it all go smoothly, and then there are things you should never allow yourself to do.
Let’s go over both.
What a widowed man is going through
But first, we need to understand what being a widower really means.
At any stage of life, going through the loss of one’s spouse is the number one stressor, one that brings the most profound life-changing experience.
It comes with a maximum of points on the famous Holmes and Rahe stress scale.
This means that losing a wife bears the immense danger of becoming ill and having psychological and physical disturbances.
Furthermore, a widower, especially when there are children involved, has to take care of a never-ending list of every day (and, hopefully, once in a lifetime) errands.
Whatever his level of involvement in these matters might have been prior to his wife’s death, he now has to take care of it all by himself.
A deeper psychological side of being a widower
What we described above are just the issues a widowed man has to deal with upon losing his wife.
What is even more important to understand is what he goes through psychologically and emotionally.
Whenever we lose someone close to us, we need to go through the grieving process. Depending on a number of factors, it lasts from anywhere between months to decades.
This is why you should be mindful of everything we’re talking about regardless of the fact that your new fling’s wife might have passed twelve years ago.
You’re still dating a widower, and the same set of rules applies.
After the initial shock and a denial of the reality of his wife’s death, he will go into a phase of experiencing profound pain, and even guilt.
After these stages, the widower will feel angry that this has happened to his wife and try to bargain. This is a phase filled with many “If only”s. When nothing works, he will fall into depression.
However, especially with adequate help, depression is followed by the acceptance stage. This is when most grieving men start dating again.
What to do when dating a widower
One thing that you probably realize by now is this – his deceased wife will inevitably become a saint.
Regardless of how they got along during their marriage, and how she really was with time, the dead wife becomes an angel. And this is understandable.
It is also something you should learn to accept. In practice, remember that there isn’t a competition.
Whatever you do, respect your new partner’s idealization of his late wife.
Never try to be better than that image. Even if you see that things obviously weren’t the way he describes them.
What you should do is talk openly but with sensitivity about how issues that arise make you feel.
Expect your new man to feel blues from time to time. Especially on holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and the way to handle it with success are – allow him to grieve.
Ask how you can make things easier for him. If he needs some alone time, make sure he gets it. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. He’s grieving the loss of a huge chunk of his own life.
Here are a couple more things to keep in mind when dating a widower:
Take things slow: An essential thing to keep in mind when dating a widower is to not try and rush the relationship. Everyone has their way of dealing with loss and grief. Allow them the time to be ready for a new relationship.
Communicate: Communication is vital for any relationship to prosper. If you are dating a widower, your ability to communicate openly and honestly will play a huge role in building a strong relationship. Ensure that apart from being a good listener, you must also be able to express your feelings and wishes as well.
Limit your expectations: Expectations in many relationships are unspoken agreements that become a pivotal aspect of our satisfaction. If your partner constantly fails to meet your expectations, you might find yourself full of disappointment, anger, and eventually resentment. When dating a widower, you need to manage your expectation by either minimizing them or speaking openly about them. A widower might have been out of the dating game for years; you must take that into consideration.
Look for warning signs: If you are dating a widower and you often find him drawing comparisons between you and his deceased spouse, that is definitely a warning sign. The guy you are dating is still stuck in grief, and it could get pathological.
Also watch: 3 things to expect when dating a widower
The Big no-nos of dating a widower
The biggest don’t of dating a widower is talking badly about his late wife.
As we said earlier, things might not have been as idyllic as he now remembers them, but you really shouldn’t be the one to burst that bubble.
Never try to secure your position in his life by trying to push her out. Absolutely no need for such a move.
Also, never try to be like her. Yes, you will surely feel the need to try and rise up for the challenge but do it in your own way. Don’t change, and don’t try to resemble her, or mimic their relationship.
This is a slippery psychological slope for both. Remember, he came to like and love you after an enormous loss and pain. So, don’t change what he liked so much.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.