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Is “Widows and Widowers need time to heal a myth?” Erratic widower behavior may be caused by more serious emotional problems.

By Tom P Blake Finding Love After 50

Last week, we wrote about Dawn, who broke off her engagement to a man who tried to rush her into getting married. She stated that he was a widower who had started dating within months of his wife's death.


Red flags started to appear within four months of their becoming engaged. His behavior toward Dawn went downhill from there. Four months after ended the relationship with him, he married someone else. Three months after that, he divorced her.


The newsletter ended with a warning to singles not to rush into marriage and to proceed cautiously with someone who hasn't properly healed, particularly widowed people.


Our members are educated, bright and willing to share their opinions. Such was the case responding to Dawn’s story.


Several of you took aim at the topic of getting married later in life. 


Jane Ann said, "At our age-who needs marriage anyway? I am all for a ‘friend with benefits’ relationship. So much simpler-but a woman must stress in the first few dates that she will never be a 'purse or a nurse,’ which is what most men over 65 want.


"I will be 77 tomorrow and consider myself lucky to have found just such a friend. After four years, we seem to get better and better."


Tammy wrote, "Why are people so desperate? So not-complete without a mate? Why can't people (at this stage in life) be content on their own? We're not looking to get married and have babies, are we? With all I have going on in my life, I can't even fathom having a man around for 24/7."


Note from Tom: Tammy has a man in her life but he's not 24/7. From what she says, he's probably 12/3, or so I'm guessing. She loves their relationship and considers herself to be "very lucky." But no marriage is in the forecast.


My long-time (very long) friend Wallace addressed the aspect of dating someone who hasn't had time to heal. As a widower, he speaks from experience.


"Given that we humans are all different, it follows that after the death of a loved one we will all grieve and heal in different ways and at different speeds. Dawn seems in hindsight to take a judgmental, 'I told you so' view of her widower friend, who, she says, began searching around on within '4 months of his wife's passing.'


"Yet this apparent eagerness to move on does not explain his excessive drinking, his anger, mood swings and the other red flags."


And then Wallace hit the nail on the head: "Was the widower's erratic behavior a sign of inadequate 'healing' or a symptom of more serious emotional problems unrelated to his wife's death? His behavior seems more the latter than the former, especially given that Dawn did not even meet him until 18 months after his wife's passing, and he was still wrestling with his inner demons.


"A successful marriage that ends with the death of one partner can serve as the basis for a second successful relationship, regardless of the amount of time that passes between the end of the first union and the beginning of the second. It all depends on the widower-or widow-as the case may be; it definitely does not depend on what others might think is an appropriate period of solitary reflection one must endure before rejoining the world with another partner."


Thanks to Wallace for his keen insight. Too often, in my writings, I conclude that relationship problems are caused by widowers or widows who haven't properly healed, when, as Wallace so succinctly points out, the real cause may be other underlying issues.


Widows and widowers need time to heal is not a myth, however, erratic widower behavior or erractic widow behavior may be caused by other problems.

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