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Stepping Around Recent Widowers. A woman learns recent widowers need time to heal. It takes guts to leave, to avoid controlling behavior

By Tom P Blake Finding Love After 50

Dawn is a recent subscriber to our newsletter. The newsletter three weeks ago about Sharon's experience dating a widower inspired Dawn to share her entanglement with a widower. Dawn is an excellent writer. I let her story flow from start to finish with minor editing and comments from me.


Dawn began by saying, "Although I met a widower 1.5 years after the death of his wife, he had started dating within a couple months of her death and moved into a relationship two months after that with someone he met on months after his wife's passing.


"After we'd dated a few times, I gently, but in a straightforward manner, asked him if he felt that he'd given himself enough time to grieve, feel whole and emotionally stable. He enthusiastically assured me that he was fine and was looking forward to moving forward with someone else. He said the failure of the earlier relationship was due to the shortcomings of that particular woman and had nothing to do with starting a relationship so soon after his wife's death. 


"We continued to date and fell in love, which led to becoming engaged. The red flags started soon after the engagement. They were few and far apart and I made excuses for these 'sidebars' to his regular behavior.  

"As time went on, the periods of teary eyes or crying at the mere mention of his wife's name, turned to anger, drinking too much, making cruel remarks to me.  

"It would seem from reading this that one could say, "Hey it's a no brainer, a smart woman would walk away." The problem is that real life isn't that clear. During the rest of the time, for long periods, he was happy, sweet, kind, and generous.    

"But I also noticed that apart from the darker episodes directed at me, he started complaining about lots of things nearly every day. The weather was too hot, too cold, too sunny, too cloudy. Generic groups of people were labeled 'dumber than dirt.' Those who didn't think or believe the way he did were 'idiots'.    

"I wondered how this man, who had been a successful executive, and was worth many millions, could think so narrowly. He purchased a very large house that was to be our marriage home. He became controlling. I was not allowed to rearrange or comment on anything that had belonged to his deceased wife. I was not allowed to have any input whatsoever in the decorating of the new home.  


"I tried to talk with him about his negative attitude, his need to be controlling, his anger and excessive drinking. He said he was perfectly happy with himself and if I didn't like it, the problem was mine.  He said he would not consider counseling.


"I finally agreed that he was right - the problem was mine. And only I could solve it. For my own self respect, self worth and what eventually would have been my sanity, I chose to leave. It was not easy and I stayed longer than I should have. One has to avoid controlling behavior.


"In the beginning of the red flags, I wanted to make sure I wasn't jumping to conclusions or making wrong assumptions. I am patient and forgiving. But I believe it is never o.k. to repeatedly invalidate another's worth or show cruelty, even during times of anger. 


"I am thankful I made the right decision before getting married, but it was not easy. In fact it was painful. I hurt. A lot. 

"And it's natural to want to put off pain and hurt. It's also natural as we get older to think about the time we invested and when the relationship ends, about the time that is lost. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw an older woman who had more wrinkles, body parts that had slipped further south, someone who needed to use the bathroom more often and who was feeling a little less confident and not very optimistic. 


"However, the old adage is true. Time heals. I realized that the time spent with the widower was not wasted time. I learned more about red flags, more about time being needed for healing from a loved one's passing. 


"In living with someone whose attitudes and actions I did not like, I learned more about what was not good, not healthy for me. In time, the learning led to my becoming stronger and more confident. It helped to further define me, and how I would look at the next potential serious relationship whether with a widower or a divorcee. However, in the future, I am stepping around recent widowers!


"I moved out of the relationship in mid November. In January he met a woman on EHarmony.  On March 30th he married her. Four months later he divorced her. He met, married and divorced her within seven months. 


"In our relationship he kept pushing me to marry right away. I wanted us to know one another real well, which in my opinion, took time. It seemed to agitate him that I wanted to take the time to make sure that this would be a solid relationship. 


"Learning about what he did after me reassured me that I had made the right decision." 


Lessons from Dawn's experience:

  • Be careful when meeting someone who hasn't had time to properly heal

  • Heed red flags. Trust your instincts. Red flag behavior will only worsen

  • Be in no hurry to remarry. Being in a bad marriage is worse than being alone

  • Don't co-mingle funds. Dawn was smart by not buying the home with him

  • Avoid controlling behavior and people who belittle others

  • As Dawn said, "real life isn't that clear." It takes guts to leave

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