I have been quite sick, so my apologies I haven’t written for a while. Still not very well so I got Matt to write the blog post today, delegating! I will be writing a full article on dating a widow but for the moment here’s a cute wee interview we had.
Do you think your relationship with me is different because I am a widow?
Well every relationship is different. This is kinda like asking if my apple pie is different than yours because it’s a pumpkin pie. I didn’t know you before it all happened – but I don’t think it makes so much of an impact on the ‘us’ portion of the relationship that I wish I could have snapped you up before you became a widow. I guess it’s different to the typical/conventional relationship, but I wouldn’t say I’m conventional.
Do you think I talk about Riley too much?
No but I think you accuse me of taking the covers too often. It only happens at your house. That’s fishy.
I think if you believe this about your partner, then it could be that they not be at a stage where they are ready to be moving on in a serious dating capacity – but everyone is different, so what I think ‘too much’ is and what other people think ‘too much’ is could differ. The alternative is that the person dating the widow might need to ask themselves why.
If it dominates every conversation I suppose it could be detrimental to both the widow moving on, and your newly forming relationship – but they have every right to remember the person who passed. If you’re complaining every time they mention their previous partner, that’s not cool. How would you like it if you started to tell a story from your past and they were like, “hey I don’t really want to hear about your teenage years anymore ok? Bit of a downer.”
What is one piece of advice you have for people who have started dating a widow?
You can’t really be prepared for them, so perhaps I’ll say be aware there will be bad days.
Perhaps the main thing I can think of is because of the fact that, like you asked before, the widow may talk about or reference the one who passed. If it happens a lot, you might question how they feel about you – it could easily feel like you’re competing with someone who isn’t there.
So my advice is that you aren’t taking someone’s place, you’re a new factor. Let’s say your dog dies. You might have another pet still alive, you might get a new one, but you’re still sad that pet is gone. If your mother died, would you be sad, or would you be like “whelp, I still have my dad at least”? If you have a second child, you don’t halve your love for the first.
Those examples don’t quite compare, but if you haven’t lost a partner they might be something you can find similarities to in your life. My point is that you are separate, you aren’t competing, there’s no need to feel jealous. But maybe don’t tell your widow partner, “Oh, don’t worry, I know how you feel. I lost a dog once, but I still loved my cat.”
What is the worst thing you have to deal with to do with me being a widow?
Probably that I can’t make it all go away. That might be a personal thing because I like solving problems though. Coming to terms with the fact that you’ve suffered, and you’re going to have times when you relive that suffering, and all I can do is offer you a hot chocolate with an extra marshmallow.
That doesn’t mean I don’t try anyway, that I don’t make the extra effort, that I don’t feel let down when I can’t help – but I’m aware now that it’s something that happens from time to time, on your bad days.
What are things you notice that other people might not that indicate I am having a better/worse day, or signs over time that I am learning to cope?
When you are alone with me I can usually tell just by your demeanour how it’s going – because you don’t need to put on a face around me, so I can get a rough idea of what you are feeling – or that even on what is a bad day, a really good thing can make you feel better (like looking forward to the Wonder Woman movie etc.).
Sometimes it’s subtle – like earlier on you might have hesitantly told a story from when Riley was alive, quieter, maybe looking at the floor. Now you can laugh, you remember good times, looking up, speaking with pride or admiration. I guess it seems like it’s gotten easier for you to remember at times.
Also, pushing you to do things that you might leave for later, to the point where now you actively tell me we’re having a chore day for example. Or more frequent days where you want to get out and do things (even when it’s cold) rather than sit in bed because you’re itching to get outside and catch pokemon.
Why did you decide I was worth dating?
When you buy a second box of 100 snaplock bags by accident and hide them in the bottom shelf in the kitchen, I ask myself the same question.
I genuinely don’t have an answer for this. I think you see it as you’re a widow and that’s what everyone sees, but I just see you for your goofy self, and the widow thing is a part of you. It’s an experience that you have had, but it’s not like you have pink and green hair and everyone you meet can both see and gossip about it.
I met you, I liked the way you wheezed after a small walk, and thought it would be cool to get to know you. If someone has that big a problem with it after finding out you’re a widow, they need to ask themselves why. I can’t see why it makes you undesirable. In fact, I think if you are that worried about what stigma might be associated with dating a widow, that you’re worried about what OTHER people might think of you for dating a widow, you’re the one with issues.
Did the amount of extra baggage I carry scare you?
Maybe at the time I didn’t realise what I was getting myself into, but that had already happened. I worry a lot more about the future than the past. Meeting your family, now THAT scared me. I had to impress 8 people AND a 3 year old.
Do you think it’s better that you didn’t know Riley?
Yes, I think so. I guess it would depend on how I knew him, or how well, but there would have been potential to feel like betraying a friend, or stepping on their turf. Or if would make me feel awkward around your family.
Little things that help?
I think you writing your blog has helped a lot, including me by discussing it. You get to hear from and connect with others who feel the same way, you get to air out your feelings, or vent, and I get to hear what and how you are feeling. Sometimes issues I didn’t even consider you would face – I think that helps me when you’re having a bad time for whatever reason, because when I ask what is wrong, you’ve already written a blog post that tells me a whole lot more than the 5 words you give me at the time. My father is with a widow, so I could have asked him how he dealt with it. So maybe I should say having a ‘resource’ like this would be good, just to be like “oh, I never thought my partner would be feeling guilty for a moment of happiness with me” etc.
For me I think something that helped was how accepting your family was. That’s not something everyone would have the luxury of having, or that people can search for, so there’s a bit of ‘luck’ there. It’s just good that they aren’t like some people I’ve seen on the internet – rather than believing you are forgetting Riley or that you are disrespecting or whatever, they’re actually considering you and your feelings, and happy that you are in a place where you are ready again to have someone else make you happy.
Last of all… optimism. This is probably not a little thing, but I’m a very optimistic person (I used tell my friend to his great displeasure that things have a way of working out… around me) and I think that’s great, especially when you are having a bad day. I think it keeps my spirits high (most of the time) and allows me that bit of extra energy and patience with you when you’re having such a bad day mentally that we argue about which way the pegs should face in your blanket fort.
Matt and I visiting a castle in Dunedin!
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