Adult Child Not Accepting Remarriage After Widowed

My oldest child absolutely refuses to accept that her mother wants to remarry.

Reader Question:

I have been a widow for six years. I have been engaged for almost a year. I have two adult children that live away from home and one teenager still at home. My oldest (daughter) absolutely refuses to accept that her mother wants to remarry. She has lived away from home now for ten years. She knows my fiancee’ but not real well. She likes him, but she is quite upset that I am getting remarrying. She was very close to her Father. She can’t seem to understand that I would ever want another man in my life.

My other children have happily accepted our engagement. They are happy that I have found someone new in my life and want to see me happy. My youngest in fact is absolutely delighted and is very anxious to have a fatherly figure in his life.

My fiancee’ has adult children and they are very happy that their father and I are getting married.

We were origninally planning on getting married this summer, however we have postponed the wedding hoping that if my daughter has a little more time, she will accept it more. It doesn’t seem to be making a difference at all. I am not sure whether she will ever accept it. I love my daughter, her and I get along very well. I would love for her to accept me remarrying.

I just want to be happy and for everyone else to be happy. Any suggestions on how to get her acceptance?

Remarriage Expert

There’s an old song with a line in it, “you can’t pleease everyone so you’ll have to please yourself”. Corny but true. Your daughter is an adult and will have to learn to accept that her mother is a human being with feelings and needs.

I am widowed 15 years now, my mother died when I was a teenager so I know both sides of the story. My dad never remarried or even dated and he was a fairly young man when my mom died. Later in life he was very lonely and thankfully he had his children, but we all had our own lives and interests. It hurt me to see him alone and I always wished he would meet someone, for him AND so that I could feel good too! Last year when his heart started to fail he needed a caregiver. Since he had no wife it was up to me and my sister to care for him on our own, and we both lived a distance from him. He refused to leave his home. Although I loved him and wanted to care for him it was difficult with kids, job, house and traveling.

When I met my fiance and we decided to marry, my children were very happy. Even though they were both on board with the decision I still reminded them that they would soon be leaving home, having their own lives and will be even happier that I have someone to share my later years with. Maybe, if you presented the scenario to your daughter in this way she might understand that you are not only her mother but a WOMAN too and this man will be there to love and care for her when her children cannot. Remind her that this man is not replacing her father or the feelings you still have for him.

If your other children could talk to her about their feelings that might help.

Don’t put off your happiness.

Dear Sher,

After being divorced 20 years, the Lord truly blessed me by introducing me (60) to the most wonderful man, a widower (74) who also happens to be handicap. His wife died 2 years ago. Seven months later we married. While his adult children, all in the 40’s and with families of their own, initially approved and said they were happy that their father found someone, their behavior towards us has been just the opposite. They have been so hurtful, I have slipped into a depression and even contemplated leaving him so that they will stop their behavior.

All three families refuse to allow him to see his (6) grandchildren on account of me and the burden of this is more then I can handle. Despite his stoic behavior, I know it is tearing him up but he consoles me with beautiful words of how much he loves me and that I come first in his [new] life and if his children wish to behave this way, it is their problem. I adore him. We cherish each other but this situation is not resolving itself with time and my concerns (and depression) only increase with time.

We sought counseling with both dear friends and professionals who all advised us to get on with our lives and said that no matter what we do, we must stick together as a couple and not allow his children to pull us apart. This is easier said then done. Most days we do great but then an anniversary of some sort comes up (Father’s Day this weekend and his 75th birthday comes up in Aug) and they are refusing to participate. Reading their refusals causes the pain to come to the forefront and at times is so unbearable, we softly cry ourselves to sleep in each others arms.

I have read books on grief and grieving for my husbands sake and his adult children. I feel I am (we are) doing everything right and by the book, patience, love, acceptance, understanding their loss as well as his own but nothing seems to help. It seems they would rather have their father live alone in some nursing home then live a full and productive life with someone who loves and adores him and will be there at the end of his life. Despite being a paraplegic, we go kaying, biking, traveling and more yet they treat him as if he is already dead (because of me) and rarely communicate with him. Father’s Day is this weekend. If they do not send him cards, I don’t know what I will do. I am trying to plan a fun day, but it will be very difficult. Joyner


Jill Curtis, Psychotherapist, Family Onwards, Author of How to Get Married … Again (A Guide to Second Weddings)

How very sad it must be for your and your husband. Can you think of anything which brought about this change of heart in his children? Have you asked them? It might be just a misunderstanding. Be brave and talk to them about this. Dont be too proud to pick up the phone (or write if you would feel easier about this) I wonder if they know the grief they are causing their dad as well as you. Please let us know how you get on. Our thoughts are with you both.

Dear Jill,

When my husband first introduced me to his children in Aug/Sept, 2003 they were very accepting of us and our pending marriage when we got engaged in mid-Nov to marry in March, 2004. Since we knew we’d each be moving from our respective houses into a new retirement home (when completed), I suggested he spend his last Christmas with his children and grandchildren in the family home without me, so that they may enjoy one last time together as the ‘old’ Joyner family. The idea backfired on us.

The therapist explained it to us this way. One, for them it was as if they were going back to their mother’s funeral. Two, they had not accepted the finality of her death until that Christmas – she wasn’t there. Three, they had to accept that they would never be returning to this particular home where they grew up. Four, that the life as they knew it was now going to be changed forever. Despite their mature ages, they could not face all these changes. Instead of dealing with their emotions, it was easier to blame me for their pain because they saw them happening because I was going to marry their father.

This was not true, of course, but how do we deal with raw emotions and unrealistic expectations. Their father had been looking for a new wife for 18 months before I even met him, had planned to move from the large house before I met him and planned to retire from his job as a professor of 47 years. But instead of accepting the changes as wishes of their father, they have chosen to blame me. It’s easier that way. Unfortunately, we are the ones to suffer because they have cut him off from seeing his grandchildren or participating in their lives as before.

One last thing I think is also a factor is that before I met him, he did very little in the way of physical activities. He did swim at least twice a week but that was it. I’ve introduced him to kayaking and biking and other fun things to do which he never did with his own children as they were growing up. Not because he didn’t want to, but because he didn’t know he could. No one pushed him. They accepted his limitation and that was that. Because I am very active, I introduced him to my activities which we found out he can do. Now he wants to do these things with his children and grandchildren but I think they are jealous, or angry at him because he never did these things with them. Again, children aren’t suppose to hate their loving father so it’s easier to hate me.

We’ve encourage them to seek counseling but meanwhile, their refusal to allow us to even spend a couple of hours a month (or every few months) with them and most of all the grandchildren, is very painful. We have tried to talk to them, explain what we do know and offered to attend counseling sessions with them. We have also offered to give them time which they’ve requested but how much time is reasonable? A month, several months, several years? Their hostility has been since the family Christmas reunion the end of December. We are now into June.

On top of all this, my husband’s 42 year old son was killed two weeks after we married in March of this year in a hunting accident. His wife refuses to allow him (us) to see his grandsons with whom he was very close. We feel the only way to protect our own hurt feelings in all this mess is to pretend none of them exist and just get on with our own lives together in love and devotion.

Thanks for listening. I plan to go to the library to seek books on this subject which might be of help to us. Mrs. Joyner

Jill Curtis, Psychotherapist, Family Onwards, Author of How to Get Married … Again (A Guide to Second Weddings)

How very sad to read that the family seems to be stuck in their grief, and somehow even the accidental death of your husband’s son has become tangled into this.

It must be heartbreaking not to be able to see the grandchildren, but I cannot see that you both can do any more. Time may help, but meanwhile I hope you and your husband find strength in each other, and in your love.