Marrying a Widower. How Long to Wait After Death of Spouse?
Marrying A Widower Questin: I have been seeing a man who is just recently widowed and we are to be married at some point but I have not committed to a date for the simple reason I am worried about his child. He and I had a past relationship together several years ago and have always known we loved each other unconditionally but with the recent death of his wife with whom he has a child I have many concerns about going forward with our lives together.
I should start by saying that I have no doubts about us being together or our love for each other. I know with my entire heart and soul that we are meant to be together. I am worried about his child accepting the fact that he and I are in a relationship and even more worried about how his child will handle our marriage.
I am a divorced mother of two children and they know all about us and are very happy about it, but out of respect for his child we have kept our relationship quiet. I know that I will probably be hated by her family for many reasons and even though I do not wish for any hard feelings from or towards anyone I have prepared myself for their reaction. He has said that he will have to keep some sort of communication open with her family because of his child but as for being active in their lives or them in ours that he had no desire for that to even be a possibility. I am not really sure how his family will react but I feel that in time they will respect his choice and hopefully accept me and my children as part of his family.
How long should we keep this from everyone? I am in no way trying to rush anything and I am concerned about his grieving process not being complete. I do not wish to ever try and replace her for his child or for him, this is a new chapter in both of our lives and I do not wish to replace any part of the chapters of her life as a wife or a mother. I know that he will always love her in many ways and will have times that he might miss her but I also know that he is open and willing to have a wonderful life with me and wants to make amazing memories of our own.
I would love nothing more then to be able to shout from the highest mountain and let the world know but since I am not the one with the recent loss its not my place to shout anything. I also don’t want that to become a crutch in our relationship if that makes any sense. I want his child to grow to love me as a friend instead of hating me as the enemy. Can anyone please shine some light on my confusion and maybe give me some advice on how and when to confront all of this with the people he loves and cares about in is life. Thank you in advance for any and all help that you may can give.
Yvonne Kelly, MSW, RSW, Certified Stepfamily Counsellor and Coach, Co-Founder and Director of the Step and Blended Family Institute
A lot of factors come in to play here. How old the child is, how sudden the death was, how long ago she died, and others. All of these will help determine how long he should wait before you proceed. IT sounds like his child doesn’t know about the relationship so there’s still some room to take time before proceeding with an engagement for example.
I usually advise single parents to take at least a year to begin thinking about dating again after divorce. What happens during this year is a time for healing, taking stock of what happened and what you want out of life and gives the parent and child(res) a chance to get used to the new reality. With a death, time is still required, as the changes are enormous and especially where the child is concerned, very unsettling. And then we suggest that once a person starts dating again, that between getting out there again, finding someone you think you are compatible with, informing the child(ren) and then dating to determine if there is a fit, followed by pre-remarriage work of some kind, we usually recommend at least another 18 months to 2 years. Now these guidelines are obviously not carved in stone, but they do represent a commitment on the parent’s part to ensuring that their child is making a healthy transition which includes healing from the loss, before asking them to make another big transition which is accepting someone new.
So that is my simple answer. The more time you take at this end, the better it is. If is has been less than a year since his wife passed, then it may very likely be too soon for his child to accept of roll with the changes ahead. If you do decide to introduce and come out in the open, I would strongly urge you both to do some form or pre-remarriage counnselling if you reach that point, and also if you feel your partner could benefit, I would suggest talking to him about doing some of his own counselling to help him explore honestly where he’s at with the loss. If you have doubts about this and there are red flags, better to deal with things now, ask all of the right questions, and really determine if the two of you should be together now, rather than close your eyes, move forward and just hope for the best.
Is this was simply a loss due to the death of a spouse, I would still have these concerns and recommendations. But it isn’t that simple as there is a child involved and all that goes along with forming a new family once you decide to move ahead. Dealing with one thing at a time, does take time, but there is no rush and when people tend to rush, they are often denying what needs to be dealt with the the complexity of the situation.