Thursday, September 12, 2013

Widower's Dilemma: Asking kids re: bringing a new woman to family holiday functions

Widower's dilemma: bringing a new woman to family holiday functions

Tony, "I'm a 60-year-old widower, my wife died in early 2013. We were married for 30-plus years, our marriage was incredibly blessed.  I'm a better person due to my late wife.

"We raised her two sons from a prior marriage. My step sons are now in their 40's. We did not have additional children from our marriage. We (I) have three grandchildren, 10-12-14. All are healthy and normal for their age. A grand child is named after me.

"I'm now dating. I'm planning to ask my step sons if I can bring a companion to family holiday functions. I'm not asking for an immediate response from them, knowing they need time to consider.

"I'll honor their response, I won't make threats if they deny my request. I don't want to give control of my remaining life to my step sons, however I realize the complex task the parents have to discuss the subject with the grand children.

"How should I handle the sensitive issue?"

Tom's response to Tony: "You are right, this is a sensitive issue. Kudos to you for being considerate of your stepsons and step grandchildren.

"I am not a widower so by no means am I an expert on this topic. But in 18 years of writing about dating later in life, I've heard enough stories from new widowers and the women who have dated them to gain some knowledge on the issue.

"You've got some time before the holidays. Why not hold off just a little while before asking them? Yes, you want to be in control of your decisions, but, on the other hand, you certainly don't want to alienate the family you have loved and raised for more than 30 years. Over the holidays, especially this first holiday season, being with them will be essential for you.

 "Have you met someone already that you have in mind? Is she putting pressure on you to include her in this year's family holiday functions?

"What I'm about to say may not apply to you, but it often applies to new widowers. Also, many new widowers can be very, very stubborn. They won't listen to the advice of friends and family.

"Many jump back into dating before they've properly healed. They miss their spouses so much it's almost unbearable.  Some are so darned lonely that they feel dating and having a new mate will cure their loneliness.

"But, what often happens is, they wake up one morning and realize that they can't go on with the new relationship, that they've been kidding themselves and still love their deceased wife. They end the relationship, and in doing so, break some woman's heart.

"Without knowing more, I can't be sure of what your situation is. Perhaps you wife was ill for a long time and your grieving period started long before she passed, which might make you more ready to have a new relationship. More details from you would help.

"I send out an email newsletter each Friday titled "On Life and Love After 50." More than 1,000 people read it each week and send in their comments. Many are widowed people who have experienced the loss of a spouse. Sharing your story with them would bring lots of objective comments.

"I have written an eBook titled, "Widower Dating. Gold mine or mine field?". You can download it immediately to your computer for less than five bucks to gain some insight of what others have gone through. Here is the link to that book: 


"A major issue in senior dating, particularly for widowed people, is the involvement of children and children's acceptance of a new person in that widowed person's life. However, your question, in my opinion, is more than just about gaining acceptance from your stepsons and grand stepsons.

"Again, more information would be helpful. Thanks for having the courage to write."


  1. My first thought was that Tony should be able to bring a "companion" to this year's family holiday events. My second thought was that this is also the first year that the sons are without their mother, and they might want to spend some of the time remembering her--especially on Thanksgiving.

    Tony had a happy, 30-year marriage. I'm sad for his loss. Tom is right: if she had a prolonged illness, he and the sons may have done their grieving well before she passed.

    My last thought is from a woman's perspective. I think I'd be uncomfortable going to family holiday events this year with a man who is recently widowed. I'd prefer a quiet breakfast or lunch before he goes to be with his family. That would show he cares enough to be with me for part of the day.

    Then again, we don't know the whole story. Best wishes to Tony. I hope we get a follow-up to this story.

  2. I watched our family become DESTROYED because my brother got ENGAGED to a woman 9 months after we lost his wife of 18 years. He put their house on the market on the 1st anniversary of his wife's passing (on the exact 1 yr. marker!!!!) and got married 5 months later!
    The new wife took over and did not want his kids (at the time one was 14 and the other, 22) nor his immediate family members around anymore. Said we were "poison" because we weren't thrilled that he met the new love of his life. She claimed WE were being SELFISH by not embracing her and all the new rules she had set down for his family.
    He immediately cut himself off from any communication with any of his late wife's family AND their former friends. His own sons are estranged and were forced to move out (one was only 17 and in high school at the time) and has destroyed my relationship with my only sibling.
    I rue the day that he met this snake of a woman, but he is blindly delighted and loyal to her. To him, his family is disloyal because we needed time and couldn't forget his late wife as he did. Buyer beware!!!!!

  3. Years ago when I was on the dating sites and received emails from men who had lost their wives through death...I would always say that they could never "replace" them...maybe they could come close to finding the same attributes in another woman but the deceased spouse was unique in who she was. My second marriage was to a widower who was an alcoholic - the wife died from it as well. Theirs was not a happy marriage and both were abusive to each other over the 20 years they spent with one another. Obviously he had unresolved anger issues and he took them out on me - through counseling I came to understand this and now know what to look for. He was mentally, emotionally and physically abusive to me in the 7 months we were married. The three years we dated he was on his best behavior although I did see the drinking. He told someone after we separated that he should not have been with me so soon after the death of his spouse (less than a year). At least he was sober enough at that time to realize this...I learned a lot from this mistake. I forgave him for what happened BUT I also am very cautious when sensing that a widower is interested in me...I always ask how long has your wife been gone? If less than a year I make sure they understand from me that I know they need to continue to grieve. A friend I know who is widowed said this to me about widowers "remember also that not all widowers had happy marriages...some are anxious to find a new mate because the marriage was unhappy BUT they stood by the vows they took" Good point to also consider. Then there are some widowers who are content with being alone - having had the love of their life..Once was enough...and there are many of these men who feel this way.

    1. Good point about not all widowed people had good marriages. Last night, Thursday, at the Meet and Greet gathering at Tutor and Spunky's, my Dana Point, California, deli, a woman named Anne related a story about a first date with a widower. Apparently, the man was trying to impress her. He raved and raved about his deceased wife. Finally, she said to him, "You are still too attached to your wife. Your marriage was so perfect no woman will ever be able to please you. I'm out of here."

      Anne said, then the widower, fearing Anne wouldn't go out with him anymore, changed his entire approach. He said, in reality, he and his wife and a terrible marriage. He had just said those things to make her believe he would be this great husband if they ever married. But it was too late, the damage had been done, Anne truly got out of there.