Thursday, August 14, 2014

Widowed or divorced. Who is right?

On Life and Love After 60

Divorcees take issue with widowed people’s comments

I suppose it’s only natural that widowed people--at least some of them--have opinions that differ from divorced people--at least some of them--when it comes to being able to love again.

Last week, we featured a warm love story about two widowed people who live together. The widow, Marcia, a facilitator for a grief recovery group for newly widowed people, stated: “I constantly hear from divorced women who date widowers and want them to get rid of the remnants of their marriages. These women should not date widowers, they are too insecure.”   

Marcia’s statement caught Champ Liz’s attention. Liz said, “As a long-time divorcee, I was somewhat offended by Marcia's comment. “I'm sure there are some insecure divorced women who are intimidated by a widower's past marriage and his memories of his wife, but I don't believe we are all that way. 

“There are some widowers who cannot bring closure to the loss of their wives and therefore are still living in the past and unable to move forward in a new relationship. In those instances, it would be difficult for anyone (widow or divorcee) to not feel some resentment if the widower isn't willing to put his energies into building a new relationship with her rather than living in the past.

"I have met some fine widowers who are fully committed to building a new relationship with another. I feel they have a lot to offer and I respect the love they once shared with their deceased wives, knowing that they will always be a part of who they are. Learning about a deceased wife and the life they shared together allows me to better understand who he is.

"For the most part, I suppose widows and widowers who had good marriages make a better pairing and understand each other a little better, just as those who are divorced may have more in common in their shared-divorce experiences."

“But, I'd like Marcia to know that we divorcees aren't all insecure when it comes to dating widowers, and that there is an important balance that must be achieved in any new relationship, whether widowed or divorced.

Liz’s comments had a familiar ring. I researched my records and found that Champ Jessie, Oregon, responded to comments a widower had made in an April, 2014 newsletter. Jessie said, “I wanted to respond to the widower who said that divorced people ‘chose to be in that situation.’ I think I speak for many when I say I certainly did not choose to be single at this time of life. 

“When I married, it was for life. Unfortunately, my ex-husband apparently was not as committed. It bothers me when widowed people seem to think that those of us who are divorced are incapable of making a commitment or of long-term love. Some of us did not choose to end the marriage.

These comments were not the first Jessie had made in responding to something a widower had said. A year ago, she wrote, “I think it is sad that the widower has decided that his deceased wife was his ‘one and only’ love, and apparently has locked up his heart and has thrown away the key. He might benefit from counseling, since he has apparently never healed from the death of his wife. He is missing out on experiencing love again. Not the same love he shared with his wife, but another fulfilling love with a new woman.

My opinion: I think both widowed people and divorced people feel lots of pain. Who is right or who is wrong isn’t an issue. Paul Simon wrote in the 1986 song, Graceland, “…Losing love is like a window in your heart. Everybody sees you’re blown apart…” That applies to both the widowed and the divorced.

So, let’s understand each other. We’re all licking our wounds, we’re all trying to heal. A little empathy between the two sides will go a long way to recovery and finding love regardless of our scars.  

Widowed or divorced, we’re in this journey together.

You Tube Link to Paul Simon’s singing Graceland in Central Park in 1991 

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