Widowers can be difficult partners because they are often not open about their feelings about their deceased wife. This can cause quite a few problems in a new relationship that stem from a lack of communication. If you become involved in a relationship with a widower it is important to realize that you will often be called upon to help your partner work through his feelings about the loss of his wife, his relationship with you and anything else that might be troubling him.
While many widows often are reluctant to get into a new relationship after loosing their husband, widowers often have the opposite reaction. Often they move to quickly to get involved in a new relationship. They may see the new relationship as more of a part of the grieving process than anything else. The common advice for deciding when it appropriate to start dating a widow is to wait for their signals but with widowers you sometimes have to help them determine when is the right time. Becoming involved with anyone too quickly after they lose a partner to death can be very detrimental to the relationship. If the person has not adequately grieved for the partner and come to the realization on their own accord that they are ready to date, then the relationship is destined to fail because the widower is not ready to commit to another relationship.
Another tip for dating a widower is to be aware of the fact that you are a unique person and should not try to emulate his previous wife in an attempt to ease his pain. Trying to imitate his deceased wife will only lead to an unhealthy relationship for both of your. The widower may subconsciously try to get you to mold yourself into his previous wife’s likeness by constantly make comments about how she dressed or what activities he enjoyed. It is important for you to recognize this behavior and be clear to your partner in expressing that you are not going to compromise that you are for his benefit. In most cases the widower is not doing this intentionally and may not even realize that his words are leading you to believe that he wants you to do things that remind him of his deceased wife. Occasional lapses where the widower reminisces about his previous wife is acceptable and should be expected but if these episodes dominate the relationship, then it is important to realize that there is something unhealthy going on and seek counseling for both of you.
If the widower has children, this presents a unique set of problems that need to be dealt with in the relationship. In most cases it is the wife who has done most of the work in regards to raising the children and the widower may be insecure about his parenting abilities. Additionally the children will rightfully be missing their mother and may view you as trying to replace her. This is a very delicate situation. You may be tempted to help out your partner by taking over a great deal of the parenting responsibilities but this will not only hinder your partners progress in learning how to care for his children but can also make the children resentful of you. In this situation it is advisable to offer your opinions when they are requested and exercise caution to avoid becoming too involved too quickly. If the children reach out to you, go ahead and do whatever you can to comfort them but make it clear that you understand how much they love their mother and that you are not trying to replace her. Also, if your partner grows easily frustrated with trying to deal with raising the children on his own, find ways to ease his burden without becoming too involved and undermining his relationship with the children. One way to do this is to help him with the cooking and the housekeeping but leave the parental duties to him. This is helpful because parenting can seem especially overwhelming if there are many other duties to attend to in the house.
Dating a widower can be complicated but it doesn’t have to be. Allowing your partner adequate time to grieve for the loss of his wife, not trying to replace his wife and assisting with the parenting responsibilities if the widower is a father are just some of the unique challenges to dating a widower. Exercising common sense and being mindful of the widower and his children’s’ feelings will help to ease the transition into dating a widower.