When we were young, we often confused physical attraction and sex with love. I know that during my teens, I would fall in love with a new girl almost every month. As soon as I saw a new pretty face I was head over heels again even though I was still in a relationship with the last one.
So I will be the first to admit that when I met my wife, her pretty face and nice body were a huge part of the attraction. But as we spent more and more time together we found other things about each other that gradually developed into something much stronger and longer lasting than just physical attraction. Over time it became something very different, real love.
After your wife dies you realize that your concept of love has transformed over the years into something much more powerful and meaningful. To expect that you can replicate that with a new girlfriend after dating her just a few times and within the first year after your wife passes is often illogical.
Many times I hear from or of widowers who talk about how they are head over heels in love with someone they just met. Their interpretation of the relationship is quite frankly driven by factors such as just having someone in your life again who is nice to you, hugs you, and maybe makes love to you. There may be a spark and a sense that you belong together.
These feelings can often be misleading during that first year of deep grieving. You may find your psycho-emotional state to be turned upside down again if you are not careful. And if this does happen, your self-confidence can also take another body blow.
It can be wonderful to once again be in the arms of another, to have someone fix you a wonderful meal, or to take trips with you. It can also be very exciting and you may feel like you are 18 again. However, you may also have doubts and feel that you are cheating on your wife though she has been gone for months. The ups and downs of a new relationship can lead to more anxiety and sleepless nights, contributing to continued turmoil.
I never tell anyone to NOT have any new relationships during that first year because I know from my own experience how powerful that drive is to be with someone again. I do, however, always advise that you take the new relationship slow and easy until you feel that you are in a solid psycho-emotional place before consummating the relationship, much less getting married again.
The new woman in your life can easily become a casualty of the relationship if you both move too fast and without consideration of the possible consequences. Many widowers got sucked into untenable situations (whole families moving into their houses, bank accounts disappearing, emotional confrontations, etc.) because something besides their gray matter was making the decisions for them.
We all know how damned persistent and persuasive we men can be when physical contact is offered up as an option. But we also know that the harm done can often far outweigh the temporary benefits.
So if and when you get to these crossroads, please try to step back for a moment and allow time to consider whether and how to move forward. Like any other time that we may feel we have to move full-steam ahead, this may be the time to put on the brakes and reconsider our decisions.
I can tell you that eventually I and many others have found real love again, but it did not always come easy. I had to learn some of these lessons the hard way… I hope you don’t have to.
© Copyright 2023 Fred Colby
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