As a widower, I first thought I might meet a woman whom I would marry: my second wife. I thought of this woman as a new romance, a time of head-spinning infatuation and a soaring imagination about the life we might have together.
I realized the first flames of romance might cool, and I began to think of women in terms of love, not romance. Love reminds you not to fall into romance with every charming woman you meet. Love calls for commitment, and it’s more disciplined than romance.
Friendship can be caring and helpful without the intensity of love or romance. As love matures, a widow-man’s perception of life may lead him to appreciate friendship, even without romance or romantic love. Friendship requires a different kind of self-discipline. It needs to recognize your limitations due to age, health problems, or finances.
Romance may be the first reason a man is attracted to a woman, but love helps romance become a more mature relationship. Love learns that the woman you are romantically attracted to isn’t perfect, wonderful as she may be. Accepting her imperfections is part of a loving relationship.
Not every loving relationship leads to marriage. For some widow-men, friendship may be the only way they can relate to women because they have so many responsibilities. They may not have time for a romance focused on one woman. Life might be too complicated.
At the end of the first year after my wife’s death, I met a woman at church and arranged to see her. We met for coffee, and we began to have dinners together. Our relationship started as a romance, but by the end of one year, we both saw that we couldn’t commit to marriage or even steady dating. We are still friends more than 13 years after our spouses died, and it seems likely we will remain friends and single. We both value our friendship, and we think it will continue as long as we both live.
Don’t leap into a relationship with a woman too soon. Go forward prepared for love, but possibly not for romance or marriage. Friendship is sometimes best.
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