WSN-MO: The Perfect Catch
A few minutes with Dating and Relationship Coach, Christine Baumgartner
Just about every day, I’m in communication with widowers.
Not only is it what I do as a dating and relationship coach, it also comes from being involved in several widow Facebook groups. I’m so grateful for all these connections, for it has helped my own healing process.
The many “gems” I’ve collected along the way have led me to think an occasional “Dear Abby” style article might be in order. So, I’m giving it a try. Below you’ll find three great questions I received, followed by my thoughts.
Question: My wife passed almost two years ago, and I’m dating a woman who is also widowed. My wife had tons of new clothes, shoes, jewelry, perfume, etc. Is it tacky to give some items to my new friend? Everything is brand new, still boxed as my wife bought it – designer pocketbooks and all. Or should I ask her if she’d feel creepy taking stuff?
Answer: Such a great question… thanks for asking. Here’s my suggestion. You could ask the new lady in your life if she’s interested in any of your late wife’s clothes. Let her make the decision. There’s no “right” or “wrong” here; I’ve seen it go both ways.
- I know a few couples (in the same circumstances – both widowed) who are happily wearing the late spouse’s clothes.
- I also know a couple where the new partner thought it would be too creepy to wear the clothes of the late spouse. And a widower who thought it would be too startling and sad to see another person wearing his dead wife’s things.
As a side note – if your new lady isn’t interested in your late wife’s clothes, then make sure you ask your family members if they would like any of her clothes. Sometimes family members want something just as a memory and not to actually wear. So ask everyone, even if they’re not the right size.
Question: I’m 60 years old and was married for 36 years. In 2018, my wife passed away after a 3.5 year battle with inflammatory breast cancer. I grieved the entire 3.5 years of her illness, knowing I was going to lose her. My 33-year-old daughter, who lives with me, was infuriated when I started dating seven months after my wife passed. I’ve been dating a wonderful lady for six months now, and we’re falling in love. We have no plans for marriage at this time. My daughter has all the concerns and terrible anger I’ve read about. I’ve tried to reassure her that I’ll always love her, and we can still have a close relationship. I don’t think she will ever accept the new lady in my life. She has ruined relationships with my brother and his wife and my sister over this. They have also tried to let her know that I’m moving forward and will always love her. My 25-year-old son is happy for me. This has created a huge gap between him and his sister. She’s been to grief counseling only once. I’ve offered to go with her but never get an answer.
Answer: This is a challenging situation. I’ll give you a few ideas, and I trust you’ll find what works for you.
It’s important to keep living your life amidst your daughter’s upset. It’s not your job (really) to make her happy every minute of every day – this may be a hard belief to carry when it involves a daughter you care about. However, she sounds pretty unreasonable. When someone has an attitude like this, it’s very difficult to make them happy.
If things become unbearable, a time may come when you need to draw a line in the sand. Have a trusted friend or therapist help you come up with some well-thought-out boundaries. This isn’t an easy task, especially when the boundary is something like “she needs to treat you (and the lady in your life) courteously and with respect or she needs to move out (and give her a deadline).” With any boundary, make sure you’re really ready. Because, for it to work, you’ll truly have to “stick to your guns” and not back down.
A few caveats:
- I don’t know the circumstances behind your 33-year-old daughter needing to live with you. If it’s a physical or emotional reason (meaning she needs constant supervision and care, then you might need to eventually consider a facility where she could be cared for.
- If she’s capable of living on her own but has a financial issue (and she’s physically, mentally, and emotionally capable of supporting herself), then a boundary might just be the thing she needs to get her life together. It could be that part of the reason she’s mad is she feels threatened that her living situation might change.
- Once our children become adults and are capable of taking care of themselves, then it’s up to us parents to move on with our lives. We need to become examples of people who do good self-care, and being in a healthy, loving relationship is one of the ways we do this.
Question: My wife of 10 years recently passed away. I went straight to anger mode, and I’ve been there ever since. Why do scumbags get to live, and my sweet wife was take? She was one of the greatest people on this earth? I’m functioning at work and in everyday life but am also pissed off all the time.
Answer: Your feelings of anger are so normal. And you’re right – it makes no sense that wonderful people die and terrible people get to live. Many widowed people feel this way (I certainly did). I appreciate you’re still being a responsible person and going to work. At the same time, I know how debilitating it is to be angry all the time. Here’s what I’ve seen work for others and myself:
- Therapy. A skilled and professional therapist can help you work through your feelings of anger.
- Regular exercise. I realize this doesn’t change any of the circumstances. I do know it’s a great way to dissipate and lower the energy behind your anger and help it not feel as consuming—things like walking, running, bicycling, or lifting weights at the gym. I’ve also known people who took up martial arts because, not only did they get to expend energy, it also gave them focused targets on which to aim their anger.
- Join a support group. This is one thing that helped me. I found widow groups (both online and through meetup). When you share your anger issues with the group, you’ll probably find out that many of them share your same feelings. Some of the members may have insights for you.
- Recommended reading. Why Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner, this book helped me tremendously with my anger. It’s been helpful for many of my clients as well.
Have you had experiences like these? If so, how did you handle them? I’d love to hear your thoughts. And as always, please write to me with your questions and concerns. I’m happy to answer them.
WSN-MO: A FEW IMPORTANT POINTS.
1. The services offered by Christine, herself a widow, does not include “dating or matchmaking services.”
2. WSN-MO remains a private “Men Only” page. As such, Christine does not have direct access to WSN-MO’s Facebook page. All postings are facilitated through WSN-MO.
3. WSN-MO members can ask questions of Christine (even anonymously via private message to me) Just send your questions to me at herb@WidowersSupportNetwork.com. Following, I will then post her responses.
4. WSN-MO members who wish to contact Christine directly are encouraged to do so c/o her website http://theperfectcatch.com.
Look for Christine’s advice every other Thursday.
NOTICE: Listen to Christine’s advice on Widower’s Journey Podcast, Episode #2.