When is the right time to bring a new woman to family holiday functions?
By Tom Blake
A recent widower named Tony asked for guidance: “I’m 60, my wife died in early 2013. We were married for 30-plus years, our marriage was incredibly blessed. I’m a better person due to my late wife.
“We raised her two sons from a prior marriage. My stepsons are now in their 40s. We did not have additional children from our marriage. We (I) have three grandchildren, 10, 12 and 14. All are healthy and normal for their age. A grandchild is named after me.
“I’m now dating. I’m planning to ask my stepsons if I can bring a companion to family holiday functions. I’m not asking for an immediate response, knowing they need time to consider.
“I’ll honor their response. I won’t make threats if they deny my request. I don’t want to give control of my remaining life to my stepsons, however I realize the complex task the parents have to discuss the subject with the grandchildren.
“How should I handle the sensitive issue?”
My response to Tony was as follows: “Yes, this is a sensitive issue. Kudos to you for being considerate of your stepsons and step-grandchildren.
I am not a widower so by no means am I an expert on this topic. But in 18 years of writing newspaper columns about dating later in life, I’ve heard enough stories from new widowers and the women who have dated them to gain knowledge on the issue.
You’ve got some time before the holidays. Even if you’ve already met a new woman, why not hold off a while before asking them? Yes, you want to be in control of your decisions, but, on the other hand, you certainly don’t want to alienate the family you have loved and raised for more than 30 years. Over the holidays, especially this first holiday season, being with them will be essential for you.
What I’m about to say may not apply to you, but it often applies to new widowers. Many jump back into dating before they’ve properly healed. They miss their spouses so much it’s almost unbearable. Some are so darned lonely they feel dating and having a new mate will cure their loneliness.
But, what often happens, they wake up one morning and realize that they can’t go on with the new relationship. That they’ve been kidding themselves and still love their deceased wife. They end the relationship, and in doing so, break some woman’s heart.
I asked four widow friends of mine for their opinion on Tony’s question.
Patricia said, “Better that Tony take the time to heal before introducing a new woman into his still grieving family or he will lose the stepsons families as well. They are not ready for this and neither is he.”
Marsi added, “It has not been a year of grieving for him or his family. It is too soon and the family may feel it is disrespectful to their mother’s memory. To bring a date just for the sake of not being alone for the day, I would pass. It won’t hurt him to go alone for one function. If the relationship progresses, the following year would be more appropriate.”
Julie suggested, “It is too soon to bring someone else to the family holiday events. If this new companion cares about him, she will graciously allow him time alone with his family. If not—red flag.”
Karla said, “I’d be uncomfortable going to family holiday events with a recently widowed man. I’d prefer a quiet breakfast or lunch before he goes to be with his family. That would show he cares enough to be with me for part of the day.”
New widowers need to realize that the families are grieving as much as they are, and the widowers should be considerate of those family members. I hope Tony doesn’t ask the question, and attends the family holiday functions alone this first year.
For Tony to gain insight on what other widowers have gone through, I suggested he read my eBook, titled, Widower Dating. Gold Mine or Mine Field?
The electronic book can be downloaded immediately to one’s computer by following this link: www.smashwords.com.
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Tom Blake is a Dana Point business owner and San Clemente resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at www.findingloveafter50.com.
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