Monday, July 11, 2011

Widows: Dating & Remarriage, Part 1

Hi Everyone,
Sometimes things start coming together around here. What started out as a gentle prod last month from a writer friend, grew into a poke from widows who have started dating, and topped off with a compelling "Do This! Now!" as other announcements and info connected on my desktop. (see poll on sidebar, too).
So here you have it: This week I'm totally exposed! I'll tell you everything you ever/never wanted to know about my dating/remarriage experience! Disclaimer: I'm no expert or professional. This is just how God worked it out for me as I tried to follow him. And if you're in the early throes of widowhood when emotions are so raw, please don't push yourself to read this. There are a lot of other issues you're dealing with right now, and this will be available in the future if you're interested then.
A big thank you to the currently anonymous reader who let her curiosity run wild with questions. That made it easier for me. Feel free to ask additional questions in the comment line, by email, or message me on Facebook. I'll try to answer them, too.
I'll start off with a quick update: My first husband, Bruce, passed away in February of 2000 and we had three children: Brooke, almost 20; Lisa, 17; Brad, 15. Tom and I were married in May of 2002, and he had Aaron, who was 10 when his mom died of ovarian cancer.
Here are the first set of questions from this reader:
How did you meet Tom? I know you mentioned it was online; were you looking for someone or did you just start chatting and one thing led to another?
     I had this incredible girlfriend, Laura, who was ten years younger than me, but had cystic fibrosis all her life. She literally dealt with death every day--the looming inevitability of her own and of her many friends with the same disease. But instead of "woe is me I'm gonna die," she was "I'm alive! Let's live!" So we're at Mama Leone's Italian Restaurante one night and I told her I'd found a Christian singles website I might like to try, but I needed a picture to post and I didn't have a digital camera. No problem, Laura had one! We go back to her house and while I'm all worrisome and wishy washy about posting my picture and profile on this site she gets a little impatient and says, "What have you got to lose? You've already lost everything!" So I quit pacing and sat down for the picture. She says, "Do you want your boobs in the picture, or not?" Not. She snapped the picture and downloaded it to the website while I was still in shock and laughing over her question.
     So it's Laura's fault. Which is OK, because she's probably giggling with glee over this as she looks down at me from heaven. She died a year after our wedding and I'll be forever grateful for her friendship and love. She taught me how to live and I was with her when she died in the hospital . . .
Oh my! That's quite a story, and I'm so sorry about Laura! I almost hate to go on with the questions! So we know you got on a Christian singles website, but how then did you meet Tom?
     It's OK, but I wouldn't/couldn't have done it without Laura. Tom and I met on said website. I don't give out the name of it, but it was not EHarmony; that one was too much work. I wasn't interested in a serious relationship so I wan't going to invest much time or money into this venture.
     I found myself humbly admitting that although I loved all my girlfriends, I longed for a male point of view and I WANTED TO TALK TO A MAN! I was looking for some penpals.
     Meeting Tom was a little miracle because 1). We got on this same website for a trial basis at exactly the same time. 2). He was way off in NY state, but in the same area of NY that I'd just visited the week before I got on the site. Otherwise I'd have never contacted him. He was 500 miles away and I had set my limit at 200 miles to make actually meeting, like go out for dinner, more of a possibility. 
     At first we just sent polite, getting-to-know-you little notes about once a week. Then I removed myself from the website because of a really creepy creep. But a few weeks later, I saw that the creepy guy was kicked off so I reconnected with Tom and two other male penpals.
     We "met" on the website in August of  '01 (I'd been widowed for 18 months). We e-mailed for a few months. Our first phone call was the Monday right after Thanksgiving; our first date was two days later (crazy story); he officially proposed to me two months later, although he started talking about it over New Years; and we were married in May. We had a 500-mile commuter marriage the first few months.
     We decided to do most of our dating after we got married. LOL It worked for us--but--we both worked at it. Like any marriage: it takes work, trust, commitment. So I'm not recommending anyone going as fast as we did. DO NOT close your eyes, jump in and hope for the best! You should take time to get to know (and make sure you like) his family and friends, find out if he has any medical problems/std's, debts or annoying habits, and see how he treats his mother and his kids because down the road that's how he'll treat you. We go to a Weekend to Remember every few years, and it's an excellent marriage de-tox. They offer it for engaged couples, too, and we highly recommend it.
  
How did you know you wanted to get involved with someone else? Honestly? I didn't know. Or I wouldn't admit it. I planned to remain single. The life insurance wouldn't last forever, so I was going to get my masters degree, work in a public school and build a small cabin in a forest or on lakefront. (I had the house plans picked out). The only clue I had was that for several months I'd been praying for contentment and God wasn't answering. God was silent. It was very lonely and awful. I felt abandoned. But I never thought remarriage was the solution.
Did you get advice from others before pursuing the relationship? Unfortunately, no. I was, and still am, very introverted, and I was a relatively young widow. I felt so alienated; no one had anything in common with me. I'm so grateful the Lord pulled me through, and I think that's why I host this blog and the Facebook group, because talking to other widows is really, really important. 
Let's take a break and come back tomorrow, OK? Here are the questions we'll cover tomorrow and Wednesday. 
  • How did you deal with the worries that you might love this man and end up losing him too?
  • How did you tell Bruce's family and how did they respond?
  • How did your kids respond?
  • What were some challenges you faced as a widow dating again?
  • And the romantic stuff: how did you know Tom was the one? How did he propose? What was your wedding like?
  • What has been most surprising about being married again? How are things different?
  • Have you discovered that what you wanted/needed in a husband the first time around is different from what you want/need now?
  • And, backing up, since you told me I could ask... was it hard to avoid sexual temptation as a widow dating again?
Remember, if you have other questions, now's your chance to ask!
ferree

4 comments:

  1. Love you my friend! I want all of WCP readers to know that you and your story (which parts of I didn't know til now) were very much a part of my decision to remarry. You are and have been an inspiration to me. Thank you for all you do for us on this journey together! God is using you for great things!

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  2. Thank you so much for this information, its helps to hear how others have dealt with being a widow. I, to, am introverted, I tried some widows groups/meetings but was uncomfortable.

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  3. Carol, your wedding was such a privilege to attend! I thank God for our friendship! And Teri, I love following your blog! I wish you the very best, and am glad this helps a bit. Online is so helpful for us introverts.

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  4. Oh.My.Goodness. I can't believe the similarities in our stories!

    David and I met on eHarmony. We were engaged within four months, married in 13 months, and lived several states away from each other.

    While I wasn't as young as you when my husband died, everyone at the support group had a good 15-20 years on me.

    For a long time, I haven't had any interest in remarrying, but the idea is sitting in the back of my mind.

    I'm going to read Part II now. :)

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