Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Widows: Dating & Remarriage, Part 3

And the romantic stuff: how did you know Tom was the one? How did he propose? What was your wedding like?
     How did I know Tom was the one? Well, I'd say because I knew he had good character and I respected him. He was a widower, he knew how to love his wife, he was a Christian and pursued a walk with God, he's extremely intelligent, and a hard worker, and we had similar backgrounds as far as parents and growing up. Plus, he spent lots of money on me and bought me great gifts! And there was good chemistry. Have you heard of the five love languages? I wanted them all!
     His proposal was a first-class surprise. He came to visit me over my birthday, and that Sunday afternoon, before leaving to catch his flight home, in cahoots with my daughter Lisa, he proposed to me right in front of my kids! Is he a prince, or what?!!!

     Our wedding was very simple. A dear friend had told me years before about her Quaker wedding--where the bride and groom attend church that morning and at the end of the regular service they are called up in front of the pastor and he marries them. I'm not Quaker, but I loved the simplicity of that. So that's pretty much what we did. No bridesmaids, no bouquets, no long white wedding dress, but I did have beautiful invitations, gorgeous flowers and a lot of fun! After our quick but very touching ceremony, the church ladies had a magnificent carry-in dinner for everyone. Then all the relatives came back to my house for more visiting, and then Tom and I headed out for our honeymoon to Asheville and Hilton Head, SC.

What has been most surprising about being married again? 
     Love was the most surprising thing to me. I recognized emotions I thought had died with Bruce. This time I was ready to relish them and really engage in the experience, whereas the first time everything was new and unfamiliar. Love came alive again and it was wonderful.
     I was also surprised that marriage did not solve all my problems. Darn! I was still the same. The same issues I had with Bruce, the same arguments occurred with Tom. I had the same exact baggage with two entirely different men. Hmmm. . . . That's hard because now there's no one to blame or change but myself.

How are things different?
     Tom is very different from Bruce. I haven't figured out why I would end up with such very different men, but I did. And I love them both. Before we got married Tom explained how he thought it would work; he asked me if I loved all my children. Well, yes, of course! He asked, did I love the first one a little less when the second one came along? And of course the answer is no. So, in his opinion, it would work the same way with husbands. And he was right. We did promise, though, to never compare each other to our first spouse.
     And I'm very different from the young bride I was in the 1970's. This time I dated with the confidence that since I had come out of a very good marriage and was a very valuable and competent wife, (thank you, Bruce, for instilling me with that love and respect)---I knew that I would be one of the best things that could happen to any man. But not just any man would be the best thing that could happen to me. Marriage to some men could be worse than being widowed; I wanted a man that would be the best thing that could happen to me. Bruce was the best for my first marriage, but the second marriage was more intentional than falling in love. I don't know how else to explain it.
     Mid-life marriage is different. Tom and I will never have children together; it's nice to marry young and grow up together, build a family and a home. Tom and I will never have what Bruce and I had; Bruce and I will never become the cute little old folks Tom and I will, so I get a little wistful about that.

Have you discovered that what you wanted/needed in a husband the first time around is different from what you want/need now?
     I think the basics, the essentials of what I want and need in a husband have remained the same, but what has changed is my perception that I don't need to look for "the one." If Tom hadn't come along, I'd have been OK. I'm glad he's in my life, I love him dearly and his companionship, but if he weren't here, I'd feel complete because of maturing in my relationship with Christ.

And, backing up, since you told me I could ask... was it hard to avoid sexual temptation as a widow dating again?
Not only hard, I'd say IMPOSSIBLE!
But let me quickly qualify that--There's a difference between temptation and sin. Read James 1:13-15 very carefully. If you have desire, you'll likely have temptation. It's what you do with temptation that leads to sin. 
Tom set boundaries for us right away. He wanted to honor God by avoiding pre-marital sex, and I agreed. With that goal in mind, we needed to avoid the temptation as well as the sin, and it wasn't easy.  It's extremely hard to not give in to that desire. Living 500 miles apart helped a lot. Not sharing hotel rooms, or housing helped. Being accountable helped. Cold showers helped! Exercise helped each of us burn off some of that extra energy. We made it to the wedding day.
I'm not bragging about that. I'd rather keep my private life private. But I want you to know that it's possible to keep the marriage bed for marriage. If you're dating a man who thinks he needs his sex immediately, or needs to try you out before marriage, he needs to be gently educated that he's not respecting you and he's not obeying God's Word. Show him this blog and let him know that Tom and I made it, and we have perfectly normal, healthy sex drives! OK, so that's too much information, but I want to encourage you to face this issue and decide ahead of time the important part it will play in your dating life. (And by the way, Tom wanted me to add that contrary to popular opinion, abstinence before marriage does not cause any physical damage--good news for the guys).
This post is getting too long, but let me ask, should we talk about this some more? Perhaps privately? I know it's hard to sleep alone. Please let me know if you have other questions, too. When you lose your husband, you also lose your sexual expression, and that needs to be acknowledged and legitimately grieved, so let me know if that's an issue you want to discuss.


  1. The fact that you say "I have the same exact baggage" is a help, I think that fairy tale dreams have us thinking our life will be totally different with another person. Is there someone who will accept me as I am? My thoughts go to guilt, I feel that I would be cheating on my husband if I was to date or remarry. I guess I still have some parts of grief to work through and that is why I feel that I need time to myself. And, I totally agree with no sex while dating.

  2. WOW<that's a lot to think about.Many questions swirl around in my head,but for now,I don't think they 'need' and answer.Thus far I am quite content to be where I am,alone.

  3. Dear ones, We are 'wonderfully made,' as Scripture says. We're unique, complex, many layered beings. And God delights in his creations--in you! I see how marvelous you are as you journey through this wide wilderness of grief, and I pray someday you will see it, too.

  4. Loved reading again today. You have nailed so many topics that I have thought and prayed about. You and I (and God) are on the same page! I am "excited" to glorify God on my wedding night, whenever that may be. I have often thought about the "baggage" to come along with me, mostly because I have three little ones, with the oldest physically handicap, but God has revealed to me that ALL 4 of us will be a blessing to someone and not a burden of baggage. Thanks once again! I do have a question...with your children being older when you remarried, you didn't think about adoption and changing their last names, but on one hand, I think that would be great, but on the other...they should keep their birth "last" name that their daddy had? What's your opinion and have others told you they have done?

  5. Carrie, I haven't heard from many others on the name change. For us, it wasn't a question of the kids changing their name, but rather my changing mine. I didn't plan to change my name at all, but then Tom asked me to, so I did. I wanted to keep a connection to my kids, tho, so I kept my married name as my middle name. If kids are young, name changes are something to prayerfully and seriously consider and do as God leads. Thanks for sharing Carrie. :)


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