I’m the second wife of a widower 15 years older than me, whom I married after his wife died at 47, leaving him with two children whom I helped raise as my own.
We had 25 happy years together. Now 77, my husband had to be moved to an assisted care facility three years ago due to his Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Both adult children live with their own families in other cities.
I visit my husband every day for several hours and help feed him lunch. He must eat only pureed foods to avoid choking as he’s forgotten how to swallow.
I’ve hired a private caregiver to feed him dinner, and stay till the staff gets him ready for bed.
Though the nursing-home has personal care workers, I feel better with his having one-on-one care around meals.
Six months ago, a man I knew from our bridge club called suggesting we meet for breakfast. His wife had died two years before that and I assumed he wanted to air his feelings to someone who’d understand the loss.
We both talked about the changes in our lives. A few intermittent breakfasts followed, we saw a play together, then met for dinner, and three months ago we stated our feelings for each other.
I’m 62, as is my friend, both fortunate to be healthy with good energy.
My husband hasn’t any quality of life. He rarely looks at me when I’m present and, even then, shows no recognition, not even at the sound of my voice.
I’ll continue to support him with visits and private-nursing care for the rest of his days.
Must I pass up this chance to have happiness and love in my life again?
Whether it lasts for as many as 20 years ahead, or far less, it seems foolish on my part to miss it, based on what I realize may be others’ judgements and gossip.
The Right Choice?
Like many complex decisions, ultimately the answer can only come from you.
The new man in your life is free as a widower, both in law and in current social acceptance, to marry or live common-law with whomever he pleases.
You however, are in a unique position, still legally married.
And you live in a community where you socialized as a couple, and where some friends may consider you to be “abandoning” your husband despite your daily visits.
Also, your adult step-children (and the widower’s children too) will have reactions and opinions on the possibility of your becoming a couple while there’s your husband to be considered.
Ask yourself how this whole scenario strikes you, IF you had been the one who had to be moved to a nursing home, for reasons over which you had no control.
When you married, you knew your husband was older than you. Did you discuss with him how it could affect later decisions? Do you feel he would’ve wanted you to choose this “second chance?”
Take some time to talk these matters out with your closest family and friends, and definitely consult your lawyer.
Depending on the jurisdiction where you live, you may have to actually separate from your husband in order to be legally free to cohabit with someone else.
However, this’ll likely affect other issues e.g. your existing Power of Attorney over your husband’s health needs and over his property.
Another chance at love is a beautiful concept, but make sure you both can handle it despite any legal/social roadblocks. Or your own conscience.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man, 86, considering divorcing his wife, 84, due to her disinterest in sex (Oct. 23):
Reader – “Not once did he mention any affection toward her after many years together. He says that he "took her in," adding, "I had two children with her," not WE had two children.
“Now, he’s upset that she won't perform what he perceives as her duty to him.
“Maybe he should start by creating (I don't say reviving) a romantic relationship with his wife and intimacy might follow. But with his wife-as-sex-chattel attitude, don’t count on it.”
Reader #2 – “I’ve worked with seniors in long-term care homes for over 30 years and we often see spouses who are living with dementia accuse their faithful spouse with having an affair.
“The “well” spouse is then devastated by the accusation. I’d have him explore this with their family physician.”
Ellie - Such different focuses!
Tip of the day:
“Second-chance-love” sometimes involves many other people and factors. Think it through carefully.