I've been dating a mid-60s widower for 11 months. I'm 61 and divorced, we met online. We're both professionals and enjoy the same activities.
After dating for a month, I learned his wife had passed away two weeks before we met (after a very long illness). They hadn’t had a physical relationship for seven years.
I was stunned by how quickly he started looking, but he’s incredibly romantic, fun to be with, and said he was smitten with me. So, I kept seeing him.
At the four-month mark, he started seeing a therapist about an emotional crash. He cried nightly for hours; choked up frequently when we were together.
I limited our dates to Saturday/Sunday over seven months. He’s told no one about me though he's met my kids and my friends. He insists he's in love with me.
The anniversary of her passing is soon, and I want to see if he’ll get through his grieving and focus on us.
He doesn't want to break up but isn't ready for marriage or living together. He also doesn't want his stepdaughter to learn about me because she might stop talking to him.
I think we could be a great couple if/when he gets through the grieving. Is it worth waiting? I feel like the other woman.
Grief vs Romance
The romantic start to your dating was like a mid-life dream for you both. But he was hiding the very significant fact of his late-wife’s recent passing.
His emotional crash four months later, though disturbing to you, was actually a positive sign if there’s a future together. It would be far more worrisome if he could move on from such a loss so quickly and easily.
Still, his grief since that time has revealed new issues. His keeping you a secret and hiding you from his stepdaughter, places you and the relationship in the background for some unknown time.
And the anniversary of his late-wife’s death is sure to exacerbate his feelings of loss and possibly guilt, too.
I understand how hard it is for you to face the clear reality of this situation: He’s just not capable of being a true partner at this time.
You’re correct that it’s currently an unhealthy situation. Take a break. Instead of anticipating his “getting through his grieving,” encourage that he keeps seeing his therapist. If you both hope to eventually re-connect, read some of the current books on grief as an ongoing process.
FEEDBACK Regarding whether to stay in a difficult marriage “for the children” (March 19):
Reader – “I divorced three years ago after 10 years’ married, with children ages four and seven. We’d grown apart, no longer a team.
“I moved one km away from their father, so the kids kept the same school/bus route/friends. They adjusted immediately to the new house and new-normal schedule.
“My friend is currently divorcing. Her kids, 12 and 14, display all the negative emotions and behaviours common to adolescents/teens.
“I believe that if it's clear that a marriage has no future, move on while the kids are young, and they’ll adjust. The older they are, the more damage to their ability to trust and sense of security.
“It's imperative that all adults involved have a positive attitude about the change. When people use the term "broken home" or view divorce like a horrible accident, that's damaging to kids of any age. Divorcing is sometimes a case of "putting the kids first," not later.”
Reader’s Commentary Regarding mother-child strained relationships (March 18):
“My young teens to adult was an era I still try to forget. Growing up in military life wasn’t easy. Mother was buried in her housework to the extreme, no friends were allowed, rules even on where not to sit.
“Mother was strict. She’d call me bad names. I wanted to run away many times.
“I missed a lot of fun times. I wanted to be loved but it never happened.
“Now I’m a senior, married 55 years. I made sure my son and daughter were loved and still are. We do things together, laugh a lot, share stories.
“I promised myself never to be like my mother. She died at 53, but being a true mother never happened.
“To all mothers: Love yourself, your family and friends. Be a caring mother and your family will always love you.”
Tip of the day:
When a lover insists on hiding the relationship, take a break until a healthy partnership is possible.