The List (Post #3)

 

broken-heart-wallpaper (6)

“The List”       Post #3     Lessons Learned by a Dating Widower

It wasn’t too long after my wife (let’s call her ‘Ruby’) of 38 years passed away when I made a list.  I remember, I was sitting in church during the sermon.  And I took an offering envelope out of the pew in front of me, whipped out a dull pencil I had in my pocket, and started making the list on the blank back side of the envelope:

–          Makes terrific apple dumplings

–          Is highly respected by her peers

–          Musically gifted

–          Fun to be around

–          Great with the grandchildren

And the list went on to include about 24 qualities that my deceased wife had – that I absolutely had to have in my next wife.  I was so sure of what I wanted, it took me less time to generate the list than it did for the pastor to finish his sermon.  Upon completion, I folded it neatly and stashed it in my wallet.  The list wasn’t inclusive . . .  I only found out later.   Evidently, there was also an undocumented mental list I also had – for instance, my next wife had to have blonde hair, blue eyes, great legs, etc.   I learned this when I found myself particularly attracted to similar physically featured women.

Heck fire, even a friend of mine brought it to my attention when they noticed my apparent preference in dates.  “Hey guy, how many great looking blonde young things are you going to date?”  Only then did I realize that my ‘undocumented mental list’ had merged with the list in my wallet.

In other words, I wanted a carbon copy of what I had in Ruby, even her physical qualities.  No, let me restate that.  I WANTED RUBY!  After all, we did have a terrific marriage, with tons of terrific memories, with volumes of joy-filled experiences.   I guess that if Ruby and I DIDN’T have such a wonderful marriage, perhaps my list would have been much shorter… or perhaps loaded with opposite qualities of Ruby.

Another revelation was slow in raising its ugly head in my consciousness.   THERE WOULD NEVER, EVER, EVER, (note emphasis) BE ANOTHER RUBY.  {sorry – after typing that last sentence, I had to walk away from my computer to get control of my allergies – eyes started watering again}    I was looking for, hoping for, longing for another Ruby.  And I KNEW that would be impossible for me to find.   After all, I had been reading up on the subject of ‘grief’.  But, I suppose no matter how prepared you may be, actually experiencing the loss, having your heart dissected, FEELING the permanent removal of your spouse . . . is hell.

So, now that more than two years have passed, I still struggle with this flaw in my dating.  I don’t know where that list is now.   Somehow it grew arms and crawled its way out of my wallet.  But I still find myself wanting to find that perfect woman – perfect only in that she has similar qualities of my first love.      And in the interim, I’m slowly learning that I am missing the perfect DIFFERENT qualities of another woman that God knows I need for the next chapter in my life.

Now that you’ve finished reading this post, I’m sure you have some thoughts on this topic, and I’d love to know what they are.  Feel free to post your comments, whether you disagree or agree with what I’ve learned.  I’d be indebted to learn from your thoughts and experiences too! 

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10 thoughts on “The List (Post #3)

  1. As a woman dating a widower, I think widowers need to know we always feel compare compared to the late wife already….if I had to do all over again, I would never date a widower…they never tell you their real feelings or agendas, after 7 year of his LATE wifes passing I brought marriage, He treats me like a queen, HOWEVER, he want patience, and time, then afte pressing , he wants ME to help him through some issues and , MARRIAGE IS MORE THAN LIKELY IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS, IM NOT A PSYCHOLOGIST. I was here to love you, if you were not over her THEN WHY ARE YOU HERE WITH ME, ITS GOT ME TWISTED..dont say you love me, but HELP UmGET PAST her..we are of the same faith, attend church regularly, travel together, but I lost some also that I was engage to marry and he died before our baby was born she is now 26.

    WIDOWERS DONT GET INVOLVED WITH WOMEN AND TELL THEM YOU LOVE THEM ECT, UNTIL u are CERTAIN U CAN GIVE ALL OF YOURSELF TO A WOMAN, DONT BE SELFISH AND HURT WOMEN BECAUSE U ARE LONELY or LOOKING FORMA DUPLICATE OF HER…I love him and tried to leave him, but when you men play games or wont fess up to YOUR TRUE FEELINGS..you tear us apart and move back into your grief mode with her on a pedastal and us crying over you guys because of cowardness and unresolved grief

    • Dear Maria,

      With apologies to this blogger, I’d like to respond to your reply to his post. This might be long, but I hope it will be worth your time to read it.

      How I ache for you because of the pain you are experiencing! You unwittingly got mixed up in what happens to so many people whose hearts are still broken and yet who search for another person to love them. The hurt and anger you feel is the inevitable result of people getting involved with one another before they’re both ready for it. We can’t seem to stop ourselves from looking for a soothing touch, a kind word, a warm hug, a sympathetic ear, and someone with whom to go out to dinner. 🙂

      I’d like to tell you how I, rather like the writer of this blog, survived the landmines of dating and learned to refine my search until finally finding the right person. It’s a long story, but it might soften your heart a bit about your widower. I hope so.

      Since marrying the first time, I’ve had two other dating sessions in my life, and I learned the hard way to narrow my criteria for dates. During the long separation from my first husband, I met several people for coffee in my town and dated some of them further. It soon became apparent that the ones with the best fit were the ones with a background similar to mine, so my search parameters became men who were separated or divorced with children. That was because I got involved with a divorced man who had had no children, and the eventual disconnect between us seemed to me to be because of that. He didn’t know how to share me with my children. That one ended sadly.

      After several misfires, I attended a series of support meetings for separated and divorced people that was called Divorce Care. There, I learned a very important thing: two broken hearts trying to form a relationship can’t help but form a broken one. One of them is bound to heal before the other one, anyway, and then you have a relationship with one healthy individual and one still broken. Still not something that’s workable. It’s best, of course, for everyone to wait until they’re all recovered before forming new relationships, but not many people are that self-controlled. What happens is that all these miss-matches are going about hurting one another without knowing it or meaning to, and both sides of that wind up more and more damaged as time goes on.

      So, what did I do? I stopped dating, and went back to church and spent time in my Bible, instead. And, I continued learning how to be single. Then, about four years into my separation and a year into the Divorce Care series, I met Bill — at Divorce Care. And, lost my mind. He was so emotionally destroyed that I could see he was in danger from the other women in the group, so I inserted myself into his life and waited five years for him to heal. That’s when we got married. He had children and was divorced, so he fit the profile; we shared similar life stories. He died seven years later after a long bout with a terminal illness.

      This time, it was I who was the dangerous, broken heart that needed to keep myself away from anyone and everyone who might try to engage my heart. And, besides…I would also only be looking for another Bill. Bill was my standard for a husband. He was my biggest fan and I was his. He watched chick flicks with me even though I couldn’t bring myself to return the favor and watch mean movies where guys bleed and blow stuff up and spit a lot. He volunteered to always do the laundry if I would always handle the checkbook. We were together almost constantly and we both liked it that way. He had many more hobbies than I ever did, and included me in all the ones I liked. He loved shopping for my clothing with me. We became everything good to one another that our previous spouses were not. We agreed that the best for everyone would have been to be able to fix our first marriages, but that couldn’t happen. So, we made our peace with God and worked to make the best marriage together that we could. I actually prayed for God to give me a gift of love for this man that would outlast anything that might trouble us. He answered that prayer in unmistakable ways. Without going into details, we had rather more than our share of trials in our short seven year marriage, and as difficult as it all was, we depended on the Lord’s strength and wisdom throughout and became closer than I’d ever imagined two people could be. When Bill died, I thought my life was over. I wanted it to be over.

      I couldn’t sleep in our bed for over two years; I slept in the recliner in front of the television because I needed it to overpower the never ending trains of thought constantly running through my head and keeping me awake and sad…so incredibly sad. I believe now, that this is a typical widow/widower behavior, but at the time, the depth of my grief was shocking to me. And, it seemed it would always be so. I stayed in our house for the first year because it was the closest I could feel to him. After a year, I realized that hiding in our house was taking a toll on my health, and I needed to move, so I did. That helped, but I still couldn’t sleep in our bed. I still stayed home every chance I got for a total of 2 1/2 years. I never wanted to go out with anyone else. Actually, for the first time since my first wedding, I was honestly “legal” to date (unlike dating when I was only separated), and I couldn’t have been less interested in it.

      Little by little, my family and friends started gently suggesting that it might be good for me to just have coffee with someone. Even that sounded like way too much of a commitment, but it got me to thinking about things. One friend was so bold as to suggest that I actually go onto a dating site and “put yourself out there”. That was the very last thing I wanted to do. But, I thought about it. Finally, just to shut the friend up, I put a profile up on a dating site with the most blunt demands I could think of, and the next day, he showed up in my in-box. Well, many of them showed up in my in-box, but this one respected what I had written and responded in kind.

      I set my profile up to indicate I was ONLY interested in widowers who had children. And, before I would respond to anyone, I wanted them to describe their idea of a Christian marriage. I figured that would discourage pretty much everybody, and indeed, the others who responded blatantly ignored what I had asked of them. I ignored them. But, Gerard took me on with respect, confidence, and the just the right mix of humor and humility. He had me from the first time he said, “Coffee?”

      We’ve only been dating for a couple of months, but the future looks very bright for Louise and Gerard. One of the best things we have going for us is the way we can share with one another about our lost spouses. You’re right, Maria, that those spouses will always be there, will always be a part of us and who we are. In our case, though, we are free to talk about it, because we each understand what it is to lose a dearly loved spouse. We can tell one another that we’re not sure we’ll ever really get over it, and we can admit that we will still love them, forever. I don’t think love is ever lost; it’s the only thing that survives death. That fact doesn’t threaten either of us. We each have mourned the loss of the other’s former spouse together. But, we’ve discovered that what we can have together will be DIFFERENT. A different kind of relationship, a different kind of love, a different kind of marriage if the Lord allows us that.

      Gerard and I both made mistakes along the way…hurting people and getting hurt…and learned from it all. I never wanted anyone but Bill. Funny…God had other plans. The moment I laid eyes on Gerard, everything changed. I was interested. I was intrigued. He was different. Interesting. Funny. Different than anything I was accustomed to, but interestingly everything I ever thought I wanted and more. Amazing! Impossible! How??

      Maria, I believe that God is the God of the impossible. He has proven that to me many times, and if you ask Him to prove it to you, He may just take you on and do so. He created all this life on earth from nothing, so I believe he can create a whole new kind of relationship between you and your widower. It won’t be anything like you think it should be, but it can be a new thing. You could start by praying about his pain, and trying to help him ease it without trying to understand it. You may just become the best thing that’s ever happened to him in his life. 🙂

      I pray a hopeful and bright future for you, too, Maria!

      • Louise, thank you so much for what you said. I have yet to find anyone to date, but feel I am ready. I can truly relate to your pain, and Lord willing, can relate to finding someone again in the future. Beautifully written.

      • Louise,
        Thank you SO much for your reply. What a powerful testimony. Have you considered blogging? I know I’d subscribe!

        I’m so sorry for your loss of Bill. It sounds like the two of you complimented each other perfectly. He must have been quite a guy . . . after all . . . enjoying shopping with you for your clothes!? I’m impressed!

        But I’m more impressed with your desire to know and follow God’s will for your life. I’m sure that God blessed Bill by bringing you into his life, as well as blessing YOU by bringing Bill into YOUR life. And I’m positive that dual-blessing was a direct result of prioritizing your faith in Christ. I will pray that God will bless you and Gerard as the two of you follow His will for your lives.

        From experiences that you’ve shared, and lessons that you’ve learned . . . Gerard is one fortunate man!

  2. I had the (for me) good fortune to work for a widower when i was in my late 20’s – early 30’s. We became very good friends and the friendship continued despite the fact that we no longer worked together.

    We would go to lunch together on paydays, sometimes it was a group of us, sometimes just Bob & I. When it was just Bob & I, he would tell me about his wife. Initially, being so young, I really didn’t know how to take it, so I just listened. I discussed it with my husband, and he said that Bob probably needed to have someone to listen to him. For over a year, almost every conversation at lunch ended up being about Gail. I would have loved to have met her, she was quite a gal. And then he met someone and started dating. We later talked about it (he ended up marrying AND divorcing her, unfortunately, same as you) and he never realized he was doing that.

    From that experience came a lot of wisdom. It was only this summer, and accidentally, that I took off my wedding rings. (I had to do it because of a medical test, and then forgot them in the drawer for several days.) I had helped Bob work through a lot of his grief. I loved my husband very, very much, as you did Ruby. While that love was still uppermost, it was *not fair* to any man to date them. It’s taken me this amount of time for that reason.

    And Bob himself gave me a wonderful piece of advice several years ago. I was working at Penn State as a temp and worked on a database for one of the departments there. I called Bob for some advice on the database, how certain things worked, etc., and he gave me a LOT of help personally, cause we’d chat after we talked about whatever I’d called about. That advice was this: don’t look for another Sam. He’s not out there. There are a lot of wonderful people, and you can enjoy yourself, but don’t look for Sam.

    *Sigh*. Well, I can at least look for someone with good character & who can make me laugh. But I’d sure love to find someone who had a good voice as well….he had a beautiful tenor voice & I accompanied him for years. Regardless, we had the good fortune to help a church make a CD years ago, and so I do have recordings of him.

    So I haven’t made a ‘list’ yet, and I’m sure trying not to do that lolol!

    Sorry this was so long ;-).

    • Bob gave excellent advice . . . that being “don’t look for another Sam.” It’s true. You won’t find another Sam. And your needs for the 2nd chapter of your life don’t require another Sam.

      This might surprise you, Sharona, but I’ve learned that “my list”, no matter how extensive and impossible it was for ANYONE to qualify by matching my demands in that list – was still much lower in expectations than the person who GOD had in store for me! I can say that now . . . because I’ve finally met her . . . and she BY FAR exceeds any of my ‘lists’! Why? Cause God knew my needs better than I knew them.

      Here’s what I’ve learned since writing this post . . .there IS a good reason to make a ‘gotta have’ list . . . so you can look back at it after the Lord has brought the RIGHT person into your life – and LOL at what YOU thought was important!

  3. So happy for you, and thanks for sharing! God certainly has a wonderful sense of humor, and it’s wonderful when we do get to see it :-).

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