“GEEZ LOUISE” (Post #38)

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“GEEZ LOUISE!” (Post #38) Lessons Learned by a Dating Widower

According to Ask.com , no one knows the origination of the term “Geez Louise”, but it has been used for many years. It’s a term that expresses amazement.
Well . . . GEEZ LOUISE! I’m amazed that ‘it’ finally happened! I have fallen in love with ‘Louise’, and have proposed to her, the woman of my dreams! And surprise of surprises, she said “YES”!

‘Louise’ is my age (we are both 63). ‘Louise’ is also a widow (as I am a widower). And we share several common fundamental passions that have cemented our relationship including a passion for our faith and music.

It wasn’t to have happened this way. In fact, it wasn’t to have happened at all. It was a simple request to have coffee with her. She was so reluctant; it took a miracle for her just to say “Yes” to coffee. It was an innocent request; with innocent expectations. It was to be an innocent date; with innocent conversation.

Just like others that I’ve dated, I expected that she’d be cute – and that I’d be respectful; that she’d be interesting – and that I’d be conversational; that she’d exhibit refinement – and that I’d exhibit chivalry. I expected that if all went well, I’d probably ask her for a 2nd, and perhaps a 3rd date; but most likely, that would be the extent of our interest.

But I misjudged ‘Louise’. Wow, did I ever!!

She wasn’t cute . . . she was gorgeous!
She wasn’t interesting . . . she was fascinating!
She wasn’t refined . . . she was classy!

And me? I don’t remember much about my behavior, except that I was enthralled by her presence. I was taken by her persona. I was captivated by her voice, her smile, her laughter, her love of life. I was enthralled by her ability to articulate her thoughts and feelings through intelligent dialogue. Nothing ‘rattled’ her. She handled my impulsiveness with grace and calming dignity.

OK, OK, OK. . . You’re right. I’ve got to admit . . . .I was really attracted to her stunning beauty. But you’ve got to believe me; all the other descriptions in the paragraph above were true.

Remember ‘the list’ I described back in post #3? That list of ‘gotta-haves’ that my future wife HAD to ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY have? Well . . . I had several ‘must-haves’ on that list that ‘Louise’ DOES NOT have. BUT I learned that list of ‘gotta-haves’ of mine was misguided. That list was driven by worldly values, not godly values. Foolish me . . . !

HOWEVER . . . ‘Louise’ has several ‘amazing-haves’ that I never even thought to include on that list. What’s truly amazing, ‘Louise’ has so many outstanding attributes, I’m convinced God knew my needs better than I did!

Hmmm, after all – He IS God, isn’t He??!!

What’s really stunning is that ‘Louise’ has read this blog – the same one you’re reading now . . . all 38 posts . . . and she STILL LOVES me! Go figure! She knows everything about me; every quirk, every flaw, every weakness – and she loves me anyway! Who says miracles don’t happen?

So if you don’t mind, on this Valentine’s Day of 2014, please allow me to personally address ‘Louise’ . . .

Louise, I don’t deserve you. But you complete me. You are strong when I am weak. You are coherent when I am irrational. We balance each other! You have brought laughter, joy, and love back into my vocabulary. Simply put, I need you, ‘Louise’. ALWAYS!

Although I will always love my ‘Ruby’, and you will always love your ‘James’, I am convinced that our Lord has brought us together, and has kindled the amazing new and powerful love that we have for each other. You are everything I need, and more than I ever hoped for. I love you, ‘Louise’. ALWAYS!

“Doubt thou the stars are fire,
Doubt thou the sun doth move,
Doubt truth to be a liar,
But never doubt I love.”
William Shakespeare

I’ve Been Dumped! (Post #36)

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“I’ve been dumped!” (Post #36) Lessons Learned by a Dating Widower

[A sincere ‘thank you’ to ‘George’, ‘Marie’, and ‘Elmer’ who contributed invaluable insights for this post.]

Like a piece of garbage… I’VE BEEN DUMPED!  How else can I say it?  For those who don’t understand the clichés of the English language, let me put it this way.   A girl said ‘goodbye’ to me.  She doesn’t want to see me.  She said it’s over.  So, ‘I’ve been dumped.’

So, what’s a widower to do?

After enduring this latest dumping, and after talking to a couple of friends who are in the ‘same boat’, let me share some insights.   These suggestions are not extrapolated from any scientific study I’ve conducted.  It’s just logical lessons learned by this dating widower.

1)  Some temperaments aren’t meant to coexist.

          I’m sure you’ve played with magnets as a kid, and felt the repelling force when two north-poles or two south-poles get close to each other.  Just as similar poles repel, similar temperaments will too.  Sometimes YOU will initiate the push when you realize the reality of the similarities, and sometimes it’ll be HER.  It’s inevitable.  Get over it!

2)   I’m convinced that all people that are brought into our life for a God-given reason. (see poem ‘A Reason, A Season, or Lifetime’ at end of this post).

Evidently the woman that tells you ‘goodbye’ wasn’t there for a lifetime.  Let’s face it.  Not all women that you date will be your wife (hopefully).  I know that happens with some men & women.  The first one, and the only one that they’ve dated, ends up being their spouse.  But the odds for that happening are about as common as me buying the first car I see on a car lot.

With that in mind, when she gives you the ‘pink slip’, LEARN from the experience.  Don’t consider it a failure.  Don’t place unrealistic expectations on a relationship that was just meant for a ‘reason’ or a ‘season’.  Consider the relationship a stepping stone; a launching pad; a molding experience that the Lord used to shape you into the man he wants you to be.

3)  When it happens, YOU WILL BLAME YOURSELF.  YOU WILL SECOND GUESS YOUR ACTIONS AND WORDS, AND ACCUSE YOURSELF FOR SCREWING UP.  AND YOU’LL ASK YOURSELF “WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?”

But I look at it this way.  If your relationship with God is what it should be; if you’re walking close to the Lord, YOU WANT THIS TYPE OF PRUNING TO HAPPEN!  If the relationship would never result in good ‘fruit’, you want that branch pruned – and God just did.  Your female friend may want to take the credit for dumping you – but if/when it happens to me, I know that my Lord was behind it.  He knows the future, and he holds the lopper in my life.

If you want God to be in control, and truly want His will, DON’T FORCE THAT DOOR OPEN!  THERE’S NOTHING YOU COULD or SHOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY TO HAVE KEPT THE RELATIONSHIP TOGETHER.  (Re-read that sentence.  Memorize that sentence!  Believe that sentence!)

4)  Realizing all of the above, react creatively or constructively, not with self-destruction. 

When it happened to my dear friend, ‘Elmer’, he responded with what he called “Gluttony Therapy”.   He went to Dairy Queen, and made a meal out of two Blizzards and an ice cream cone!!!

Now a creative response would have been for him to go to Dairy Queen, and create a “Suicide Sundae” – a mixture of ALL of their sundae flavors thrown together in a bowl the size of a bathtub.   (OK, OK . . . not a good idea.)

For me, a healthy ‘constructive’ reaction would be to do something physically exhausting, exorcising those negative emotions you are feeling.  I’d also follow that up by building something in my wood shop; or maybe purging my emotions by playing my piano for an hour.  For you, it might be taking a walk with your camera, and creatively capturing God’s creation as He is talking to you.  Or it might be grabbing your paint brush and expressing yourself with that medium.

5)   Get back on the lift!

I remember wearing snow skis for the first time in my life.  I must have fallen 25 times skiing down that first hill.  When I reached the bottom, I had two choices.  Burn the skis in the lodge fireplace and go home, or get back on the lift and try again.

Remember, a woman saying ‘goodbye’ to you is INEVITABLE.  When it happens, GET BACK ON THAT LIFT.  Don’t withdraw into that cocoon.  You’ll never receive God’s blessings for you inside that isolating and protective ‘egg shell’.

6)  Remember that the woman who said ‘Goodbye’ to you IS HERSELF STRUGGLING.

A) She may have said that ‘Goodbye’ because she, HERSELF, is afraid of commitment; afraid of being hurt again (coming off of another relationship where she was hurt by a suitor); or she may be actually falling for you, and is afraid of losing her identity (her friends, family, or her vocation); or she could be afraid of sharing her finances with you.

B) She may be afraid of being totally truthful with you (not wanting to reveal the skeletons in her closet and exposing past mistakes to you)

C) She may realize that she can’t manipulate you as planned; she can’t get what she wanted; she can’t be in control (maybe, she can’t get to your money!); and if she can’t get what she wants, she’s going to ‘abandon ship’.

D) She may be struggling with feelings of insecurity, feeling like she will NEVER measure up to your former spouse; or feeling like she will never measure up to YOUR expectations for HER in a relationship or marriage.

7)  Another grieving journey??? 

Age differences, past relationships, and differences in faith walks; all are factors that will cause you and your lady friend to be on different emotional levels.   Depending on those factors, her ‘Goodbye’ could feel like a ‘sucker punch’ in your stomach.  You’ll feel betrayed and depressed.  You’ll be consumed with asking “Why?”

And depending on the length of your relationship and the level of ‘involvement’ with her, you will actually begin another journey of grieving.

8) Our ‘Plan A’, who just said good bye, many times is God’s ‘Plan Z’. 

God has someone exceeding your wildest dreams who will meet needs in your life that you don’t even know about!  So, don’t be kicking yourself when you’re dumped by a ‘Plan Z’.  With God in control, you have nothing to fear or fret.

So, what does it take for a widower to appropriately handle a ‘Goodbye’? 

Well, it’ll take a certain level of emotional stability.  It’ll take a man who knows how to handle rejection; who knows he is worthy and worthwhile in spite of just being rejected.  It’ll take a man who is willing to learn from the experience, and become wiser in the next relationship; better at recognizing ‘red flags’, and better at decision making in the next relationship.

But more than any of the above qualities, I’ve personally learned that it takes a man who has a close relationship with his creator.  A man who is grounded in the scriptures.  A man who is willing to drop to his knees in prayer.  A man who is willing to admit his mistakes, and willing to forgive when he is wronged.  And last but certainly not least, it takes a man who has a support group of fellow believers to hold him up in prayer.

 

Reason, Season, or Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

— Unknown

 

Heart of Gold (Post #35)

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“Heart of Gold” (Post #35) Lessons Learned by a Dating Widower

 

I’ll never forget panning for gold in Alaska.  What a job.  The process basically consisted of placing muddy muck into a pan and swishing it in a left to right motion under water to cause the gold, which is heavy, to work its way down toward the bottom of your pan. At the same time, the lighter materials are washed away. The process of shaking and swishing is repeated until only the heaviest of materials are left-namely the gold and heaviest black sand.

Most of the time, I swished too hard, and lost all the contents of my pan.  If you are persistent and patient, with a little bit of luck you might find a tiny nugget.  After about 30 minutes of this activity, our whole family put together our findings which amounted to a whopping $30 worth of gold (tiny nuggets the weight & size of my little finger nail).

Many of you who are reading this blog are ‘panning for gold’ using on-line dating services.   I’m not condoning their use, and I certainly am not endorsing any one specific site.

But with any of them, I believe that God and His Will CAN still be the driving force of matchmaking.  But, are there actions you can take to ensure that He IS the driving force?

When I’ve used these sites, there have been times I’ve felt like I was trying to usurp God’s control.  And there certainly were those times when I did, only to my demise.

For example, after being attracted by the gorgeous face and slender figure of the woman pictured, I’d send a message to her.  Many times I did this WITHOUT first scrutinizing their values or faith, or other important criteria (like where they lived).  I’m embarrassed to say that at one time, I had NO limits as to where they lived!  And I ended up ‘falling’ for a woman 3000 miles from my home.  And as a result, I ended up falling flat on my face!

Desperate?   Naah.   Lonely?   Definitely!

SO . . . how do you ensure that God’s Will is ‘swishing your pan’ while you search for a potential match?

First of all, PRAY!

Pray for His will to be the driving force.  Before you enroll in any site, PRAY; before you type any information describing yourself, PRAY; before you correspond with anyone you find attractive, PRAY!  Before you even log on to check potential matches, PRAY!  And pray out loud!  Satan hates that.

I’m embarrassed to admit that there were ‘more times than not’ that I used ‘ABC’ dating service without first praying.  When I do that – mistakenly I AM IN CONTROL.

Secondly, learn to let go. 

How do you ‘let go’?  You say ‘good bye’.  You ‘pull the plug’ on the relationship.  WHEN do you do that . . . before it’s too late!   You do that when you KNOW it’s wrong to pursue her.  When the red flags outnumber Godly qualities.  When you know you’re in the relationship merely for self gratification.  When you know you’re dating her just to look good (like driving a cool sports car).  When you know she doesn’t have the same values as yours.  When you realize your values would be compromised if your relationship continues.

As my friend ‘George’ reminded me, every contact I may have with a woman is a test.  Many of them are thrown at us like a satanic knuckle ball, just to see us fail.  Satan takes great joy in that.  Others I believe God allows in our life to GROW our faith and reliance on Him.  As a test of our obedience to Him.

But as a Christian, I’m convinced that ALL of them have the POTENTIAL for our good, if we let Him have the control.

Oh, by the way . . . don’t stop praying!

Thirdly, do a reality check.

If you can’t say no to another helping of potato chips… if you can’t turn off a raunchy movie … if you can’t discipline yourself with an exercise program …  if you can’t regularly have daily devotions, you might want to ask for special help.  KNOW YOUR WEAKNESSES!  KNOW WHAT TEMPTATIONS BREAK YOUR WILL!  KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS!  KNOW THYSELF!!  Then with that important information, make better decisions when using the online ‘ABC’ dating service.

So you made a mistake when choosing to date that last girl.  Analyze why you mistakenly chose them, then learn from that mistake.  Do you think satan DOESN’T know what catches your eye?  Do you think he DOESN’T know your weaknesses?  Enough said.

Did I forget to mention  . . . keep praying!

Fourthly, take off your rose colored glasses!

Is the woman in the ‘ABC’ dating pictures showing cleavage??  Enough to get your attention . . . you know what I’m talking about, men.  Ask yourself  “What’s up with that?”   Is the woman in the pictures laying on a bed??  “What’s up with that?”  Is the woman wearing more makeup than a corpse in a coffin??  Or is the woman showcasing her sexy legs??  “Come on, man!  What’s up with that?”

Or, does she mention NOTHING about her faith in her profile?  Does she admit NO love for your Lord?  Does she blatantly ignore that important requirement?  OPEN YOUR EYES and RECOGNIZE the truth about her.  By their fruit you shall know them.  Pick a bad apple, you’ll get indigestion.

Just in case I may have overlooked telling you . . . pray!

I want to live, I want to give.  I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold.

It’s these expressions I never give that keep me searching for a heart of gold.

And I’m getting old.  Keeps me searching for a heart of gold.

And I’m getting old.    (partial lyrics to ‘Heart of Gold’ by  Neil Young )

Not Thy Will, But Mine Be Done (Post #32)

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“Not Thy Will, But Mine Be Done” (Post #32) Lessons Learned by a Dating Widower

 

I don’t know whose DNA I inherited when it comes to personality; my mother’s or my father’s.  For the most part, I think I’m pretty easy to get along with.  I think I’m congenial, pleasant, cooperative, sociable, affable, undemanding, and easy to please.

OK . . . now to be truthful.

More recently, I’m finding that my personality is transforming.  Depending on the situation or depending on the temperament of the person with whom I am interacting, I can be downright arrogant.  I can be ‘type A’, demanding and argumentative.  Please realize that I’m only admitting this to you, a faithful & private reader of my blog. I’d never admit it to a woman that I’m dating.  I’d only show her my congenial side.

To be frank, I have a hard time being submissive.

Where did that originate?  I don’t really remember being that way when married to ‘Ruby’.  I lived to love her.  I lived to please her.  I loved putting her first.  I lived unselfishly.  I loved making her happy.  I considered her feelings and wishes before my own.  And she reciprocated.  After all, isn’t that the basis for a great marriage?

But there’s no ‘Ruby’ now.

And I’m starting to frighten myself.  The longer that I am a single male, the worse I’m getting.  The higher my age-number climbs, the more stubborn I’m becoming.   Is there a ‘point of no return’ when it comes to being a single male (or female)?  If I choose to remain single for an extended period of time, will I become reclusive?  Unsociable?  Content in my cocoon?  I know that healthy grieving takes time . . . but is there a threshold I can exceed where I become UNCOMFORTABLE or UNWILLING to consider dating or remarriage.

The longer that I’m single, the more unwavering I am becoming on certain qualities in a future mate:

a) spiritually healthy

b) attractive

c) in good physical shape

d) articulate

e) intelligent

f) emotionally healthy

g) healthy love of family

h) great sense of humor

Is that too much to ask?  I’ve had that list about a year after ‘Ruby’ died.  But, you know, the longer that I’m single, that ‘must have’ list seems to be growing.  For example; I also have these ‘unwritten’ qualities (until now) that I WANT in my mate:

i) spiritually compatible (our theology should match)

j) I’ve gotta feel a ‘spark’ when I’m with her

k) financially independent

l) musically compatible (sharing similar passions & dispassions)

m) she’s gotta tolerate, and maybe even support my love of sports, nature, music, traveling, and entertainment.

n) politically compatible

o) she’s gotta LOVE being active – no ‘couch potato’ or ‘stay-at-home-hermit’

I’m worrying myself now.  By next month, I may have added 5 more to that list.  And at that rate, by next year, I will have run out of alphabet!  And opportunities!  And patience.  And time.

ON THE VERY FIRST DATE THAT I HAD AFTER ‘RUBY’ DIED (see post #2), my date ‘Alice’ proclaimed, “…most of the single men I know are just happy to remain single.”  WHOA NELLY!  WAS THAT PROPHETIC OR WHAT?!  And now I wonder . . . I don’t know if there is a correlation of that seemingly prophetic statement with the age of men, or their widowed condition, or of the length of their singleness.

But I do know this.  There IS a correlation between God working in my life, and His perfect will for this imperfect male.  That’s all I really need.   Come to think of it, that’s all I really want.

PLEASE NOTE: The title of this post has been intentionally misquoted.  Click here to see the original quotation of Matthew 26:39.

Tightwad Wonder Women (Post #30)

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“Tightwad Wonder Women”   (Post #30) Lessons Learned by a Dating Widower

 

Early in our married life, ‘Ruby’ and I struggled to ‘make ends meet’, especially when we started raising our family.  Hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, Ramen noodles or shepherd’s pie were common entrees for dinner.  In fact, because our income was so low by our government’s standards, our children qualified for the subsidized school lunch program.  Let me put it this way, none of us were overweight.  And neither was our budget.

‘Ruby’ was the master budget keeper.  I’d bring home a meager pay check and she’d lose sleep wondering how we would pay all the bills.  But pay them she did. She could make a nickel take a 10-cent walk.  We were blessed.  Love was our ‘poor man’s food’, and we were blessed with beautiful loving children.  Life was good.

Oh, sorry.  Almost got sidetracked.  Need to get to a lesson learned by a dating widower.

Once my budget keeper died, I inherited the job.  No longer did I have to consult with my ‘Ruby’ to determine if “we” could afford a major purchase.  That was a problem!  All of a sudden, words like ‘frugal’, ‘tight’, ‘thrifty’, and ‘stewardship’ were absent in my vocabulary.

LESSON LEARNED: With my wife no longer in my life, I was more prone to impulsive spending.  Not healthy!   Not a wise steward of our my finances!  I learned that when I didn’t have my spouse to help make sound financial decisions, it could take a mere 30 days to spend a ‘nest egg’ which took 30 years to save.

Of course, it didn’t help that I was dating a woman that I was trying to impress.

LESSON LEARNED:  There are two kinds of women that you can choose to date; those who you feel compelled to spend money to have a good time, and those who you have a GREAT time without spending a cent.  Guess which kind my ‘Ruby’ was when we were dating back in 1970.  We had a FANTASTIC time just playing shuffleboard, Scrabble, or going on a walk.  For ‘Ruby’, no money spent meant closeness, communication, bonding, and mushrooming love.

Fast forward to my widowed life.  Again, these two types of women are still ‘out there’.  And, again, I’ve dated both types as a 62 year old widower.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I ended up being infatuated with a woman who I tried to impress with my ‘peasant-pocketbook’.  What a mistake.  To her credit, she respected my limitations, and didn’t take FULL advantage of me by draining my checkbook.  But she could have.  And I would have been BLIND to my error.

LESSON LEARNED:  If you have to spend money to impress a woman you’re dating, it’s the wrong kind of woman.

I’m not saying that you should NEVER spend money while dating.  But think about those dates.  Dates that cost me ‘big bucks’ USUALLY don’t produce lots of opportunities for my date and I to grow our relationship.  We have little time for talking, sharing our hearts, or getting to know each other.  They’re spent on an ‘experience’; on entertainment that is a distraction from reality.

Dates that cost little or no money, however, USUALLY provide tons of time where you get to know each other, checking ‘under the hood’ of each other, which ultimately grows your relationship.  OK, OK!  I admit, if you’re of the male gender like me, those kinds of dates ARE threatening.  They’re downright scary!  But if you want to really know if the lady you’re with is right for you, don’t plan an evening of entertainment.  You won’t know anything more about your lady by the end of the evening, and she won’t know anything more about you.

Yeah.  Ya gotta be creative.  Put a puzzle together.  Play a game of tennis.  Go fishing or play a round of golf together.  Or just go for a walk.  Read Our Daily Bread together. Have a ‘What-if’ evening, where you take turns asking each other questions that start with ‘What-if’.  Here’s a radical idea . . . go window shopping together!  (Allow me to go on the record, unless it’s a ‘man-toy store’, I LOATHE shopping.  But you’ll learn more about each other than most other dates.)   Bottom line . . . DO something together. (And that doesn’t taking a trip inside each other’s pants!)

Save your ‘big-money’ for after you say “I do.”   If she’s the right woman for you, she’ll help ‘protect’ your money, not spend it.

Pernicious Porn (Post #29)

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“Pernicious Porn”   (Post #29) Lessons Learned by a Dating Widower

It’s time for me to ‘come out of the closet’.  I need to painfully share a struggle that I have as a widower.  I’m embarrassed to share it – but I believe that it’s important that I am truthful with you, my fellow widowers, because if you are truthful with me, you probably are dealing with it too.  Either way, this particular post is going to be difficult for me to write.  I can only do it because I’m here in the privacy of my own house, and you, well you are widowers in countries like Russia, Australia, or widowers from any other of the 45+ countries around the world that are reading this blog.

My struggle is with pornography.

I really don’t know why porn remains a temptation – but it does.

When my wife ‘Ruby’ was alive, I don’t remember having many issues with it.  I know and you know that this temptation is ALWAYS there for ANY living/breathing male.  No matter their age.  No matter if they are married or unmarried.  No matter if they’re in a happy marriage or in a horrible marriage.  No matter if they are married or a widower.  No matter what!  I just know now that I’m a widower, my vulnerability has me drawn to this temptation more than ever before.

The world is polluted with pornography.

I recently typed a harmless word into my computer browser – and I was appalled with some of the images and sites that were linked with the search.  OK, the images were nothing more than ‘soft porn’ . . . which was harmless to look at, RIGHT?  After all, that image of that great looking girl with the amazing cleavage is just a harmless image.  And it’s not a sin for me to look at it, RIGHT?

Being a living breathing male, I have a natural attraction to great looking women.  Seeing a woman’s continental-divide-cleavage, or her sleek sexy legs is naturally eye catching for me.  Especially now that I’m a widower.  When seeing the real thing in public . . . I turn my head and look away after noticing her (OK, well, at least I try to).  But when in the privacy of my house, when that soft porn appears on my computer, or on TV, or in a magazine, the temptation is there for me to ‘gawk’ at the image; or like a dinner – it tempts me to “go back for seconds”.  And if I do that, then it turns into ‘lust’.  And I know what the Bible says about lust.  It just ain’t right.

The best model for porn control was probably my own father.   Dad and I enjoyed watching baseball together on our small black/white TV console.  And one of the faithful sponsors of the game would invariably be Muriel cigars.  Edie Adams, dressed in sexy attire and impersonating Mae West would be the spokesperson in the commercial.  When that commercial played in between innings back in the mid1960’s, with ‘remote controls’ not yet invented, in a fit of disgust, dad would drag himself off of the sofa, hustle across the floor to the TV, and turn the picture black (yeah, you could do that with a round knob on the front of the TV), and then turn the sound off.  We’d both watch the clock, and after 60 seconds, he’d turn everything back to their normal settings.

A good friend, ‘Billy’, who is a happily married man approached me just a couple of weeks ago, and confided with me about his recent difficulty with pornography.  And he shared how he is working to fight the problem.  Step 1) after he admitted to himself that he was having a problem, he prayed for help.  Step 2) he then took it to his accountability group of Christian friends and got their support.  Step 3) he took positive action to remove its availability (removing certain apps from his mobile device).  Step 4) [claiming this was the hardest step] he reluctantly but remorsefully shared it with his wife.  That led to step 5) counseling with his pastor, and step 6) joining a new accountability group of men all battling the same porn problem.

None of those steps were EASY.  They were ALL DIFFICULT.  But difficult problems call for difficult actions.  And the Biblical book of James instructs us to actually “confess your sins to each other…so that you may be healed.”   ‘Billy’ schooled me by explaining the net result of following that verse; the ‘sin of darkness’ loses its power as it is bought out into the light.

I’m not an expert on the topic.  I don’t know the difference between ‘soft porn’ and ‘hard porn’ – but I have an idea that ‘soft porn’ is images of women wearing little or revealing clothing.  And ‘hard porn’ is images of women wearing no clothing, or involved in some sort of sex act.  And from personal experience, I can ashamedly admit, ‘soft porn’ CAN and WILL lead to ‘hard porn’.  And I can imagine that use of either ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ porn CAN and WILL lead to an addiction.

It will be a topic for another post, but due to emotional trauma, I would imagine that widowers (and divorcees) are particularly susceptible to addictions in multiple forms (alcohol/drugs, sex, eating, etc.).  Porn has ‘brought down’ many a man, no matter their occupation, socio-economic status, marriage status, position in life, or their reputation.

Battling porn takes an incredible amount of self discipline, and help from the Holy Spirit.  And sometimes . . . it takes forgiveness.

NOTE: THE GRAPHIC AT THE TOP OF THIS POST IS A LINK THAT WILL TAKE YOU TO THE WEBSITE OF ‘TREASURES’, “…A UNIQUE AND FAITH-BASED OUTREACH AND SUPPORT GROUP FOR WOMEN IN THE SEX INDUSTRY, INCLUDING VICTIMS OF COMMERCIALIZED SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND TRAFFICKING.”

Monopoly (Post #28)

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“Monopoly”   (Post #28) Lessons Learned by a Dating Widower

I loved playing board games as I grew up with my parents & siblings.  We played Parcheesi, Gusher, Risk, Sorry, Scrabble, and the infamous Monopoly.  Monopoly was a game that originated in the USA and first published by Parker Brothers in 1935.

Subtitled “The Fast-Dealing Property Trading Game”, the game is named after the economic concept of monopoly — the domination of a market by a single entity. It is currently published by the United States game and toy company Hasbro. Players move around the game board buying or trading properties, developing their properties with houses and hotels, and collecting rent from their opponents, the ultimate goal being to drive them into bankruptcy.  Wikipedia

I still enjoy playing Monopoly as an adult, but unfortunately, other versions of the game have found their way in the dating games that people play.  Allow me to explain.

As a dating teenager, I remember ‘dating around’.  For example, if I went on a first date with a girl on the first weekend in May, we were NOT necessarily expected to go out again the following weekend.  I may choose to date a completely different girl the next weekend.  You get the picture.  And that was true for girls as well.  It was no big deal.  At that time of our lives, we dated for fun, for companionship, for friendship, or just to have a good time.

Now if I stopped dating other girls, and if I happened to exclusively date the same girl for a period of time, we MAY start going ‘steady’ as we called it.  That meant that we were choosing to JUST date each other.  No rings were necessarily exchanged (I was too poor to buy one anyway).  It was just a mutual understanding that we were choosing to go ‘steady’.  Hypothetically, on date #7, I may have actually asked the girl “hey, do you want to go steady?”, and she would respond affirmatively or either think I was just kidding (it usually was hard for girls to tell when I was just joking or if I was serious).

Well, that was back when I was 17.  I don’t know what happened, but the ‘rules’ drastically changed between those teen years and now when I’m in my 60’s.

For example, at age 61, ‘Polly’, and I enjoyed a few dates together.   I invited her to attend a show with me (tickets were about $75 a piece), to which she readily accepted . . . until she found out that I was ‘communicating’ with other women.   At the time, I was a member of an on-line dating site (where I had met ‘Polly’), and I happened to be swapping emails with a couple of other girls I contacted through that dating site.

Hey, I wasn’t even DATING any of these girls.  I was merely emailing them every whip-stitch.  Well, when ‘Polly’ was enlightened to that fact (…and I was just being honest with her), she politely informed me “well, if you’re still communicating with other girls, then I don’t think I can go along with you to the show.”

What’s up with that?  I wasn’t ready to figuratively stick a ring on my finger!  I was just keeping my options open.  Is that so wrong?  It evidently WAS in ‘Polly’s’ mind.  She wanted to be the “one and only”; the Monopoly in my life.  I really liked ‘Polly’, and saw the potential TO BE serious with her.  But, believe it or not, I wasn’t ready! (I know you really can’t believe that!)  The net result?   We stopped dating, and I took ‘Plan B’ to the show.

Lesson that I learned: people my age (both genders) have a propensity to be prematurely serious in a relationship.  And widowers are probably the most notorious at ‘pulling the trigger’.   We’re sometimes so quick to commit that we’ll stay with someone that we really don’t love – convincing ourselves that we DO love them, or WILL love them eventually – because we’re so desperate for love and companionship.

The mindset of a 60-year-old IS DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT than that of a 17-year-old.