I got remarried a little more than six years after my first husband died. Getting to the point where I was ready to get married again took a while. When my (now) husband and I were out to dinner one night, he asked me if I wanted to get married again (he wasn’t proposing, he was just asking a general question) and I told him no.
He looked shocked. He asked me why. I told him I didn’t think marriage was really in the cards for me. My first husband had committed suicide and I had a failed engagement under my belt since then. I just didn’t think that marriage was something that I was meant for.
Looking back, I always wanted to get remarried, but with all the negative experiences surrounding marriage in my own life, I was scared. I didn’t want to be hurt again. I couldn’t handle anymore heartbreak at the time.
Not long after that, he texted me while he was on one of his business trips. He wrote, “I know you think you don’t want marriage, but I’m going to change your mind.” I replied, “Go ahead.”
And change my mind he did.
So, now I’m married again and I’m blissfully happy.
But I’ve also noticed that the very idea of getting remarried is a tough topic for widows. There are so many opinions out there about how widows are supposed to act, think, feel, and desire that just considering whether one should date can feel overwhelming.
If you don’t get remarried then you’re too scared.
If you do get remarried, maybe you didn’t love your first husband enough.
You should / should not keep wearing your wedding ring.
You should / should not go through your late husband’s belongings and give them away / keep them.
Then there are all the questions of when… when is dating again considered “too soon”? What is an acceptable period of mourning? When should I change my Facebook status from “widowed” to “single” and is it appropriate to do that?
Here’s the thing: no can decide any of these things but you.
If you’re a widow and trying to decide if you should date again, it’s 1000% up to you. People are going to have opinions no matter what you do. But here's great news: you don't have to listen to them if they don't resonate with you.
I have been fortunate to have an incredibly supportive network through everything I’ve endured, but even the people in this circle ask me questions that make me uncomfortable because at my core, I want to “do things right.”
I am not someone who lives with regrets. I believe that every decision I’ve made has brought me to where I am today and I am so grateful for where I am that I value my experiences and decisions rather than regret them. But statements and opinions from others can make me question my choices when I am in the thick of deciding what to do. This is, admittedly, a great source of anxiety for me.
Don’t get me wrong - I know full well that these people in my life have the greatest of intentions. And they’re entitled to their opinion just as I am entitled to the option of not taking their opinions to heart.
If you want to start dating again, do it. If you want to never get remarried or be in another relationship, do that. If you want to have a relationship with someone and never get married, go for it. It’s up to you. No one truly understands widowhood unless they’ve bee through it. That’s a fact. The only one who knows what you need is you.
I am amazed (and appalled at times) at the way women criticize each other in the areas of femininity, motherhood and marriage. I firmly believe that if we all took a step back to learn the stories of other women, to hear their truths and try to really understand where they are coming from, we would be able to get so much more done in life because we wouldn’t be wasting energy criticizing each other or defending our own choices.
I dated again because I wanted to. I got remarried because I fell deeply in love with a man who is my protector and my rock and he loves my children like his own. I decided to give things a chance and I kept myself open to possibilities along the way.
I also gave myself permission to change my mind. Yes, for a period I didn’t want to get married again out of fear. But then I changed my mind when I realized that this man who had come into my life was for real and that I could trust him and see a real future together.
I am uncomfortable giving “advice” to widows, even when they ask. What I do share is my own experience, the lessons I’ve learned along the way and helpful practices that have allowed me to keep my own sanity in tact. I do brainstorm and share ideas with them when they ask with questions like, “Have you thought about…” and “What if…”
I do not tell other widows what to do. That’s not my place. As a coach, I aim to let the widows I work with find the answer for themselves by asking pointed questions and giving them the space to breathe and think about what they actually want in life.
In short, the decision (thankfully) is yours. You know, deep down, what you should do in every situation. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of sitting quietly until you can hear it whispering to you. The world is a noisy place and it can be hard to hear that inner wisdom that is always there, waiting, ready to help you in every situation. But it is there. And you can access it anytime.
Being a widow is hard; hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with. But tapping into that inner wisdom was a game-changer for me. It freed me up to be myself. To stand on my own two feet. To make progress, no matter how small. And it’s here for you too.
So you be you. Do what you need to do. Take care of you and be safe. That’s what matters most.
In light of this revelation I had for myself, I wrote my own Widow’s Manifesto. You can access it (no email required) and write your own. Share it with me on Facebook or Instagram and tag it with #widowmanifesto. Write your truth. It’s there, just waiting to be revealed.