My last post about THE list was not a personal vendetta. I have been very fortunate to have all of the families involved accept and embrace me and accept and embrace Ryan as well. Yes, we’ve had to deal with some of the things mentioned in that post but not to the extremes that many other couples have had to endure them. My husband has been wonderful at making me feel like the only wife in his life at this point in time, and he has gone above and beyond to correct anything that makes me feel anything less than number one in his life. It is a learning experience for both of us. Neither one of us was handed a manual at the funeral on how to move on in life nor was either one of us given a how to book for moving forward in a new marriage. But, through lots of trial and error, we are finding our way, and we are finally clicking together very comfortably in this new relationship. I have been fortunate to be able to connect with many women in similar situations – those married to former widowers. And, more often than not, these women experience deep hurts and pain in their marriages due to disrespectful actions and feelings that their husbands display over another woman – a deceased woman. Everyone should have a chance to have a healthy, Godly, productive, enriching, respectful experience in marriage and when one of the spouses brings another person into the marriage, even a deceased person, the person left standing often feels like a mistress. This is not a healthy feeling nor is it a Godly feeling to have in a marriage.
I have a heart for marriage. Everyone has something that they are passionate about and marriages are at the top of that list for me. This is in part, I believe, to the early loss of my previous marriage. I have taken ownership of certain aspects of that marriage that I would do differently if given the opportunity, and I feel like I have been given an opportunity to right my wrongs in this new marriage. I really root for everyone to have a Godly, faith filled, hot, passionate marriage where all the scabs and icks have been peeled away and the two spouses love each other as close as possible to Christ’s example of loving the church, full of undeserved grace and mercy. I believe healthy, loving marriages are the foundation to a well functioning society, and I work very hard at my marriage and making sure I am the best wife I can be for my husband. I own about every marriage book out there, and if someone is struggling in their relationship it affects me deeply. It is something that moves me to action whether it be my own marriage, friend’s marriages, or a perfect stranger’s marriage, and this is where a community of women married to former widowers comes into play. I’ve read many horror stories from women who have married former widowers and the problem with many of these stories is that you end up feeling like they aren’t former widowers at all – they are in fact living with men who still act like widowers! Many of the daily things that these women have to deal with because they married a widower are literally cringe worthy. There was, for example, the woman who got all dressed up for a beautiful night on the town with her boyfriend. He took her to a romantic, elegant restaurant, wined and dined her, all in celebration of his marriage anniversary to his LATE WIFE. Or, there’s the wife who has to comfort her husband on every birthday, anniversary, Christmas, Easter, every single holiday as he cries for days on end over his long lost love, and she feels invisible in her own marriage. The woman who never heard from her husband that she was beautiful because that’s what he told his late wife, or the countless women who have had to sleep in a bed that was shared with another wife for years, or the women waking up, married to their husbands and seeing pictures of another woman plastered all over their bedroom walls and last but not least, the woman who was given the late wife’s wedding ring as her engagement ring – now there’s a classy move. I could go on and on and on. It is really sad that there is not some sort of therapy or class out there to teach these men what is appropriate behavior for someone who is ready to move on and not only date but so often marry these women. I hurt for these women and for their relationships. We don’t speak ill of the dead in our society and for some insane reason it’s acceptable for a man to commit to a woman with a till death do us part sort of ceremony with a promise to love, honor, and cherish only her and then insist that his late wife be accepted into the union as well. I am in a unique position, having been a widow myself, where I can say it and no one can or will say to me that I don’t understand. I would never, out of respect for my husband, think it was appropriate to bring any other man into our marriage, not even a deceased man who I was married to for ten years. It’s disrespectful and it shows a need for continued grieving for any man or woman who does this. I was not insinuating in the last post that the death of a loved one is a funny situation in any way; what I was in fact showcasing is the ridiculousness that many of us women who marry these men are expected to put up with. I presented it so that others can begin to see and hopefully empathize a bit with what we are expected to live with. We don’t talk about it in our society and for some reason by suggesting that a man (or a woman) move on and be respectful of the new love in their life seems to be taken as a suggestion that they aren’t remembering or being respectful of the deceased. I would argue that they aren’t remembering or being respectful of the living by dwelling on the past. My angle, as Ryan pointed out, is graceful grit. People appreciate the honesty that I give and you’re going to get it all the way around with me. Some of what I write about will be painful to read for some people. I hope that you can understand that it’s not personal, just as how it’s not personal when I have been subjected to situations that I’m sure were not intentionally meant to cause pain. I extend grace by understanding – it’s not personal, hopefully the same grace is extended to me as I write.