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Falling in Love With a Windower & Feeling Like Second Best


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I need some advice from widowers and widows. I hope it's alright that I posted this here. I wasn't sure who else to ask these questions. I want to ask people who have lost their loves and can relate.


I'm falling in love with a recent widower. He lost his wife at age 37 after a 3 year battle with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. They were very much in love and have two boys, ages 4 and 9. They were married for 9 years, together for 11. His wife passed away in April. We met at a work event 10 days after her death and became good friends.


I recently split from my husband who I had been with for 23 years. My ex was the only serious adult relationship I've had since I met him when I was 17. We have one 12 year old daughter together.


After a few months of being friends with my widower friend, our relationship grew into a romantic one. His late wife wanted him to fall in love and remarry. She even told his and her family that she wanted him to remarry within a year! That seems a bit too soon, but I admire her for loving him so much that she wanted him to find happiness again, and maybe even have more kids. She even wrote her kids letters to be given to them when he's ready to remarry. The letter says to accept his new wife as their mother.


We've been together for 5 months. We're falling in love. Our kids get along. He's told me many times that he loves me and even has said I'd make a good wife. I absolutely adore him!


I'm concerned about a few things though. First, he won't change anything in his house. His late wife's clothes are all in the closet and drawers. Her personal items are on the bathroom counter and in the shower. It bothers me because I sleep over and feel like I'm living in another woman's life. He doesn't want to change anything! There is a half full water bottle on the nightstand and he won't throw it away, even after I mentioned it and he said he would. He said he's not ready to get rid of her things. The other day he said he'll never change the stencil she painted on their living room wall. It's not my style.


My mother lost her husband when I was 10yo. I saw her grieve terribly for years, mostly because she became an alcoholic and didn't deal with her grief. Even 30+ years and 2 long term boyfriends later, she still says her only true love was her late husband. He wasn't perfect, but she remembers him as a saint and perfect man. I'm afraid that my new love is going to be the same way. That he'll never love me as much as his late wife.


I love him and I want to be with him, but I don't want to be second best, or a substitute. I deserve more than that. If I were to break things off to allow him more time to heal, I know he'd get on the dating sites and find someone else. He doesn't want to be alone. If he did that, I'm afraid I'd lose him forever to another woman.


We talk about his late wife often. He's cried more than once in front of me. He speaks fondly of her, she was a great cook, a great mother, so smart, very thin, and prettier than me, a runner, his family loved her... I feel like I'll never measure up, like I'll always be second best, even if we married.


From everything I know of his late wife, I like her. If she were alive, we’d probably be friends. He says she would have liked me too. Yet, I’m starting to secretly resent her a little and I feel guilty about that.


He has depression and did prior to her passing. I do too, so I understand. He takes medication but refuses to see a therapist. I have been in therapy for a year, since my split from my husband. While I've been grieving my loss, I'm much farther along in my life change and grieving because of therapy. I'm ready to move on with my life and I'm ready for a relationship. I'm not sure he is, even though he wants one.


What is a reasonable amount of time before he should be removing her belongings? I'm fine with her pictures being up around the house. If we were to marry, I'd consider her part of my family and put her photos up with our family photos.


I don't want to get my heart shattered and I don't want to settle for second best. What should I do?


Thanks for taking the time to read my long post.


P.S. His mother moved in with him and takes care of his kids. She loves doing it. I'm telling you this so you don't assume he's looking for someone to take care of his kids.


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I'm not an expert, but I don't believe he is quite ready to let his wife go and move forward in a healthy manner with someone else forever.


You should not feel "second best" in any relationship. If you aren't number one, there is a problem, and I think you've figure that out.


Perhaps you need to seriously take a step back and slow things down. Are you ready for a relationship? I mean, you just got divorced after 23 years of being with someone. Are you rushing into this because you are lonely?


If your biggest fear is that he is going to meet someone else because he's in a rush to be with someone, I wonder if you've realized he may not be "in love" with you but just wants a relationship?


I think you are smart to be thinking of all of this before you intertwine your lives for good.



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Unfortunately there are no time 'milestones' when it comes to grief. If he isn't ready to deal with all of her clothing and personal items, then he is certainly not ready for a relationship with you. Sorry to be blunt, but that should be made clear. 
You guys met 10 days after his wife died and then fell into a romantic relationship. With you being divorced and him a recent widower, I think that your romance could stand with a little time on both parts. The last thing either of you wants to do is fall into a relationship that's doomed from the start. 

I'm not saying that you guys do not love each other. What I am saying is that one or both of you may not have had to time to re-establish your individual identity before falling back in with someone. With each person that you spend a significant part of your life with, they become part of who you are. For example, my fiance and I were a team. No one ever spoke about one and failed to mention the other. We were so ingrained together that we were quite literally referred to as one person. 
Since my fiance's death I have been dealing with how to redefine myself and my life now that he is gone again. I have to re-establish who I am again, because I am not the same woman I was when I began dating my fiance. Hell, I'm not the same woman I was 2 and a half years into our relationship and I am not the same woman I was when he died. I'm not the same woman I was yesterday because grief is a never-ending process. I am being changed everyday by the way I deal with my loss, and it's changing me. 

Both of you suffered different losses you both need to take the time to figure out who these new people are. It seems like you are ready, but it seems that he is not yet done. 
Continue to encourage him to go to counseling. And, worst comes to worst, you guys may have to have a sit down talk to let each other know where you are at. 

Hopefully this gives you something to work with. 
I sincerely hope this works out for both of you. 

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