3
   

Going out with a widow - experiencing some difficulties

 
 
Big Col
 
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 05:21 am
I've been going out with my current girlfriend for almost year, in fact it's our first anniversary this comming weekend. She has two children who I adore and they get on very well with my own son from a previous relationship.

My girlfriend and her huband were together for over 20 years and she nursed him through his illness until he died at their home. We met and became friends 3 months after her husband had died from cancer, 5 months later something clicked between us and we started a relationship a year ago for the most part that has been wonderful. So relatively speaking this is very early doors for her after only being on her own for 8 months before starting a relationship with me.

I've experienced a lot of pain and loss in my life, I also had cancer 10 years ago and have been discharged now, I also lost my Uncle who I was very close to whilst I was having chemopherapy and having experienced a number of significant events in my life such as 2 best friends being killed in action, being in an abusive relationship and dealing with issues regarding my adoption. I've also gone through family courts and it's still an ongoing battle gaining better access to my son. So I am well used to dealing with life issues and have a better understanding than most.

I sometimes find things hard to deal with, I've no intention of ending the relationship, I can almost fully understand the feelings she must be having, about guilt, that she is always sad, but some days are worse than others, significant anniversarys have of course been difficult for her, such has her wedding anniversary, husband's birthday etc. Occaisions such as these I've bought her flowers and cards and been a shoulder for her to cry on and I have cried with her when she has wished to share her experiences, the only thing I have not done is been with her to visit his grave, I am not quite ready to do that yet.

She's recently struggled a bit more and was put on anti-depressants and I have actively encouraged her to go to councilling which she has.

As regards to the relationship I don't know what's happenning but I can fully understand why. One minute she is always talking about the future and what our future could which fills me with hope and then it all changes and nothing is mentioned again. There is also nothing to show that we are in a relationship together, her house has pictures of her and her husband, family photos etc, I have no problem with this, but I don't feel that there will be any space for me, a small photo of us together would make me feel more positive about the relationship. When I leave her house any small item of mine is hidden away or put away which makes me feel unneasy. At my house I have multiple pictures of us together as I am proud to be in a relationship with her. I often wonder if she is ready to begin experiencing a new relationship even though we have been away together as a family unit and have some more trips planned.

There is ongoing friction between her and her mother and at a recent family party her mother told my girlfriend that I was not fit enough to lick her husband's boots. This was said in earshot of me, fair enough her mother apologised but then went to hint that I was not a suitable role model and that her daughter was with me under false pretences. She could not of made it more obvious what she thought of me. I've obviously been pre-judged here, I'd like to say that I have done well in my life, I hold a responsible job with a major IT firm, have fought for my country, have also represented my country in sport so I feel that her comments are hurtful and unfair.

This added strain along with further court appearances is beginning to affect my mood and I'm unsure now how to handle all this or if I am doing a good enough job...

I would appreciate some kind words...

 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 06:19 am
@Big Col,
I think you might be surprised at how common a topic this is on this forum. Here's a link to several other threads on the topic. Your problem is not rare; there are many men and women out there facing what you are facing. I recommend you look through those other threads because there's some excellent advice out there. Good luck.
0 Replies
 
sullyfish6
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 06:45 am
So, if I have this right: You have 5 months, plus one year, of a relationship with a woman who lost her husband 8 months and one year ago.

Can I tell you that she is not done with her grieving? In fact, if anything, the relationship that you two have has distracted her from her grief work.

She has to go to those grief feelings and work them out before she can come back to you as a whole person, ready to be able to really give to you. sorry to be so blunt, but she is just not ready.

Has she gone to peer grief counseling? It really helps.

In the meantime, please give her lots of room and just be there as a friend.
(with benefits)

PS I lost my husband one year ago. I am in a relationship too, but am very realistic about it. I need to work thru my grief before I am ready to have any kind of real connection with another man. I am in no rush, he accepts that if he pushes me, I will disappear from his life. His friendship means a lot, but I have lots to do.
Big Col
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 07:03 am
@sullyfish6,
Not strictly correct here, we were friends, we began a relationship a year ago.

No need to apologise for being blunt, I am aware of the issues you raise. I understand where your coming from and after thinking about it I agree with you. I have been giving her more space, we are not seeing each other as much at all. I tend now just to stay over at alternate weekends and perhaps a night in the week.

She is going to bereavement counseling (my suggestion) as I believe she needs extra help, I do not know what peer grief counseling is, it sounds similar.

I suppose I am looking for a way to better deal with my own insecurities and issues really.
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 07:38 am
@Big Col,
I read your comments and I think you're doing very well, all things considered. Your suggestion for her to get counseling is well advised. The fact the she is GETTING counseling is a HUGELY positive sign. In time, she may develop and go past her ambivalence. However, the fact that she puts any keepsakes or pix of you away when you leave is pretty disconcerting.

My personal experience here might be of some interest to you. I had dated a widow who'd been getting bereavement counseling for one yr BEFORE I met her. However, her late hubby was a suicide. She was STILL in yet another group for marital-partner-suicide-survivors. Her adult children also had some serious issues and struggled mightily with her mom being in a 'serious relationship. In fact, when I was overnight with her, she allowed her adult son to call her at 2 am, as he lived on west-coast hours and had a job that kept him up late. He was never told that it wasn't an acceptable time to talk.

The bottom lines here was that picture issue was a symbol that was like a barometer of where her emotional state was at. I took that to heart.

This (and other issues) proved to be an impasse -- too big of an emotional issue for us to overcome. I had to stop seeing her. The good outcome was after we broke up she went on to lead a suicide-partner-survivors group and counsel for other widows. Sometimes there's nothing you can do to surmount such issues. It's up to that person.
0 Replies
 
Big Col
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 08:26 am
Thanks for the replies so far. Is there a particular point where I should consider ending it?

I know she is always going to have feelings of sadness associated with her loss, totally understand that and I don't have an issue with it at all. I am unsure though that I could continue with the relationship years down the line if it were to remain the same.

The picture issue is one example, it may be only a small thing but it makes me feel like I belong or that someone has a space for me in their life.
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 01:49 pm
@Big Col,
Big Col wrote:

Thanks for the replies so far. Is there a particular point where I should consider ending it?

Only you can decide what is right or what works. If you feel you're not where you want to be in this relationship, then you're the best judge of what to do and when.

Big Col wrote:

I know she is always going to have feelings of sadness associated with her loss, totally understand that and I don't have an issue with it at all. I am unsure though that I could continue with the relationship years down the line if it were to remain the same.

The picture issue is one example, it may be only a small thing but it makes me feel like I belong or that someone has a space for me in their life.


You should feel as though you and your relationship are included in her thoughts, whether or not you're there. That business of her mother and her words -- well, that sounds like real interference and down-right rudeness.

You shouldn't have to be made to feel on the outside looking in. You need to tell her how it makes you feel when you see that she sweeps the place clean when you leave. Wonder how she is balancing things when her mother comes to the house?
0 Replies
 
sullyfish6
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 01:50 pm
Please don't give up on her. She needs you; it's just that there is this huge elephant in the kitchen that needs to be dealt with.

Give her time and space. Make new memories with her i.e. trips, events, dates, etc.

You are her Here and Now man, she still has her foot in the past.

Can you be patient? Is she worth the wait?

Big Col
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 01:29 am
@sullyfish6,
I can be patient and I can wait, and she is definately worth it. I just struggle to cope with it sometimes when I have such a big issue with court to deal with myself.
0 Replies
 
sullyfish6
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 05:45 am
Good!
Then it's one day at a time.
Expect no more or no less.
0 Replies
 
Big Col
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 06:11 am
Well this weekend just gone has marked "our" first anniversary. Unfortunately we could not go out but I celebrated by buying her a massive bunch of flowers, cards, wine etc. I know she has been run down lately but the night did not go exactly how I thought it might, it just resulted me going to bed whilst she wanted to watch the TV.

I'm kind of beginning to wonder where I fit into her life. Some months back I raised some issues, one of which is that there is nothing visible to say that we are in a relationship to the outside world. There are many picture of her and her husband and children in her house which I really don't have a problem with, but there is not even a small one of us, I do not even have a drawer to put any underwear in when I stay over. There are no nice text messages anymore, no spontaneous affection, I'm beginning to wonder what I mean to her. I take her eldest child with me to Judo twice a week and also babysit for her so she can go running and look after them when she has races as I think it's important that she has hobbies to focus on. I'm beginning to get the feeling that it's rather convenient, I'm wondering if we should have a conversation over this.... I feel like we are an old married couple... I have dropped some hints that we need to have more fun together etc, right or wrong thing to do I do not know....
0 Replies
 
sullyfish6
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 08:42 pm
You need to sit down with her and tell her that you need to have some kind of direction in this relationship.

She is treating you like a brother or buddy. You want more.

Sometimes, taking care of a loved one can put people in a state of being suspended. It is difficult to "find" oneself after focusing on another person for so long. The concept of "having fun" has to be learned again. She may just be thawing out from that ordeal.

In any case, you need to know if you should hang around or be cut free so you can find another love.
Big Col
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 01:25 am
@sullyfish6,
Well we had quote a big discussion the other night, I mentioned something in passing about some bullying her eldest son had been getting at school, he was being teased about not having a Dad and the conversation turned to our relationship. I asked he she had been feeling and she seemed to think she was ok. I mentioned that things had been difficult the last few weeks and that I did not feel like I was her boyfriend, that I did not know where I stood with her and that I felt there was no space in her life for me. I talked about that we had been together for a year but there was no visible sign that we have a relationship to anyone. Whilst I'm totally fine with the pictures she has up with husband I said that it would be nice if there was just a small space for me. You see I do not have a drawer to any of my things in, simple gestures like that mean a lot to me. Her husbands clothes still occupy the warddrobes, his bathrobe remains in the bathroom and his baseball cap remains downstairs in the hallway by the stairs. I talked about where I had read about someone who was going out with a widow after similar length of time and that he still had her slippers by the bed, her cosmetics were still in the bathroom and I could see that this made her feel unneasy. I mentioned how the spontaneous aspect of the relationship had gone and said that we need to inject some fun into our relationship and also that to me I felt the relationship was almost of casual status. I come, take her son to Judo, 2 nights a week, babysit for her another night so she can go running and then I go, and after I am gone there is nothing visible to show that I am important to her. I also asked that if roles were reversed how she would like to be in a casual relationship in that situation, she said that she would not and that she would feel very hurt by it all. I also said that whilst I accept she comes with issues I have no once said that I have never said I did not want to hear her talk about them, but that said she demonstrated the other evening she gets impatient with me with my court proceedings over child access. She also asked me if I had been in a relationship before where I wanted more than what the other person was prepared to give, and said that I had when I had been in limbo and eventually made the hard decision to move on, whilst it was not what I wanted I made the choice to move forward.

So I really don't know what's going to happen here, things will either improve or they won't but I feel that sometime soon a hard decision is going to have to be made.
0 Replies
 
sullyfish6
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 05:13 am
You sound like you have a handle on what's going on - at least with yourself and how you feel.

You can hang on and be patient and hope she moves through this at some kind of faster pace or move on.

You can also be more playful and fun with her. Don't expect it to come from her. You may have to lead the way.

She also may be depressed or just working thru her grief. Sometimes the second year is when you can really "feel" - as the first year is just numbness.

At any rate, you need to take care of yourself and get your own needs met.

Also - She probably has no energy to be sympathetic about your - or anyone else's - difficulties in life. So she is indifferent to all you are going though in court. Find someone else to counsel you on this issue.
Big Col
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 05:29 am
@sullyfish6,
I am trying!

On the issue of talking to her about my recent court difficulties I have now engaged a solicitor for the final part and said that I will not be discussing it with her anymore, she was concerned that it changed the dynamic of the relationship, I said it obviously affects you at some level so I will park that problem somewhere else....

In the meantime I am reclaiming a bit of my life back, spending more time in the gym and at Judo.

We have a couple of trips away, one with kids, one without, so hopefully those will help us reconnect, of course if it does not then I guess I have my answer.
0 Replies
 
Big Col
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 08:32 am
@sullyfish6,
Well I've had a bit of communication off her. She has thanked me for loving her enought to raise such difficult issues, she wants things to work out and says that she is blessed to have met me. She's also seeking some reassurance that things are going to work out.

I have responded by saying that I want to resolve these issues and that if we can work out these issues that I could spend my life with her but she must be able to let me into her life completely. I've said that I'm not trying to erase her past but if we are to remain together that we must build our own future. I also said that she does not realise how much I am emotionally invested in this relationship and that I hope that one day she could emotionally invest the same amount in me.

We've not seen each other since our conversation, I have my little boy this weekend and really want to concentrate on him this weekend....
0 Replies
 
Big Col
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 04:26 am
Well we have made progress! I now have my own drawer! And we have certainly reconnected...

Let's see what happens, I am feeling optimistic now!
0 Replies
 
sullyfish6
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 06:26 am
Good sign. Expect little backwards 'blips' now and again.

Suggestion: Don't overwhelm. Cut back on the talk about serious plans/and or talk about the future. ALL you have is today with her. Tell her you are there for her today, one day at a time.

Create fun memories with her and make her laugh. Indulge her, baby her. That's how you will build a bond with her.
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 08:09 am
@sullyfish6,
good advice, sully. and good work, col. It's about the small deeds and details...day-to-day..it builds up.

oh and good for widow g/f. She's trying and growing. Her's could be the hardest task....overcoming such a life change.
0 Replies
 
Big Col
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Aug, 2010 08:09 am
I'd just thought I would update the thread. Thankfully my court case "should" be over come beginning of October.

However, things appear to be on a downward spiral with my girlfriend, she's unable to move forward, does not know what she wants. She can't do anything about sorting out his clothes, none of this I have raised by the way.

The other night we were talking and she told me that I had been pre-occupied, I had to prepare a statement for court which she was aware of, this is my priority, I also reminded her that she told me she did not wish to be involved which is ok but I have to deal with this serious issue, it's my responsibility.

The said statement is now filed with the court, however, I am mentally exhausted and I'm struggling to listen to her problems now (this sounds harsh I know) as I must now concentrate on the last hearing. During this conversation she mentioned about having a break and just meeting up every now and then, I did not say a great deal about this, it's clearly not what I want from a relationship and am now considering calling it a day.

Am I being harsh?
 

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