Dating a widower….His friends and their wives…

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One of the biggest challenges that I have personally faced while dating a widower is his social circle, particularly his friends’ wives.  I have found a couple of diamonds in all of that dirt whom I just love and have an actual friendship with, but they are few and far between.

I knew things were going to be ugly a few years ago when Gabe got a phone call from his buddy Jude.  This was a half hour prior to me needing to drop Star and his son Aiden off to his sister in law.  Yay.  Jude:  “Hey man, the girls seem to think that you and Jenna were having an affair while your wife was still alive, you’re gonna have to do something to let them know that that’s not true.”  Wait, what?  Why couldn’t Jude just tell his gossipy wife to stop spreading rumors when he knew himself that this wasn’t true?  And so, it started.  The gossip.  I drop the kids off with his sister in law thirty minutes later and she’s understandably short with me as she now thinks that i was having an affair with her sister’s husband.  Awesome.  I did not and do not have a relationship with her to have a discussion with her to try to diffuse rumors.  And I shouldn’t have to do that anyways, it’s not my job.  It’s his.  They are his friends, his people.

For me at least, going into this situation, I feel that a lot of these women and even some of the men felt that it was my obligation to prove myself to them and to make them like me, their logic being that they have “been around longer”.  I disagree.  My only obligation is to be my usual nice self, be courteous and understanding and that’s it.  Just because I’m in a relationship with their friend, does not mean that I now need their approval or to go out of my way to make them my friends as well.  I think that a lot of the time, from reading and from my own situation, the people in the widower’s life completely forget that this new woman has her own family, her own established friends/ social circle, her own life and a lot of times, her own children.  For me personally, it would be nice if they liked me and we could all get along but . I wasn’t set out to make new friends.  In fact, how would they know any of this?  They never asked.  They never thought past themselves.  I have heard this saying and it rings true so many times:  Grief can be very selfish.

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There have been many incidents since that day, that I tried to see past.  Most of them centered around one person in particular, Jude’s wife Julie.  Julie is known as the Queen Gossiper and I suspect she thinks that she is the Queen Bee.  There have been many parties where I was not invited to sit with the women and sat quietly with his daughter Star while they would just stare and whisper among themselves, like a bunch of tenth graders.  There have also been several more ridiculous rumors crafted, my personal favorite being that my oldest son is really Gabe and my love child.  This one made me giggle.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how they choose to treat me or what ridiculous rumors they make up.  I don’t associate with Julie nor allow her on any social media of mine.  The sad part is only that by doing these things, it has really distanced Gabe and Jude a great deal.  By not wanting their social circle to change, they did end up changing it as Gabe is not a huge part of it as he once was.  He feels that he has to be careful of what he says and does now around people who he once felt comfortable.  He turns down some events now to avoid a shark tank.

It’s funny how things can change, he has another friend couple, Charlie and Mary, who have been nothing but supportive.  He was already close to Charlie but usually only got together socially within the group.  He now seeks them out as these are some of the only people whom he feels completely comfortable around.  Death and grief change so many things and so many relationships.  It can make some people become more compassionate and it can make some people become monsters.

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The first year in a relationship with a widower….The merry go round…

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Firstly, I want to say that I refer to him as a widower for the sake of my posts, but I don’t really identify him in real life that way.  His name is Gabriel and he is a man who happened to lose his wife years ago.  Okay, going forward….

The first year of our relationship took off very fast.  I chalk it up to knowing each other in the past and feeling comfortable with each other already as compared to someone who you are just getting to know.  I feel personally, like there are core things about people that never really change.   It’s hard to describe feeling like you really know someone and feel comfortable with them and then, on the other hand, there are so many things that you are still learning about them, like you need to catch up.  There is also a feeling of obligation to someone that you have already known.

That first year we hid our relationship from most of the people he knows due to guilt and obviously the fear of hurting others.  We went out to eat a few times a week, we went on one or two day romantic vacations several times.  That year his in-laws were very involved with his children and I think he just needed an escape from what he was going through, which was me.  It was like being in love for the first time with so much underlying guilt and shame.

When I would go to his house, it would always be when his children were away or in school.  It is so strange to go to your guys’ house and yet, you are actually really in his and his wife’s home.  You have the family photos, you have the memorial pictures of her, and everything there is essentially her taste.  It feels as if you’re having an affair and it’s a very hard feeling to shake.  About a year in, we were on a short getaway and he asked me to get something from his wallet.  I opened it to see his drivers license along with a small picture of his late wife right beside his drivers license picture.  I do understand grief as a logical person, but oh, that stung.  There was also the time that he told me that if his sister in-law just happened to show up one day, he would really contemplate asking me to hide in the closet.  Ewwwww and ouch!!!  What are we, twelve???

On one hand, I was in this new relationship that I was sharing with my friends and family and was so excited about.  I could definitely sympathize with him but would feel such betrayal from him for hiding it.   And so it goes, it was a teeter-totter of joy, excitement, guilt, shame and being hurt, over and over again.

One of the best examples of that year that I can think of was his birthday.  We were coming back from a two day vacation that day, (his kids were visiting family in another state) and he had made plans the previous year for his birthday to go out.  I remember us driving home from our vacation and his friends calling him and me staying quiet.  He felt horrible, I felt horrible, but he couldn’t just squelch his prior commitments with his people either.  He went out that night with three of his couple friends and sent me pictures while I was at home.  Worst.  Feeling.  Ever.  I knew I had to be a logical adult but could not help but feel betrayed.

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I also longed for the day that we could have a “normal” relationship but dreaded it as well.  I wanted everything to be normal and to not have to feel hidden but I also dreaded the reactions from those close to him and the hurt and anger that I knew that it was going to cause.  To this day, I almost want to hide in a corner at times when it comes to gatherings with his family and friends, it can be so hard and at times, just painful.  I have found a whole lot of solace in certain individuals in his circle who have just accepted me and loved me unconditionally and that is one of the ways that I can still keep going and have hope for a “normal” life.