Wives of Widowers
The Five Worst Things to Say to a Wife of a Widower
- "That poor man."
- "You're not their mother."
- "How nice that he isn't lonely anymore." If he wanted to not be lonely, he could have gotten a dog. There is a whole lot more to the wife of a widower's relationship with her husband than merely keeping him occupied. This is a common statement, and one of the most insulting. The new relationship has a vitality of its own. It is independent of the previous relationship. The love that the new couple has found should be celebrated and recognized as real. It is a relationship that provides joy for both parties, and should not be minimized.
- "I remember when they . . . (fill in blank)"
The wife of the widower understands that others knew their husband and his late wife and had relationships established. Is there any second wife who wants to hear about the events of their husband's past in terms of another woman? Bringing up the past in this context is highly insensitive. It is also rude for people to start conversations about issues that exclude the new wife. Social conversations should not result in any party being intentionally left out of the discussion.
- "She would have approved of you."
What do they mean, "poor man?" In case they haven't noticed, he is in love. His love is here, alive, and vibrant. He is not a "poor man." The wife of a widower is not invisible. Her relationship with him is just as valid as his previous relationships. He has moved on with his life and he is happy.
True, biologically speaking. But the widower's kids have no other mother in their daily lives. Their father's wife does all of the things a mother does. If the kids are young enough to not remember their biological mother, the wife of the widower's role as parent is even more significant. The wife of a widower is not trying to replace the children's mother. She does not have a choice about being in the full time mothering role. For all practical purposes, she has become the female parent, and should be treated as such. She deserves respect in this role.
A wife of a widower does not need the blessing of a woman from her husband's past. The only person whose approval matters is her husband. Marriage is a union of two — not two plus the spirit of a past love. It is irrelevant to second wives what the first wife might have thought. This comment also somehow implies that the deceased wife still has a hold on the man and is a part of his future romantic decisions. This implication is unacceptable if the couple is to form a unique and autonomous relationship of their own.
A widower's wife wants to hear that she is important in her husband's life. She wants to know that she is respected, appreciated, and loved. She wants to be viewed independently of her husband's past. She wants to look toward the future and to the memories anticipates creating with her husband. She wants her life to be considered outside the context of someone else's life.
Talk about it at the Members Cafe! What are the dumbest things people say to WOWs?