Marrying a Widow - The Other Man
In two days I will be marrying my beautiful fiance, Michelle. She will become my wife, but I am not so sure I will be the only man she thinks about for the rest of her life. In fact, I am pretty sure she will also be thinking about, remembering, and honoring another guy - because she is a widow. When we first met three years ago I had no idea she was widowed. I just knew that Michelle was this beautiful, caring, brilliant, sexy person whom I had so much in common with. We talked about traveling, hiking; our kids, living healthy, being adventurous, and so much more, all of which made me fall in love with her from our first date on. I learned that she was a widow and had lost her husband in a small plane crash. I too had lost my best friend in a plane crash, which was yet another thing we had in common, albeit not a good thing. I had not spent much time around widows or for that matter ever dated a widow, but I was willing to try. I learned about the term chapter 2, which refers to a second chapter in the life of a widowed or divorced person. In a way, Michelle had become my chapter 2 as well because I am divorced which comes with its own set of baggage.
I really didnt understand how to act or what to say in the beginning of our relationship. I would hold my words or chose them carefully in hopes of not opening up a wound or seeming insensitive. Time and experience have allowed me to get better about speaking my heart but Im still learning and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives. Our relationship was very fragile in the beginning; we were experiencing all of these firsts that all couples go through, first date, first hike, first dinner, first kiss and so much more that were bittersweet. For us they were incredible exciting, but for her (I can only guess), they were those things as well but also sad and heart wrenching. She never thought she would be experiencing these firsts again, especially with someone other than her husband, the man she married years ago. Meeting her kids was exciting for me, but for her - I was not her husband or more importantly their father. I was not the one who was there at their birth or heard their first words. Something else I thought I would never say or even thought about doing was meeting my girlfriends in laws. That is not something that happens a lot. That had to be one of the toughest things I have done in this relationship. Without a doubt (I can only guess), one of the toughest and most awkward things Michelle has ever had to do as well. I was meeting these two wonderful people and basically standing in the place that their son would have stood in had he not have died so tragically. Becoming their daughter in-laws new man and being their grandkids new daddy were things I could never even imagine comprehending from their viewpoint. I would see pictures of the whole family and hear stories of fun times, which has, and will continue to be full of mixed emotions from me. I wasnt in those pictures, it was another man, I wasnt in those stories, it was another man. On one hand I wanted to be this strong confident guy who wouldnt let the baggage of widowhood bother me and on the other hand I felt out of place and just wanted to start fresh and create our own baggage. It was a complicated process that has taken some time to maneuver.
I have learned and grown a lot over these past few years being in a relationship as a chapter 2. I have learned widows do not move on, they move forward. I have learned widows grieve at different levels and move forward within there own time frames. If you are a chapter 2, dont hurry the relationship too fast; it will progress at its own speed. I have learned to not always try and fix things because a lot of the emotions are not directed towards or caused by me. A lot of times I have no control over how she is feeling, so I let her and the kids have their space and just hold them so they feel secure and safe. I have learned to be the best daddy on earth I can be and to understand there will always be a need for the kids and Michelle to talk about their dad, especially his characteristics, his funny stories, his memories. I have learned it is alright, and pretty amazing to have two sets of in-laws who are understanding to my position in their daughter/daughter in-laws life, and have accepted me by continuing to make me feel welcome. I have learned widows feel deeper emotions and live fuller lives everyday and for this I am very thankful and continue to embrace.
If you are a chapter 2 who is not quite sure about the relationship you are in - stick with it and be honest and understanding to them. You will enjoy life and love at a whole new level!