Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Is It Worth the Effort?

I am in a relationship.
It's been about 5 months now and it's mostly going great.

I am finding that having a relationship while still grieving for what I do not have is very, very difficult.
Of course it's difficult to blend the children. Some of mine are making it WAY difficult.
His (he has been a widower for over 8 years) have been great.
But that's not it.

It's me.
I find it difficult to NOT expect what I had before....
To not expect to feel the way I felt when Jim and I fell in love (yes, that was 29 years ago .... my life--and I -- were a wee bit different).
To not wish that Jim were still here so that this would be a moot point.
To not compare the two men .... sometimes.
To not think, "Jim would/would never have said/done that."
To not think, "Jim knew everything about me ... even before I opened my mouth to speak."
To not think, "I (still) can NOT believe that this is my life!"

I try.
I think that I'm getting better at all of this .... little by little.
But it's a very long road.
Very long.
I am grateful that this man is walking on the same path that we all are.
He understands.
He is incredibly patient with me.

And while there are some days when I ask, "Is it worth the effort?" ...... there are other days when I can say .... without a doubt ..... "Yes it is."
Very much so.

But then, I don't think there's much in life that isn't worth the effort.
We just have to make a choice.
And today, this day, I choose love.


  1. Transition is never as easy as it seems as though it should be. I wasn't married long the first time - just three years before he fell ill, and I married later (at 35), so I didn't have that sense of growing up with my late husband. I'd dated, had boyfriends here and there and I'd learned that comparisons were moot because I was different too from relationship to relationship. What was important, what I wanted/needed changed so why wouldn't my relationships reflect that just like other aspects of my life did?

    When I fell in love with my second husband, I made a conscious effort to never compare and I squashed thoughts flat when they came up. But that didn't happen much because W and R were so different - or so I thought at the time. Married now for nearly 3 years, I can see the overlap quite clearly though they remain different in many aspects.

    Kids are hard. I never gave my daughter the option of commenting because she was just four. She'd never known her dad and that made it easier in some respects. My husband has grown daughters and he was just 5 months out when we began dating. They were not thrilled when we chose to marry before his first year was up, but he let them know that being grown and with lives of their own, it wasn't there choice and they were open-minded enough to realize that their dad's falling in love again had no bearing on his love for their mother. It's separate issues.

    We are having a family dinner tonight. We do that about once a month. Eventually you do become family.

    I think love is worth the effort. And there is effort. And grief can be inconvenient when life is going on.

  2. Just curious, Janine--does your "cabana boy" (that post on FB made me giggle! ;o)) have any of the same difficulties, since he's also widowed? I'm curious how much people's issues in relationships change when they get farther out from the death, since at almost 5yrs out I'm closer to his end of the spectrum than yours...and I suppose I'm always curious what to possibly expect whenever I date again.

    Despite that you've survived two years of widowhood, it's still so early into this process (relatively speaking) I'm not surprised that you still think about Jim so much in context of your new relationship. You're still have to process so much grief, even when it's not as obvious as in the first year, and regardless of whether you're dating someone new. Just try to be patient with yourself and your grief, which I know can be really hard, particularly at just over 2 yrs out.

    When I dated someone for 6 months toward the end of the 2nd year, I didn't find that I made direct comparisons between my BF and dead husband too much, because they were very different people in many ways...but in hindsight, I did get very irritated when he couldn't be as helpful and proactive as my husband had been. And now, almost 3 years later, I can see how fresh the grief still was for me then--despite that I tried to ignore it--and how it made dating and a new relationship much harder. So hang in there, Janine. It is worth it....

  3. Annie .... thanks for the encouragement and for telling me your experience. As you well know, that's helps a lot. : )

    CCW .... I don't think he has the same level of difficulty and I think it's definitely because of the time. His youngest daughter was only 4 so she doesn't have a lot of memories.
    Thanks so much for your words. : )

  4. The reasons you described above are some of the very reasons why my brief stint at dating failed miserably. I think that if I met the right person someday (if that ever happens), it might be worth the effort, and maybe I wouldn't make so many comparisons, or expect to see Matt's face when I look at his, and resent him for not being him. It'll be a while before I make another attempt.

  5. Thank you for this, Janine. I appreciate hearing how others deal with this... xox

  6. Wow. I am in this place right now, so thanks for sharing.

    I find that all my motivations and assumptions have changed. I do not want the same things I wanted when I met Brian.

    And I try not to feel guilty - like I am betraying some goddess role that I am supposed to play or making my ancestoral women folk angry.

    Then, when I met Brian, I wanted to make a family. Now, I want to have a passionate mission and work life.

    My current man has two girls. I have a real hard time wanting to go deep and invest in the whole mommy role. They are older (10 and 13) so I do not feel the same need to nurturing.

    I have "adopted" kids, so the fact that they are not my DNA is irrelevant. I just want to focus on my contribution to a larger world now. Do not feel the compulsion to build a nest in any way...

    Thanks for letting me rant!!!

  7. Thank you for this look into a dating life. It was good to know that there is hope and fear and love, just like in greif.