A few weeks ago, I opened up the floor for people to ask Steve and I questions: about grief, about dating/getting remarried after widowhood, our relationship...whatever. We want to be as open as possible about our story so that we can try to bring hope to others. So, we'll address one today, and maybe the others next week. But today's question was for Steve, and he is perhaps the first non-widowed person to guest blog. I'm thankful that he can bring his own perspective and I don't have to speak for him on these issues. And since I know this is such a supportive group of people, I know you'll show him the same love you've all showed me.
Hi Vee, I give you a lot of credit for doing this. You are brave! Does your husband ever feel like he is #2? Does he struggle with living in the shadow of your late husband? Just curious as I recently started dating a widow and sometimes I feel like no matter what, I'm never going to be first in her heart. I will never be the only man she's in love with, and that will make me sad from time to time (other times I do understand and accept it it but that doesn't mean it is always easy). Would like to hear your husband's perspectives if that is ok. Thanks.
Steve: Sure - there are definitely times when I feel second best. I think it is because I, like most people, want to be the only one our special someone thinks about, loves, or wishes to be with. When you hear the woman (or man) that you love speak about someone else, even if they are deceased, in a way of love, longing, or desiring it can be a blow to your ego. While feeling "2nd best" has never been a big battle for me, there are times when I feel it - usually when it comes to things that Jeremy (Vee's late husband) was really good at that I am not and I know I cant give her, or when we get together with friends that Vee and Jeremy had together and they share moments that everyone remembers fondly and realize that these stories don't have me in the picture, but probably most of all when Vee's grief comes at a point when I have tried really hard to make her happy.
Before I go any further, I have to say that Vee is really great making me feel loved and has NEVER compared me to Jeremy. Without those things in place I think it would be a much bigger battle for me. As far as coping with those feelings, I can't tell you personally what to do, but I can tell you some of the things I remind myself:
First, I remind myself that I love Vee for who she is, not who I want her to be. We fell in love after Jeremy died - and I realized that her grief would be a life-long journey. There are parts of the journey that are tougher and some parts that are easier, but its always there somewhere. I knew from day one that if I couldn't love Vee for all of her (including her grief and love for Jeremy) then I had no business being with her.
Second, I remind myself that Jeremy died - it wasn't his fault or anyone else's. If Jeremy was a jerk, or cheated on Vee, or abandon her and the kids, that would be one thing, but he was a great man who loved his family and died too early in life. In anything we lose that is wonderful, its natural that we would want it back. Therefore, I try to put myself in her shoes and understand that her longing for him is only normal because of the love they shared.
Third, I try as hard as I can not to compare myself - but as a warning, this is really tough! There have been times where I wondered if Jeremy was funnier, a better match, more romantic, a better lover, etc. These thoughts can drive you mad and leave you feeling super insecure. When I have started down this road of thinking I try to remind myself that Vee is with me because she loves me - sure she loves Jeremy, but she also loves me. She chose me and wanted to spend the rest of her life with me - and she is a pretty incredible woman, so that makes me a pretty blessed guy!
Some food for thought: I have looked for resources for guys dating or marrying widows (especially young widows) but haven't found much. Because there is not much help or advice out there, my best advice is to be as open and honest as you can with the girl you are dating. If there are things that make you feel inferior then be honest and try to work through those things together.
I hope that helps!