Ask Amy: Widower Wonders When to Move On
His wife made him promise to move on – but other loved ones are not so keen about it
Dear Amy: It’s been four months since losing my wife of 40 years.
She made me promise to move on with life.
To keep that promise, I have removed my wedding ring. I have started dating.
I am moving slowly, wanting to develop a friendship before a serious relationship. My family thinks I am moving too fast.
What do you think?
Dear Widower: No other person gets to set a timer on when you should start to move on with your life.
However, if you have children and other family members who were attached to your wife, they are not living the same experience as you are. Any moves you make might seem too fast for them. They may try to weigh in out of concern for you, and you should listen respectfully – and then do what you want to do, but with the awareness that your choices matter to other people.
If you are actually dating in order to satisfy a promise you made to your late wife, then be aware that this is not the optimal way to approach a new relationship. Nor do you need to justify your desire to date by framing it as keeping a promise.
Counselors often suggest not making any huge or life-altering decisions during the first year after the death of a loved one. So yes, take things slowly.
The following is from a study of 350 widows and widowers, published by the National Institutes of Health:
“By 25 months after the spouse’s death, 61 percent of men and 19 percent of women were either remarried or involved in a new romance. Women expressed more negative feelings about forming new romantic relationships.”
The study concludes: “Greater psychological well-being was highly correlated with being remarried or in a new romance 25 months after the spouse’s death. It may be helpful for family, friends, and therapists to know that dating and remarriage are common and appear to be highly adaptive behaviors among the recently bereaved.”
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
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