Dating While Widowed: Yours and Mine and Adult Kids


The latest post at Abel Keogh’s Running Forward Widower Wednesday talks about pre-nups, wills and adult kids who can’t wrap their minds around the idea that their parents’ “wealth” belongs to their parents and not them.

I ran across this a lot at Ye Olde Widow board. People who were fine with idea of remarriage but adamant that their late spouse’s hard-earned this or that would never, ever, ever benefit in any way, shape or form the next spouse or, goddess in heaven forbid, his/her worthless children. A whole lot of assumption but basically stemming from the odd notion that what your late spouse might have left you in the form of life insurance, marital home or other valuables is somehow still his or hers.

When you die, you don’t take it with you. Not even in spirit. What happens, or is accumulated on earth, stays on earth. Furthermore, it becomes the property of someone else, who is now free to do whatever the hell they want with it. And trust me, they will. I have seldom witnessed someone inherit from a parent or grandparent and not piss the money away like trailer trash with a PowerBall jackpot.

As my late husband lay in the intensive care before being moved to hospice, his mother sent her best friend to query me about life insurance. How much? I was asked. And because I was completely stunned that anyone would ask such a question at such a time, I told her. Absolutely nothing.

It wasn’t until much later – after mother-in-law absconded with money from the memorial that was meant to help cover the expense of it – that I realized the inquiry about life insurance was about calculating her cut.

You would be amazed – or maybe not – by the people who truly believe that inheritance is a given and have their hands out sometimes way in advance of your death.

A sizable proportion of adult children are like this. They see their parents and grandparents as some sort of long-range saving plan. A way to pay off the mortgage, plump up retirement plans or just have a wad of cash to fritter away on vacations and material crap.

Second marriages make these kinds of people – nervous. They have visions of “their” inheritances being used frivolously by step-parents for outrageous things like … eating or paying the property tax and keeping a roof over their elderly heads.

So, the topic today is when you remarry, do you have a financial plan in place to make sure that in the event of your death your new spouse doesn’t end up homeless while your kids vacation in Tahiti?

Yeah, yeah. Their mommy or daddy would have wanted you to put your new spouse at the mercy of your greedy kids because after all, she or he worked themselves to death for the money that was left to you.

Except that they didn’t.

They took out that life insurance or built up the retirement plan to take care of you. You. Not your grown up kids, who you should have been taught well enough to be able to pay their own bills, save for their own retirement and goodies. You.

Money we inherit is no longer anyone’s money but ours.

Yes, we have an obligation to use it for the benefit of our minor children and to see that our very young adult children find a good footing in life, but at some point our kids get old. Really old. Sometimes as old as we were when we were widowed in the first place. They are adults who mostly ignore our advice in favor of what works best for them, and they build their own adult lives with their own spouses and their own kids. And if we did a good job raising them, they really shouldn’t be running to us with their hands out – ever.

But there are emergencies, you cry.

Yes, I would agree, but inheritance doesn’t fall into that category. Inheritance is a form of expectation based upon nothing more than the notion that because you sired or birthed them, they are entitled to some sort of monetary reward triggered by your death.

It’s wonderful when we can leave our kids, or grandkids, a little something, or even a lot of something, but we should shy far away from leading them to expect this from us. Or from giving them the impression that it is their due. It’s not owed to them because they merely exist.

Plenty of perfectly wonderful parents spend every last dime before they die. On themselves even! And sometimes they need that money because they get sick or have other pressing expenses.

Some parents and grandparents even leave their “fortunes” to charity or endowments or to people that aren’t even blood relations!

NOTHING good comes from adult children who’ve been led to believe that the money daddy left you is also theirs. Zero good. Refrain mightily from going there because even if you don’t remarry, it’s going to be a big ugly thorn in your side when you hit a certain age, and they start counting chickens they think you are overspending. You don’t ever want your 50 year old child questioning your need to take a trip or buy a new pair of boots or go out to lunch every Tuesday with your friends because it’s eating up the money you should be saving to leave him/her.

I am not exaggerating. Countless seniors live with harpy adult children who view all things mom/dad as eventually their things.

The best way to avoid tantrums from adult kids if you should decide to remarry is to not have even given your children cause to believe they have the right to question you on the subject of remarriage and to never have intimated that they are somehow entitled to an inheritance.

But if you haven’t done either, there is still hope. You can tell them now.

You should also make sure that you and your future spouse have thoroughly discussed all matters money. It’s helpful to have an idea of what you want your wills to look like in terms of what goes to whom and how you each plan to care for the other in the event of incapacitating illness and death. If there are assets or minor children that need special considerations, discuss and plan for that too.

Communication, as I have said before, is key. KEY.

Don’t be that elderly woman who is living in a house owned by her step-children who are just waiting for her to die so they can sell it.

Conversely, don’t be that old man whose late wife’s jewelry ended up in the hands of his second wife’s daughter-in-law because it wasn’t specified in the will that it should go to his granddaughter.

If it ‘s important then it is important enough to discuss and plan for IN WRITING and preferably with the assistance of a lawyer.

But just in case you can’t let go of the idea that procreation has saddled you with the task of scrimping, saving and leaving something to your grown up kids so they can enjoy a better retirement than you will, there are options like life insurance policies and trusts.

However, if you remarry, your primary concern should be your spouse. Leaving him or her to simply fend for themselves in their advancing years is so cold and harsh that it amazes me that people who would do this even find someone to marry again at all. What self-respecting person signs willingly to be accused of being a gold-digger and ends up on cat food and public assistance so their step-children can one day  indulge themselves on eBay?

Let’s sum up.

Money matters. Children do have the right to heirlooms. Second wives and husbands shouldn’t be at the financial mercy of step-kids when you are gone.

Talk, talk and talk some more about this before remarrying. Don’t include your kids! It’s not their business. Better yet, avoid raising your kids to feel entitled to enrich themselves via your death.

And finally. consult a financial planner or estate planner or lawyer or anyone who can walk you through the realities of what your new spouse will need by way of assets when you die. You might be surprised to find out that what you thought about money and second marriages and death isn’t at all what reality is.

Dating While Widowed: Hand Me Down No-No’s


English: Screenshot from the original 1958 the...

From the original 1958 theatrical trailer for the film Vertigo Frame taken from (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Normally, I ignore Dear Prudence when it comes to her advice to widowed who are in new relationships. Although she married a widower years and years ago, she’s often of the mindset that her husband’s widower experience, and her having navigated dating and marrying him, is a shared one, and that she “gets it”.

You can’t be or understand widowed vicariously. It doesn’t matter how up close the view.

Today, however, I noted a letter from a newly dating widower, who wondered if it was okay to give his late wife’s vibrator to his new girlfriend. It was an expensive, top of the line model that they’d barely had time to enjoy prior to the wife’s death.

Prudie said “no” and added an “ick” sentiment to her reasoning and I agree totally.

Which brings me to my point for the day, you can certainly bestow the material goods of your late spouse on friends, relatives and children – as long as said goods aren’t sex toys or other intimate in nature possessions – but when it comes to new significant others, just don’t.

While I know of cases where new girlfriends have been offered, and accepted, jewelry, clothing and even footwear, most new loves will be puzzled, hurt or even slightly repulsed by the idea of such “re-gifting”.

It’s difficult enough to deal with objects that are simply too vital or expensive to be replaced. For example, beds and other furniture or cookware and dishes. No one expects a widowed person to replace shared everyday items before they begin dating again or cohabitation with a new love. That’s not only impractical but it’s going way overboard with the idea of starting over.

But being sensible has its limits. I would never have offered my late husband’s clothing to Rob. And not just because their styles were quite different or that they are different sizes and body types.

It would have been “creepy” as my ten-year old daughter would say.

Hitchcock’s Vertigo centered on the attempts of a man to recreate his dead love’s appearance and mannerism via his new, look-alike love interest. The movie culminates in an incredibly disturbing intimacy scene that makes it clear this new woman is merely a stand in for the dead one.

Dressing up your new friend in clothing worn by your late spouse or making your Friday night dinner date at the restaurant you and late spouse loved – is kind of like that. An attempt to recapture someone and something that’s over and gone.

You should be careful with anything that is essentially a “rerun” for you. Vacation spots. Gifts that are things you would have given your late spouse. Pet names. If it is something you shared with them, be careful when sharing it again. A new love is expecting, and deserves, a space of his/her own in your heart and in the laying of a new relationship foundation.

I’ve read about women whose widowers think honeymooning or romantic get-aways at places shared with the late wife are great ideas and who become petulant when their new loves feel second best when they find out about the locations previous encounters. While a woman can be understanding about the mattress on your once shared bed, she isn’t going to be as thrilled about sharing a romantic locale. Beds are a practical matter. Romance is a matter of being creative, thoughtful and taking your new love’s feelings into account.

Not long after we married, we had a garage sale to try to clear out some of the clutter that the joining of two, very grown, adults can make. There was a box of Rob’s late wife’s clothing that needed to be sorted. He wasn’t keen but was willing to let me do it. And it was easier for me because I had no context to place the clothes in.

But before I started, Rob made an off-hand comment about my taking anything I fancied for myself.

Even if she and I had been the same size, and she wasn’t his dead wife, I still would have declined, but I also felt the need to point out that my wearing her clothing was a creepy factor beyond which I was comfortable and wouldn’t it bother him to see me in her clothes?

He conceded the point and didn’t offer me anything of hers again. Though I will admit that while I have kept and used many household items, and have no issue with them, I have always simply chucked others – even if they were perfectly usable – when I felt inclined. If my step-daughters didn’t want them and I preferred not to use them … out they went. It’s been enough for me to live in her house and integrate myself into her community. I didn’t need to keep everything simply because it might seem silly to replace them. I needed to establish myself as the lady of the house. Things that were mine alone were important to that process.

And it is a matter of comfort, so being willing to ask and have discussions with those you date or establish serious relationships with is a must. What might bother one person could be perfectly acceptable to someone else. Just remember to allow the other person their own feelings and don’t expect these feelings to mirror your own or that with a little pressure, you can persuade them to see things your way.That’s just selfish. While you might think you’d be fine living in a house that  your love shared with someone else, your new love doesn’t have to feel the same way and you should respect their feelings.

But getting back to sex toys- sex anything really – just don’t go there. Well sanitized or not, there are privacy issues where the late spouse is concerned and sharing items and details from intimate moments is, my opinion, not only disrespectful to the new love but to your late spouse as well.

A new relationship, if it is to work, should have as much “just us” to it as possible. Even if that means giving up your favorite vacation retreat or buying a new bedroom set. It certainly means springing for a new vibrator in any case.

Checking for Reality


English: North Saskatchewan River valley viewe...

North Saskatchewan River valley viewed from Glenora neighborhood in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Recently my horoscope asked me if I was ready for a reality check. It’s time, I was told, to assess how well I knew the “fundamental facts” of my current physical location. It was a grounding activity in the most literal sense. Being a literal girl, this appealed to me. Perhaps it will appeal to you too.

 

So to begin:

 

Do you know which direction north is?

 

North is directly out of my bedroom window. It’s where I see the green and white Northern Lights and where the smell of cigarette smoke from the neighbors drifts in.

 

Where does the water you drink come from?

 

The North Saskatchewan River is the source of our drinking water. Probably a better option than any ground water around here given the farming and chemical plants in the area. But not by much.

 

What phase of the moon is it today?

 

We just had a full moon not long ago, so the moon is in the early “new” stages. I didn’t see it last night or in the sky yesterday. When the moon is full, or close to it, you can see it during the day this time of year.

 

What was the indigenous culture that once lived where you live now?

 

Plains Cree

 

Where is the power plant that generates the electricity you use?

 

That I don’t know. We have power plants in the area, according to Rob, but which one feeds us, I couldn’t say. I can tell you that living rural you are more aware of the fragility of the power grid than you are in the city. Lights flicker when the wind howls and during summer storms. Last summer, we lost power quite often during those weeks when it seemed like we were living in the eye of a hurricane.

 

Can you name any constellations that are currently in the night sky?

 

Ursa Major and Minor. Orion. These are the ones that Rob points out most often to Dee. She is more interested in the configurations than I am. I just like the clearness of a night sky and the light of the moon. I am a moon girl.

 

What species of trees do you see every day?

 

Anything pine is decorative and a transplant. We live on the prairie. Too far from the mountains and the boreal forest for pine to be native. Poplar and Birch are the native trees. Anything else was trucked in.

 

These questions are meant to be a starting point for deepening the connection with one’s specific locale on the planet in an effort to be grounded, which is very yoga. You need to establish where you are before you can decide the best route to anywhere else.

Yoga is all about grounding – being present. Start in the physical and progress to the interior and eventually enlightenment shows up.

 

Not necessarily that simple but not the worst way to go about it either.

 

 

Wintering in My Discontent


Snow Cat

Snow Cat (Photo credit: clickclique)

Nothing is wrong and yet nothing is actually all right. A most annoying state of being that plagues me of late and is contributing to a general lack of … what is the opposite of “inertia”? Ertia? Probably not, but still a state of general non-interest and lack of  motivation.

Attribution for this could conveniently be laid at the foothills of the longest winter I can remember. Four months and it’s not even Valentine’s Day.

“It’s actually only three months,” my husband pointed out as he readied to leave for work this morning.

“We’ve had snow since before Halloween,” I said.

“Barely,” he countered.

And by “barely” he means we didn’t have snow that stuck until the snowstorm that descended as Dee and I cased the hamlet for treats on Halloween, but we had snow on and off for over a week before that first big dump. To my mind that puts us nearly to the four-month mark.

“It hasn’t been too brutal,” he reminded me as he left.

And by “brutal” he means gods-awful-fucking-cold … by Canadian standards. Far north Canadian standards. Pioneer days don your bear skin coat and tie a rope between the cabin and the stable so you don’t get lost and freeze solid type of winter.

Even though he is right, in a purely technical sense, it’s still been the longest winter I can recall, and I am past the point of sanguine acceptance, pushing firmly up against being completely and irrevocably done with it.

Still, I don’t think that winter fed-up’d-ness is entirely all that is in play in terms of my Shakespearean mood.

The limitations of my surroundings play into it. The hamlet hasn’t any walking paths, or even sidewalks, so I am forced to trek into town to the fitness centre to walk. Something I am doing with regularity but not without resentment.

I’ve overdosed myself on teaching, which I am in the process of remediating, but still have a few obligations to complete before taking a break. Though I always enjoy a class once I get there and begin, I find that it’s harder and harder to pump myself up to teach, a sure enough sign of burn out.

Some of the weariness rests all about me in boxes and piles that scream to be sorted, organized and purged. There is nothing I dislike more than under the surface tidying up and cleaning. I am great with the superficial aspects. I can vacuum, launder, clear off this or that surface, render it accessible for use again, and clothes, mostly get folded and put away. However, the kind of purging that borders on excavation is something that only extreme situations like moving, for example, are likely to push me towards.

It could be the near absence of a social life. Although I am the least social person I know, aside from my husband, the fact that our only getting out of late is either related to soccer matches or children’s birthdays might be nagging at me a bit. But this leads back to issues finding babysitters (our last one grew up) and settling on things to do. Dining out and movies just don’t appeal and we are not pub people. And, of course, there is the problem of having to drive a fair ways before hitting upon anywhere that one would normally associate with a “night out” and finally culminates in my general laziness and indifference to venturing out at all when the degree of difficulty in doing so rises about “moderate”.

Or maybe it’s just February.

I Thought the Daughter and I Had Already Discussed Lesbians


"Lesbian" wedding mock-cake at the R...

Roma Gay Pride  2008 Stefano Bolognini, June 7 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we drove into two this evening to take Dee to Girl Guides, Rob and I chatted about this and that as we often do. I mentioned that I googled … cyber stalked a wee bit … a woman I’d met by chance during a Facebook discussion on pap tests.

Yes, cervical cancer screenings. What else I would I be discussing in a Facebook thread.

I noted that most of the women I met virtually seemed to blog and they all appeared to arrive at blogging via upsetting and/or traumatic life events.

“I feel I might not to widen my circle of acquaintance,” I said.

As I recounted the various facts I’d gleaned about this blogger, Dee piped up from the back seat.

“She’s married to a woman?”

“Yes,” I said. “We’ve talked about this. Women sometimes fall in love with and marry other women.”

“No, I don’t think so,” she countered.

At ten she’s become quite contrary. She disagrees or takes the opposite stance simply because it is me, her mother, that she is talking to.

“It’s only a preview,” Rob has remarked more than once. He counts himself an expert because he witnessed two other daughters become quite militant opposing with another wife in the past.

“Yes,” I said, “we did. Remember my friend Mike on Facebook. The one with the two little girls?”

She nodded.

“He is married to a man.”

“Of course,” she agreed as though man on man marriage and parenthood was as normal as drawing a breath and why were we going back over this ordinary, normal ground.

“Well,” I continued, “sometimes women also fall in love, marry and have children. Just like them and just like Dad and I.”

“Except Dad isn’t a woman.”

“Dad is certainly not a woman,” I agreed.

Rob nodded.

“So does one of them wear a tuxedo and the other a white dress,” she asked.

“Sometimes. And sometimes they both were gowns or they both wear tuxedos.”

“I think girls would look cute in tuxedos,” she declared.

“If Edie and Silver ever get married, you can tell them you are going to wear a tuxedo like Dad’s then,” I said.

“But what if I want to wear a dress?”

“Then you will,” I told her, “but it’s nice to have options.”

 

1500


An illustration by W. W. Denslow from The Wond...

An illustration by W. W. Denslow from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, also known as The Wizard of Oz, a 1900 children’s novel by L. Frank Baum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You probably didn’t notice but my last post made it 1500 even, which is a lot of writing. Like a book’s worth easy. And I was a bit startled when WordPress announced it to me because I haven’t been paying all that much attention.

Not like in the beginning of blogging when I counted everything. Page views. Blog visits. Number of posts.

Now, it’s just … oh yeah? 1500. Cool. That only took 6 and a half years – ish.

What’s more amazing to me is that after all this time, I still bother to blog at all.

But I can’t quite seem to walk completely away from the keyboard where blogging is concerned. Personal exposition has always been my favorite form of writing. It’s about as exhibitionist as I get and this in spite of my being a Sagittarius and all.

The widow dating stuff is probably the most popular if my search stats are to be believed.

If someone had told me back in my early single girl days at university that one day people would be reading my dating advice, I wouldn’t have known what to say. I was the hands down princess of the wallflower set. I had virtually no idea of how to get anyone to notice me, ask me out or how to go about initiating and maintaining a relationship. Seriously, hopeless on the romantic front and utterly clueless about relationships summed me up well into my thirties.

I wouldn’t even say that I was all that good at marriage the first time around.

So, the dating stuff, which pulls people in daily, is a bit of a shocking surprise.

Though I prefer writing about current events and politics, these are less of a draw. Understandable as I am not mainstream and neither buy nor sell the Wizard of Oz version of politics. I think that looking behind the curtain and seeing the Wizard for who he/she actually is works better in the long run than blissfully buying into whatever the current hope and change fantasy is. Most people wouldn’t agree, but it doesn’t keep me from reminding them that Emperor’s are rarely as clothed as they appear.

I still write about myself, which is amazing. And people read those posts. Which is equally astounding. And somewhat scary because I know some of these people in real life. I try not to think about that.

Originally, the blog was random, whiny and a bit about my annoyance with having been widowed. It was never really about grieving. Probably because I was nearly done with that by the time I started blogging.

Then, the blog centered on dating and remarriage. But that has a shelf life too.

Though I still write about Rob and I, we are old married folk in practice now if not in boots on the ground years. Perhaps we should count in dog years?

I have never been a mommy-blogger and I still find the writing from your uterus point of view repellant. I bred once. I have children. I mommy. I don’t think any of this defines me as a writer or is enthralling enough to do much of. Even my brief stint at a mommy blog was more a genre experiment than anything else.

So? Will the blogging continue?

Oh, I imagine so. I am not totally over it though I think that blogging as a writing form is at one of its lowest points, having been saturated to the point where everyone thought they could blog because they didn’t realize that it was about being able to write as much as it was about being self-absorbed. The narcissists eventually quit and the writers remain.

1500. It’s kind of inspiring.

Dating While Widowed: When Dating Goes “Wrong”


The Dating Game

The Dating Game (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An interesting search term on dating gone wrong turned up this morning and as so many of the search terms seem to query in that direction, I thought it might be a good one to address.

What does it mean when dating “goes wrong”?

In general terms, it probably alludes to the fact that more often than not, we don’t get what we want out of the experience. For whatever reason, two people are left frustrated and hurt and no longer together.

This is not a widow thing.

I know that widowed are schooled by the various grief outlets to believe that anything that gets in the way of a new relationship is related to grief in some way, but this is an over-generalization. If a person takes the time to look back at pre-marriage dating or even conducts a brief tour of the internet via googling “dating issues”, he/she would find that things going wrong is fairly common in the dating world and widowhood has hardly cornered an exclusive market as a reason why.

Usually, when relationships develop anything from hiccups to major breakdowns, the culprit is a difference of unspoken expectations and a difficulty or unwillingness to engage in direct communication about them.

I have said it before – often – that when venturing back into the singles scene, it’s better to have thought about why and what you expect from it and be ready to articulate that to those you date upfront. This way the likelihood of beginning a relationship with someone who is unsuitable is smaller.

Of course, this is not how dating happens. Dating and relationships in our modern culture tend to be stumbled upon via chance and hook-ups by people who haven’t really fleshed out their own motives for getting involved with another person.

From there, they lurch from one step to the next in a state of giddy inattention to details – good and bad – until one or both realize that the direction isn’t where they envisioned themselves heading. And then? Things have gone wrong.

There are no rules for dating again. There aren’t really formal rules in general for most of what passes for coupling in our modern age, but there are some things that are best thought about and really considered before jumping back in the game.

Why do I want to date?

What are my expectations of dating and of anyone who I might date?

What am I bringing to the table for someone else?

How will dating impact my life today? 10 weeks from now? 10 months? 10 years?

Am I a casual or serious dater?

Do I want to marry again? Have a committed relationship? Just hook up?

Am I able to date and not expect those I date to play the role of my therapist?

Can I set boundaries with my kids? Family? Friends? where my life as an adult is concerned?

Do I understand that dating can be emotionally unsettling and can stir up my feelings of loss and that I will have to really handle that myself?

And that’s just to name a few.

I don’t think most people really think about what they want before they begin to date again and I think that it is only by trying to date that you really begin to clarify your reasons and refine your methods. But, I don’t think that avoiding dating until you “feel better” or are “over the loss of your late spouse” are particularly helpful either because neither of those things are ever going to happen. There is no such thing as closure. There is just acceptance of reality and deciding to move on.

Which brings it down to this really. Moving on is a choice you eventually are ready to make. Dating is sometimes part of this but not always. There are no guarantees when you move on or date that life will suddenly be wonderful again. Wonderful is subjective and getting there takes time and personal effort. Magical solutions are no more real than unicorns.

Dating sometimes goes wrong. When it does, it will either work out with time, effort and communication; or it won’t and the relationship will end.

You may or may not meet your next great love right out of the box.

I entered the dating world again at about 6 months out. I met a lot of men. Some were nice but uninteresting. Some were neither nice nor interesting, A few were douchebags. And then I met Rob. We put time and effort into getting to know each other and deciding there was a basis for dating, commitment, engagement and marriage.

Rob met me right out of the box. Pretty much like he met his late wife. My husband has always been a pretty darn lucky man in that respect.

There is nothing wrong with you if dating goes wrong. It is not a sign from the heavens that it was too soon or that you are destined to be that sad lonely old widow in the nursing home weeping over photos of a long dead spouse.

It just means that you and this person weren’t suited. That happens. Walk it off. Consider what you might do differently the next time and when you are ready, try again. Or take a break. Or rethink the whole idea and give up on it.

This is your life. You only get this one once.