Dating While Widowed: Support for the Remarried Widowed

Marriage

Updated July 28, 2014: If you have followed the link provided by a widower on the YWBB in response to the most recent dust-up in the Social Situations forum, you need to know that I am NOT referring to E in the following post. In fact, at the time I wrote this post, E hadn’t been posting at the YWBB as E or under any other aka for some time (that I am aware of).

This post chronicles one of the periodic flame-fests that breaks out in the YWBB forums. Such incidents date all the way back to its earliest days and though they can be unsettling to newbies (and irritating to old hands) like all things, they pass.

The widows behaving badly I was discussing here have, as far as I know, moved on to other venues because there are a lot more of them now than there were back when I was first widowed in 2006 or when E was widowed several years before that.

The old timer culprit I reference was someone who took a lot of joy in harassing my husband and I after other board members learned of our relationship and engagement. She was good at playing the contrition game and so managed to kick a lot of shit before her bouncing in 2012, but as far as I can tell, she no longer posts at the YWBB.

I believe that in the thread where this link to my blog is found, a few other old-timers – who were veterans when I was though not friends of mine – have explained E’s history and how she was stalked and bullied in her early days at the YWBB. However, I don’t think they noted that the culprits were never punished or banned, and that not one of them has ever really apologized (again to my knowledge) to E for what they did to her.

I knew E as Elysia when I roamed the forums at YWBB. I found her to be eccentric and pointed, but she was one of the few who ever had my back when I was being hounded and I still appreciate that.

So, long story short – E is not the widow you are looking for. Move along.

 

Someone’s google search term landed them here a couple of days ago as he (or more likely “she”) scoured the virtual world for a “support forum for remarried widows”.  For her sake, I wish I could post a few links to help out, but the sad truth is that nothing much exists.  There are widow boards here, there and near everywhereWidow blogs ad nauseum.  But if you were widowed and have moved on to a new relationship or even marriage, it’s s.o.l. for you.

Most of the boards I have seen really are loathe to set up special forums for the those who’ve moved on. Partly it’s because they want to discourage the popular notion that one can’t really say they’ve moved on until they’ve hooked up again, but the bigger reason is that many of those widowed, who either haven’t found a new mate or have no interest in doing so, are vicious to the point of bat shit crazy about remarried widows.  Despite lip service to the contrary, even widowed believe that falling in love again and remarrying is some sort of magical healing that erases the painful memories and renders a remarried widow immune to the occasional sad thought or longing.  In some ways, widowed can be just as clueless as those who have never been.

Some remarried widowed folk hide or downplay their new marital status so they can remain part of the online widowed communities.  More often they simply walk away and deal quietly and alone with issues as they come up.  And mostly it’s women.  We make up the majority of those widowed anyway but, regardless, I think it is harder for women to not have the outlet because we are socialized from an early age to seek out and share with those who are like us.  Single.  Married.  Widowed.  Mothers.  Etcetera.  Etcetera.  We do this for company but also to try to determine if we are “normal” or what we are feeling or experiencing falls within the boundaries of most other people’s experiences.

I argued myself blue with this and that board admin on the very real needs that widowed who have remarried have but to no avail.  It’s a small subset and in the interest of not stirring up the majorities who populate these online communities, the admins chose the path of least effort and headache*.

Still, I see a lot of searches for this type of support and wish I had more to offer in terms of information or advice.

Oh, surely, it can’t be that bad?

Recently, my search log lit up with hits for Ye Olde Widda Board, and after a couple of days of this I was curious enough to click over and check out the latest flaming shit storm.  I have to chuckle a bit when these wars erupt because older widowed members will drag out the same tired excuses and nearly all will lie through their keyboards with some variation on “Oh, these things come and go. No hurt/no foul.”  Which is total bullshit.  The YWBB is one of the foulest of the widow boards.  The nasty threads actually pale in comparison to the hateful private messages some members heap upon remarrieds, early daters and anyone who disagrees with the prevailing notions about grief being a catch-all get out of jail free card.  How anyone can defend the shit-slinging that goes on there still amazes me, but the chief reason it occurs is that the board itself has no moderator and the board admins lack the moral fiber to delete hateful threads or members.

Until this latest flare-up, I can’t recall anyone ever being chastised, much less banned, but two members were blocked after last week’s dust-up. Only one of them really deserved it.  A long time member who is a rabid dog about moving on and should have been punted years ago.  I have no doubt she will end up on another site.  She needs them in order to hang onto the turmoil and ache of early grief.  She’s a vampire really, using newly widowed’s to stoke her own hurt and rage.  I pity the community she lands in next.

But the YWBB’s expense lesson is just one of the examples of why widowed who remarry can’t really avail themselves of existing forums.  They just don’t quite fit in.

As you move on, it’s not grief in any way the books mention.  It’s nuanced and muted and separate from life as it’s being lived.

People who marry widowed like to believe that it’s still grief but just not as often and that it will eventually cease to be completely.  A nice fantasy, but ridiculous.  Widowed who’ve remarried even like to feed that delusion with nonsense that as you move on, you put your late spouse in a non-romantic love context that stems from mutual off-spring or just the general sadness we all feel from time to time about lost loved ones.

The reality is harder to explain.  My late husband holds a part of me that is lost forever – to me or to anyone else.  I seldom think of him only in terms of his sperm donation.  When he pops up, it’s always in a context that is his alone, and while I can’t say that what I feel is missing or longing, I can say that he will always be a part of me in a way that transcends the child we had together.  He doesn’t vanish.  He hasn’t given up his place as my husband**, and he will always be significant in a way that is his alone.

If you are a widowed who has remarried and finds yourself reading this, know that you are not alone.  Others have walked with dual life path and we’ve struggled with those who don’t get it or want to marginalize the effort that goes into blending families and dealing with the unexpected issues that come up.  Know that you’ll be okay.  It’s normal to move on.  It’s normal to want to love again.  It’s not abnormal to love again as fully and as deeply.  It’s not a betrayal to love two people.  It’s okay to insist that extended family, old friends and even children man up and accept your right to move on.  You don’t owe anyone but yourself.

*It’s ironic because many of these sites are run by remarried widowed, who certainly realize how fraught the widowsphere is with anti-remarried’s prejudice.

** Divorced people are very touchy about the terms “husband” and “wife” because they tend to lean toward the very artificial and legal contract side of what marriage is (they remind me a bit of the “marriage is one man/woman” crowd in their self-interested pov).  As if marriage is nothing more than a piece of paper. Marriage is far more than the words and the paper.  It transcends.  But the remarried widowed find themselves tilting at angry windmills when the whole “death ends a marriage just like divorce” arguments begin and that’s just one of many issues that we share as a group that those who haven’t remarried don’t get either.

14 responses to “Dating While Widowed: Support for the Remarried Widowed

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  4. So true. It’s yet another identity crisis. I struggled with trying to define who I was when I first starting dating. I worried (stupidly) that my Widow friends wouldn’t accept me anymore and I also had all those “this doesn’t mean it still doesn’t hurt” thoughts, My husband and I had to be very honest with each other and open about any feelings of being second or a replacement. It helped alot to read the posts on the facebook Widowed and ReMarried page. The only negative response I got from anyone, married, widowed, single…was from my late husband’s in-laws. Blech! I am appalled that you all had to face people who were rude and hurtful to you all regarding being remarried! So wrong!!

    Thanks for a great post!

  5. Hey there! I did experience some unkindness, probably at the hands of the person to whom you alluded. I called her, and her cronies, the Harpy Brigade. Really nasty private messages about how I was not respectful and could not possibly have loved him much since I moved on so quickly. Oddly, the person who is most understanding of my dual relationship–living husband, dead husband–is the living husband. He is the one I can talk to most about my grief issues, and he understands and does not feel threatened.

    • Hello again, Linette! There have been several versions of the Harpy Brigade, so it could have been her or one of her earlier incarnations.

      It’s so important that a new partner not be threatened but I think that stems only partly from their personality and more from being loved and made number one.

      I am glad you stopped by to comment and to hear that things are well with you and The Strongman.

  6. Interesting blog and I can relate. I’m a remarried widow, but waited 14 years before I remarried. Somewhat unusual. I raised my daughters by myself and preferred not to go the blended family route. I pursued a college education and traveled. Took advantage of my single life again. (with children, though) I may have remarried sooner, however, I prayed for God’s direction on that one. I’m here today, to blog, that God steered me in the right direction. I had to finish my grief journey and my children had to finish theirs before I could start a new life. Feel free to pass my blog on:) widowspursuits.blogspot.com
    Cindy

  7. We welcome remarried widows at Widowedvillage.org and I have a large group on FB. Camp Widow — both East and West — includes workshops on remarriage and one specifically for the new partners.

    Also, we kick crazy jerks, bullies, and bigots out of Widowed Village if they somehow manage to get in.

    Worth noting that the founders of Village (me) and of Camp Widow (SSLF.org’s executive director) are both unapologetic remarried widows who write and speak regularly on the topic.

    • I forgot about your FB group for remarrieds. Is there a link at WidVillage for it?

      Generally, I steer those who ask to the WidVillage b/c I know it is moderated and relatively safe. If I mention YWBB at all, it’s with the warning that the admin don’t police and that harassment via posts and private messages is not uncommon when a person falls outside what is considered the “norm”.

      It is worth noting that you and Michelle are remarried and do write/speak about it, but it’s also worth remembering that a lot of widowed bristle a bit when a person’s moving on figures love/marriage again when theirs didn’t/or hasn’t yet. I have seen it in the comments on Widow Voice and read it on the widow blogs. The prejudice is not imagined and those who remarry often keep their questions to themselves even in environments where they would probably find more support than not.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  8. For some reason, I did not experience open animosity when I remarried. A surprising thing, since it was less than 2 years after being widowed when I entered a new relationship. But, because I wanted to avoid causing pain to other members, I did express a need for a “re-coupled” forum that never happened. It’s too bad, because I feel it would have been a very good thing. I did join a “Remarried” board, but the number of members was very small and I never quite felt like I fit in with those members… never could put my finger on why. So, my outlet has been to blog about my re-married issues as they arise. Unfortunately, blogging about it doesn’t usually generate discussion, something I really need at times.

    I am saddened to hear about the latest board problem.

    • You status as a “founder” there probably insulated you a bit, but when I was there, I sifted through the old, old posts and noted that when the group was smaller, people generally got to know each other better and settled their philosophy differences in a more amicable way. I think what happened though is that a few people later on began pushing the notion that grief had rules that were one size fits all. They began to dominate the conversations to the point that nearly everyone pushed the same agenda and those who fell outside those narrow parameters were shouted (sometimes harassed) down.

      There has been more than one call to have a remarried section on the YWBB, but the single widows nearly all pitch a fit and it never happens.

      It is too bad that the YWBB has ceased to be a good place to recommend to newly widowed, but that’s the fault of the admin. You can’t find any site on the Internet these days where some moderation is not employed. It’s not 2002 anymore and if they wish to remain viable, they have to accept that and provide more security for the members via deleting flaming threads, comments and banning bad actors. Grief doesn’t make people assholes. They were assholes to begin with.

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