I’ve heard about the time frames for refraining from relationships after a spouse has died. My husband passed away less than a month ago.
I’ve spent over three decades feeling alone and lonely. He wasn’t a nice man. I experienced the love bombing, lies, betrayals, and neglect. I was his caretaker the last decade of his life with his failing health.
These past few years I’ve learned a lot. I’ve taken control of my life. I’ve changed and I’m a better person for my experiences. I grieved the loss of my marriage years ago. I was able to forgive him and find happiness.
Now that he’s gone, I feel at peace. I feel liberated and excited for the future.
I want to date soon with the intention of finding my forever companion. I’m concerned this is going to be more difficult in my 50’s and not wanting to fall into the same trap as my first marriage. I also wonder if there are single men with integrity. What advice can you provide?
I’m truly sorry for your loss and the complex emotions you are experiencing during this time. It’s a testament to your strength and resilience that you’re already looking forward with such optimism, despite the difficult relationship you’ve endured. I’m glad to hear that you have taken control of your life and found happiness. As you’ve already begun to heal, it’s understandable that you’re eager to find a partner who respects and values you.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to when you should begin dating again. That decision is personal and should be based on your emotional readiness. Society may prescribe certain time frames for mourning, but your experiences and your feelings are unique to you. Given that you have already been working through your feelings of grief and loneliness while your husband was alive, you may be ready to move forward sooner than others might.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that grief can manifest in unexpected ways and at unexpected times. It’s okay to take your time and allow yourself to fully process these feelings, even if they come up when you’ve begun to date again. In fact, this is often a surprise to those who begin dating after leaving a troubled marriage through death or divorce.
This is why it’s important to take your time. While you may be excited for the future, don’t rush into a new relationship. Allow yourself the space to explore and get to know potential partners before committing to anything serious. Take the time to evaluate their character, values, and compatibility with your own.
It’s also worth considering working with a therapist who specializes in relationships and can provide guidance and support as you navigate the dating world. They can help you process your past experiences, identify patterns, and develop healthy relationship skills.
Concerning your second question, I can assure you that there are indeed single men with integrity out there. Your past experiences with your husband might have eroded your trust in others, but please don’t let this deter you. Even though your lived experience in marriage taught you to mistrust men, I can assure you there are good single men with integrity. A relationship with someone who is committed to growth and learning is more important than being with someone who appears perfect.
When it comes to avoiding a repeat of your first marriage, it’s important to remember the lessons you’ve learned from your past relationship. Identify red flags and know that it’s okay to set boundaries. Listen to your body, emotions, thoughts, and the promptings of the Spirit. You will receive guidance in multiple ways.
Finally, keep in mind that dating in your 50s can be a rich and fulfilling experience. There are many potential partners who are also looking for a meaningful relationship later in life. Being clear about your wants, needs, and expectations can help guide you towards the right person. Your past experiences don’t define your future. You have grown and learned from your previous marriage, and you now have the opportunity to create a healthier and happier relationship moving forward. Trust yourself, stay true to your values, and be patient with the process. I wish you all the best in finding your forever companion.
Geoff will answer a new family and relationship question every Friday. You can email your question to him at ge***@ge**********.com
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About the Author
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He is the co-author of “Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity”, host of the podcast, “From Crisis to Connection”, and creates online relationship courses. He earned degrees from Brigham Young University and Auburn University. He is married to Jody Young Steurer and they are the parents of four children.
The advice offered through Geoff Steurer’s column is educational and informational in nature and is provided only as general information. It is not meant to establish a therapist-patient relationship or offer therapeutic advice, opinion, diagnosis treatment or to establish a standard of care. Although Geoff Steurer is a trained psychotherapist, he is not functioning in the role of a licensed therapist by writing this column, but rather using his training to inform these responses. Thus, the content is not intended to replace independent professional judgment. The content is not intended to solicit clients and should not be relied upon as medical or psychological advice of any kind or nature whatsoever. The information provided through this content should not be used for diagnosing or treating a mental health problem or disease. The information contained in these communications is not comprehensive and does not include all the potential information regarding the subject matter, but is merely intended to serve as one resource for general and educational purposes.
Corey D.May 28, 2023
Constantly amazed but I guess in some ways not surprised by the questions presented for this column. As to this particular sister she said something that is key in all of this, she says she has taken control of her life, that is good. After watching these scenarios play out and so many 2nd or 3rd or more marriages fail I would say to this sister, go slow with the dating, enjoy life, go on vacation by yourself or with a friend or child or grandchild. Serve as a temple worker or service missionary or do community service. And here's one that might seem counterintuitive at first thought, don't limit your socialization to just members of the church. I can relate several stories of sisters I know, one in particular and this is a happy but sad story at same time, a woman I know, good faithful member of the church, her husband also a member of the church but who cheated on her multiple times, finally in her fifties (her own children had been telling her to divorce their dad) ended her marriage. She met a former classmate from high school at a reunion, he was not a member of the church, they ended up getting married and in her own words "he treated her like a queen". Here's the sad part but also a good part, one day they were at the dinner table when he slumped over, he had had a massive heart attack and died, can you imagine going through that ! But here is the blessing in disguise, when I talked to her several months after this, she was getting everything ready to do his temple ordinances and I'm pretty sure intended to be sealed to him.
AlanMay 26, 2023
My second wife told me of troublesome experiences dating as an older person. There are some fine older men out there but there is a reason some men are divorced. Don't be in a hurry and seek guidance from the Spirit before making a commitment.