Ahhh, dating. Sooner or later this becomes every widow’s favorite topic with other widows. And there is a very good reason for this: Because we feel like it’s unacceptable to talk about it outside of the herd.
But I can guarantee you that, for most widows, it’s one of the first things we think about after our husbands die. I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s human nature to wonder what comes next. And for those of us who suddenly find ourselves involuntarily single, we want to know: Am I supposed to start dating? When is it too soon to start dating? What will people say if I start dating? What will they say if I don’t?
It’s very natural to find a mate, settle down, and have kids in our twenties. That’s why hormones were invented and why birth control is not 100% effective. I often say that I miss the stupidity of my twenties when I really didn’t know what marriage meant. I just thought it would be fun to use one of those price guns at Target. I really didn’t think the whole thing through and it didn’t occur to me that by marrying my husband when I turned 20, there was a good chance that I would be with him for 70 years.
But fate is a tricky thing and things didn’t quite turn out that way.
Now, in my 30s and having taken the vows once before, I know full well what it means to be married and smell the same gas, watch the same do-it-yourself shows, and wake up to the same morning breath (which means that he didn’t get up with the kids so that you could sleep in) every day for the rest of my life. So, forgive me if I pause before making that leap once again.
And dating isn’t as easy as it was in my twenties. I know I’m hitting the age where 49% of all the males I know will start to get divorced, thereby flooding the market, but it’s still no picnic. They all come with kids, mortgages, and potentially crazy in-laws to deal with.
Now, funny enough to the male population, I seem to come with more baggage than they do. I’ve never quite understood that. Sure, I’m dealing with a loss, but I think widows and divorcees are pretty much tied in the bitterness and “it’s not fair” department. Believe me, it’s just as hard for me to accept you with your three children from three different wives as it is you to deal with me and my deceased husband. Let it go.
And now that I’m older, I’m pickier. I mean, in my twenties, I was looking for a nice rear and a decent car. Now I’m grilling my potential dates on their benefits packages and the state of their health. `Cause let’s face it, I don’t want to lose another one.
And finally and most importantly–after you’ve been single for awhile and you start to understand that you can handle most things on your own, you start asking yourself, “Do I want to get married again?”
Don’t get me wrong. Marriage is great. But once you get used to sleeping right smack in the middle of your bed with no one to poke because he’s snoring so loud, it’s hard to go back. It would be nice to have someone to bounce the big decisions off of, but on the flip side, you don’t have to ask anyone their opinion on anything. You don’t have to shave. You don’t have to wonder when he’s going to notice that huge-ass dent in your car. If you gain 500 lbs., no one else is going to be irritated about that other than you.
Now, I know this sounds cynical and that really not my intention. But for those of us who got married in our twenties and had only the slightest taste of independence, well, that’s pretty hard to give up now. And the problem is that we’d be giving it up to start all over again. I mean, it took me 11 years to mold my husband into the man I knew he would want to be. And now, when I go out on a date, I can say within the first 20 minutes, “Nope. I don’t have the energy to train that one.” And then I go home and flop myself right smack in the middle of my bed with hairy legs and a box of chocolate.
Hey, it’s not perfect. But in my experience, Russell Stover has never snored.
Catherine Tidd 2010