When we’ve been married and felt the love, care and protection this brings, and perhaps raised a family, widowhood is incredibly difficult. When marriage is destroyed by death, widowers are forced back into singleness, maybe with children to support as well. Being single again after years of marriage in later life can be a traumatic time and deciding whether we want to re-marry or not is far from simple.
This week we have a guest blogger, Deryn Van Der Tang, drawing on her own experiences of divorce and widowhood and sharing the wisdom God has shown her along the way.
This is a situation that I have personally gone through and helped others to navigate as well. It’s a hard thing to think about, with no easy answers. I think age plays a big part, and over the years, I have been drawn to what Paul says in 1 Timothy.
1 Timothy 5:14 reads “So I think it is better for these younger widows to marry again and have children and take care of their own homes”.
Paul was quite aware of the needs a young woman would have. After a time of grieving and allowing her heart to heal, a young widow can happily start seeking marriage, or in our modern context, start dating again. There is nothing wrong with wanting to do this.
If there are children involved though, dating is going to be more difficult as they need to be considered at every stage of the dating process. It’s not a good idea to introduce the children to every date until there is an exclusive relationship that is headed towards marriage.
It’s essential to evaluate your potential partner’s character
Taking on someone else’s children often requires a special measure of grace, and maybe both of you have children. Blended families require a lot from each member to be successful.
Therefore, it’s essential to evaluate your potential partner’s character and consider these challenges – will they be willing to adopt and/or adapt?
Your church family can help you pray through any potential problems before you take any step, but I think many young widows will head towards marrying again, and that’s totally fine.
With older widows, I think it often becomes a matter of personal choice.
I know widows who had been married for many years to one partner, and no one else would be able to take his or her place; it’s nearly impossible for someone else to compete with the memory.
Many older widows are therefore happy to remain single, forming friendships with others/other widows and getting involved in the community, the church, etc. With grown children, they now have new freedom to do many of the things that they couldn’t do in the past.
But no matter what age we are, if we do want to date again, what lessons are worth learning before we dive in?
I Dated Again
I lost my second husband when I was middle-aged and didn’t want to face the rest of my life alone; looking at 30-40 years down the road without a partner was daunting for me.
I obviously needed a long time to mourn properly, but I was aware that my friends were coupling/coupled off and settled into happy marriages. I always felt like the third or fifth wheel at any social event.
Society is couples and families oriented, so I found myself being isolated as I made an awkward number. I wanted to travel, but the single supplement is disheartening – why should a person be penalised for being alone? (Read 2 Things You Should Always Do To Build Strong Communities)
I did not choose to be alone. The loneliness closed in on me, especially at night. I missed the companionship and presence of my late husband.
What Did I Do?
Dating in middle age can be intimidating, as life has changed considerably since I first dated and married. Where do you meet suitable people? I didn’t belong to a community with a lot of single older adults in it, so I was forced into trying to meet people online.
I needed the prayer and support of my church family and children
As a Christian, I didn’t feel comfortable meeting people at the bar scene. I also felt very vulnerable, as I was lonely and desired companionship and affection – I had still to experience the plethora of scammers and people wanting to take advantage of me over the internet.
I needed the prayer and support of my church family and children before I embarked on this journey. I also had to develop discernment and skills in weeding out scammers and people who pretended to be someone they were not.
Unfortunately, not everyone who says they are Christian is a Christian. I would meet in a public place for the first few times, taking things slowly, I did not give out too many personal details, and I made sure that someone knew where I was and who I was meeting.
There are wonderful genuine people out there too who are also lonely and sincerely looking for a new mate. I pray that God will help us find each other. (Read 15 Questions for Building Mutually Enjoyable Fulfilling Relationships)
Imagine if married couples and the church family could support widows and include them in their circle of social activities, making opportunities for them to meet suitable people and support them in finding a new mate. (Read Single Again: Dating After Divorce)
In your experience, how good are churches at helping us to date after widowhood? Comments welcomed below.
Deryn is a writer, artist, nature and travel lover who is passionate about helping people transform their life experiences. She has been divorced, remarried and widowed and has moved countries four times. She has three adult children and three grandchildren. Deryn runs divorce recovery workshops and writes a blog to help people to find God’s grace and navigate major life transitions.
W: crossingmybridges.com FB: /Derynsbridge Insta: @derynvan