sapearl asks: I am 24 years old, in a relationship with a 42-year-old widower (which I am not so comfortable with). I love him but he does not trust my love for him, he fears my family won’t welcome him and I might leave him one day. We have stopped taking to each other for a few days now over a minor issue. Recently my family member has been pressuring me about marriage, so I mentioned my boyfriend to them but they didn’t welcome the ideal since he is a widower. They prefer I meet another guy and get married. I am confused what do I do. I already know my boyfriend’s family, we plan to marry in two years time, and my leaving him would break his heart. Should I get another guy? I can’t even discuss the situation with my boyfriend because we are having some problems.
Hi sapearl –
My friend, you’re finding yourself in the sort of complex relationship issue we dogs never face. We like someone or we don’t. We might question whether to trust them or not, but our brains just aren’t big enough to have all these competing feelings and opinions. And as much as we envy your abilities to think and compose and buy groceries, this is one area where I don’t envy you guys at all!
So it strikes me that the key here is to break down the issues one by one.
First, you are “not so comfortable” about dating someone eighteen years older than you, who’s had a previous marriage that ended when his wife died.
Second, he doesn’t trust that you love him.
Third, some minor issue has made you two not speak to each other for a few days.
And fourth, your family is pressuring you to look for another man, not liking that this one’s a widower.
That’s a LOT!
So I want to ask you first, just how you feel about him? You say you love him, but you also say you’re uncomfortable about his situation, that he doesn’t believe you love him, and that some “minor” issue has kept you two from talking… I think you need to look at your feelings a bit more closely.
Maybe you care a lot about him, or are very attracted to him, but it sounds like you’re a bit ambivalent about the relationship as a whole, which is probably why he doubts your love (Remember, while I’m sure his loss was very painful, he’s lived the enormous gift of having someone stay with him truly till death did they part; his standards are probably pretty high!)
Then I’d really like you to think about the age difference between you. It’s fine now, but do you want to be with someone 52 when you’re 34, or 60 when you’re his age? I’m not saying you shouldn’t want that, but you should know what you’re getting into.
Now if you decide that, yes, you really do want to be with him, for sure, then I think your main job is going to be to act accordingly. To stop talking down the fact that he’s a widower, to let him know how committed you are, and to stop these not-speaking-to-each-other periods (I shudder to think what my life would be like if Handsome ever didn’t speak to me for more than an hour or so! And that’d be only if he was REALLY mad!)
And once you’ve worked out what you want with him – to stay together or to not commit, or to even break up… THEN it’s time to talk with your family about what they want. For now, your job is just to figure out what YOU want. As only then will you be able to deal with all these complexities!
Best of Luck!