Widow guilt. Dating a deceased friend’s husband

On Life and Love after 50 e-Newsletter – November 16, 2018

by Columnist Tom Blake

Should this widow feel guilty about dating a deceased friend’s husband?

Champ Donna, a widow since 2011, emailed, “My friend passed away from cancer two years ago. Her husband is the man I am talking to now. We live in two different Eastern states, not too far from each other. We are both in our early 60’s, and at the end of this year, we are retiring.

I didn’t know him at all. I have seen him three times in the past 30 years for about 10 minutes just to say hi.

My friend said that she and he never got along over 25 years of marriage. She told me some things about him, but I never commented or added anything that was negative because I did not know him.

I would always try to fix things with my feedback about whatever was going​ on, as to how she felt about him. My friend–rest her soul–was very opinionated, controlling and bossy with her husband and the children, which I witnessed one of the three times I saw him. ​It got to a point when my friend and I talked over the phone, we never talked about him.

We talked three times​ a year, but I was the one that would call, until​ that one day she called me to tell me she had cancer. By this time, she and he had been separated​ for 10 years.​ Now she is gone…their​ children are grown and on their own, and are not close to him, because of her.

He and I have been talking over the phone for two years. We have become​ good friends and have a lot in common​. I would like to see him, but I have guilt​ that he was my friend’s​ husband, hanging​ over my head.

Now, we are just friends. ​But what I am feeling​ guilty​ ​about is…if we do start​ seeing each, how would his grown children feel about us being​ together?

His marriage and family life were​ calmly dysfunctional​…if you can picture that. We are both reluctant​, but I know we will see each other soon. We are not getting any younger.

We are both​ healthy​​ and able to still have fun before we die​, so why not? BUT THE WIDOW GUILT?”

My response to Donna: “Ditch the guilt. Your friend had been separated for 10 years. They had a miserable marriage. Why worry about his children? You say he is not close to them.

If you enjoy each other, go for it, now! Live in the present.

Have you been together in person at all? Do that. You might find you want to be together or you may find you don’t.

You weren’t that good of a friend of hers-talking to each other only three times a year.

One concern: if the family is dysfunctional, do you want to get involved in that?

Wait no longer.”