Natasha is a published poet and writer. She loves researching and writing about relationships.
What to Expect When Dating a Widower
Dating someone who has been married before and has created a life with someone else before you is not easy, and there are many struggles and challenges that you will face.
Thinking very carefully before entering into this relationship is of vital importance, especially if you have not been married before or if you have had no children of your own, as you might not get the chance to be married or he might not want to have any more children.
What to Consider
A widower has made a life with someone else and he has been through a wedding and in-laws and has created a family already, so before you start to get serious, you need to discuss a future and what you would like before you or he can fully commit.
A widower is even more of a challenge as with everything in life, time is the only thing that can heel wounds. You need to be sure that he is in love with you and that he is over his wife or ex.
It is also important to understand that there is an external family that will want to share experiences with the children. Grandparents and siblings of your boyfriends late wife will want to stay in contact, and there is no option here but to accept it.
Memories of their mother will be important to them, and your boyfriend or husband will want to share these with his children so that they will always remember who bore them. This is also something that you will have to accept.
For a widower that was almost divorced before, there might be no hidden feelings, but for a man that has just lost his wife, you can be certain that it will take time for him to move on and dating as soon as it has happened will ensure that he is not over his late wife.
Should you date him soon after his has lost his wife, your life will not be a happy one as he will always be thinking of his late wife and will want to spend as much time as he can soaking in all the memories, his children will be constant reminders of his late wife and he might still be in mourning, with depressive behaviour and will not show much interest in you or your life.
Children Who Have Lost a Parent
Children that have lost a parent might display many emotions and act out, after losing a parent. You need to be patient and understand that they are hurting. It is important to know that they might suppress their real feelings and resent you. They will resent you in some way and if not now, later there will come a time where they will hate you and wish for their real mom to be there, instead of you.
Some children cry and scream and mourn right away, letting out all their emotions; anger, rage, sadness and finally acceptance. This is the best way for them to move forward.
Other children hold their emotions in and they move forward but will one day in the future have an emotional outburst, either with resentment towards you or they will behave in inexplicable ways by displaying unusual behaviour in many different ways. They could become distructive or isolate themselves from their peers and home- life.
Kids who are six years and younger will not have much of a problem moving forward as they are too little to understand what has happened but children who are six and up will know what has happened and you will have to face the fact that they will need help with understanding the pain and emotions that they will be going through.
It is of benefit to both the parents and the children to ensure that you have an open discussion about what has happened and how everyone feels. You will need to work through this as a unit in order for your family to move forward and be happy and at peace.
Some families need to speak to someone other than their parents or family and therapy is a good idea to get children who suppress their feelings, to deal with their grief.
Read More From Wehavekids
Children need you to heal the hurt and let them know that there is hope for the future. You need to let them know that they can turn to you at anytime for any reason, to speak about their hurt.
Adopting Children From Older Ages
It is extremely difficult to take on children that have already been raised by a mom and dad. You are coming into a family that have already built a life and made their set of rules.
Your ideas of raising children might be very different to the way your partner has been doing it and change cannot happen overnight.
If they have been used to doing things in a certain way, it is extremely difficult to change bad habits or create new rules.
As partners you need to know what is expected from each of you and the children in order to build a life and a home together.
A mutual understanding between partners is important and you need to be supportive as well as your partner needing to support you too.
Your family will eventually develop and grow with the rules or ideals from both your backrounds, if you work together.
If you are alone in the way you believe children should grow up, then you are wasting your time as you will never gain any respect and your home will fall apart.
As long as you give love and affection to the children and make them feel that they belong, you will already be halfway there.
The older children remember more and it is important to let them talk about what they remember and allow them the freedom to speak about the past, whenever they feel the need to do so.
You are a parent but at the same time, they already have a mother, even if she is no longer there, she will always be considered their mother and you need to ensure that her legacy continues through to her children.
Becoming Mom to the Little Kids
The younger the child, the easier it is to raise them. They do not understand what has happened and they will not remember much.
It is your job to ensure that they will grow up to know who their mother was and to give them as much information as you possibly can.
Raising the younger ones is a lot easier as they will learn from you and your ideas and family values will be easier to install.
In the beginning, they might be a little moody and cry but this is because they are missing the nurturing, which you cannot give them but as a women, we all have a maternal instinct and all you will need to do, is give lots and lots of love.
Patience is something that you will need a lot of and as long as you try your best to give them all the love that you can, then you will be fine.
What Children Expect From You
If you have come into a relationship before the children have lost a parent then things might be a bit easier for you because they are already familiar with you and might be able to communicate their feelings to you.
You can never expect to take their mother's place and it will be important for them to learn everything about their late mom, they will want to look at photographs, they will want to see home movies and they will also want to stay close to their mother's family.
The children will want information from their father and he will be expected to give them that information freely.
Family of the late wife, might resent you from the very beginning as it is part of their grieving process and they will also be unsure of your intentions with the children.
Having an open communication with them is important so that they can see that you do care and you will love and cherish their little ones.
The children will expect you to give them information about their mother and they will want to be in a loving and understanding environment with people that they can share their feelings with.
Be a mom, someone to talk to and let them know that you are there for them. Help them heal and let them know that there is hope for a future.
Fathers Who Are Widowers
Men do not do things in the same way that women do and most of the time, ensuring that children eat properly, get enough sleep and stay healthy is up to the mother to do.
Father's usually allow their kids to eat sweets whenever they want to and let them go to bed anytime as they do not think maternally. Women understand that if you eat too many sweets you will get sore teeth, if you do not go to bed and get enough rest, you will not be healthy.
With this you need to know that he will feel guilt and the children will be given things and they will be allowed to do anything that they want in order for their father to stop them from feeling sad.
Making rules and taking over from the bad habits that he has formed, will be a very challenging and daunting task as the children will resent you or they will let you know that their father has allowed them to do what they do.
Father's do not really think of the consequences of eating badly, or lack of sleep or even too much television as it has always been left for mom to deal with, whilst dad is at work.
Changing bad habits is something that needs to be done immediately or else it will never change and things might get unpleasant otherwise.
You and your partner need to talk about health and the care that children need so that you both understand from the very beginning.
Your partner also needs to understand that your commitment to him and his family is a huge responsibility and that if you are in it for the long - term, then you have to get the respect as a parent and the support from your partner.
Allow him to give his children what he wants to but there are limits for guilt and it cannot be something that is done too often as this will teach the children that love can be bought and when they act up, they will know that dad will give them what they want.
Give him enough time to help them grieve and eventually talk about things but once they have all settled then it is time to ensure that the children grow up knowing about discipline, respect and love, unconditionally.
If he does not support your efforts by talking behind your back or by allowing his children to treat you badly, then your relationship with him and the children will never work and you will have only frustration and hurt.
Adoptive or Legal Guardian
When taking on the responsibility of becoming a legal guardian or adoptive parent to your boyfriend or husbands children, you need to know that the road you choose is not going to be an easy one for you.
There will come a time, now or years down the line where the children will wish that you were not around and they will either hate your or accept you, but they will never really see you as a mother figure.
You could be living happily and suddenly find that the children you have sacrificed your own life for, will turn around and acknowledge their father and their birth mother. You might not be mentioned or thanked for being there as a parent.
With this, you must understand that you need to do the best that you can with raising them and even though they will one day knock you down or leave you alone, the consolation will be that you did a great job at raising these children as your own and as long as they are healthy, happy and successful, then that is all you could hope for.
Great Advice for Women Dating Widowers
These points are of great value to you if you are thinking of going out with a widower.
Before you date, you must know whether your partner is grieving or if he is ready to move forward.
You can never replace the children's mother but you can be a goo mom, that will love and care for them.
The family will always want to remember the mother and memories will always come up and be referenced.
Never compare yourself to their late mother
Ensure that there is a mutual respect between you and your partner about how you would like to raise the children.
Give them all the love that you can even though, they might never really appreciate it.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: I have been seeing my widowed (4 years) partner for nearly a year, his daughter of 21 lives at home with her boyfriend. My partner has re-decorated his bedroom and wants me to stay over some nights, his daughter has a real issue with it still being her mum's bedroom and gets very upset when my partner tries to broach the subject of me staying. We book weekends away, so we can be intimate, but we can't keep doing this. How do we get around this issue with his daughter's discomfort?
Answer: It's never going to be easy for his daughter to accept you but I think that the father needs to sit down with her and explain that, he loved her mother and she will never be replaced, but he has found someone that he loves and would like to share his life with. It might be uncomfortable but she needs to understand that he also needs love. Once he has spoken to her you can then tell her that you are not taking her mom's place and that you do have feelings for her father who would like to be happy. She will eventually accept it.
Question: I am a 40-year-old man, dating a 48-year-old widow with two boys. I have three kids from my previous relationships. I live with my partner and her kids, the oldest being 18 years. He is lazy and doesn't even study. We've been dating for 5 years without kids between us and now we have been married for 6 months with her kids and one of her cousins. We fight about kids a lot. I don't know what to do. Is separation an option for my troubled marriage?
Answer: Five years is a long time to date someone. You got married knowing that the kids would be there and of course you are going to argue about them. It's not easy to adjust when you have kids involved but the most important thing is that you love each other and that means that you should be able to communicate your thoughts and feelings. If her son is lazy then perhaps you need to talk to your partner about it and come up with something for him to do. Maybe he is lost and needs some guidance. If not then talk to your partner in a friendly manner to see what you can both come up with. Life is going to be difficult to adjust to with kids that have lost a parent and have a new male presence and separating is not the answer if you love her. Talk calmly and find solutions before you argue.
Question: I’m dating a widow with four kids from ages 8 to 12 for the past 4 months. He is already talking about love and our future. Could this be possible or is he trying to fill a void?
Answer: Some people mourn faster than others but I think 4 months is rather soon. How long was he married? Go with your Instincts here and take it slow because it is a huge responsibility.
Question: His 32 year old daughter seems to be in continued grief (via Facebook) for every single anniversary, birthday, holiday, and Mother’s Day. When does it subside? It’s been 24 years, and she still posts pictures of her mother and father together...more now. This includes wedding pictures, so where does that leave me? Then I have to see all the comments from family and friends.
Answer: You should talk to the daughter about her feelings. She has every right to grieve and remember her mother, celebrating her. Tell her that you respect her feelings but ask her if she could avoid the wedding pictures because it is insulting to you.
Question: My partner's 32 year old daughter seems to be in continuous grief (via Facebook) for every single anniversary, birthday, holiday, and Mother’s Day. When does it subside? It’s been 24 years, and she still posts pictures of her mother and father together...more now. This includes wedding pictures, so where does that leave me? Then I have to see all the comments from family and friends.
Answer: A child's love for their mother never dies and grief never goes away we just learn to live with it. If you have been together for a very long time then perhaps you should talk to her father about photos that are appropriate. Talking about her mom might help too because perhaps she never got to communicate her feelings. It's difficult to be in this situation because you must understand that you are not the first love.
Question: I'm pregnant with my partner who lost his late partner a year ago in a car that she was driving. He wants his late partners family (parents, cousins etc) to be involved. What boundaries should I set? I didn't want their involvement but I know it would be harsh to stop them from seeing our child.
Answer: Being pregnant is a wonderful experience and to avoid it becoming stressful, you need to decide what makes you comfortable and what doesn't. Give your partner the opportunity to let his late partners family meet the baby but I think possibly, the pregnancy itself should be you and your immediate family. Perhaps they can visit a day in the hospital or when you get home. When you feel uncomfortable or something is not right, then talk to your partner.
Natasha Pelati (author) from South Africa on June 27, 2020:
It might make things a little awkward if they break up. It isn't really a problem as they are not blood relatives unless you plan on getting married or have more kids, in that case you should probably let them know that this might become complicated. For now, I think it's alright
MIKE ADAMS on June 27, 2020:
A man has a son and a woman has a daughter, both are widow and widower.
There children are dating each other, meaning that they are in love.
How? Pls I need a help to understand this, is it possible?
Natasha Pelati (author) from South Africa on March 27, 2019:
Thanks for your response. This is not about females and males but about women dating widowers with kids. It is not an attack on anyone. Unfortunately, it is the truth that some men, not all are this way inclined and yes it is foolish but we learn through experience.
Anon on March 27, 2019:
I have to agree with Mark Robertson, I am a widower with a young daughter and have never heard such rubbish/sweepoing statements made about men. From experience and speaking with other widows and widowers I have found that females are far less resilent than males.I do not know which statistics you have been looking at but clearly ones from individuals that lack basic common sense!
Natasha Pelati (author) from South Africa on December 19, 2018:
Thank you for your comments Mark. There are many fathers that have raised children on their own and succeeded, there are many that have just given their children anything to keep them happy. There are also dads who have given the responsibility to other people. Statistics show the latter and this is why the article goes more for the person dating a widower.
Mark Robertson on December 19, 2018:
Wow, I've never read such sweeping generalisations about a father. What a load of bollocks. I've raised my daughter on my own, but even if that hadn't been the case, I know plenty about discipline and not letting my kid eat sweets and stay up late. What world are you living in?
Cahy Mallagar on October 02, 2017:
Hi, I had a rough marriage with my ex for 25 years. He isn't aware he is emotionally, verbally and mentally abusive and cheated on me so many times with different women. Ever since I divorced him I never trusted men until I met my boyfriend who is a widow.
He has three grown up kids and so as mine. We'd been together for a year. Sad to say, but he and his late wife had a rough marriage. His kids didn't know about it. He stayed for the love of his children. She suddenly passed away. It's less than a year when we started dating. He wasn't looking to be in a relationship, it just happened after six weeks of hanging out once a week. He's been so wonderful and so good. Two of his kids have not accepted our relationship. I understand that. I am a mother. I feel how they feel. My boyfriend loves me. He is not the type of guy who would say things he didn't mean. He is a man of few words. I'd been spending time with him in his house with his latte wife. I was honest with him about not feeling comfortable in their house and being surrounded with her pictures and her stuff and I want to be respectful to her. I am a mother and have no intention of replacing her in her kids life. Mother's are irreplaceable. She is who she is and I am me. We are two different people. I cry and feel with my man whenever we came across her late wife's things that we had to pack. He thought it's time to move forward for it's so hard to be around his house. I told him it's very uncomfortable for me and his kids being in their mom's house and I get that. He told me that even before she passed away he was already looking into getting a new place and smaller this time. He got one. He asked me to move in with him and we are.
I never realized it's hard being with a widow than being with someone who is single. I am feeling uncomfortable having her pictures around in our future place, but I know I have to understand and accept it out of respect for his boys and their feelings. My boyfriend doesn't know the things to keep and memories of their mother to keep for their kids and future grandchildren and I feel obligated to keep it for them. I don't know why I feel how their mother feel. As much as it makes me feel uncomfortable being surrounded with her things, I feel guilty not having some of it in our new place to make their kids feel good having their mother's pictures around. I sometimes don't know what to do. My boyfriend wants some of her wall frames for their kids to see and I totally understand that, but it still makes me feel uncomfortable. I have no doubt that my boyfriend loves. I have never felt so loved in my entire life. The kind of life I have never experienced from my previous relationship.
I am not welcome to any of his two kids party's and we spent xmas and New year's apart and Thanksgiving last year because of his kids. as much as he wanted me around, I couldn't. I didn't wanna put him in such position and so as his kids. I don't know what to do. Holidays are coming again and we are officially moving in together sometime this month. Is it ever gonna get better? I know time heals wounds, but it makes me depressed thinking about holidays and seeing my boyfriend sad and hurting coz he couldn't get me and his kids together in one place. I love him dearly. I am not sure sometimes how to make things better. I'd been very understanding and sensitive to his kids feelings especially to my boyfriend.
Any advice would be highly appreciated.
Natasha Pelati (author) from South Africa on December 12, 2016:
I think for now you should enjoy her company and when she is ready she will introduce you to her kids. You have to remember that taking on an already made family has its challenges and you have to be prepared to put the children first. I think 8 years is enough time to have grieved and if you want to tell her how you feel than just do it.
D on December 09, 2016:
I am currently dating a widow. She is 45 and I am 36. She is absolutely amazing. I can only normally see her once or twice a week with her schedule. She has 2 kids. Daughter 13 son 10.Their father passed away 8 years ago. When I am around her I feel that my love for her is getting stronger and I need to tell her. I am very hesitant to do so because I have not met her kids, also i do feel uncomfortable when she mentions his name. She does not tell stories they experienced just normally something like similar to "Mickey used to do that". I do want to marry someone one day but it is very difficult to know how to approach this situation when I do have very strong feelings for her. Any advice would be appreciated!
Natasha Pelati (author) from South Africa on April 25, 2016:
Nani - it is never easy for children when it comes to change. Teenagers can be very difficult especially if they are girls as they will get jealous and sometimes hurtful because they assume you are taking their fathers love away. You need to be honest with them and tell them that you are not there to replace their mother but you will be there to support them and they should feel free to speak about their mother or their feelings. Let them know that you will be there as a parental figure and both you and your partner need to be ready to stand together as one or it will not work at all. The children need to know that you are both strong together and that you love each other as well as understanding that you will both love them too. I think a sit down as a family will be a good idea so that you can discuss what your plans are and let them ask questions if they need to but you also need to make them understand that it is going to happen and that they will be loved either way.
Nani on April 23, 2016:
Thank you so much for your useful insight. I have been dating a widower for 5 months and we already met our respective children from previous marriages. His late wife has passed away 2 years ago and his children are young teenagers. Mines are young adults, both in University. We have been talking about moving together, specially because we live in different cities and, because of the distance, we can only see each other twice a week. We miss each other constantly but when we get together we do many things that we both enjoy: dancing, movies, dinner, spiritual talks, etc. We do not know how to address the big change and we do not want to hurt his children who, already suffered a lot. Do you have a thought you could share with us about how to deal with this complicated issue? Thank you kindly.
Natasha Pelati (author) from South Africa on April 13, 2016:
Kat teenagers at home can be very tiring as they are demanding and the house seems to be very small at times but this is having kids and it is good that they are home and not wanting to be away from you as one day it will change and you will be longing for them to come and visit you. I think in every family you need to have a date night with your spouse so that it doesn't feel as though you are only mom and dad all the time. A date night allows you to be a couple where you can talk freely and feel relaxed without having to discuss domestic issues. Plan a night out for the two of you at least once a week so that it is an escape away from home life and you will feel refreshed and appreciated too.
It is also important to keep the kids busy if they are home all the time and get them into routines where they study at a certain time and go to bed at a certain time, allowing you relax time on the couch in peace. Chores are also a good idea as it gives them responsibility which keeps them busy. When you feel that you need a time out, you need to discuss this with your spouse so that it doesn't bottle up and let you explode later on. Organise for the kids to do outside activities as well so that it gives time to clean and do things that you cannot do when they are there. Perhaps a sport or an extra mural activity.