Five months ago, I met the most wonderful woman. She lost her husband 3 years prior to us meeting. Our relationship has grown quickly, probably because we’re both 58 and know what we want in a relationship. I’m spending more and more time with her. We are talking about moving in together and possibly getting a new home.
Where I need you to chime in is about the family pictures around the house, most of which include her husband. I realize this is where her children where raised, and her husband was taken from her. She didn’t have a choice as I did with my divorce.
While I’m okay with some photos of her late husband, my heart aches at seeing him as a screen saver on her computer or his nameplate on her desk. At what point can I expect her to change these things or put them away? I know he is deceased and isn’t a threat. I feel she is trying to hang on to some of those memories, which I can understand to a degree.
Yet, I’m thinking she hasn’t fully let go and truly ready to move on. Is this my issue that I’ve got to get past? Do I have some jealousy over a deceased person? Can I gently ask her to change or remove some of these items?
She has asked me if the family pictures bothered me and I responded that this is her children’s home. I guess I’m feeling that if she is ready to move on, she should be putting me first and replacing or removing his things in a few of these places. I’m just trying to understand the process here.
Congratulations! I love hearing success stories of finding love the second time around. And yet, dating a widow can present a host of issues. I can only imagine what it’s like for you to see her late husband’s photos everywhere you look.
The idea of starting over in a new home is a healthy next step. New memories will be forged in this new environment, and you’ll both have a chance to start over.
What about your discomfort with her late husband’s photos?
I love that you’re sensitive and don’t want to hurt her feelings or push her away. If she didn’t sense your uneasiness, she wouldn’t have asked if you were uncomfortable with his photos.
However, you initially told her you were okay with them, which is why she hasn’t taken them down.
And while you understand her need to have some family photos, you’re not okay with so many of them, (especially the screen saver).
That’s what you need to talk about with her. Here’s an easy way to address your concerns.
First, get her buy-in to the conversation. That means asking if it’s a good time to talk about something important to you. Assure her that everything is fine, but without checking in, you won’t have her full attention.
Here’s a Sample Script for a Tough Conversation
- Be clear about your objective: “I love you very much, and I’m looking forward to sharing a new home with you. That’s why I want to talk with you about your husband’s photos.”
- State your intention: “I want to share my point of view and hear what you think so we can reach a better understanding.”
- Start with appreciation: “Thank you in advance for having this conversation with me.”
- State what happened and how you felt: “When you first asked if I was okay with all of your husband’s photos in the house, I said I was. I said that because I understand that you loved him very much, and of course you should have photos of him and your children. But when I see his photo on your screensaver and on the nameplate on your desk, I feel a little unsure of your love for me. I begin to question if you’re ready to move on and start a new life together.”
- Make a request: “Would you be willing to remove his photo from your screensaver and put the nameplate away? It would make me feel so much clearer about your love for me.”
- Listen to her response: “I’d like to know what you think.”
- Brainstorm for a solution together: “What would work for you?”
- Appreciate: “Thank you so much for talking with me. I feel so much better and much closer to you.”
Then, just listen. Be open to her response. I’ll bet you’ll come up with a mutually agreeable solution.
Dating a widow is not always easy. There’s often the shadow of the man she loved. It’s uncomfortable to have these types of conversations. But the more you practice speaking up when your feelings are hurt, the more authentic and intimate your relationship will be, and the easier these types of tough conversations will be in the future.
I spent most of my life struggling with the right words to say when my feelings were hurt. I wanted to tell the truth, but my words came out all wrong. About ten years ago, I discovered communication tools that work. I now talk to men without nagging, pushing, or whining. I have guided thousands of women to communicate better with men.
I’m living proof that you can greatly improve all of your relationships with more effective communication. I want to help even more women (so that you guys will benefit!). That’s why I created a course called “How to Talk to Men So Men Will Listen, And Listen, So Men Will Talk.” It starts next week. It’s never too late to have the deep, authentic, relationship you yearn for.
Photo: Flickr/ Geoff Livingston
This article originally appeared on Last First Date.com.