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After losing the loves of their lives, men are reluctant to marry again
By Tom Blake
Women often ask me why the single men over 60 they meet are reluctant to remarry. In this week’s column, two men who both lost their wives to cancer, share their opinions.
Randy said, “I was married to the one-and-only love of my life for 34 years and I lost her after she battled cancer for six years. Although I am grateful for every year she was in my life, I do not want to go through that experience again. Since my wife’s death, I have had four long-term relationships of more than two years that all ended because these wonderful ladies could not accept what I could give.
“I treated them as a significant part of my life, which they were, with respect, generosity and kindness. We did things big and small together on a regular basis and they were all totally monogamous relationships.
“Maybe, because of this, they invariably fell in love with me and demanded the same from me. It was something I could not give. During the latter stages of each of these relationships I had almost a daily declaration of their love and the question: ‘Do you love me?’
“Not cruelly, but with conviction, I said that I did not. Not to hurt them, not to discourage them or belittle their feelings but to make sure they recognized that I could not give beyond what they were getting.
“I was afraid that even a little acknowledgement, a crumb of ‘yes, I love you too,’ would be a reinforcement of what their idea of the future was. Never was this done lightly or without thought of the pain I was giving, but still, I have always believed that total honestly was and is the best policy.
“My question: If there are so many women out there that value their independence and ‘don’t need a man to complete them,’ why is my position such a problem? Obviously there is no ‘bad’ person in some of these relationships, just two people with different goals of what they want in life, both struggling to achieve them.”
Randy went on to say, when men don’t want to remarry later in life, and they are honest about those feelings with the women they date, “these women have to decide to accept those terms or move on to someone whose goals match their goals with the recognition that at this point in life, finding a caring and compatible relationship is a rare jewel indeed.”
Sid, another widower, said, “I lost my wife to cancer and really miss her every day. The idea that I could ever re-create that relationship has never crossed my mind. While I see a couple of ladies, there is a different kind of ‘love’ with them, very different than my love for my wife.
“One of my friends is a widower and I think he has said it best for me: ‘Am I happy? No. Am I content? Yes.’ And I think that is about the best either a widow or widower can expect. To be contented is OK.
“A lot of the problems I see between older singles revolve around communication issues. I think both men and women want the same thing … someone that they really can get along with … laugh and joke, attend movies with, etc. But the way each of them go about it is different.
“Lastly, in my experience, it takes a widow to understand a widower and vice versa. I have dated divorced women who have also lost their marriage and they have a different view toward the relationship than I had. We are all looking for some kindness and peace with each other so let’s go out and make it happen.”
Regarding marriage, Sid added, “Never say never, but it would take a real special woman who really understands widowhood, like another widow. For instance, I was out to dinner the other night with a good lady friend having a great time, and suddenly I wanted my wife with me having this great time, not this friend. The mind plays tricks on you at the most inconvenient times. As humans, we do survive in some fashion as we muddle along through life.”
Granted, Randy and Sid’s comments do not represent how all older single men feel about marriage. They do, however, point out the need for couples early on in a relationship to clearly communicate each other’s goals on what they want.
The points of view of the two men may help women understand why the men they are dating do not want to marry, and that their reluctance to marry may have little to do with the women themselves. Widowers, in particular, may simply be unable to give as much.
Blake welcomes reader feedback at email@example.com.
Tom Blake is a Dana Point business owner and San Clemente resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at www.findingloveafter50.com.
In an effort to provide our readers with a wide variety of opinions from our community, The Dispatch provides Guest Opinion opportunities in which selected columnists’ opinions are shared. The opinions expressed in these columns are entirely those of the columnist alone and do not reflect those of the The Dispatch or Picket Fence Media. If you would like to respond to this column, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org