Remarriage itself is a daunting undertaking, but when one marries someone who has lost a first spouse, it can also be fraught with issues, emotions, and real-life problems that had never before been written about in the history of periodical literature…until now.
1. Embrace the past – Don’t hide it or run from it.
Ignoring your husband’s grief will not stop it. Nothing will. He will most likely forever grieve his loss. Living in denial of grief’s existence will only prolong your spouse’s grief recovery. Better to allow your husband the opportunities he requires to talk about where he’s at in his grief journey. Better still to have a relationship where you, too, can talk openly and honestly about your issues regarding his grief and his past, and how they both make you feel about your marriage.
2. Accept that your marriage will be one of three hearts.
It’s no easy task to share your husband’s heart with another woman, but in a marriage to a widower, that is precisely what you must learn to live with. But take heart – it IS possible for grief and love to co-exist! Even more encouraging is the knowledge that your husband’s love for his late wife will never diminish what he feels with you!
3. Don’t let pettiness over material possessions get you off on the wrong foot.
If you battle with insecurities about whether or not your husband does or will ever love you as much as he loved his late wife, then resenting her pictures or personal possessions from their marriage in your house may seem like an important point of issue to you. Many WOWs deal with this problem when blending two households into one, and it can cause the most pain and frustration in your new marriage – yet it doesn’t have to.
The keys to healing this problem are communication and compromise. Between the two of you, decide which possessions you are both comfortable with keeping, and which of them you are willing to donate to Goodwill. Remember that you each have special mementos of the past which hold great sentimental value. Be sensitive about the other person’s feelings when deciding on which of these you can live with if they are to be displayed in your home.
4. Be ever vigilant about remaining sympathetic & empathetic when dealing with all the bereaved family members.
While the late wife’s family may or may not accept you into the new extended family fold, remember that they have experienced a great loss and are dealing with the backlash of grief. They may fear that their daughter’s/sister’s/niece’s/granddaughter’s memory will fade into obscurity just because your husband decided to remarry, and may subconsciously blame you for this. If you remain constantly focused on their bereavement, it will become much easier for you to deal with any negativity on their part.
As with anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one to death, allow them their memories and be patient as they learn to grow to love who you are and respect your place in your husband’s life
5. Don’t dwell on the past or let it feed your insecurities.
Was the late wife prettier/sexier/funnier than you? Was she a better cook/lover/friend/parent/etc.? Comparisons are normal, yet when we fall short of our own comparisons, they can feed our insecurities and inhibit the growth of a relationship with a spouse. Your husband did not marry you because you were an exact replica or clone of his late wife. He, more than anyone else, is keenly aware of the unique and special qualities that made him fall in love with you, no matter how different or alike you are to his first wife. Accept that you and the late wife are two different people, both with wonderful characteristics that are worthy of your husband’s love. Remember that the negative differences you create in your own failed comparison to the late wife may be just the reasons why your husband found you to be so appealing!