The world has changed. Dating has changed. Betty Friedan changed the male/female in the work place over forty years ago and women have become more bold. Many women do not believe in enduring relationships and even forego marriage. For the Christian woman, however, cohabitation is unacceptable. Contemplating dating may help the widow realize she has come far in her grieving, or dating can be a disaster for her. Here are lessons I think are important.
Lesson one. TIME. Give yourself time to heal from the loss of your husband. If you date too soon, you will be both comparing and grieving. Some aspect of the person will be different from your late husband and that will bother you. Or if something reminds you of your late husband it can be a grief moment. I dated too soon with the death of my first husband and counseling for a year helped me pick up the pieces. I had heartbreak on top of grief to deal with.
Lesson two. COMMONALITY. Ask yourself if you have anything in common with your date. What commonalities are important to you? For me, the Christian faith and theology are important. Life will continually throw fast balls and without a faith to navigate life's trials a relationship or even marriage will not work in my humble opinion. You have to rise above the loneliness and embrace wisdom. Does the gentleman value Scripture and worship of our LORD? Intelligence and emotional maturity are also important to me. Age, looks and money are not so important to me, but commitment to health might be.
Lesson three. TRANSPARENCY and TRUST. Are you able to be yourself with the date? Do they expect you to act a certain way? My brother advised me to not rap on the date, but his married daughter told me,
"Aunt Carol, just be yourself."
Trust must be earned. Often a divorced person will be very skeptical of a relationship possibility. I married and was widowed by two divorced men, and I think that our common Christian faith helped us be transparent and gain the trust of each other.
Lesson four. SOCIAL MEDIA. What do they use? How do they wish to be contacted or not be contacted? It has all changed. This is not the olden days when women sat by the phone at home and waited to get a phone call. Today there are so many avenues of communication. Our girlfriends like to be contacted on social media, but men don't -- they often need to be in their "man cave". If they are truly shy, you may need to initiate I think if you would really like to get to know them. I like country singer Luke Bryan's song "Crash My Party" and maybe this song is so popular because the apparent extrovert Bryan easily lets his special woman into his life.
A caution is Facebook messaging. Do not accept someone as a Facebook friend who wants to sweet talk you and has no other friends but you. There is no way you can check them out. They may have seen on your profile that you are widowed. Oh well! They haven't even joined E-Harmony or some other site. Messaging you has cost them nothing and could turn out to be a scam.
Lesson five. FRIENDSHIP. Some old-fashioned men like to do the chasing. You walk a fine line between friendship and something more. Probably it is confusing for both of you. At least I think so. The age old advise of going slow applies. It doesn't hurt to just decide on a friendship at first and in the end.
Lesson six. FORGE A NEW LIFE. You don't have to date. You are forging a new life as a widow and it is okay to venture out with new friends both male and female and new experiences. Exercise some caution when you do venture out where men are involved. I took up line dancing when my first husband died and a married gentleman I met at line dancing lessons thought I would enjoy spending the night with him. I shot back,
"Why would I want a temporary fix!
I am the kind you marry.
Go home and love your wife, sir."
Lesson seven. LEARN FROM YOUTH. One high school student told me he would want to go on the first dates his widowed grandmother has to check out the gentleman! One young girl summed it up: "I want a guy to write me snail mail and just hang out with me!" Many young people are so wise.
Above all, widows, let the LORD be your husband. He will never let you down.