In her Jpost column Uncommon Sense, Geulah responded to readers’ letters.
I am a 75-year-old widower. My late wife died after more than 50 years of romantic marriage. During the four long years of her illness she insisted that “afterwards” I should rebuild my life, because “that’s what you need, and I want you to be happy “.
After she died, my world fell apart. That’s why it’s so bewildering for me to find myself in love, only a year later. I didn’t go looking for this; I met a widow by accident, waiting on line at Bituach Le’umi. We want to get married. She’s been alone for many years, and her children approve. In contrast, my children and their spouses are disgusted and have even refused to meet her. Friends have also reacted coolly, hinting that if I can get involved with a woman so soon, something must have been wrong with my relationship with my wife. Others have warned me that my friend, whose financial status is lower than mine, may have ulterior motives .
— Confused and Dejected —
Dear Confused ,
The grief and pain that accompany the loss of a beloved spouse are unbearable. Every corner of the house reminds you of what you no longer have.
Many people think that someone who had a wonderful marriage will never be able to remarry, because any new relationship will pale in comparison. The price of a past happy marriage, they say, is the loss of any chance for love and contentment in the future .
However, in many cases this is simply not true. People who have experienced the mutual thoughtfulness and generosity of a good marriage, and the specialness of a spouse, know what blessings these are and yearn to have them again. Seeking a new marriage is not betrayal of your wife: it is a compliment to her .
So why do your children object, and why are your friends raising doubts ?
Your children have lost the only mother they will ever have. If THEY aren’t looking for substitutes, why are YOU?, they wonder. How could Dad have possibly gotten past his grief so fast? They may not realize that you did much of your grieving while your wife was still alive and the illness inexorably devastated both her body and your life together. Your sadness and loneliness began long ago, during long hospitalizations and periods when drugs and illness dulled her consciousness. Your children, busy with their own lives, were probably less involved in caring for her. When she died, they were left grieving, but not alone. It is hard for them to grasp how different your situation is from theirs .
There is also another possibility. They love you and DO see your awful loneliness. They, and your friends, are worried that this loneliness may be interfering with your ability to evaluate whether your new friend is the right match for you. They don’t want to see you stride hopefully into a relationship that might hurt you more than the isolation you are trying to escape.
Your own confusion stems from feelings, thoughts and doubts similar to those that others are expressing out loud. You are — justifiably! — angry that your family is critical of a woman they haven’t even met. Ask them firmly to get to know her, not “to meet the woman I love” but rather “so that you can help me make a decision”. This isn’t just lip service. If loneliness has indeed blinded YOU, your children may really be able to see more clearly. On the other hand, if grief has impaired THEIR thinking, becoming acquainted with this decent woman should allay their fears.
If you do decide to marry, prevent present or future bitterness with a prenuptial agreement that guarantees both of you comfort and dignity “until 120”, but preserves the rights of your respective heirs .