Some, who have lost a spouse, realize quickly that they possess a deep desire to love another person intimately…again. Here is my experience with this concept, to date, and the areas of my life in which I am processing.
First of all, the desire to remarry, find an intimate relationship, or date, is not an effort to “replace” the one that is gone. These seeds were sown, for me, years ago. From the beginning of my relationship with Jana, I realized that I dearly loved getting close to a woman. My heart longed for such relationship, intimacy, and love. As time, and our marriage, progressed…I loved her and our life together more every day. This “seed” has grown and the very nature of the marriage is what I desire. The object of all of my affections has gone home, but my affections still remain.
Once this truth of my deeper interest in a future relationship was clear to me, I had to deal with it. My first thoughts of getting close to another woman were so difficult to picture, they brought tears to my eyes. Even contemplating talking to another woman hurt my heart, and it was a long time before I could consider doing such a thing.
Probably the biggest hurdle I have confronted, and currently work through, is the idea that, “I am a married man.” Of course, in reality, I am not. I have fulfilled my covenant and honored my wife (and continue to honor her). But, my mind has not caught up to this fact completely. And, married men do not talk, go out, or sit alone with single women! Marriage has been the structure of my life, and I was very comfortable and happy with that structure.
Identifying, and accomplishing, tasks within the social sphere help me to take a step, process, and adjust my thinking. The tasks along the path include simple things like going to an event with widow/widowers to interact with others. Low pressure activity that comes with a high reward. Just the fact of being there – joining in with the conversation – provides mountains of contemplative thoughts regarding the opposite sex, in particular.
The relational tasks that follow, which I have not completely begun, dive deeper into the interpersonal aspects of friendship, which leads to relationship, and eventually, results in love. Every concept surrounding the work comes with much thought and intentionality, at this point. It’s kind of like walking out on an ice covered pond. My foot steps lightly, and I ease my weight onto the top of the ice. I don’t want to fall through, but I need to keep moving to get across the pond. Slowly, carefully…thoughtfully.
To me, falling through the ice illustrates dishonoring Jana. I am fairly certain of where I am going, but I will not go at the expense of hurting my daughters, my family (especially Jana’s family), and Jana’s memory in my heart. My gingerly taken steps are weighing my heart’s ability to “put weight” on the reality of being single.
This journey toward my future relationships is very difficult. A small, but increasing, percentage of me is willing to move in this direction. The movements have to be small, though, it’s all I can handle. God will, and has, supplied the grace I need to walk this grief path. He will guide me in my relationships, too. I know this, because one day, in May of 1997, out of the blue, He introduced me to a most wonderful woman that I never would have met without His intervention. For that, I will be eternally grateful.