Thursday, November 15, 2012

Guilty as Charged

     I cannot begin to tell you how much Vee means to me.  At the risk of sounding too "mushy" I have to admit that often times I find myself thinking throughout the day about how wonderful of a person and spouse she is for me.  You see, I came from a long relationship where there was no communication, no trust, no desire to be a "team", no support or encouragement, no intimacy, and no hope.  I had tried for many years to get marital counseling, to build trust and communication, to be a "team"... but what I eventually discovered is that no matter how hard I tried, or how many times I tried, it took two people to make things work.  The end result was always the same - I was alone in my efforts, in my marriage, and in raising my daughters.

     On the other side, Vee was in a healthy and strong marriage with Jeremy.  Sure, they had issues like any other married couple but overall they were happy, content, and epitomized the statement of "the perfect couple."  They knew what it meant to be a "team", have honest and open communication, and were both dedicated to their marriage.  They had mutual likes, friends, and interests.  They enjoyed singing together, raising their family together, and living life together.  They had every intention of growing old together...

     ...then Jeremy died.

     After Jeremy's death Vee's focus changed.  It took some time, but it changed.  She began to realize the importance in life.  She began to separate out the "small things" in life from the issues that really matter.  She learned how to love deeper, to love freer, and to look for opportunities where she might have only seen the normal everyday occurrences before...

     ...this is where I came in.

     For me, beyond the emotions of grief and loss of Jeremy's death lay other emotions attached to the relationship I have with Vee...


     You see, the only reason I get to experience this amazing love, the only way I get to spend my life with Vee, the only way we get to have this amazing family is because Jeremy died and because Vee had to lose her husband.  And then it hits me... I benefitted from someone else's loss. The thought of that still cuts me to the core.

     To this day I still don't know how to cope with knowing that the only way I got to this point with such an amazing woman is because Jeremy died too early and Vee lost her love.  When I think about it too much the feeling of guilt overcomes me.  I know I didn't cause Jeremy's death.  I know I didn't cause Vee to grieve.  At the same time I know without those events my life would look entirely different.

     I don't have any hard and fast answers to helping deal with the feelings of guilt that come from feeling like you have benefited from someone else's pain, but here are a few things that I have tried to remember when those feelings of guilt become strong...    

1) I love Vee from this point forward.
When I fell in love with Vee she had already lost Jeremy.  Her life with Jeremy present was no longer an option.  She will never get the opportunity to live out her days with Jeremy which means she will be living them out some other way.... that means I get the opportunity to love her for who she is.  Sure, there are parts that are broken but there are also parts that are uniquely healing, strong, and impossible to obtain without going through such a traumatic event.  This is where I found her and this is where I fell in love with her... and I can' imagine her any other way.

2) I dismiss hypotheticals and "what if's".
Vee and I are often asked hypothetical questions about our situation, such as "If you would have known how Jeremy were going to die would you have been with him... or taken him to the doctor when he had a severe headache...etc?" or "Comparing the life you had with Jeremy as to the one with Steve, which one seems to fit you better?"  These are all hypothetical questions and could drive a person crazy! I sometimes find myself here thinking "Where would I be if Jeremy was still living?" These questions only lead to me feeling guilty about the love I have found and the truth is... I cant go back and change a thing.  I can only move forward.  So, whenever my mind begins to ask the hypothetical questions I try my best to dismiss them and live in the present situation.

3) I accept reality.
Vee and I both came from really traumatic life events.  Those events are true and real and whether we like it or not, life is not always fair.  My reality prior to Vee was that I had been in a relationship where the other person was not in love with me and that out in various ways... as hard as it was, that was reality.  Prior to me, Jeremy and Vee were in a great relationship... then Jeremy died... and as hard as it was, that was Vee's reality.  We can't go back and change things, so we are forced to accept the reality of our circumstances and go forward from there.

4) I cherish the present.
The truth is, I am really blessed!  I have a wonderful wife who loves me and accepts me the way I am.  She encourages me, supports me, and loves me like I have never known before.  I cannot imagine anyone loving me anywhere close to the way that she does.  Several years ago a woman at my church was trying to help me put things into perspective and shared with me a story about a "good wolf" and a "bad wolf."  She asked me which wolf I thought would grow bigger and stronger than the other.  I knew there was some kind of catch even though I wasn't smart enough to figure it out, so I waited for her answer.  "The strongest one is the one you feed... so don't feed the bad wolf."  I could spend a lifetime feeding the "bad wolf" by thinking about hypotheticals and wondering how things might be different "if"... but then I would only be wasting the time that I could be using to enjoy what God has given me now.  So I try very hard to feed the "good wolf" by soaking up every day and by recognizing the wonderfully amazing life, woman, and family that God has blessed me with.

     In the last blog I mentioned I wanted to share some of the challenges that Vee and I have had go walk through in our relationship.  I want to encourage you (whether you are dating/married to a widow... or a widow looking to date or marry) to ask any questions that you would like and I will do my best to answer them as honestly and openly as I can.   I can't promise I will give any solutions, but I can at least share our journey with you.




  1. Steve, I want to encourage you to continue to embrace the awesomeness of where you are right now. You know that God placed you where you are.

    But... If you want to let your mind wander and feel guilt, think about this: God could have put you with another wonderful woman just as easily. But He put you with Vee. She needed you just as much as you needed her. You are not there because Jeremy died, but because it was what worked for you and what worked for Vee. It could just as easily have been a different woman in your life, and Vee could still be struggling, floundering in her grief, without knowing your love.

    Aren't you glad you can be there for her? There's no need to feel guilt. :-)


    (I know, it's a little weird to get hugs from someone who doesn't know either of you, but that's too bad.)

  2. I won't know where to send the questions, but here are a few. I am in the same situation as you and when alone conjure up all these crazy thoughts.

    1) Do you worry about what will happen when you, Vee and Jeremy are all in heaven at the same time?

    2) How do you handle thoughts of comparing yourself and Jeremy in your mind?

    3) Do you ever feel the need to talk about your past marriage when Vee is talking about Jeremy? Or do you avoid discussion of your previous marriage?

    4) Do you ever worry about the continual talk of your past will prevent you and Vee from forming your own memories or at least cloud over them?

    I am in a different situation as we don't have kids, and we don't talk about our pasts as much as you guys, but I am always having insecurities with worrying about "replacing" him and if I am being compared to her first husband that passed away. I know it is my fault and insecurities, but they creep in my head.

    Thanks for your blog and sharing your feelings, thoughts and experiences with others.

    1. Thanks for your questions! For sure I have some thoughts on those areas you talked about and will start to discuss those next week... But for now I want you to know that you are not alone in your insecurities! I will tell you (and Vee could second) that I have some of the same insecurities.
      Thanks again for your questions!

  3. Hey Steve....great post. Its so wonderful to read a post by someone who is married to a widow(er) who doesn't think the world revolves "all about me". There are other websites where spouses/bf's/gf's of widow(er)s complain complain complain that "he/she is not treating me like a queen/king". You have such a mature outlook. You are able to pinpoint your own insecurities and not blame them all on Vee...rather, you take ownership of them and intrincically work on them the best way you know how without burdening Vee and making her feel guilty for loving Jeremy. Keep it up! Its refreshing to read your really need to write a book! :)

  4. Hiya, is that your one and only website or you also own some others?

  5. It's interesting how much the things you talk about in your blog play into second marriage issues as a whole (even if it doesn't involve a widow(er). My husband and I came together under very odd circumstances that most people don't (or don't want to) understand. It's a second marriage for both of us and my husband has children from his previous marriage and we have one together, too. Sometimes when "his" kids are having issues of some kind in their life -- be it school, dating, parenting, health, or trying to cope with divorce itself, I know he grieves the loss of that family unit. And honestly, I grieve that for he and his kids, too. I know I wouldn't have this great life with him, my incredible step-kids and our child together if our previous marriages hadn't fallen apart. That's a tough pill to swallow sometimes. I just try to remember that God's grace covers so much and the Holy Spirit intervenes more that I can even imagine. I know that the 4 parents/steps involved all have something unique to offer these kids. Every relationship is different and *can* be a blessing. Is it always easy? No. But I've been on this earth long enough to know that in EVERY relationship it is hard to let go of baggage, disappointment, hurt feelings, insecurities and fears. But when you do, life and love can flourish.


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