I have started to review what I have been writing because of two responses to my previous blog.
Dee, a respondent to my last blog, noticed my statement on my lack of friends and she wondered if I was the author of my own misfortune.
My first reaction to this was no way! But in fact, Dee is right. I am the author of my own misfortune. Over the years I allowed myself to depend on my wife to arrange social events and consequently, to choose the people we socialised with. There are many reasons why this occurred but mostly due to time constraints associated with work, long hours, growing family, the pressure of making ends meet, etc. Other reasons could be my laziness or the lack of importance placed on social interaction. But in marriage, as in most partnerships, the chores are shared and I should have shared responsibility for making friends or could have made my own. Nevertheless, it has now occurred and I am now dealing with the consequences.
The result of my actions is that I am totally dependent on the friends and social network of my wife. Since she passed away, my social coordinator and communicator has disappeared. I can no longer benefit from the information and social spin off from the wives coffee morning, the women’s birthday celebration, and the annual Christmas get-together. I am also struggling without the continuous communication network of daily telephone calls, impromptu get togethers, casual meetings, trips to see `chick flicks`, and the like. Ironically, since her passing some mutual friends of my wife`s have said that they now feel out of the loop, too. She was part of several groups and fed information from one group to the other, keeping all the friendships together. A death has a domino effect, and until it happens, you do not realise how many people are impacted.
None of the husbands were part of this network from the start; nor did we want to be included. I suspect that many of them are in the same position as I am but they do not realize it.I am wondering if this is why widowers seem to go through a complete life transformation. Image what it would be like if all your friends information (who, what, when, where and how) were on a computer and/or in a telephone book and they were stolen or lost. My computer crashed in December and it took me months to recover the data. The loss of your wife is much worse than losing a computer. You can replace the data but what about the unwritten information? It is hard to maintain contact with people when you do not know what happened in their lives, i.e., divorce, a family members passing, sick child.
My wife knew all this information and I was constantly briefed before all social events on `what to say and what not to say` with the ever constant reminders during the events. Without her by my side at some of these parties it could have been a disaster for our relationship with some people. Friends can be very sensitive and will never forget a verbal mistake. My wife had a keen sense of tact in these situations.
Maybe that is why men rush out to get married again. Their entire frame of reference and social life is gone and they are trying to get it started again without the information and the communicator. The only problem is that the new wife or girlfriend has a new network and may not like or want to be part of the old network. Also, the old network may not want the new player; it affects the dynamics and the relationships. Men often lack the courage and stick handling skills to bridge the gaps between the old and the new.
In summation, Dee was right about my responsibility for what happened and thank you, Dee for making me pause and reflect on this. Nevertheless, I am not alone in making this mistake, many men have done this but their mistakes will not be visible since their wives have not died. I will take her advice and make sure to make a major effort to keep the friends and relationships we had. As they say ‘Don’t throw out the baby with the bathtub water’.
Some of these relationships will stay intact but many will not. So I need to look to new and old horizons for new friends and contacts. The majority will not be in my old social network. That area will still function in the wives’ club environment, so unless I get a network acceptable wife and/or girlfriend, it will be hard to fit in. Nevertheless, there are good friends in the old network that I will always remain in contact with and these are the true friends who are impossible to replace. I have now started to reach out to organizations and people I have known for a long time, but I had not made the effort to make friends with them, they were not part of my wife`s social group. These people and organizations now provide the opportunity for expanding my own social network. I have found that there are lots of people who are welcoming and are looking to make new friends. I just need to ‘talk forward’ and not backwards.
Let`s leave this part of the discussion for another time.