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Belated bereavement counselling after a second marriage

(7 Posts)
StatenIsland Tue 23-Feb-21 10:14:24

A colleague was widowed after thirty years of marriage and remarried very quickly (to a divorcee) before his first wife had been dead a year. That was six years ago. The second marriage is not a happy one.

He has started going to bereavement counselling but hasn’t told his second wife. He says she is jealous of his first wife and doesn’t like to hear him talking about her. He thinks her knowing about the counselling would only make things worse. He says it helps to be able to talk about his first wife with someone who isn’t judgemental.

I am a long-time widow myself after my husband died young so I know that the pain of loss never goes away completely. I have never remarried. I’ve been in relationships since with men who were single or divorced. None of them ever seemed interested in asking or hearing about my late husband so I kept quiet.

I'm wondering whether this situation with my colleague has arisen because he rushed into the second marriage or would still have happened had he left it longer. Listening to him talking about his first wife, I suspect there’s a degree of idealising both her and their marriage which might make the second wife uncomfortable. Maybe couples therapy would be a better solution so they could both try to get this into perspective.

For those who have been widowed and remarried, have you ever been to bereavement counselling or felt the need for counselling long after you remarried? If you are a second spouse or partner how would you feel about that? If you have remarried, are you able to talk freely to your second spouse or partner about your first?

GagaJo Tue 23-Feb-21 11:24:36

Not me, but my grandad quickly remarried after my granny's death. He remarried in grief and after he started to come out of his grief, 5 or 6 years later, intimated to me that he regretted remarrying so quickly. He was an honourable man however, so he stayed with her until his death. A shame, because she was a horrible woman.

I think it takes a long time to come out of the shock at being bereaved after a long marriage. The sudden abandonment.

I have a male friend whose wife died from cancer. He got into a relationship very quickly after his wifes death. There was a lot of gossip about it, amongst his wifes friends, but I could see why. He had suffered through his wifes decline and wanted a bit of normality back. It didn't last though. I guess you would call it a kind of bereavement rebound effect. 8 years later, he is in a more stable relationship.

Georgesgran Tue 23-Feb-21 11:54:40

My grandmother married her widower husband within 6 weeks of his first wife’s death!!

Basically he wanted someone to look after his two daughters who were running wild! His first wife was ‘big in the Church’ - cleaning it, arranging flowers, Mother’s Union etc and had no time for her children. When she died it was a quick marriage or I suspect they’d have been taken into care. Of course it was the talk of the Pit Village, but nothing had been going on.
My grandmother was a lovely quite refined woman whereas he was loud and rough. They never seemed to really gel.

StatenIsland Wed 24-Feb-21 11:19:13

Thank you GagaJo and Georgesgran. It seems that rushing into another marriage so soon after bereavement, whether for emotional or practical reasons, can be a mistake.

NellG Wed 24-Feb-21 11:45:11

Sometimes people are so afraid of facing difficult feelings that they will do anything to avoid them, even rushing into marriage in a bid to move on too quickly.

Hopefully in your colleagues case the counselling will help him come to terms with his grief for his first wife and help him evaluate his relationship with the second.

As for keeping the counselling secret... ? Not going to make a judgment on that.

Bridgeit Wed 24-Feb-21 14:47:43

I think it’s vital to talk about a past relationship even more so when there is a bereavement. It think helps a current relationship if you are able to understand as much as possible about each other & what you may or may not have gone through. The only thing to be wary of is making that person sound too saintlike.

Esspee Wed 24-Feb-21 15:11:38

As the gentleman concerned is a colleague I really think you are out of line having anything to do with the situation.