When Couples Who Are Friends Disappear After Your Husband Dies

Q: I find that my relationships with some couple friends have changed dramatically since I’ve been widowed. In some cases, I’ve been dropped entirely from their social calendar; in others the wife is available for lunch or dinner only during the week and only alone. Is there anything I can do about it?

Alas, it isn’t only you. And there are a few reasons for it. First and foremost, you’re a woman, and I believe many men feel they have to pick up your check when you have dinner with them and their wives. They don’t want to pay for you. But at the same time, they don’t feel comfortable having you pay your own way – even if you insist upon it. It’s just easier to forget the whole thing. Because I was aware of this issue, I told my close couple friends that I wanted to feel free to suggest we go out to dinner or whatever – and the only way I could do that was to pay my own way. The men were uncomfortable at first, but got used to it. I regularly go out with couple friends as a result.

You might also suggest “an activity excursion,” such as seeing a museum show together and having lunch or brunch there. Or how about a lecture on a topic of interest to the three of you, such as politics or history, preceded by a light supper or followed by coffee. If you and they are into sports, you might attend a game together. A movie and discovering a new restaurant for lunch or dinner is another possibility. If the man is really stubborn about the check, you can even call and give your credit card information to the restaurant in advance so there’s nothing to argue about. Your bill is already paid. Some of my most enjoyable evenings have been with couples who adjusted to me.

The issue of parties and dinners at a couple’s home is another story. Unfortunately, a single woman is sometimes not as welcome as a widower would be. He’s always an asset as an extra man, and people are always trying to “fix him up” with someone. On the other hand, a widow can be considered a threat by a hostess — as someone on the prowl for male companionship, possibly including the hostess’ own mate or significant other. Unfortunately, this situation is out of your hands.


If you have a question for Florence, please email her at fisaacs@florenceisaacs.com.

Florence Isaacs is a freelance journalist,author — and a widow herself. Her books include My Deepest SympathiesWhen the Man You Love Is Ill,What Do You Say When and Just a Note to Say...The Perfect Words for Every Occasion.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons|Paul L. Dineen

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Comment by Florence Isaacs on January 6, 2015 at 10:03am

Sandee:  There's no question that other people can disappoint us.  But I've found that making new friends helps considerably in building a new life.  And you find them by talking to everyone and participating in activities you enjoy, whether it's an or politics class or volunteering or yoga.  Also, I wonder if you've considered counseling or talked to your doctor about how you feel.

Comment by Sandee McMaster on January 6, 2015 at 1:45am
You can't imagine how much this has opened my eyes to the different ways people might think. It is 2 years since my husband died but for reasons I won't go into, I am only now beginning to grieve. I feel completely hopeless and it has been very hurtful that people who promised my husband to "look after me" have gone with the wind. I am clearing out my home and occasionally find a note or photo in the piles of papers that literally bring me to my knees. I am doing all the right things: therapy, one foot in front of the other, helping someone else when I can. I just don't feel like I am going to make it.

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