Adjust the text

Study: Older Widowers Wary of Tying the Knot


Remarkably little is known about the attitudes of older widowers to romance and remarriage.

Widowers, it is true, are more likely to remarry than older widowed women but the actual numbers are quite low.

A new study published online in the Journal of Aging Studies (July 21, 2013) has found that only three per cent of British men re-partnered and none remarried.

The research was part of a larger study of British widowers by a team at the University of Liverpool in the U.K. The participants were between the ages of 55 and 98, and they had been widowed between three months and 25 years.

Here are five reasons widowers gave for not remarrying:

1. "No one can compare with Grace."

Some men were unwilling to remarry because of their deep feelings for their late partner. These men believed no other woman could measure up to their late wife.

As "Matthew" put it, "Well you see there would be nobody could compare with Grace. Nobody could ever do that, take that place because it was a bloody good relationship."

2. Comparisons between late wife and new woman

Others expressed concerns about potential relationships and the tendency to make comparisons between the late wife and the new partner. "Billy," who didn’t plan to remarry, said these comparisons damage relationships.

3. "You’re not getting married for the moon and the stars."

"Dave" was in a new relationship but he felt guilty.

In fact, he said one reason for participating in the study was the wish to discuss his new relationship.

I went out with her a few times you know, and we have now developed a very nice rapport and a very nice type of relationship. But the question I am asking you is this. I feel very guilty. Now should I or should I not?

"I don’t know if I’ll get married again," Dave added. "I mean, at my age, you get married, you’re not getting married for the moon and the stars, so to speak. But I probably will do."

4. Second marriage may not be successful

Some men wanted to maintain the status quo because they were scared that marriage would spoil their existing good relationships.

"I am not going to screw up a good relationship by getting married. I think I have the best of both worlds," "Gordon" explained. "I can do my own sort of activities; I can be on my own . . . get going out for a drink."

5. Many widows don’t want to remarry.

The research also echoed past studies that suggest older widows like the independence that comes from having their own home, along with the reduced sense of obligation to provide long-term care should their partner’s health decline.

"They like to be a friend," said "Daniel". "And they don’t want to be tied down."