Dear Rachel,

I am a 50-year-old man, and I have been widowed for the last two years. My wife and I had a wonderful marriage, but unfortunately, my wife died in a tragic car accident. Understandably, both I and my children (then 12 and 14) were devastated. We will always miss her and no one can replace her, but, I am so lonely. I miss the companionship of marriage. I would like to start dating again, and if I am truly lucky, I will find someone else to marry.

My daughters, now ages 14 and 16, feel very differently. They don’t want me to date or remarry, as they feel that I am replacing my wife. We have grown extremely close since my wife died, so I understand their apprehension of losing that aspect of our relationship. But, I have my own emotional needs that my children cannot and should not fill. Should I start dating, or stay alone? And, if I do decide to start dating, how do I handle it?

Lonely Dad

Dear Lonely Dad,

If I do decide to start dating, how do I handle it?I would like to start by expressing my condolences on your loss. Even two years later, it can still be so hard to deal with. What a terrible tragedy for you and your children, to lose your wife and mother so suddenly, so tragically and so young. I can hear from your letter the love you have for your late wife, and, even though she is gone, that will never go away.

For your daughters, the loss of a mother when so young is especially tricky. Having to navigate the teenage years, with all that entails, without their mother can be very scary and overwhelming.

I am happy to hear that you have tried to make amends by creating a close relationship with your girls. While your girls are benefiting from your close relationship, this is adding to their anxiety about your dating as well. While I am sure that part of their apprehension about you dating again is you “replacing” your wife, deep down they are also struggling with the fear of possibly losing you as well. Now, while I am sure that if you do start dating you will continue to be the loving and attentive father that you are, it is still a scary possibility for them.

You sound very unhappy being alone. This is not surprising, as the Talmud states, “One who lives without a wife lives without happiness.” Additionally, the Torah itself says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” These are two very clear indications that man needs marriage, and should be married. So, how should you handle this?

First, let your daughters know that you are not betraying them or their mother by dating again. Don’t be afraid to express your feelings about your late wife to your children. Let them know that your wife would want you to remarry, and to have someone take care of you and help care for your daughters. You can let them know this on many different levels. Talking with them is always good. In addition, make sure that you continue to spend as much time as possible with them, and continue any and all special rituals the three of you have created.

Respect their wishes as to how much they want to get to know any new woman you may meetWhen you do start dating, let your daughters know that you are going out with someone, and respect their wishes as to how much they want to get to know any new woman you may meet. They may want to meet her right away, or wait to see if things get serious before any introductions are made.

If and when you do find the right woman, make sure she is aware and willing to take on the responsibility of helping to raise your daughters. While she will not be their mother, she will be the only one they have. Someone who will see them as “not my responsibility” is not the one for you. Both you and your daughters deserve someone who will love and care for everyone as a package deal.

Your being a happy person will ultimately make you an even better parent. I believe that if you tread with appropriate caution, dating and finding a new wife will improve everyone’s lives for the better. Best of luck to you.