It’s been a year since my mother (who is a widow) expressed disgust about her friend (also a widow) being in a relationship, Since then, I’ve been trying to convince her that it’s the prerogative of any widow to date or remarry but she has refused to see things my way.
I can’t say I’m surprised, though. In Nigeria, a widow’s decision to engage in romantic relationships or another marriage is frowned upon by a large part of society, even if she waits for the appropriate mourning time to pass. Which is insane because nobody bats an eye when a man does the exact same thing.
This got me thinking about what Nigerian widows actually think about remarrying and dating. I spoke to 4 widows who gave me their opinions (and the permission to publish these opinions) as long as I guaranteed them anonymity. Because of this, all the names in this have been changed.
“Personally, I think it’s disgusting. I have 4 grown-up children. How do I explain parading men around the house all in the name of dating? Would I just sit them down and say, ‘I’m going to be sleeping a lot of men in an attempt to replace your father?’ There’s just something inappropriate about it. I don’t need any man for companionship. I have my children.”
“My husband died two years ago. Before that, he was sick and bedridden for nine years. For those nine years, I fed him, bathed him, cleaned his shit and all that. I’m not saying that I felt relief when he died (my world revolved around him fifty years, God bless his soul), I’m saying that when he died, I felt like I could rest for the first time. In my mind, remarrying puts me in a position where I might possibly have to do all that again for another man. For that reason alone, I say GOD FORBID to remarriage. It is my time to live.”
“I have no problem with it. Old age can get pretty lonely and I wouldn’t mind having someone for companionship and anything else that comes out of the relationship. Lol. However, I’m afraid that my children would not take the news of me ‘putting myself out there’ well. They’ll think I’m dishonouring their father’s memory, even though it has been five years since he died.”
“Speaking from my experience, all I will say is this: Once bitten, twice shy. Enough said.”
*Answers have been edited for clarity.