She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to…Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.
I’m a 35-year-old widower with two little girls to look after. It has now been a little over two years since my wife died.
Quite suddenly, since last winter, I began having multiple very erotic dreams, always about my late wife. All the medical data seems pointed towards widowers losing their sex drive. Mine has suddenly kicked into overdrive.
It is not possible for me to date or have a girlfriend. Masturbation leaves me too sore and makes me feel guilty. Now I have 2-10 wet dreams every night. I wake up every time I climax.
This is driving me crazy. I get grief counseling twice a week. They think it is because me and my wife had such an amazing sex life, and this is my way of dealing with how much I miss her.
I am so sorry for your loss. I can only imagine how hard it is to put the pieces back together after losing your partner, the mother to your children.
First, it’s completely normal to dream vividly about people we have lost. This was your partner, your lover; it is natural for some of those dreams to include sex. And, it is also understandable how complicated your feelings about sex are, after losing your spouse. Grief manifests itself in a multitude of ways.
I would guess that the compulsive nature of your dreams and sex drive has more to do with your anxiety funneling into physical action, not a result of the sex life you once had.
In your grief counseling, bring this up with your therapist. Often times, we need an outside source to give us the tools needed to handle this level of grief.
Clearly, the grief is ongoing. In addition to counseling, a support group, with fellow widowers, would be beneficial. It always helps to process this level of life change and trauma with people who have gone through and are going through similar events. Email me and I can give you some resources in your area to get started.
Another part of your question gave me pause. You said that it is not possible for you to date or have a girlfriend. I wonder why.
It doesn’t make you a bad person, or a bad father, to want to love again.
You deserve a second chance at love, and that does not diminish the love you have for, or relationship you had with, your wife. Your children are best served by you being happy and healthy, and that includes being open to having love and sex in your life again.
The dreams are not the problem per se, but an indication of the complexity of your grief.
Allow yourself the room to move forward in all areas of your life.
Get the support you need from professionals and other widows, and take the steps to address the anxiety that is at the root of the uneasiness and compulsiveness you feel.
If you have a question for me about love, marriage, parenting, sex, The Mets, black holes, work, kids, donuts, or anything at all, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, your anonymity is golden. xoxo