Now I feel more than ready to date, and ultimately marry again. The reality is that the only person I've had sex with since my wife died is myself, and I haven't been on any real dates because I don't meet available women of the right age.
Yes, I've tried online dating sites — though I hate the idea of anything that artificial and pressured. You hear these statistics about millions of single women, but where are they? Since my wife's death, social invitations have dwindled, not increased, and they are all from couples who don't "set me up", in best Hollywood style.
I feel incredibly stuck, and a lonely future looms. You and your boys would be manning the barricades in no time at all.
You'd be drowned in a tsunami of "single ladies" eager to check out your assets. There's nothing my sex enjoys more than a sad story; couple that with the fact that you're available, have near-grown children and are actively seeking a relationship, and quite honestly you should be swatting us off.
Which leads me to wonder what you're doing wrong thus far. I imagine that four years could slip by quite easily in a blur of grief and the responsibilities of steering two boys through their teenage years in the shadow of that bereavement.
Bringing up kids alone is no mean feat. It's easy for me to say, but you really do need to get out more.
I may be as outmoded as the corset, but to me online dating doesn't illustrate the most enthusiastic of approaches to engaging with the opposite sex. Cyberspace is not the best location for relearning the intricacies of dating.
In most cases modern technology has set back the subtlety of human interchange a few hundred years. Express messaging like "cw2cu" hardly represents a high point of communication.
Not that "dating" should be your priority. How about some day-to-day interaction before you start getting all doe-eyed on the opposite sex?
Surely there must be women at work, at the gym, on the train with whom a conversation, a social outing, a walk is not out of the question? Could you be saving yourself for Mrs Right before you've dallied with a few Ms Wrongs?
It's highly unlikely you'll land a big fish before you've had nibbles from a few minnows.
You need to downgrade your expectations and enter the fray with your wits about you. Believe it or not, some women may just want to use you for sex! Check out the Oscar-nominated Up in the Air for research purposes. Judging by the ages of your boys, you've been out of the game for two decades.
You'll find the landscape of love has changed a lot. Getting married again is a laudable ambition, but I wouldn't go dropping it into casual conversation to all and sundry. It suggests that your trauma has made you eager to replace the status quo, not that you are ready to move on and experience what else life has on offer.
It's not a new wife you need right now, but friends of both sexes. It's important that you have companions to steer you through the trials and tribulations of dating.
I realise you're referring to getting hitched in the long term, but I'm worried that it highlights some slightly misplaced expectations. Having had a stable relationship, you've learned the value of a good partnership. The trouble with women in the world outside your door is that, not having experienced a loss like you have, they're less willing to cut to the quick and get hooked up. You don't want to be Is there a hookup site for widows and widowers as desperate, which I know you're not, but your enthusiasm may be misread.
So how about you start working on a social life? Going to dinner parties full of couples may not be what you're after, but it's a start. Every new person you connect with opens a door to another group of individuals you haven't encountered.
Instead of sitting at home surfing for a girlfriend, how about going out and meeting a pal? Your emphasis on finding a replacement for your wife is probably the biggest hurdle to kick-starting this next phase of your life. Whether it's work- or hobby-related, now that your boys are probably busy leading their own lives you need to start doing likewise. In many ways they are excellent role models for you, as they will probably have a healthy interest in dating at this stage, but not to the detriment of their other pursuits.
You need to establish a similar balance. It's not a lady on your arm that you need to get you out of the house, but the will to rejoin humanity in all its gory glory. If you have a dilemma, send a brief email to mariella. Two weeks ago Mariella advised a depressed woman as to whether she should stay in her unhappy relationship and move to a new home in the country with a partner addicted to alcohol and cannabis.
Here some readers respond: It is highly likely that the partner thinks if he's away from his current environment that he'll stop drinking and smoking. I know from bitter experience that it won't work.
An addict could park themselves on Rockall and find a way to get their next fix. It is easy to go with the flow and allow more destructive things to happen, but you can not keep going like this. Something I know about depression is that it can't get better until you start making moves for the better. Do you still love this man?