JAN MOIR: Why do grieving men find love so much faster than widows
Till death do us part — but what comes after that final, bleak separation? For lucky Rio Ferdinand, it has meant a new bride and a second chance at happiness.
Three years after his wife, Rebecca, died of cancer, the former footballer is to marry his girlfriend, Kate Wright. He proposed to her in front of his children on a rooftop during a holiday in Abu Dhabi. Everyone is apparently thrilled.
‘You can’t even remember what it’s like to feel happy. And then, bam, out of the blue, you meet someone and everything changes,’ loved-up Rio told his biographer, the journalist Decca Aitkenhead.
Kate Wright and Rio Ferdinand (pictured) recently announced their engagement after almost two years of dating. The former TOWIE star, 27, accepted a romantic rooftop proposal from the sports legend, 39, during a family holiday to Abu Dhabi
In a recent interview with The Sunday Times, he also encouraged her to follow in his footsteps and find love after suffering her own bereavement.
‘You need to get out there and meet someone too. Trust me — you’ll see what I mean,’ he said.
In 2014, Aitkenhead’s partner, Tony Wilkinson, drowned in Jamaica while trying to rescue their four-year-old son (who survived), leaving her a single mother of two young boys.
When she began contemplating her future without him, she initially worried she’d be romantically taken advantage of as a widow. Now, she wryly concludes that what wise friends told her nearly five years ago has turned out to be true.
Three years ago, Rio Ferdinand’s wife Rebecca Ellison died of cancer. The two are pictured here attending the word premier for Dead Man Running in October, 2009
While widowers seem to become ten times more alluring to the opposite sex practically overnight, men are not attracted to widows in the same way. Look at Decca: attractive, intelligent, successful — and still single. Love after death certainly seems much easier to achieve for men.
A year after his wife, Gemma, died of cancer, and vowing that she would never be replaced, Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas has just announced that he is in a relationship with a new girlfriend.
‘From the early stages, she had this empathy towards me. She’s been an incredible support for me,’ he said, which tends to suggest their relationship has at least partly revolved around him and his grief.
Not all men would be so empathetic if the circumstances were reversed. Some might say 12 months is far too early for a fresh romance, but Thomas has a young son and found the loneliness of widower-hood ‘brutal’.
Perhaps one reason why men find new love more successfully than women is that they are less likely to have close friends they can talk to, or a social and emotional support network to help them through bereavement. Or perhaps they are just more selfish.
A recent study found two-thirds of widowers were in a new relationship within 25 months, in contrast to less than a fifth of widows. Over the age of 65, the discrepancy is even larger, with ten times as many widowers as widows remarrying.
But don’t worry, ladies, it’s not all doom and gloom. Becoming widowed is associated with a 48 per cent increase in risk of mortality.
Gemma Thomas, wife to Sky Sports presented Simon Thomas, died of cancer one year ago. The presenter has just announced just announced that he is in a relationship with a new girlfriend. The two are pictured here at an Anti-Slavery Day gala dinner in October 2015
Soon after the passing of his wife, Simon Thomas (pictured) vowed that she would never be replaced
So, if you are really miserable, you can cheer yourself up with the thought you’re going to die soon anyway. Excuse my jest! For what else is there to do but cackle with dark humour when contemplating this sea of wifely despair?
But why is there such divergence between the sexes in love after death? The fragile male ego, Decca Aitkenhead is warned, cannot reconcile itself to the indignity of a relationship with a woman still in love with someone else.
Most men don’t want to be the second choice or to feel inferior, whereas women find it easier to show a kind of deference to their predecessor, as they know it’s expected of them.
They also know that men are hopeless by themselves, so they make themselves indispensable. They mould and adapt emotionally in ways men find more difficult.
And we cannot overlook the romantic allure of a widower with young children and the torrent of feelings, both maternal and carnal, that can arouse in a woman.
According to the old saying, women mourn, men replace — and hopefully with a younger model, if the devils can possibly get away with it. Instead of forever dwelling on the past, many men aspire to repeat the happiness they knew as husbands, sometimes aided by women who see bereavement as opportunity, not tragedy.
After his wife’s death, Rio Ferdinand talked often about risking a new relationship and revealed that, in the past, he had judged the bereaved harshly.
If a widower began dating within five years of losing his wife, it was Rio’s belief ‘he never really loved her’. Now he says that if a husband started dating the day after the funeral, he wouldn’t be appalled any more. He would understand. Who is anyone to judge? Most men and women would want their surviving spouses to be happy above all — to love and be loved in the years to come.
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In Captain Scott’s last letter to his wife, Kathleen, written as he faced certain death battling back from the South Pole in 1912, he urges her to remarry. ‘Dearest,’ he wrote, ‘you know I cherish no sentimental rubbish about remarriage — when the right man comes to help you in life, you ought to be your happy self again.’
She did, in the end — but only ten long years after he perished on the ice. Then and now, it’s unfair and intolerable, but the awful truth is that love after death is a grim prospect for girls.
Nothing captures war’s folly like a mother’s grief
The efforts by this country to mark 100 years since the end of World War I have been truly majestic.
From churches decorated with cascades of poppies to Danny Boyle’s Pages Of The Sea Armistice tribute this weekend (see pages 26-28), no effort has been spared to show that, yes, we do still remember and, yes, we still care.
In East London, 72,396 tiny, shrouded figures — representing the British and Commonwealth soldiers killed at the Somme who have no known grave — have been laid out in the Olympic Park.
Thousands of shrouded figures representing soldiers killed in the Battle of the Somme have now been laid out for an art installation at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London
Twenty-four troops from the 1st Battalion Royal Anglian regiment began laying out the bodies on Monday, using tape measures to space them evenly
Volunteers and members of 1 Royal Anglian Regiment laid out the field of figures in hundreds of rows in the shadow of the London Stadium. (Above, Captain James Pugh of the British Army’s 1 Royal Anglian Regiment at the site today)
Each of the 12 in plastic figures of the missing was covered and bound in a hand-stitched calico shroud by artist Rob Heard — haunting and heartbreaking.
On Tuesday evening, I went to the deeply moving Beyond The Deepening Shadow tribute at the Tower of London, where the moat is filled with thousands of individual flames to commemorate those who fell.
As the lamplighters move through the carpet of light, they look like soldier ghosts, still trying to march home.
Yet, after 100 years, with the scale of death still unimaginable, it is the effect on the individual and the force of one mother’s pain that pack a real emotional punch. On Twitter, military historian Dan Hill posted an image of the grave of Private A. L. James, an Australian soldier who was 23 when he was killed and is buried at Dernancourt.
With the world preparing to mark the centenary of the Armistice and the end of the ‘war to end all wars’, this was the extraordinary scene at the Tower of London (pictured)
The success of the 2014 display of poppies at the tower meant Historic Royal Palaces, who maintain the landmark, were keen to mark the centenary of Armistice. The ceremony, named Beyond The Deepening Shadow, will be repeated each night until the final showing on Remembrance Sunday
This is the message his mother chose for his headstone: He Fell, The Rest Marched On To Victory. Ah God, My Little Son.
Simple words. But, for me, nothing sums up the folly of war more than this mother’s terrible grief.
How can Mr Sexy be TOO macho?
People magazine has just crowned Idris Elba (right) the sexiest man alive. Could there be a worthier winner than the handsome British actor, who starred as Luther in the hit television series? I doubt it.
Idris, who takes over from some pretty-boy country singer not fit to polish his steel toecaps, is only the third black man to win the award in its 33-year history. You might think The Guardian would be pleased at this giant step for diversity, but no.
People magazine has crowned Idris Elba (pictured) as the sexiest man alive. He is only the third black man to win the award in its 33-year history
‘Congratulations — but next year, let’s have a less macho sexiest man alive’ was the complaining headline on one article.
There just ain’t no pleasing some people.
Twice-married Elba is a bit of a ladies’ man and is now engaged to his girlfriend, Sabrina Dhowre. He proposed to her at an East London cinema during a screening of his violent movie Yardie — proving that romance is not dead, even if that’s how everyone ended up in the film.
A spurned lover saw red amid the cool neutrals of The White Company in Leeds. Gareth Senior spotted his ex, Claire Joss, there with her boyfriend, former England footballer Tony Dorigo.
‘I knew you were after her!’ he yelled, before pushing Mr Dorigo, 52, into a towels display, then headbutting him. Claire stormed through the waffle-print dressing gowns and fir-scented candles to put herself between the men. Then she ‘clouted’ her ex twice, which didn’t really help.
The couple broke up last Christmas but, clearly, poor Gareth has yet to move on.
It doesn’t help that Tony, who played for Leeds United, was his childhood hero. Nor that it was he who introduced him to Claire. Talk about an own goal. Sometimes love can be so cruel.
Spice up your strife
I Can’t help but admire Victoria Beckham for refusing to take part in the Spice Girls reunion tour.
No, thanks all the same. She won’t be joining Sporty, Baby, Ginger and Scary on stage next year. She’s washing her hair. Reading a book. Watching a repeat of Friends on television. Don’t ask again.
The Spice Girls are getting back together for a reunion tour. But Victoria Beckham (pictured) won’t be joining Sporty, Baby, Ginger and Scary on stage next year
Life for Victoria (right) has moved on since Spice. Plus, she doesn’t need the money. Scary said Posh would be joining the group on stage for their gig at Wembley Stadium in June. Oh no I won’t, she swiftly rebutted.
One can only imagine the plutonium-grade rancour between the women behind the scenes. Scary even dressed up as Victoria for her passive-aggressive Halloween fancy dress. If that is the level of affection, no wonder Posh wants nothing to do with them.
ARISE, DAME HYPOCRITE
Just five minutes ago, actress Emma Thompson was moaning about ‘cake-filled, misery-laden’, hidebound Britain, a place where she has always made her loathing of the Establishment and British Empire abundantly clear. However, it is amazing what the offer of a damehood can do to a gal.
This week, the Leftie put aside her misgivings and sprinted to Buckingham Palace quicker than you could say: ‘Arise, Dame Hypocrite.’ She was given her damehood for services to drama by Prince William, whom she tried to kiss. ‘This day is not about me, it’s about you,’ he told her — poor bloke.
It’s about time! The Sense and Sensibility star collected the accolade in recognition of her services to drama
Recently, Emma revealed on a U.S. chat show that recipients can turn down the honour on principle or moral grounds, but she decided to go ahead. ‘We don’t have an empire any more, thank God, because it was a ghastly, colonial, racist, dreadful undertaking on every level,’ she said.
However, as it was ‘a really nice badge’, she decided to accept.
With husband Greg Wise by her side, the old fraud turned up in designer trainers, tried to kiss William and told reporters it was really lovely because she loved the princes and had known them since they were little boys.
That’s weird. She wasn’t invited to either of their weddings and, when asked earlier this year about Harry and Meghan Markle’s nuptials, she told reporters: ‘I don’t know them.’
Emma is an amazing talent, but giving a gong to her proves how worthless honours have become. Could anything more be done to devalue this once-great system? Yes. For his visit to the Palace, her husband didn’t even bother to polish his shoes.
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