Why I couldn’t disagree more with the hoo-ha over My Mum, your Dad’s widower Roger Hawes daring to start dating again: ALEX DELANEY also found herself being judged when she started looking for companionship three months after her husband died at 34
- My Mum, Your Dad concluded on ITV last night with three couples finding love
As the hit new dating show My Mum, Your Dad drew to a close last night, recently widowed postman Roger found love with Janey, with their children both giving their full approval of their relationship.
But after many took to social media to question Roger’s decision to begin dating just a year after the death of his beloved wife, Alex Delaney shares why she couldn’t disagree more with people’s objections.
Closing the door to my first-floor flat and walking down the stairs, I spotted my neighbour at our communal front door. After giving me a thorough inspection, she suspiciously asked: ‘Are you going on a date?’
I won’t ever forget those words, so crisply delivered in stinging judgement.
The truth was, I was meeting a rather lovely man. Someone I had made an effort for – smart jeans, eye-catching top, some makeup, too. And she noticed. Why was she was so astonished and judgey? Because my husband had died only six months before.
Her words rang in my ears all night, but I still had a good time on London’s South Bank. My date George had touchingly brought a picnic along with a flask of mulled wine too.
It was the sweetest gesture and for those few precious hours we flirted together, I was able to forget I was a widow.
ALEX DELANEY: Closing the door to my first-floor flat and walking down the stairs, I spotted my neighbour at our communal front door. After giving me a thorough inspection, she suspiciously asked: ‘Are you going on a date?’
My Mum, Your Dad: I couldn’t disagree more with the hoo-ha over 58-year-old postman Roger Hawes daring to start dating again (Pictured: Roger and Janey)
Alex and Nic pictured on their wedding day in Italy in September 2013
Looking back at my neighbour’s reaction, I know it’s entirely normal — for those who haven’t been widowed.
But what should I have been doing? I was 34 at the time. Should I have been at home alone while the world went on living without me? Whatever I did it was never going to bring my lovely husband Nic back.
And that’s why I couldn’t disagree more with the hoo-ha over 58-year-old postman Roger Hawes daring to start dating again after losing his wife to cancer.
The star of My Mum, Your Dad has ignited a debate on social media about whether he should even be dipping his toe back in the dating pool. And yet he’s clearly participating with family approval — his eldest daughter Jess nominated him to appear on the ITV series a year after her mum had died.
What person would genuinely deny Roger happiness? I firmly believe that a year without even the merest whiff of a date is a perfectly acceptable, if not graceful, period to mourn your wife.
I knew I was ready to start dating three months after my husband had died. Before you write me off as some sort of flint-hearted black widow, nothing could be further from the truth.
It’s because of how loving Nic was towards me that I simply couldn’t bear to be on my own. The desire to meet someone was visceral. I’d lost my husband in such an abrupt way that I couldn’t close down those feelings of need and desire. When I tell people this, they don’t understand that it wasn’t something I could switch on and off.
Nic and I met when I was 23 via a dating app, and there was a powerful, instant physical attraction between us. We married when I was 27 and we started trying for a family, undergoing IVF fertility treatment for a year. We’d made plans for our future and both wanted children. We were the kind of couple that had picked out names for our kids.
‘I knew I was ready to start dating three months after my husband had died’
In January 2018 we’d enjoyed a fabulous holiday in Portugal, but 48 hours later, Nic collapsed at our two-bedroom flat in Hackney, east London. I called an ambulance but he was only just conscious when we reached hospital, and 40 minutes later he was dead from a pulmonary embolism — a blood clot which had travelled from his leg up to his lungs. He’d had a deep vein thrombosis, possibly from the flight, but as there was no swelling in his leg, it wasn’t picked up. I didn’t even have time to say good-bye. He was just 39. I was so utterly flayed by what had happened, I had to be physically helped out of the hospital by my father and a nurse, only to return to our empty home and the wreckage of my life’s plans.
READ MORE: My Mum, Your Dad: Natalie opens up about her time in prison, one couple share their first passionate kiss and two parents are DUMPED
Losing your love is horrendous. Yet I absolutely knew Nic would have told me to get through it however I could; he would have understood.
It was three months after my husband died, that the feelings of loneliness overwhelmed me. My sister stayed with me for the first few weeks, but no matter how wonderful your friends and family are (and I consider myself extremely lucky in this department) they have to get back to their own lives. Girlfriends had young families to attend to and I had to go back to my job in communications for a charity. When I wasn’t working, I filled my empty hours with workouts and walking for three hours a day. I couldn’t do normal things to relax, like reading, because I was so unable to focus. I just found myself reading the same page again and again. The truth was I couldn’t cope with being alone.
I missed being able to kiss and cuddle Nic at the start and end of each day. If I was having a down moment, he was always there to give me a massive hug, and suddenly that was gone. There was nothing to stop me from spiralling.
On a practical front Nick was great at doing stuff around the house, everything from phoning the gas company to making me a cup of tea most mornings. At the weekends we’d read newspaper articles to one another or even passages from books we were enjoying. It was those small, yet lovely intimate gestures that married couples share with one another that made up our lives. Nic was always a more tactile person than me, and I really missed his touch.
I had only ever had five sexual partners before meeting Nic and they were all serious relationships. I’d never been unfaithful or flirtatious with anyone else while I was married, either – it just wasn’t in my nature.
The first time I logged on to a dating app I definitely felt guilty. I didn’t know what I was looking for except to be less lonely. Back then, I also, naively perhaps, assumed that I wouldn’t ever fall in love again.
Roger is clearly participating with family approval — his eldest daughter Jess (pictured) nominated him to appear on the ITV series a year after her mum had died
‘What person would genuinely deny Roger happiness?’
Perhaps predictably, the first few dates I went on were fairly grim. Some guys made it clear they didn’t want to date a recently bereaved widow; others tried to take advantage of my vulnerable situation. Those types instantly pegged me – wrongly – as someone they could have no-strings-attached sex with.
There were a few guys I saw who were genuinely looking for a wife and I had to tell them it wasn’t going to be me. I was ready to date, and have sex, but I wasn’t ready to commit to someone new.
I eventually figured out which apps to use to meet someone, and if I liked the guy I would sleep with him. And while 99 per cent of the time the sex was terrible, I did get the feeling of closeness I craved from these encounters.
I had my own yes and no dating list. On the yeses were men who looked utterly different to Nic. He was clean shaven and smart looking, so I went for slightly wilder bohemian types. On the nos were men who were also recently bereaved. I knew more than anyone how desperately sad their situation was and I couldn’t risk forming an attachment with someone who was as vulnerable as I was.
My sister knew I was dating again, I told her from the start so she always knew where I was. She was the one person in my life who was totally non-judgemental. She just listened and told me what I needed to get through the pain.
Yet I waited months (and months) before telling anyone else. I just knew there would be judgement around my circumstances and it would feel weird having to explain I was doing this when there were still framed photographs of Nic and I dotted all around my home and my family’s homes. Men never commented on the photographs, I don’t think they really cared.
I met my current partner in May 2019, 16 months after Nic’s death. We’d met online and we went to the pub. That night I went home on my own, knowing that this was a good person and I wanted to see him again. He was unbelievably kind about my grief and love for Nic — which is important, because those feelings will always be there.
So I’d say this to Roger and anyone else judging him: be kind. We never close the chapter on our life with our late spouse, we simply bring their cherished memory with us when we start the next one. I hope with all my heart he and his daughter Jess get what they want from the show.
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