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Widower Sets Off New Wife By Referring To His Late Wife As His ‘Wife’ Rather Than His ‘Ex’

Two people each holding their heads in their hands.
Nuttawan Jayawan/Getty Images

After being widowed, people have very different views on finding love again.

Some have no intention of ever seeking it out, standing firm in their belief that they lost their one true love.

While others miss the comfort being one half of a couple brought them, and slowly but surely dip their toes in the dating pool again, possibly even remarrying.

The one thing both parties have in common, however, is the special place of reverie they hold for their late spouses.

Redditor lillyofthewaterfalls married a widowed father, developing a great relationship with her new stepdaughter, and their marriage seemed to be without a blemish.

Until the original poster (OP) found herself alarmed by the way her husband referred to his late wife.

After confronting him about this issue, things only became more tense between them, even resulting in the OP temporarily moving out, until they seemed to move past the unpleasantness.

Wondering if her discomfort was unwarranted, however, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where she asked fellow Redditors:

The OP explained why she didn’t take too kindly to the way her husband was referring to his late wife.

“So my husband (Daniel for privacy) and I have been married for just under a year and I love him very much.”

“He has an 8 year old daughter (Jane for privacy) from his previous marriage who I love as my own, he’s always been respectful and patient which is part of why I decided to marry him.”

“We met right before the pandemic when he had been recently widowed the year before so we tried to take things slow.”

“We ended up quarantining together and after 3 years we decided to tie the knot.”

“The wedding ceremony was everything a girl could dream of and we’ve honestly had very few issues in our first year as a couple.”

“It wasn’t until we went to pick up Jane from her summer camp that I started seeing an issue.”

“I went to meet up with him at the front desk, I found him chatting with the camp coordinator which is all well and good until I overheard what he was saying.”

“He mentioned that ‘my wife made me this jacket actually, she was really good at all that sewing stuff’.”

“He was referring to his ex-wife(Alyssa for privacy) NOT me.”

“It bugged me a little but I brushed it off as a one-time thing, an accident.”

“We don’t talk about Alyssa much unless we’re around Jane, and even then he usually refers to her as ‘Jane’s mom’, I never heard him call her his wife, especially now that WE were married.”

“It wasn’t until a week or two later that I learned he does this a lot.”

“We were at a get-together with some friends from work, my first time meeting them.”

“It was all good until one of them asked me questions about baseball.”

“I admitted I didn’t know much about the sport and he said that was weird because Daniel had mentioned I was really good at the game and even played some in college, it left me very confused.”

“After talking to some more guys I found out this was a common issue, a lot of them thought Alyssa and I were the same person because Dan called us both his wife.”

“At this point I got really offended, we had been married for 10 months and he didn’t even call Alyssa his ex-wife yet, I was super awkward and explaining to people that he still called his ex-wife his wife was utterly humiliating, especially the amount he does it, not just one or two people but the whole office.”

“When we got home we fought.”

“He said he didn’t even think about it that way, that since he never divorced Alyssa he never stopped thinking about her as his wife, he still stands by the fact that Alyssa is his wife, despite how embarrassing it is to explain to people that I’m not his second wife but rather his new wife and Alyssa his ex.”

“I told him that if he wasn’t ready to move on then he shouldn’t have married me, if he can’t commit to being my husband then he shouldn’t get to call me his wife.”

“I spent the next night at my sister’s house ignoring his calls, we recently started to smooth things over by not talking about them but I can tell that this is going to be a sore spot in the marriage I am trying so desperately to save.”


Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation,by declaring:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

The Reddit community was somewhat divided on where they believed the OP fell by confronting her husband.

Some felt that neither the OP nor Daniel came off looking particularly good, feeling the OP was justified in being uncomfortable with Daniel calling Alyssa his “wife”, but also feeling the OP did not handle the issue well, and pointing out her husband calling Alyssa his “ex” was inaccurate.

“I’m going back and forth but I think ESH.”

“You HAVE to stop saying ‘ex’ wife.”

“They didn’t divorce.”

“You just have to stop using that term.”

“However, she is his LATE wife and you both need to start using that term to refer to her.”

“It’s disrespectful of you to call her his ex, and it’s disrespectful of him to talk about her in a way that makes people think you and her are the same person.”

“She is his late wife, you are his current wife.”

“It’s not that complicated.”- AnonymousPuffin222

Others felt the OP’s frustrations were justified, agreeing that if the OP still calls Alyssa his “wife”, he clearly had some unresolved issues he needed to sort out, even if some agreed that she could have handled things better.

“Honestly to me it sounds like your husband needs some counseling.”

“From what it sounds like he is talking like his first wife never died and he is only talking about her.”

“Is he even talking about u to his coworkers?”- atroxell88

“A lot of people are getting caught up over Op’s diction.”

“No, it is not an ‘ex-wife’.”

“It is a ‘late wife’.”

“But OP’s point is still valid.”

“People in their orbit should not be getting her confused with his late wife.”

“They should unequivocally understand that they are two different people and that she is his current wife and that his first wife has passed.”

“If he cannot use the words ‘late wife’ comfortably or otherwise make it clear who he is currently married to (claiming his late wife easily, but not his current one), then he wasn’t over his late wife.”

“I did not read that OP is trying to diminish his late wife or erase her existence.”

“She is simply wanting it to be completely clear that he is married to her.”

“NTA, but do correct your diction.”- AzureYLila


“Daniel needs to start calling Janes mother his late wife, so people could understand who he is referring too.”

“Its been 4 years since she passed away, you guys have been together 3 years and 10 months you guys been married.”

“If he wasn’t over her passing away then he should of waited.”

“I think you have every right to feel away, you are his current wife and he talks so much about his late wife and keeps referring to her as his wife that no one has any clue who you are.”-Prprincessthereal1

“Sounds like he wasn’t ready to be married again.”

“NTA.”- GargantuanTDS

The OP later returned, admitting that maybe she could have handled things better and also clarifying what her frustrations in the issue really were.

‘Alright, I’ve very clearly made a mistake with the language in this post.”

“I was under the impression that an ‘ex-anything’ just referred to someone you were once with, but I am seeing now that for a lot of people ex specifically means a breakup.”

“I’ve spoken to my husband and he says he doesn’t use ‘late wife’ because it immediately puts a damper on the conversation and makes people think of grief and loss which is not always the best.”

“We’re trying to find a way to refer to Alyssa that is comfortable for both of us as ‘late wife’ is to heavy ‘ex wife’ is too light and ‘first wife’ is apparently a no-go because he doesn’t like the idea of numbering his wives.”

“I also see a lot of confusion in the comments which I will try to clear up.”

“I am not trying to replace Alyssa, I would never ask Jane to call me mom, she calls me Lilly, and I am not trying to erase Alyssa’s memory either, she was a fantastic woman and a wonderful mother and wife.”

“We have photos of her on our walls, we remember her all the time and Dan makes sure to raise Jane in a household where she knows how loved she is by everyone including Alyssa and I respect that completely.”

“They had a life before me, they were a family before me, and I am not trying to take that from them.”

“I admit, I was definitely an a**hole in how I behaved, but I was never asked to be put above Alyssa as a wife, just that my husband would have enough respect for me to differentiate us.”

It can’t be fun for the OP to hear her husband talk about his wife when he’s not talking about her.

However, rather than be angry at him, a little sympathy might help solve this problem a bit more effectively.

As it seems that with a little help, it will be possible for the OP and Daniel to remain happily married, while still honoring Alyssa’s memory.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.