For Widows and Widowers Considering Remarriage

widow Pixabay-813615_640After your spouse has been deceased for a period of time, you may think about the possibility of remarriage. In practically every interview we conducted with widows and widowers, remarriage was a common topic of conversation.

…This [article] is designed to give helpful information to you who are presently planning a remarriage or may be open to it in the future. If you ever think of remarrying, read this material carefully. Even if remarriage is one of your major priorities and you feel it is God’ will to follow this goal, there are numerous practical aspects to keep in mind.

Surround yourself scripture and prayer.

Whatever you do, be sure you’re guided by the Scriptures in your pursuits. Surround yourself with prayer to help you follow God’s will. We believe that God is Master of every facet of life. If you believe in his Word, every major step you take —including remarriage —will be directed by him.

As part of the research for writing this [article], we interviewed survivors who have married so we could list criteria to consider before remarrying. Examine each item carefully. If you have difficulty resolving any of the questions posed, you need to examine your reasons for remarriage and your overall goals. The questions below are not listed in any order of importance. Each question is vital to the success of your new marriage.

How long should you wait before you remarry?

The answer depends on a number of circumstances. Some authorities say that it should be at least a year after the death of your mate before you make any major decision. This certainly includes marriage. If the death of your mate was sudden, the resolution of your grief may be particularly difficult. You may find it best to wait several years before even considering the idea of remarriage. Conversely, if your mate had a lingering illness and you went through a partial process of grief before his or her death, you may be comfortable in remarrying in less than a year. If this is true, the timing of your marriage may be of secondary importance. We are convinced, however, that resolving the answers to the next questions could take several months, or even years, for some individuals.

If there are children, how do they feel about your remarrying?

This issue was a serious one for Rita and me because she had four adult children and I had three. At first my children had only a slight acquaintance with Rita, and her children did not know me at all. After studying this question carefully and consulting counselors and trusted friends, we took a path that has been reasonably successful in establishing a harmonious family relationship. We recommend the following guidelines for your consideration:

1.  Introduce your prospective spouse to your children as early as possible.

Much of any initial negative reaction is because the individuals really do not know each other. If possible, let all the children in both families get acquainted before any marriage plans are announced. When you meet the children of your intended, be as natural as possible. Do not try to be someone you are not. They might not accept you completely, but if you show yourself to be a “phony,” they will be even more suspicious. Especially if the children are young, respect them for who they are and be sensitive to their grief over the loss of the deceased parent. It may still be very painful to them.

Avoid recommendations about child-rearing to your intended at this stage. If his or her children make you uneasy for any major reason, have a serious conversation about your feelings. Even though it may be hard to accept, you will not only become involved with is or her children but other family members as well.

2. The final decision to remarry must be made by both of you.

Although the feelings of adult children regarding your remarrying must be considered, the final decision must be made by both of you for the best interests of all. Some children may be negative toward any relationship you enter. They may still be economically and emotionally dependent on you as a parent and feel neglected if you remarry. A few people find it difficult to make adjustments in their life and always prefer the status quo. On the other hand, if your children are opposed because of some specific loving concerns, consider these aspects carefully. While you should be concerned about the feelings of your children, you need to take charge of your life and do what you believe is best.

The most logical step is to discuss your children’s reactions with your pastor, a counselor, and trusted friends who will keep the children’s misgivings confidential. You need the opinions of persons who are somewhat detached from your situation. They can best give you objective advice about your relationship.

Once you’re comfortable with the decision you have made, announce your intentions to your children privately. Ask for their love, prayers, and goodwill. After you decide to remarry, most loving children will want your marriage to succeed and will be supportive. If not, the passage of time usually helps people adjust to new situation.

3. Absorbing young children into a new marriage may be a major source of conflict for both of you.

The stepfather’s or stepmother’s role may be demanding and traumatic, when young children are involved. We have observed that a husband and wife may agree on nearly everything except how to raise children, their own or someone else’s! It’s nearly impossible to remain detached from such problems once a couple is united in a remarriage.

Often the family situation is still more challenging when you marry a divorced person and bring a child who has been living with the ex-spouse into your new home. Some children of divorced parents are very troubled and have a great capacity to spread discord wherever they go. Consider these possibilities seriously before remarrying.

Before you enter into a marriage where young children are involved, it would be advisable to air your concerns with your pastor and/or trusted friends. Don’t let the present grief of your mate’s death cause you to enter into a new marriage that is risky for all involved.

What is the financial status of each of you?

Of all the issues that may imperil a marriage, the subject of money can be the most deadly. The issues below must be studied and resolved before the marriage takes place.

An agreement must be reached if one of you has much more money than the other. There must be a clear understanding of how finances will be divided. There probably would not be a 50-50 split of assets in this circumstance. If this is a potential trouble spot, identify it early in a relationship.

A definite plan must be established with regard to spending money. Decide how much will be spent for yourselves, your children’s needs, recreation, vacations, or eating away from home. If you are planning to establish a joint checking account, there should be a clear understanding about which expenditures will be made from that source. Unless such a decision is reached, there is considerable potential for disagreement and stress.

A program must be agreed on with regard to checking, savings, and various investment accounts. The exact ownership and plans for these accounts should be described in detail in a prenuptial agreement (especially if either of you has children). Normally it is recommended that each of you keep your own name on any savings or investments that were yours before the remarriage. Decide whether the beneficiaries of the accounts will be your new mate or certain children. Sometimes joint checking accounts are established with the understanding that both parties will contribute agreed-on amounts each month. For your mutual protection, property bought jointly after marriage should be stated on the title as “joint tenants with right of survivorship.”

Should you have a prenuptial agreement and new wills?

The establishment of a prenuptial agreement before a second marriage is advisable. This is especially true if there are children involved and either of you have various financial holdings. In the event of a divorce or death of one of you, each mate needs to have a clear understanding of his or her legal rights.

New wills are an absolute must so that each of you will know which possessions will be yours on the death of the other. Also, make sure you formalize your wishes regarding any other separate or joint heirs. Be sure it is mentioned within your will that a prenuptial agreement has been made. If it does not, there can be considerable heartache for all concerned. Your county’s legal society can recommend local lawyers who specialize in premarital agreements and wills.

Are you sexually compatible?

One of the most important aspects of any marriage is the degree of sexual satisfaction attained by each of you. Your need for sexual gratification probably did not terminate at the death of your mate. There is a lot of research data to show that a majority of healthy persons remain sexually active up to age eighty and beyond.

If you intend to remarry, discuss your degree of sexual interest in this area with your prospective mate. There is potential for a great amount of stress if a person who has previously had an active sex life marries someone who has little interest in sexual intimacy. The same is true if they have different ideas of how to express that intimacy. One of the most authoritative books regarding this matter is Sex over 40 by Saul H. Rosenthal, M.D. Another interesting publication is Common Sense Christianity by Gerald Mann, who devotes an entire chapter to “great Sex for Christians.”

What are your religious beliefs?

Of all the questions cited so far, this one may have the greatest potential for trouble between a couple. Resolve this issue before you pursue a relationship to any great depth. Our studies of this question have led us to some rather firm beliefs about related concerns.

Basic spiritual values:

If persons of any age (especially older) have never been interested in church attendance, tithing, prayer, etc, they may never be. There is a good prospect they won’t embrace all or even some of these aspects just because they marry. We hope that they will change their lives. However, they probably will not.

Evangelism in a marriage:

The Bible tells us not to be “unequally yoked” with a nonbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:14). To disobey this admonition may be an invitation to a stress-filled and unsuccessful marriage. Never enter a marriage with the expectation that your fervent witnessing will eventually lead your spouse to accept the gospel truths.

What will be your living arrangements?

There are many questions that need to be answered in this arena.

1. Will you live in the other’s home or your own?
2. Will you both sell your houses (or move from your apartments) and buy or rent a new dwelling place that is jointly “yours”?
3. Will you have his or her children (and/or your own) living with you?
4. Will you use some of the furniture of each mate or buy everything new?
5. How will you dispose of items not needed in the new home?

Our experience and survey data show that there are no clear-cut answers for each of the previous questions. Each situation has to be judged individually to find a plan that will satisfy both of you. If either of you is unhappy about living in the other person’s house, you had best make other living arrangements.

Do either of you have family or financial obligations?

Discuss these details completely before the marriage takes place. Jo and Linda were married sometime after the deaths of their mates. One month after the marriage ceremony, during a dinner conversation, Linda discovered the following information about Joe’s commitments:

  • He told his mother she could live with them for the next two years instead of going to a nursing home.
  • Jo was giving about $200 a month to his unmarried (and usually unemployed) son, who lived in the next town.
  • He had taken limited bankruptcy three years ago and still owed creditors over $20,000.

Obviously this information was most upsetting to Linda. These facts, along with Joe’s refusal to compromise on certain religious issues, caused their later divorce. There should be no secrets of this type between two persons contemplating marriage!

Will you avoid comparison of your deceased mate with your new one?

You will never find a mate exactly like your first. Your new husband or wife will have some good (and bad) qualities your first mate didn’t have, and vice versa. Do not place your former mate on a pedestal and challenge your new partner to be the same. Leaving the deceased’s picture on the wall and remarking that he or she “was so good” about doing such-and-so is not conducive to a harmonious second marriage. Conversely, there is no profit in amplifying all the faults of your former spouse. Be fair and objective about your first mate, without making direct or indirect comparisons to your new or intended partner. What happened in your first marriage is history —let it go at that.

If you have grown children, what will be your contact with them after you marry?

Your marriage will be a major adjustment for your adult children. If you follow some rather simple guidelines, your new marriage can be very successful.

First of all, let your children know that you still love them. They should feel welcome to call you and see you within the bounds of common courtesy and good sense. Having a new spouse should not cause you to be isolated from your children, even if they have misgivings about the marriage.

Second, don’t go to your children with every problem or conflict that you have with your new spouse. It can be counterproductive to do so. In every disagreement have a private talk with your mate and try to resolve conflict at that level. Playing “mind games” with each other’s children is a sure way of breeding major problems for a marriage.

How will you manage family traditions and holidays?

The first Thanksgiving and Christmas following a second marriage calls for much planning and discussion. There are many relatives to consider, and a calm, well-developed plan can avoid much unneeded stress. Keep as many of your own family traditions as you can. But it’s good to be ready to compromise to include your new mate’s relatives. You may need to have two Thanksgiving meals —or one big one for all. Can your traditions and celebrations be exactly the same as with your first mate? Of course not. If both of you are willing to try new plans, family gatherings can be harmonious, and fun-loving for all.

To summarize, we want to emphasize that remarriage is not necessary or desirable for everyone whose mate has died. If you ask God’s blessings and are led to the proper person, however, a new marriage can be highly rewarding.

There were other valuable points made, that we weren’t able to include, from the chapter of the book, Coping with Life after Your Mate Dies by Donald C. Cushenbery and Rita Crossley Cushenbery published by Baker Books. Please consider obtaining this book because we believe you could find it very helpful. This book is written to be read quickly, and easily.


For further insights on this topic, please click onto the links below to read articles posted on the “I Do! Take Two” web site:




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166 responses to “For Widows and Widowers Considering Remarriage

  1. Is there still sincerity now in the present marriage of today? For sincerity and true love I know to be the mother of happiness in any marriage or relationship. So I ask can we find true love here on the internet? Because those you meet on ground still fail after some times so tell what is the percentage of trust in relationship on the internet? The answers to this few question is all I want to know?

    1. Williams, The short answer to your question is, “Yes, it is possible to find ‘sincerity and true love’ through the Internet,” but it can also be a VERY unsafe place to look for this kind of love. And because you live in Africa I would be very cautious when using any kind of Internet service to “match” you with someone. The best place to find a person who has the qualities you are looking for is in your church. Most often marriage relationships come from starting out as friends. In your church there must be some women whom you have known as friends. Start praying and asking God if one of these women (friends) would be the mate that He has chosen for you. Rarely do you find a life-mate with the qualities you want through an Internet dating/matching service.

      I urge you not to lower your standards just because you haven’t been able to find someone and you are willing to settle for “less” because you are lonely

  2. I’m a young widow who was a “doubting Christian” when I met my Atheist husband, who unsurprisingly, pulled me further away from Christ. Our 5 year marriage was filled with turmoil and he died unexpectedly only a few months ago. A wonderful Christian man who has been in the background of my life (an old friend) told me that he has always had feelings for me and would love to begin a courtship when I’m ready (with God as the center, no premarital sex, etc.).

    I’m back in the Word. I’m attending church again. I’m praying. I feel really connected to the Lord. I also feel like this man is who I should be with, but those in my life say the “rule” is to wait at least 1 year before even starting a relationship. He’s never married, no children, but wants a family. I have very young children (babies) whom I would love to grow up with a father-figure, and just talking to him makes me very happy. The 1 year minimum seems arbitrary. So, could someone please enlighten me – why am I supposed to wait?

    1. Dear Anonymous, I can see why you would be anxious to marry. From everything you’ve said, this sounds like a great situation. But I have to say that I have concerns too. It’s not because of a “one year rule” –although that seems that it should be a minimum. I have several great concerns. First, you are such a new widow, you haven’t really had a chance to put both feet on the ground. The sting from this last marriage HAS to have left you with some emotional baggage that really wouldn’t be good to drag into a marriage. Get your own feet on the ground spiritually, before you jump into a marriage with this man (or any). Your relationship with the Lord needs to be one-on-one first and grounded firmly. And THEN you are more ready to join hands with someone else spiritually. If your husband was able to pull you further from Christ… so can someone else. I’m not saying this man will, but it’s possible. Right now it seems like it will be the opposite, and perhaps it will be… but we’ve seen it over and over and over again where things happen and it goes in another direction. Get your feet planted firmly and a child of God and then go into a relationship in a healthy way.

      Also, you have been married before… he hasn’t. Those are major things to get adjusted to. Go into the Preparing for Marriage tools and also the Remarriage ones to ask each other some very, very important questions you may never have considered before. And even if you’ve considered many of them, give him the chance to do so.

      Another thing that is of concern is that you are bringing “babies” into the marriage. He has not been a father before. You won’t even have a honeymoon period (and I’m not just talking about a week or so) before you both get into the hard part of living together with a pre-made family. Slow it down. You have no idea what he’s like as a father. You haven’t had enough time to be together (dating) long enough to see how he and you do through conflict times… and then add onto this a pre-made family. What happens when you have a child (or more) together? Will he give his own children preferential treatment? Date for a while. Look at each other’s background. Worship together. Does he have an explosive temper and such? He would say, “no.” But you haven’t been together long enough to see if that is true.

      We have seen some horror stories… many, many of them. The other person “seemed” perfect… but they didn’t take the time they needed to take to slow things down and get to know each other in ways that were strategic. Please, please, please slow this down. What’s the rush? It’s better to be careful than hasty when you’re talking about a lifetime commitment –for you and your children.

      Also, on the radio ministry of Focus on the Family, they had a GREAT program on there as far as finding “Good and Godly Spouse.” You may have already thought you found one. Perhaps that is true. But please listen to the program and perhaps pick up the book that was discussed. The program (for a few weeks) can be found at: The book can be found at: The Sacred Search: What If It’s Not about Who You Marry, But Why?. Please listen, read, and most of all pray without partiality. Also, go into the linked articles and Marriage Prep Tools (along with the Remarriage articles) to ask each other the important questions you NEED to ask each other. Slow this down. Waiting will help you to appreciate each other all the more, and will put you on a much wiser footing. That is my prayerful opinion.