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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162 responses to “For Widows and Widowers Considering Remarriage

  1. My husband has passed away. There is a dear long time friend that I have seen a couple of times, gone out to dinner. He has been divorced. I’m wondering what the Bible has to say about a widower remarrying a divorcee. I haven’t been able to find a clear answer in the Bible yet. Any thoughts on this?

    1. Examine carefully the reason for the divorce. Seek counseling from a qualified counselor and from a minister or parson or religious leader. If you’re careful and thorough, it can work out to be fine for you both.

  2. What is going to happen to my name when I remarry? Should I use my late husband’s last name as my middle name and my last name will be my second husband’s? I am confused.

    1. Sure, you could do that as far as making your late husband’s name as your middle name, IF the man you are marrying is okay with it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t. But that’s my opinion. Let me ask you… what did you do with the last name your parents gave you after you married? You probably put your late husband’s name in its place. So, if you did it with your maiden name, why wouldn’t you do the same thing with the last name of the man you are now marrying? Would he feel like he is taking a back seat to the man you were married to before if you are still using your late husband’s name?

      I sure get it as far as wanting to keep his name because of the years and closeness in love, which you had together before. But just make sure that you don’t jeopardize the marriage you would have with this new man if you kept and use your current last name. It’s a decision you both need to make together.

      Also, be sure that you don’t hold your late husband up in such high esteem and priority that the man you are considering marrying will be threatened. It’s good for you and your new husband to honor his memory, but you don’t want to be talking about him so much and have him on your mind so much that your new husband feels like he is second best. Honor, yes… still care, yes… but put your energy into making this new husband know he is your priority as far as having a future life together.

  3. Society must understand that the spiritual world is facing a strong evolution in terms of codes and ethics. No one size fits all. However, all of us must be respectful, courteous. Our religions have molded us into spiritual personalities. I can marry a widow. I will follow the religious and ethical processes.

  4. My mom has just announced she is getting remarried after only 3 1/2 months of dating. My mom is 67. He (Dan) is 70. We are very concerned they are moving too fast. My dad commited suicide in 2010.They had a very intense marriage throughout but the last few years were awful. My dad was bipolar with a narcissistic personality disorder. Dan’s wife just died 8 months ago after battling cancer. Dan is very attentive to her and supportive. He is everything my dad was not. I am concerned that she is more in love with the idea of love rather than love itself. My brother and I are concerned and hurt that she is not listening to our concerns.

    While I live in the same town and knew Dan (and his wife and kids) growing up, I still do not know him in a comfortable way and then there is also the fact that it just seems weird for him and mom to be together because I knew him and Jeannie and the kids and the grandkids. We all went to church together until the last few years. My 13 y.o. daughter was in 3rd grade when dad died. She is trying her best to hold on to his memories. He was an awesome granddaddy. He took them to school every day but didn’t stop at that – he walked them in every day hand in hand. He was at every soccer game, play, every cheer event, etc. She is having a hard time with accepting Mom getting married again. In her little fairytale mind, you only have one true love and by mom remarrying it means that everything she had with her granddaddy was not real and a lie. My brother and his boys live out of town. He and his wife and one of his sons have only met Dan once. His other son (her grandson) has not even met him once. 4/5 of the grandkids are struggling with their grandmommy marrying someone they do not know.

    Dan’s kids and grandkids are having a hard time with it also being too soon. They have not even had time to grieve properly and have all birthdays and annual events without their mom/grandma or the 1 year anniversary of her death. I am afraid my mom is setting herself up for major resentments. On top of all that, she is planning on selling her house and moving into his house that he raised his family in with their mom who died and acts like it’s no big deal and expects us to just pop on over and walk in the door, grab a coke out of the fridge, and yell “hey mom, I’m here” as we do now. Everyone is telling her this is a bad idea but she won’t listen. She hears only what she wants to hear and if it is not “oh, I am so happy” then we are unsupportive. Can you give any advice? Thanks

  5. What should you consider if your child was still in the womb when your husband died? My baby(son) is now 6 months old. I was married for only 5 months (and also 5 months pregnant) when my husband died. He was not a good husband. I only found that out after the wedding (actually after moving in together 3 weeks after the wedding). He was physically abusive. I also found out he was into gay men and drugs. He actually died of AIDS. Thankfully I did not get HIV from my husband so there’s no issue with that.

    I was reading your article as I have thoughts of getting married again (maybe) in the future. But I am so scared. My husband had a very good reputation and a ‘good boy.’ It seems you can never know the real person until after you get married.

  6. I don’t understand the one year after a spouse’s death… and sometimes less.. .remarriage guidelines you suggest are reasonable. It seems so disrespectful… if you really loved your spouse. I love my wife and think it would be disrespectful to her if she passed on and I got married in one year. And marrying that soon also seems like poor advice if you say you should really know someone before you marry them, as you wouldn’t be able to know them well enough by one year… UNLESS you started dating someone the day after your spouse is buried or soon after. Does that really sound like a good idea? How would you like your current spouse to tell you she plans to get remarried in a year or less after you die? Sound flattering? Make you feel special? Makes you feel like you’ll be missed a lot? I doubt it.

    1. I was a widow for 8 years before I remarried. After 5 years I met a man that had been divorced for 3 years. His wife left him. We kept God before us and had planned to get married after courting (not dating) after 2 years but a situation happened that made us wait another year. I think that if you keep your remarriage up in prayer that God will direct your path. Not only is it disrespectful to the deceased spouse but it is also unfair to the new spouse to get married so soon. I’m not saying you have to wait 2 or 3 years like we had to do but it takes at least a year to adjust to holidays and anniversaries.

      There are also other family members who are going through the loss of your spouse and they need time, especially children, to adjust. I think any widow/widower owes it to themselves and their future spouse to go through this process.

  7. My simple coment is that I have learned a lot from literature and I need more of your guidance and I shall need your advice before I remarry as Iam a widower who has stayed now 3 years before remarrying.

  8. We are getting married on June 25th; we are both widowers and need a perfect song for our church wedding. We heard one in Brandon Missouri last Sept., about sorrow and then joy, but unfortunately I did not write it down and the 4 people that said oh that would be a perfect song for your wedding cannot recall it either. We both were in long term marriages and then sorrow struck when we both had our spouses die. If you help us we would be ever soooooooo grateful!!! Love in Jesus.

    1. Alice, It’s difficult to know what that song could be without more information. The best thing I can recommend is to think of a few words that might be sung in the song and then go onto YouTube and put those words in their search engine (along with the word “song”) to see if anything comes up. If you know the artist who sang it, that might lead you to it on YouTube. You might also try it in your regular search engine –sometimes lyrics of songs are posted on the Internet. If it’s a Christian song, put that in there. You might even call a Christian radio station to see if they can help you figure it out. Also, pray that God will somehow let you hear that song somewhere, and keep your ears open by listening to the radio and such. If it’s meant to be, God will help you with this. But have another song handy in case it just won’t work to find it in time. If a miracle is meant to happen concerning this song, God certainly can supply it. I hope this helps. I also hope all goes well in your wedding, but I especially pray for your marriage –that it is a good one. You both deserve some smiles in life :)

  9. It was the last I expected, going out with another lady just 5 months after my wife’s death after giving birth to my first son. She was all I wanted and felt till 1 year plus that I won’t have anything to with another lady only for me to be seeing myself having feelings for another lady. Some how inside me, I’m not comfortable with it but can’t stop wanting to have her around or see her face because aside from my son, she is one person that makes me happy now.

  10. I heard after 6 months of waiting after a spouse has died, that it was/is okay to remarry? that’s with kids. I’m torn between my X son in law getting remarried. My husband died 5/15, my daughter died 9/15. I do understand where he is coming from. He has cut me and the rest of my side of the family out. Any suggestion?

    1. Oh Barbara, How I grieve for you. I can’t even imagine the depth of pain you have been going through and the confusion you are now experiencing. How I wish I had easy answers for you. These deaths are still so new. And now this… how very difficult, to say the least. Honestly, it’s hard to know what to advise because I don’t know your son in law. But it may be that this is his way of pushing away the pain of losing your daughter and this is the only way he knows how to do it –a “clean break” so to speak. Eventually, he will probably see that this is not best, 6 months or even a year is not enough. He will eventually realize that the hard way.

      But for now, what CAN you do except ask him to NOT push you away, that you want to honor his new wife? It may even be that this is her request, but I don’t know. Barbara, all you can do is give grace as best as you can (because you are grieving too). State your love and support and pray for him, and see what happens. And then adjust accordingly. Sadly, that is the best thing you can do –getting to the place of your “new normal” as graciously as you can.

      Please know Barbara that I grieve for you and your family and pray for you. May the Lord lighten the load and give you smiles here and there, as time goes on.

  11. Restarting after losing a spouse ain’t as easy neither. For instance you experience persistent false allegations with the new spouse either because of envy, jealousy, or even because the might feel loved since they fear after losing the spouse you had befriended others who might still be in your thoughts…

  12. Hi God’s people. I am a widow two years now since my husband died in 2014. I am aged 39 yrs with three children all below 16 yrs. Indeed it is been a challenge to even think of dating given the age of my children. It is even worse considering the culture where I come from. Women remarrying is not a common issue. I am a church worker and I know what the church says about widows. I don’t even know where and how I can get a GOD FEARING WIDOWER to date. My children have started asking me if they will get another dad and I hve no answer for them. Please, what do I do? It is true that am very lonely.

    1. Moraa, I feel for you. Its is only now that our society is getting liberal and now slightly accept that widows can remarry. However, the question remains how to get the widowers. I am willing but I would want to wait for the long it will take me – not that I am still mourning but there is no pressure to possible mistakes.

  13. My spouse died in November 2015. About 6 months later I joined Catholic Match online dating. After over 50 years of being married I was curious about how a healthy, athletic 74 old man would fare out. I got a lot of ladies looking at my profile but some I contacted and some contacted me. Unfortunately none of them fit the criteria of what I was looking for. Since the death of my spouse I have been praying to God for helping to decide what He wants me to do with the rest of my life. I have thought of maybe volunteering at some missionaries. I am not in a hurry of dating so it seems but about 3 weeks ago a lovely widow lady contacted me about 10 Years younger and for some reason I felt the need to respond.

    We have been texting every day. We both seem to gravitate towards each other in our text conversations. Through her profile she is the criteria of what I asked for in a second spouse. We live in different countries but both of us are willing to relocate. We are of the same faith and both not in a hurry. We want to get to know each other. Eventually will have to meet in person. I will probably be in position next year to go to her country and meet her and see if this relationship would blossom.

    1. Hi Robert. First, let me say how sorry I am for your tremendous loss. You are a blessed man to have had your wife for more than 50 years. That is a loss that is not easily gotten over. Now, please consider me a voice of caution. I can’t tell you how many times we hear stories of widows/widowers who “find someone” on line who appears to be their new “soulmate.” Tragically, many people in these relationships wind up becoming a victim of a scam/crime – especially when the “new relationship” comes from another country outside the U.S. Scammers troll the Internet looking for lonely widow(ers) they can suck into a relationship and then scam them out of their life savings. Of course, the same thing can happen to you by women who respond to you from the United States. The Internet is not always a safe place.

      Almost all experts agree that a person who has lost their spouse needs to wait a minimum of 12 months before entering into any new relationship…or make any major life decisions. That’s because grief over loss of a spouse makes it very difficult to think clearly, especially when you are lonely. Now, that’s not to say you shouldn’t go out to dinner or other activities with female acquaintances (old friends). You need companionship and friendship and people to help you process your grief.

      Robert, thank you for contacting us and asking this question. I hope you will prayerfully consider my words and be very, very careful. Blessings!

  14. I think it is best to know ones values before you even talk about marriage. Respect what your children think and come to terms on the distribution of property. My husband passed in November 2015; he was sick for seven moths of which was hectic. I felt pain within me so much I loved this man so dearly but I’m disturbed by the way I’m in need of a partner so early to help me.