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 it may be something you are open to in the future. If you ever think of remarrying, read this material carefully. Even if 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. It may even take 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. That is because she had four adult children and I had three. At first my children had only a slight acquaintance with Rita. 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. It has helped us establish 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. 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 his 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 they may 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. They 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. They 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. This is especially true 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)? Or will you 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. It’s important to find a plan that will satisfy both of you. If either of you is unhappy about living in the other person’s house, 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, 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. 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. 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 book, Coping with Life after Your Mate Dies. Donald C. Cushenbery and Rita Crossley Cushenbery are the authors. It is published by Baker Books. Please consider obtaining this book because we believe you could find it very helpful. It is written to be read quickly, and easily.

– ALSO-

For further insights on this topic, please read the following articles posted on the “I Do! Take Two” web site:

10 STEP GUIDE TO MARRYING A WIDOWER

ADVICE FOR WIDOWS AND WIDOWERS CONSIDERING REMARRIAGE CATEGORY

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Comments

205 responses to “For Widows and Widowers Considering Remarriage

    1. Absolutely you can marry a single person or divorcee, Joshua. This article was written to help widows and widowers to move slowly and intentionally as they consider re-marriage. It goes through a lot of the areas that should be discussed or considered before you make a commitment to marry someone after you’ve been widowed/single for a while.

  1. I have just remarried and I would like to do a trust so there will be no question about my home, property, bank account (for my children). What is the best type of trust?

    1. Patricia, it is so wise for you to want to set up a trust at this point in your life. Not doing so will, in most cases, lead to conflict and bitterness over assets after your death. Plus, without a trust the state where you live will “inherit” most of your assets (through taxes). We don’t offer legal advice here but you will definitely want to find an attorney whom you can trust to put the necessary documents together for you and execute the trust at the time of your death.

      There are a number of different types of trusts. Typically the more assets you have the more complicated the trust. And every state has different laws pertaining to trusts. If you don’t already know a trust attorney you can ask some of your friends who they used; or if you have a church home you can ask your pastor if there are any trust attorneys in the church who he might recommend. Hope this helps.

  2. I’m a widow, I lost my husband when my daughter was 10 months. It’s so difficult to find a Godly man to marry. My daughter is 12years. I love God. What can I do to get a Godly man?

  3. I am a widow after 41 years together. I met a widower after he was married 40 years. We are engaged to be married this october. We cant change each other at our age, LOL! any advice?

  4. I married my widower this past July, having known him and his late wife for several years. She and I were very good friends and while our friendship advanced very fast after her death, and our courtship was almost non-existent, we are both very certain that God brought us together. He is wonderful with my six-year old son, who adores him. And while there are very obvious and clear obstacles due to the very nature of him having been recently widowed, not to mention the grief aspect, he is doing well, save a few very painful things to me.

    So, my son and I moved into his home he shared with his late wife and her mother (who passed away approximately 8 years ago). They lived in the house for 30 years as a married couple, so to say that there are difficulties for him to adjust the changes to bring me and my family in, in many ways, he is doing well. Together, they owned horses and he trained them and she rode them in endurance races. Their entire life was consumed with horses, as they never had children together. She didn’t want them and he had two from a previous marriage.

    Needless to say, there are memorabilia everywhere. Some of it doesn’t bother me, as I loved her and I am very much in love with him, I understand these things will take time for him to sort through the emotions attached and move on. I must, every day, practice a great deal of patience and understanding; admittedly, there are days that are harder than others.

    We are both very strong Christians, and I believe that is why he is doing so well. This is the first year without her and after 30 years of marriage, I am overwhelmed to imagine what he must feel during every new event or holiday. The strange part of this for me is that I knew her well, and now I’m his wife. Additionally, while this is his first year without her, this is our first year as a married couple, and so the typical and expected first holidays, etc, are tempered with me realizing he is adjusting. This also requires a great deal of patience and acceptance and grace.

    Were I in his shoes, I would hope that this kindness and grace would be afforded to me. Meeting people they knew together is an awkward and sometimes painful experience for me as I am never quite certain to stand next to him or walk away. And hearing him go through all of the details is very uncomfortable and painful for me, as immediately, he introduces me as his ‘new’ wife. I suppose there is not a better way to introduce me, so I don’t really mind that introduction, though it is interesting to see how they will go from offering him their deepest condolences to offering us their congratulations. I feel awkward and out of place, but I remind myself that they are also very uncomfortable. So grace must be extended.

    Of course, the hardest time comes when we are out someplace and he feels compelled to bring her up and tell me of her favorite food at whatever restaurant or sometimes more intimate details. Fortunately, he doesn’t do this all the time, but it brings me a bit of pain and longing for it to just be ours. Then of course, I must remind myself again that this is all very new to him, as well.

    The details and nuances of this relationship are very detailed and interwoven, so clearly there is not ample time or space to delve into all of them here, suffice to say that I’ve been told on more than one occasion that not every woman could or would be willing to walk in my shoes.

    The biggest issue I’ve mentioned earlier are the most painful to me and I think you will clearly see why as I relay them. When we first married, I was so overjoyed at finally being happily married, that I couldn’t wait to get my name and other personal information changed and include him in all of my financial accounts. An addition that he also said he would take care of post haste. And then there is the little detail of the utility bills, for which she was solely responsible, and therefore, all of them were in her name. Understanding the sensitivity of this situation, I waited a period of time before mentioning this to him and the fact that if he truly wanted me to take over this role, as he said, then he would have to make these changes.

    Also, it was becoming more uncomfortable to me, as I was now living in his/our/their home and the one who was helping him make these bills and doing life with him, yet it was her name that still appeared every month on the bills. So, I gently explained to him that I needed this change to occur, and he very kindly agreed and said that he would make that happen within the next few weeks. That was 6 months ago. And the few times I’ve mentioned this to him, he’s become increasingly more obstinate and angry. Then, a few weeks ago, I needed his bank account information for an insurance policy on which I placed him and he wanted to put under his account. He pulled out his checkbook, the one on which he’d told me I would be added, and I discovered that his late wife was also on that account. This was a fact of which I had been unaware.

    It hurt me, on a physical level, as at this point, I’m his wife, I’m the one walking with him through life, I’m the one here now, and living with his grief. I believe I have been very patient and continue to do so, as I fully understand the depth of thing I’m asking of him. I also feel a great deal of guilt at having to ask this, as I know that it means one more thing from his marriage to her disappearing. And to be fair, I can’t even imagine the pain that must be in. Yet, he is the one who asked me to marry him, and he is the one who assured me that this was something that needed to occur. Yet, now, it has become something of a source of great contention. I cannot open the bills as they don’t possess my name, I have no access to his checking account, and honestly, with her name on the bills, it in some ways feels as though she is still very much here, and I am a guest in my own home.

    This is something that he is unable to understand and now, gets very upset when anything remotely is said, so I say nothing. Yet, it is there, and I cannot ignore the pain this causes me. I also know that as a Christian, he honored his vows and commitment to her for 30 years. That is something that I have always greatly admired in him, and I know that he will, and does, in many ways, honor me. However, for me, this is very hard and painful. As a Christian, I know that it is “til death do us part,” and for the entire marriage, even when she was going through cancer treatments, he honored her and even now. When she died in March, scripture tells us that that commitment ended to her. And when he married me, his commitment to me began.

    Now, I am not so stupid or childish as to believe that this would be a fairy tale or our new happiness would somehow negate his pain and grief. Quite the opposite, I was the one who has walked this journey with him, closer than his family, closer than our Pastor’s, so I, above all others, know and understand the gravity and necessity for sensitivity. And believe me when I say that I’ve been exercising that minute by minute. But for me, this is a huge component to him honoring my part of his commitment to me.

    I understand that this step for him represents him laying down this part of his past, and again, I carry a certain amount of guilt for the needing this to occur, but for us to be us, I need this action. So, with a deep sigh, I must continue to offer this up to God, as He is the only one who can affect any real change, as my mentioning this again would only bring heartache and an unnecessary argument. It hurts me very much that he didn’t do what he said he would, that he didn’t just tell me that it would take him some time, instead of telling me he would do this, and also that I’m being very patient about her ‘stuff’, her clothes, her ashes, and her mother’s stuff everywhere, yet this is the thing I need and cannot express to him the importance for me.

    So, I don’t know if this very long comment with help anyone, but I wish to add this final comment: I have researched this very delicate situation and find that while I’m not alone in the Wives of Widowers, extra sensitivity and care and empathy must be married to a large amount of grace, as I believe he WILL move through this phase. Whether he ever acknowledges what pain this has caused me remains to be seen, but I trust that God will not fail me or forsake me. I place my faith in Him, as He is the One who brought us together, and He is the one who knows what it will take to satisfy both of our hearts and soothe both of our pains.

    1. Autumn, How my heart goes out to you. This is such a complicated situation. There are so many emotions to sort through in order to get this to a better place. If we were asked if you should marry this man at the time that you did, we would have told you to wait–to let him go through the stages of grief before he would be ready to give his heart more freely to you as a marriage partner. But it won’t do any good to focus on what should have been, what could have been, or whatever… concerning the past. I sense that he is a wonderful person, and so are you. I also sense that you can be good together. But because of the circumstances surrounding his grieving, you have a lot of issues that are separating you from getting to that place. Time and intentional actions will help in that process.

      I greatly encourage you to contact the ministry of Focus on the Family. Go to their web site at Focusonthefamily.com and find their counseling contact information. They have counselors on staff that do a great job of giving people, and guiding them to the help they need. I encourage you to talk to a counselor there to help you to better connect you and your husband together. I’m sure you will also need to find another counselor to further walk you through the steps it will take to better bond you together as husband and wife and a family who honors and loves God and each other. You may hesitate to think about doing this, but this is the best time to do that, before more damage is done, and bonding opportunities aren’t taken advantage of, as they need to be.

      Your husband needs to go through the steps of grief so he can be in a better place to love you as you need and deserve. He may not want to go to a counselor, but I hope as you reach out to one, that it may eventually inspire him to do so as well. He probably needs a grief counselor at first. But it needs to be one who is marriage-friendly, and will not shove him away from you. At the right time, that counselor will know when and how to include you in this process. In the meantime, you need to talk to a marriage-friendly counselor who will help you to know what you should do when so you build a good foundation for your marriage.

      I pray for you Autumn… and pray for your husband and son. May God help you, guide you, and lead you to the additional help that you need. “May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5) May you be patient in your perseverance, but steady, and wise as you learn how to love your husband in the way he most needs it, day-by-day.

      “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ —to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)

      1. My late husband went to Heaven this past March. He was the best friend I ever had and we went everywhere and did everything together. It was almost like we were joined at the hip so to speak. He passed 2 days after my birthday (March 25, 2018) and on the 28th of April I had emergency surgery and would have died if my sister had not come over.

        I am a very strong Christian and would like to meet a good Christian man that I could go to dinner, or a movie with. It would be nice to have someone to talk to about the day and to share life with. I am active in church and it would be important to me for him to be an active church going Christian.