“He who finds a wife finds a good thing.” Proverbs 18:22
You may have seen good, happy remarriages, and you may have seen disasters. Remarriage calls for wisdom and self-knowledge. There may be joy and companionship ahead, but proceed with caution.
Research shows that widow-men remarry more often and more quickly than widows. Some of the widow-men who previewed this book have remarried, and they all report happiness and peace in their new marriages. It’s safe to say that the majority of widow-men consider remarriage soon after they lose their “better half.”
I was surprised at how soon after my wife’s death the question of remarriage arose. One or two people asked if I thought I would remarry, and I thought about it surprisingly soon myself. I could see that it was a possibility, that’s all. I didn’t feel guilty about having that thought because, after all, my wife was gone and I was no longer married. Also, my wife had made it clear that she assumed that I would marry after her death. She didn’t urge it upon me; she simply stated it as a prediction. She advised me not to be hasty. She recommended that I wait a year before getting involved with another woman.
An elderly widow once told me that at the burial of their wives, men are looking across the grave for their next wife. I prefer to think she didn’t mean it literally, but when I see a widow-man remarry within a year or two after losing his wife, I wonder if that widow was right.
If you are a younger widow-man, remarriage is a livelier question than it is for a much older man. You may want to start another family, or you may want to share the joy and work of parenting the children of the woman you marry. Or maybe you want the stability of being married again and having a sexual partner.
Whatever your age, you might welcome having help with cooking and cleaning, but be careful: women are wary of men who mainly want a housekeeper. Older women are wary of men who want “a nurse and a purse.” I have that on good authority.
For older widow-men, the desire for companionship can make a man desperate to escape loneliness. Desperation can lead to impulsive, unwise actions.
There are many practical differences between marrying after age forty or fifty and marrying for the first time when you were younger. There are different emotional issues, and financial questions will arise. If you are like me, you probably have more possessions than when you first married, and you may own a house, and you may have financial assets. If you think of marrying a woman in your age range, she quite likely will have similar complications. The property, children, grandchildren, and extended families you would bring into a late-in-life marriage are blessings, but they also represent important complications.
If you remarry, another issue to resolve is with whom you will spend your holidays. Will you be with her children and other family or with yours? Will you need to alternate holiday plans?
The issues of a potential remarriage can surface sooner than you think. If you begin dating again, think especially of the possible reactions of your children and the children of the woman you are dating. Would they be suspicious of the motives of the two older, dating adults? When I was dating a woman after my wife’s death, one of my daughters asked me if the woman was going to “suck up all of your money” or if “you are going to suck up all of her money.” Your children may have the same concerns if you remarry late in life.
A recently remarried widow-man told me a pre-nuptial agreement is crucial in a remarriage, especially where adult children are involved. He emphasized that a prenuptial agreement should take into account every imaginable event that could crop up in a new marriage, especially the costs of health care. All the questions you may have now about your own health care should be examined with respect to your future new wife, he said.
When a widow or a widow-man remarries, she or he will always, in some ways, remain married to the first spouse. A friend dated a widow after both their spouses died. They agreed early on in their dating that they would not pretend that her husband and his wife had never existed. That left them free to talk about their departed spouses, and that made their previous spouses welcome and comfortable presences in the couple’s dating. It was important for them to learn each other’s histories, and those histories were filled with stories about their first marriages.
In the second year after my wife’s death, a man who had remarried after a painful divorce gave a talk about his experience. One of his main points was that, especially when you marry later in life after a divorce, you marry not only your new bride but also her entire family, and she is marrying your family. It’s not a simple matter. The same is true for remarriage after the death of a spouse.
If you are thinking of remarriage, you may want to ask yourself these questions: What would you hope to gain from another marriage? What would you offer your new wife? What will your new wife want in the marriage? What challenges would you expect to face? How do you think your children and her children might view your late-in-life marriage? Marriage can be a wonderful blessing at any age, but there are blessings in the single life as well. Let God and your own good judgment be your guid
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