By Leslie Diestelkamp
When a companion is snatched away by death, whether after a very few years of marriage or after several decades, the surviving spouse is thrust into a condition of shock at first, of loneliness a little later, and of frustration finally. The intent of this article is to be helpful to such troubled people and to also help all of us in our association with such lonely and frustrated ones.
However, this is obviously a sensitive subject and any recommendation that is made is necessarily drawn at least partly from personal experiences and individual ideals. Thus such recommendations would vary from one advisor to another. Consequently, I shall limit myself to general ideals and to Bible principles.
Most preachers have not had sufficient training or experience in significant financial matters to equip them to advise people in this area. But the following advice is surely wise, yet may be in areas often overlooked and forgotten by those who become widows and widowers: (1) Do not be hasty to settle all financial matters. Give yourself a little time–some weeks or months to reach decisions. (2) Seek a competent and reliable financial advisor if you are not already skilled yourself. (3) Especially, give yourself some time to adjust to the new life-style before changing residence and/or selling a home.
To Marry Or Not To Marry
It is impossible to advise “yes” or “no” in this regard without a full consideration of the many variables from one case to another. But again there are some fundamental principles that can be suggested that really should help each person to determine his or her action: (1) It is assumed that every Christian will recognize that he or she is free to marry (Rom. 7:1-3; 1 Cor. 7:39). (2) One does not show disrespect to his first companion when he consummates a second marriage, being guided by righteous principles. (3) Yet, if there is a significant burden imposed by present conditions that would be escalated and aggravated by a second marriage, then Paul advises one to remain single (1 Cor. 7:40). Thus, one’s health, age, finances, children, work, and such matters must all be considered.
But I believe the most significant factor in deciding whether or not to re-marry is: Do you really want another companion? Or the question may be: Do you need a companion? Obviously, some men and perhaps many women have no emotional need for a second companion. But most people probably do have that need, for it is a basic characteristic of human beings. Therefore, a second marriage may be wise because of the very same reasons for any marriage at all (1 Cor. 7:2, 8, 9). How pitiable it is when some have lived chaste lives throughout a first marriage, and then when they find themselves “single again” they decline marriage and live in sin-sin that brings shame, disgrace and eternal ruin.
If You Marry Again
It is assumed that Christians recognize that they must marry a companion who is faithful to the Lord, if they marry at all (1 Cor. 7:39). Paul chose to remain single for the sake of the gospel, but he said he had a right to have a wife who was a believer (1 Cor. 9:5). Please think how harmful it would have been for him to have led about a wife who did not share his faith.
When young people marry there are adjustments to be made, but these come quite naturally, usually. However, in later life such adjustments are much more significant. We may have each become quite “set in our ways.” And at these later ages we do not bend as easily as we did when we were young! So, let us enumerate a few principles (again) that are important to success in a second marriage:
(1) Marry a Christian — and to assure this, do not even consider any other — do not even date or otherwise become closely associated with one who is not a child of God. (2) But remember, this alone will not guarantee success. Even Christians are not always just naturally compatible. Evaluate in yourself and in the prospective companion: (a) flexibility in attitude, (b) joyful, pleasant disposition, (c) mutual likes and dislikes, (d) emotional stability, etc. (3) Enter your second marriage with even more resolution than you did the first one. Remember, this one may not have all the magic that usually accompanies the easy-going emotions and passions of youth.
Finally, expect your second marriage to be good. It can provide a needed companionship, a happy association, a joyful participation, a realistic security, a fruitful partnership as two lives blend in mutual devotion to God and in unselfish sharing with each other-a sharing of joys, sorrows and goals-a sharing of lives that are lived with hope and assurance and trust.
Because of the scarcity of prospective companions for widows, great care should be exercised lest in a desperate attempt to find companionship and/or security, scriptural and logical considerations may be cast aside and a very unwise marriage may result. Conversely, since suitable companions are so readily available for widowers, they too must exercise great care lest they be pursued by — the least desirable ones and be led to the most unsuitable choice. And I hasten to add: not one of the points I have made in this article is inconsequential. It is a serious matter and, for the sake of all who need these words, I have treated the subject with strict seriousness. Next (and finally): “Senior Citizenship.”
Truth Magazine XXII: 20, pp. 328-329
May 18, 1978