“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either falls, the other will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when no one is there to lift him up…. And if two lie down together, they keep warm. But how can one be warm alone?” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-11)
A friend whose wife died several years ago said to me recently, “I don’t ever plan to marry again. If God has something different about this, He will let me know. But I’m a long way from anything remotely like that.”
His reason for telling me that? Probably so I’d quit trying to come up with a good match for him.
Bertha and I have been married 15 months. We love this time of our lives so much–we were each wed for 52 years before the Lord took Gary and Margaret–we wish all our friends could share the joy!
Another friend buried his wife less than a year ago, and tells me that a few days ago he proposed to another lady. Prior to her death, his wife had a lengthy illness, so some might say he did much of his grieving in advance. Friends who know them both are rejoicing in this new match.
We’re all different. Just as not everyone needs to marry in the first place, not every widow or widower needs to do so the second time.
I knew a few months after my wife died that it would be God’s will for me to remarry. How does one know? The same way he knows anything else is from the Lord: In your spirit. The knowledge is simply there. However, in the case of my wife Bertha–she and I married in January of 2017–her first two years of widowhood she spent grieving Gary’s death. In her journal on the first anniversary of his passing, she wrote, “Oh Lord, how will I ever survive another year without Gary.” But before that year had passed, we had met. We both knew the first week we met that God had put us together.
It’s necessary to point out that Bertha loved Gary and I loved Margaret. And they each still hold honored places in our hearts. Nothing about that has changed. What has changed is that God has joined us together as “the love of the rest of our lives.” And it’s very wonderful.
Here are ten reasons Bertha and I have thought of why the widowed should consider remarrying…
One. You have more living to do.
Remarrying is one way of affirming your faith in the rest of your life. “I believe in tomorrow!”
Age has nothing to do with it.
When I knew the Lord wanted me to remarry, I began praying, “Lord, please send me the love of the rest of my life.” (To call the second spouse the love of my life would feel like a betrayal to the dear person I spent over half a century with!)
Two. You’re not ready for the grave!
You’re ready for something new in your life. And new/different it will be, that’s for sure, when you remarry. You will each bring new friends and family into the other’s life.
A few days after we married, we went on a long trip. First, we visited Atlanta where I spoke at the retirement of a friend of 55 years. The next morning, we had breakfast with a couple who had been best friends for Margaret and me. Then, we traveled on to Savannah for a few nights of honeymoon in a lovely old B&B. From there we drove up to South Carolina to see old friends, and then on to North Carolina to see my son’s family. And from there, back to Alabama to see my siblings. And home. (Btw, I rented a new Cadillac for the trip. And loved driving it!)
A few months later, we drove to Florida to see Bertha’s family, stopping along the way to see old friends. Soon, we’ll host her family as they come for a granddaughter’s college graduation, then a month later, drive to Florida for a grandson’s high school graduation. I love it.
Three. You have much to share!
You and your new spouse will have a lifetime of stories and experiences to share with the other. You’ll never run out of things to talk about, experiences to share, and interests.
Bertha and Gary served churches in several Southern states and in New England, then served as missionaries in Malawi and Brazil. Margaret and I served churches in the South and then spent over a quarter century in New Orleans pastoring and leading the association. So, Bertha and I have a world of stories saved up to share. We each delight in hearing these tales.
Four. You need some laughter in your life.
A few weeks after Bertha and I met, her daughter Lari, a schoolteacher in central Florida, texted me to say, “Thank you for giving my mother her laughter back.”
I read where someone said, “If there is no laughter in your lovemaking, you’re doing it all wrong.” I like that.
Five. You need a best friend in every sense of the word.
Bertha and I are quick to say our marriage is more than (ahem) companionship. We are in love, and we like that. But to say, as many have, that seniors marry for companionship only is to insult them. Who knows love better than those who were married for forty or fifty years? And who would be better at showing it than one who was well-married during that time?
A best friend is there for you, works to understand you, and is quick to do those things that please you. The other day, as I was finishing my round of errands–to the bank, the cleaners, the library, etc.–on the way home I stopped at Kroger’s and bought two things for Bertha: an arrangement of purple tulips and a box of Raisin Bran Crunch, her favorite. I came in the house displaying them like I was presenting the Hope diamond. She beamed with pleasure.
Six. You need another point of view.
Everyone needs someone who can disagree with us and still be on our team.
After Margaret died, I would sometimes call a friend and ask them to listen to the article I’d written for my blog that day and “tell me what you think.” My wife of 52 years would do this–sometimes with the bark off!–and I missed it terribly after the Lord took her. These days, I ask Bertha to be my sounding board.
Seven. Married people help each other stay safe.
After I was widowed, it occurred to me one day that if something happened to me at home it could be days before one of my children called to check. Not long after we married, I came home to find that Bertha had fallen from the ladder where she was hanging pictures in the living room. We spent hours in the emergency room that day, and together we agreed to stay off ladders, or at least never to climb one when the other is not around.
When I’m backing out of a crowded parking space, even though the backup camera helps, I enlist Bertha’s assistance. “Yes!” she calls if the lane is clear in her direction. Or, “No!” You may be able to tell we had a discussion on the best thing to say when communicating to me. Make it clear, I said to her. And forceful. The idea is to help each other stay safe.
Eight. Married people help each other stay healthy.
We eat better together than when we lived alone. The temptation to have another bowl of ice cream is just too powerful when no one else knows or cares. Bertha eats lots more strawberries and blueberries than she ever did, for the simple reason that I have them every morning of my life with my honeynut cheerios.
We walk the one-mile path in the park as many afternoons each week as we can. We hold hands and talk nonstop. Sometimes, if one of us is feeling lazy or unmotivated, the other will say, “Come on. Please? Walk with me.” And so, we’re helping each other.
Nine. You will have someone to talk with, someone who will listen to you.
After the Lord took Margaret, there were times I would come out of a church where I’d preached and get in the car, then reach for the phone to call her with a report on how things had gone. I knew she had been praying. And then it would hit me: She’s no longer at home. And I would weep.
Now, Bertha goes with me, and we talk nonstop. We talk while traveling in the car, we talk while walking in the park, and lots of other times.
Ten. How to say this…It’s great to be in love again!
Before we met, a friend said, “Seniors do not marry for love. They marry for companionship.” I said, “Not me. If I ever marry again, it will be for love.”
And so it is.
Do I need to elaborate on how wonderful this woman is? She is far more than I could ever have asked for or expected.
A few months after we married, I accompanied Bertha to her high school reunion. We had not gotten out of the car before a classmate of hers (Forest Hill High School, Jackson, MS, class of ’58) told me how blessed I was to have Bertha. I turned to her and said, “I’ll make you a deal. I’ll give you a nickel today for every time someone tells me how lucky I am.” Two hours later, I handed her a twenty-dollar bill and said, “Let’s just call it even!”
So, so blessed.