Ten reasons for widowed seniors to marry again

“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.

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “Ten reasons for widowed seniors to marry again

  1. Dr. Joe, this is so “on target”. My fiance’ and I both read this together and said “exactly” to each of your ten reasons! It mirrors what we are experiencing! Thank you for sharing this! Honored to be a part of paragraph 4. 🙂 Kay and I feel God has brought us together.And the verses which come to my mind about her are “God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” and “every good and perfect gift comes from above.” So thankful God brought Bertha into your life…very honored to have your example in our journey. God bless you both.

  2. Pastor McKeever,
    Your article is good to a point. That point is finding another wife is not easy. I’ve been a widower for 13 years. I’ve approached woman over the years and all have pretty much said they are comfortable being single at the stage of life they’re in. I will say that the women that I have approached have mostly been single never married. Two were divorced. I have not found any widows so far in the circle of people I see throughout my day. I am not a recluse. I do get out and do things. I am very involved in different activities and ministries in my church. I am also involved in activities and ministries outside my church. I would like very much to re-marry but God has not lead me to a woman willing to take that step. Your thoughts?

    • My thoughts? I wasn’t trying to suggest ways to meet someone to marry, but merely giving reasons why it’s a good idea for a lot of widowed seniors. Truth is, my experience seems to have been extremely unusual: I prayed, met Bertha, and we knew that week the Lord had put us together. — When my wife Margaret died, people said to me, “Beware of the casserole patrol!” I had to ask what that meant. They explained that women looking for a husband will inundate you with casseroles. But, Paul, in two-plus years of widowhood, I didn’t get the first casserole. And only one or two cakes. So everyone’s experience is different. — My suggestions for you are these two: 1) Keep this before the Lord in prayer. And 2) ask two or three people whose opinion you really value to critique you. “Am I doing anything wrong? Is there something about me I need to change (the way I dress, my talk, etc)?”

  3. Pastor Joe:
    My fiancée and I ready your entire article, and immediately came to the conclusion that Phyllis or I could have written it word for word.
    We have each been 2-3 years since our spouses of many years went to be with the Lord. I am 80, and Phyllis 78.
    My prayers were for a woman deeply into her faith with our Lord to appear, and she did, miraculously. We both believe that our meeting last August was a Divine intervention, because we would not normally meet, with me Worshipping with a United Church and Phyllis attending a Baptist Church 45 minutes by car away from where I live in Waverley, Nova Scotia. We became engaged on Valentines Day, and plan an August Wedding.
    We are truly marrying for love, and not companionship. I believe that the Lord is blessing this union in far more ways than ‘companionship’. It is amazing that our love for each other is very real, and frankly beyond that my imagination could dream up, so I highly recommend that any widowed person reading this, believe
    that you can find love again if you will let it happen.
    Thankyou Pastor Joe, and may God richly bless you and Bertha for your remaining time on earth. I would love to attend one of your service messages.
    Ian Brown

    • How wonderful, Ian. Thank you so much for sharing this. Btw, before we met, I’d begun praying, “Lord, if you have someone for me, here is what I would like!” (I tell that and people smile.) “I would like someone who is intelligent, godly, sweet and humble, attractive–and without a lot of complications in her personal life.” Later I thought of number 7. “Let us both know it up front, so we won’t play games.” When we met, in Feb of ’16, I found out Bertha had been writing in her journal, “25 reasons why I will never marry again.” (The big reason was she had had 52 years married to the greatest guy in the world; what are the chances of Act 2 to follow that?) When my family members have met her, someone will invariably say, “Joe, the Lord is rewarding you.” And quickly, someone else will say, “Yeah, but what is He punishing Bertha for?”

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