Should I Remarry?

Written by L. James Harvey on . Posted in Family

seniorcarBecause seniors are living longer many are encountering a decision earlier generations did not face. The issue develops when the spouse of a senior dies and the surviving partner still has 10 to 20 years to live. In such a case should they consider remarrying?

This issue came to national attention recently when the Rev. Pat Robertson answered a question on his 700 Club program. He was asked what a senior should do if their spouse had dementia to the point where they were institutionalized and no longer knew them. Pat replied he felt the healthy senior had the right to divorce his spouse and remarry because the marriage had been broken by the illness and the surviving senior needed the compassion and intimacy of a loving spouse. Pat's answer got a great deal of response particularly from Christians who felt the marriage vow, which contains the words, "until death do us part," did not permit a divorce in this situation.

So, should a senior remarry? This is, of course, a very personal decision and one each person should make based on much prayer and thought. I personally tend to disagree with Pat Robertson's answer in the case of dementia. A person can meet some of the non sexual social and companionship needs outside of marriage until their spouse passes on, at which time they are free to marry again, if they so desire. Assuming a senior's spouse dies or they obtain a divorce for biblically approved causes, should they remarry? Let's look at some of the issues.

No senior should remarry unless they develop a mutually fulfilling loving relationship with someone who is free to marry. There are some issues to be considered, however, if either partner has children by their previous marriage. Children may object to the marriage because they feel the surviving parent should stay faithful to the deceased parent, or they may feel the new marriage may reduce the inheritance they were planning on receiving. These issues need to be worked through and, we hope, the children will accept the fact that the happiness of the surviving parent should have priority. A pre-nuptial agreement or a rewriting of one’s will should satisfy the estate issues in most cases.

If a surviving spouse were to find a loving person they feel blessed to remarry, one would hope the children would give priority to the happiness of the surviving spouse over their personal feelings for the deceased parent.

At a seminar I was delivering recently a delightful and attractive lady came up to talk to me at the break. She shared with me that she was 84 and had been married twice. Both husbands had died. She indicated that both had been wonderful Christian men and that she looked forward to seeing both of them again in heaven. On the other hand, I have a good friend who is 91 whose wife died about 5 years ago. He had a beautiful marriage and decided he would not remarry though his children would, I'm sure, not have objected. He salutes his deceased wife's picture each day (they were both in the Navy in WW II) and he fills his days with volunteer work and other social activities. Both of the people mentioned in this paragraph made different decisions about remarrying, but each undoubtedly made the right decision for them.

In summary, Christians are free to remarry if a spouse dies, and more will chose to do so in the future as life expectancy increases, but remarrying is a very personal decision with a number of issues that must be considered. If you face this issue, pray about it and I'm certain you and God will make the right decision.

How you know you are getting old

You are approaching magnificent, because things get better with age

Author Information
L. James Harvey
L. James Harvey was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He graduated from Hope College with honors and has a Ph.D. degree in Counseling from Michigan State University. He has been a high school coach and teacher, a college director, dean, vice president, and president.

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