Can you or can you not remarry when?

Listen to the audio file of Chapter Seven

After the death of a spouse, what are the rules for remarriage of the survivor?

Well, according to certain religions, that depends on the survivor’s gender and/or the rules these religions have established.

For example, until 1829 (when the British outlawed the practice), it was a Hindu custom that a widow immolated herself on her husband’s pyre, or committed suicide in another fashion shortly after her husband’s death.  That practice was called Sati.  In Nepal, by the way, Sati was eventually banned in 1920.

I find the thought of Sati extremely repugnant because it applied only to women.  No Sati sacrifice was expected of the husband when his wife died.  This tells you something about their totally distorted mindset at the time, especially regarding the difference between men and women.

Still, in one form or another, practically all beliefs start out with the idea of a married couple remaining connected even when one of them dies earlier than the other.  In extreme cases, like the Hindu Sati custom, the marriage was seen as being “forever” in all senses, and therefore the wife was required to die whenever her husband died.  Again, highly unreasonable and illogical as it applied to women only, not to men, but that’s the way it was, and the “forever marriage” was the idea behind it.

Regardless of religions or beliefs, it is, of course, true that married couples, at least in a well-functioning marriage, do become ONE unit. Each person is one essential part of the two members it takes for a marriage, and it’s hoped that this relationship will last “forever.”

It is also obvious that when one of the spouses dies, part of the surviving spouse also dies as expressed through extreme grief. Over time the grief may recede but it’s likely it will never completely go away, even if the survivor should remarry.

Yes, though, that’s what happens in real life: the survivor may remarry.  But, because of the grief and a lot of other factors, that new marriage will probably happen only after some time has elapsed. There needs to be sufficient time to mourn the deceased, grieve as needed, find one’s way as an unmarried person in a new and hostile world, and more.

For this to occur, religions and societies have formed their own rules as to how much time should elapse before a surviving spouse is free to marry again.  For example, Islam prescribes that a widow is allowed to remarry after four months and ten days.  Why this specific time period?  Because four months and ten days after the death of a spouse is calculated as the number of menses a woman has.  If you want to find out more about this Muslim rule, just look up “iddah,” for this is the name of the practice.

Different religions and different societies mean different procedures, reasons, logic, and traditions.  If you ask me, that’s why I’d rather recommend the “common sense” approach, based on what is sound and sensible under the circumstances. This may mean totally different lengths of time for different people.  Here, let me give you an entry from the DEAR ABBY column of September 14, 2014:

>>>DEAR ABBY: My grandfather remarried at the age of 94, three months after his wife died. The woman he married was a former neighbor. The relatives were in shock, but Grandpa was ecstatic! At his age, a month is valuable time, and he had the good fortune to “start again.” I would consider it a compliment if my husband were to marry a mutual friend. After watching my grandfather celebrate life anew, I realized that his second marriage was a testament to his love for my grandmother.
– Grateful in Oakland, Calif.<<<

Actually, if you want to amuse or maybe totally confuse yourself for an afternoon, go ahead and google the proscriptions, including prohibitions, that the various religions, churches, societies, and gurus of one kind or another, even governments (including the U.S. Social Security Administration) have to offer.  It’s bewildering.  And for sure the rules are all over the map.

Therefore, if that’s really a question you want to deal with, I recommend “common sense” again, and let the chips fall where they may.  It is absolutely impossible to satisfy all the expectations – too many parties out there passing judgment of how you should deal with what is best for the memory of your deceased partner and your life from here on.