A Blog I Should Have Posted on Valentine’s Day

There’s a short story on Dialogue Paperless titled “The Widower,” written by Eric Jepson. It is about a thirty-three year old Mormon widower who prepares to remarry. Although it is brief, it evokes a good deal of the perplexity and guilt that a surviving spouse feels over the prospect of remarriage. I can easily believe that the surviving spouse from any marriage that has been even moderately happy will suffer from perplexity and guilt when approaching remarriage. But it seems likely—as this story “The Widower” shows—that the internal distress of remarriage is magnified for Latter-day Saints who have been married in the temple. They aren’t really free to remarry. For them, there’s a touch of adultery about idea. Or a touch of polygamy, which for modern Mormons is almost as confounding as adultery because a man who takes second eternal wife inevitably feels disloyal to the first. (If you’d like to read “The Widower,” go to the Dialogue website and click on the e-Papers icon.)

I haven’t had to confront the prospect of remarriage, being in the fiftieth year of a happy marriage. But I have no illusions about the depth and duration of my grief and loneliness should I be so unlucky as to outlive my wife. During the past eight years I have shared the grief and loneliness of several close relatives. One of them was a brother with whom I spoke on the phone almost daily until, three and a half years following his wife’s death, he remarried. I didn’t have to lose my own wife to understand how every nook and corner of his house reminded him of his dead wife. Ironically, the absence of a dead loved one speaks louder than his or her presence ever did. And I could understand perfectly my brother’s doubt and hesitation when he began to date a widow in his ward. I pride myself on having done him the good service during our phone conversations of saying over and over, “Good hell, yes, brother, go for it.” My wife and I were the official witnesses at their wedding. My brother was seventy-eight and his bride was eighty. You have to admit there is something daring, even defiant, about it when octogenarians marry. They know all too keenly that they haven’t much time. In any event, my brother and his wife are happy, and my phone conversations with him aren’t as frequent as they were.

I won’t pretend to guess the degree to which the memory of a dead spouse might intrude upon the happiness of a second marriage. But it seems to me, as I say above, that the internal distress of remarriage is magnified for Latter-day Saints who have been married in the temple to their first spouse. There’s more than a past loyalty in question here. If you expect to resume the intimate relationship of marriage upon your reunion in the Celestial Kingdom, how do you dispose of an intervening five or ten or twenty year intimacy with another person?

Or how do the couple in a second marriage which has also been sealed for eternity adjust to the prospect of the polygamous threesome they will become in the Hereafter? That could be a problem for modern Mormons though it wasn’t a problem for my mother, who grew up in a polygamous home. My parents each had children by a former marriage when they married in 1924. My father had been sealed to his first wife, Amanda, who had died five years earlier, but my mother had been married by civil ceremony to her first husband, whom she divorced for shiftlessness and non-support after only three years.

Just as an interesting side-note, I’ll quote an inquiry my father made in the letter in which he made his first tentative proposal of marriage. “You have been married,” he wrote; “another man is the father of your children. Do you still have a lingering love for that man, or do you feel & know that you can love me more? There could be such a thing as that man having a feeling of returning to his first love and children. In that event I wouldn’t want you ever to be sorry. Have you ever been sealed to your former husband or any other man? If so, how do you propose to solve that problem?” My mother, twenty years his junior and his former high school student, could happily reply that she had never been sealed to her first husband and she certainly harbored no affection for him. As for her future relationship with my father’s first wife, she understood the protocol of polygamy. During the forty-two years between my father’s death and her own—my father died in 1943 at seventy and my mother died in 1985 at ninety-three—she often conjectured on the nature of their reunion in the Hereafter. It was possible, she thought, that it would be Amanda, rather than my father, who first greeted her. It seemed to be a matter of protocol—the first wife signifying her acceptance of the second.

Comments

  1. My father remarried very shortly after my mother died – only about 15 months later. He was engaged to another one during that time, only four months after my mother died. The intervening person had been a friend of my mother’s years before, and she contacted my dad when she heard my mother died. My dad woke up enough to realize that that was no way to bring back past happiness and broke it off, but he was still married to someone else within the year.

    I have read that the more happily a man is married, the faster he will remarry if his wife dies.

    I don’t know how it works out eternally, but I, frankly, do not expect my stepmother to be there in the eternities. She and my dad may have been sealed, but considering how messy those things get (she was sealed to her first husband and is still sealed to her children while my dad is not, of course), I’ll bet there will be more rearranging. I doubt she’ll be there.

  2. I read that story and it made me tear up. As hard as it is for a husband to fall in love after losing a wife, I’ve often asked how hard it would be to be the wife who is dating again after losing a husband. To know that you love this new man but because you were already sealed you will not be with him for eternity. And what if the 2nd husband has never been married before… he will die having never had an eternal marriage because the women he fell in love with was already married. The guilt that women could be feeling!

    I just pray that neither my husband or I have to deal with this issue.

  3. And what if the 2nd husband has never been married before… he will die having never had an eternal marriage because the women he fell in love with was already married.

    This is much more common than one might think. So many women were widowed in WWII and so many young soldiers had not yet had the chance to marry. I know many couples of that generation in that situation, and they just kinda trust that things will work out.

  4. Many men (myself included) would have a hard time choosing to be sealed to a second wife if their first wife died.

    But I think women can potentially face much more difficult circumstances. Two examples from personal acquaintances:

    One woman I know was married in the temple, and her husband died a year or two later. She remarried, and has lived for 30+ years with her 2nd husband. They had several children together, but they are not sealed. That could be hard for some people.

    Another friend in her 30s had her non-member husband pass away a year ago. They had no children. She recently had his temple work done for him, and she chose to get sealed to him posthumously. What a difficult a decision that could be! I’m sure she still loves her departed husband and wants the chance to be with him eternally. But she’s young, and could easily have the opportunity to remarry, and even have children. Her decision to get sealed to her deceased husband will affect her potential future family bonds.

  5. To summarize:

    Men could face tough emotional decisions because they can potentially be sealed to more than one woman.

    Women could face tough emotional circumstances because then can only be sealed to one man.

  6. My best friend from college died unexpectedly in his late twenties. He had been married to his wife (in the temple) for only a few years and had one child, not yet a year old. Though both good people, their marriage had been difficult, each possessing very different personalities.

    A year or two later my late friend’s widow re-married another good LDS man, though they were not sealed, for obvious reasons. They have since had three or four children of their own. She appears to be much more happy in this second marriage, having much more in common in terms of personality and mutual interests.

    Assuming they both live to a ripe old age, my late friend’s wife and her second husband will have been married 50, maybe 60 years; had a half-dozen children, and dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her first child obviously has no memory of her birth father and accepts her step-father as her real father. They even legally changed her last name to the step-father’s last name, much to the chagrin of the child’s grandparnets.

    But according to LDS theology, this huge family and all of the ties will not endure in the next life, and she will revert to being the eternal spouse of a man she knew on earth for only a few years during her early twenties.

    I don’t know, if life is truly eternal (I can only hope), the idea that we are irrevocably bound in the next life by decisions we make in this life makes about as much sense as the idea that I’d be irrevocably bound today by decisions I made thirty years ago while still in grade school. Is the idea “eternal progression” or “eternally being chained to decisions made dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of years ago”?

  7. I’ve been reading Edward Kimball’s book Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball. It includes a relevant anecdote about Elder Mark E. Petersen after the death of his wife (quoted from the working draft of the book):

    Mark E. Petersen’s daughter reports that, after her mother’s lengthy illness and death in April 1975, the First Presidency allowed “a suitable time” to elapse. Then “President N. Eldon Tanner called Mark into his office one day to inform him of the First Presidency’s wish that he remarry.” Petersen expressed reluctance, explaining that “for the first time in years, he could totally live for the Lord. . . . After a brief consultation, the First Presidency gave him permission to stay single.” He did not remarry before his death in 1984. [quotations in original].

  8. #7, “Permission”?

    Poor choice of words.

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for posting this, Levi. I read the story and enjoyed it. When I read Dialogue I go first to the substantive pieces, but, although I’m not much of a poetry geek, I almost always enjoy the fiction.

    Just as hard cases make for bad law, so too do hard cases make for bad doctrine. I’m of the view that things will work out in the end.

  10. I believe that in the difficult circumstances of a widow sealed to her first husband remarrying, it is also very, very common that the first sealing is cancelled so she can be sealed to her second husband.

    Now THAT would be a hard decision, especially if there were children from the first sealing. I know of two women personally who did it, though.

  11. Stuff like that makes me think that it is important to have the sealing ordinance itself done on this earth, but…who is actually sealed to whom for eternity is much more flexible.

  12. I think our perspectives, once we’re actually in eternity, will be different than they are here in this limited earth view.

  13. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 1
    “I doubt she’ll be there.”

    Not so close to your step-mother, Katie? :)

  14. #6 – I guess I figure that heaven/celestial kingdom is a place where we’ll be happy, so everything will work out somehow. Why would H.F. force us to remain married to someone we don’t want to be just b/c we were sealed to them? Proxy sealings are done all the time with the understanding that it may not be that way in the eternities. I have thought, though, that the “unbroken chain” metaphor is a poor one for all the myriad connections we each have. I imagine some sort of 3D fishing net.

    My grandmother was married (in the temple) for just under 2 years and had one child and was pregnant with #2 when her husband died. She remarried 13 years later to husband #2. They had no children. When he died 25ish years later, my mom asked my grandma if she wanted to be sealed to him after she died. My grandma declined. She always felt that her first husband was her first and true love. The second husband was more marriage of convenience. I think husband #2 knew that and I assume expected to find a wife in the eternities.

    My parents divorced after 30 years of marriage. My dad married a non-member. My mom married another guy (who was a widower) in the temple. My mom says she’s looking forward to being with him and wife #1 after they’re dead. I think feeling loved and appreciated and valued outweighs any thought of sharing a husband.

  15. #11 and #12 –Exactly.

    A friend of mine married in the Temple. After about 6 months, her husband died unexpectedly and tragically. a few years later, she started dating someone, and she struggled with this new relationship. She wanted to marry him –but they both wanted to be sealed. It took her almost a year to finally decide to ask for a sealing cancellation from her first husband; it was a hard decision for her to make. Her former in-laws were very supportive and understood her decision, which I understand made it easier for her to decide. Anyway, she is very happy and they had a little girl this last year.

    As for me? I plan to die at the same time as my husband, quietly and peacfully at 90 years old in our sleep. It could happen. Right?

  16. RE: #10 and #15–

    I forgot that a woman can request that her first sealing be cancelled so she can be sealed to a new husband. I’ve heard very little about that, and don’t know of any such circumstances firsthand.

  17. Who Knows? says:

    This is a fascinating topic- not just the remarriage/sealing aspect, but sealing in general. On one hand, we get sealed here on earth, and we like to believe (at least at the time) that the sealing will have some efficacy in the hereafter. On the other hand, we do change throughout life, and it could seem a little harsh to have a sealing eternally binding if in the hereafter we preferred otherwise.

    As Elder Hales explains here, the eternal sealing seems to be binding not just from the ordinance itself but from our desires and actions toward family members in this life. The implication seems to be that our sealing won’t be binding if we don’t strive to keep the commandments or to treat family members such that they will want to be with us eternally.

    I would love for someone to expound on this and to offer some scriptural or additional prophetic/apostolic backing on this concept….

  18. Patricia Lahtinen says:

    Levi, you have brought up a point of doctrine that troubled me quite a lot when I was a young teen. I haven’t really thought about this topic in more than 20 years. It feels as ridiculous to me now as it did then (the idea that men can be sealed in the temple to more than one woman, but that women cannot; however, I have heard of posthumous sealings of one woman to each of her three husbands…). It’s not even the idea of polygyny or polyandry, nor even of adultery (it doesn’t bother me, any of that). It just feels unequal, unfair.

    How critical are sealings, anyway?

  19. Question:

    Mary and John are married in temple for 15 years. They have 2 kids. John dies. The kids are sealed to Mary and John. A year after John’s death, Mary marries Bob civilly and has 2 more kids with him.

    If Mary cancels the sealing with John, her first two kids are not sealed to their parents. If Mary chooses not to get sealed with her new husband, her two younger kids will never be sealed to their parents.

    So one way or another, some of the kids get the short end of the stick.

    Anyone have a theory other than “it all gets figured it in the eternities”?

  20. #10 – Katie P. You mention women who cancelled a first sealing in order to be married to a second husband when children were involved. Do you know what happened to the children? I’ve wondered if the woman’s decision can affect the sealing of the children. If those children were born in the covenant, then perhaps they stay sealed to their father, even though their mother is sealed to a second husband.

    I imagine it would be difficult for a woman to cancel a first sealing in favor of a second husband if her children remained sealed to the first husband. On the other hand, it isn’t very nice for the first (deceased) husband to have his children unsealed to him at the decision of his surviving wife.

    Sticky situation all the way around. I don’t know if there’s any doctrine on the topic at all. I have never heard any comments on the issue of what happens to the children of the first husband if their mother is sealed to a second husband.

  21. One of my best friends from my mission got killed in a car accident on the way to their reception. She survived. I never really got to know her, but have always wondered what happened to her in the last twenty-odd years–married and sealed to a man for only a couple of hours. Has she found someone new? Did she cancel the sealing to my friend, or choose to get sealed to a man she would spend most of her life with? Or has she stayed a widow, waiting to join him in the eternities?

  22. If you count my stepmother, who cancelled her sealing to her first husband in order to be sealed to my father, then I know three.

    I think…that it was explained that the children are still sealed to each of their parents, although the parents are no longer sealed to each other.

    Wait – my stepsister did that, too. She was sealed to her first, they had three children and got divorced, she cancelled their sealing, and she was sealed to her second and the child she had with the second. So that makes four.

    Stuff like this makes me think that what we think we have sorted out here on earth is pretty flexible. It’s like the huge group of people that all needed to be touching someone who was touching someone who was touching the “A” during the big group kiss when Utah State was going for the world record for number of people touching and kissing at the same time.

    It doesn’t matter much whom you are sealed to – just get into the chain, and the Lord will sort it out later.

  23. Those who do temple work regularly seal everyone that has ever been married to each other and trust God to work it out in the end. The idea that we are not free to make associations with whomever we choose (providing a reciprocal desire from the other individual) is contrary to the principle of agency. There is something much deeper to sealings than who you get to hang out with in the afterlife; and I would suggest that marriage is quite different there than here.

  24. I believe much of what we believe in this life is the best approximation of which we can conceive. I believe in a fullness of joy; hence, I believe we will be in whatever arrangement will bring that joy.

    The precise nature of “being sealed” is, imo, the single least understood aspect of the Atonement. The place of our children in the big picture is particularly misunderstood. Suffice it to say that I have no anticipation of actually living with my mortal kids in the afterlife, so the exact nature of our sealing doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

    I believe sealings are far more deeply symbolic than many members realize – and that it is we who create truly sealed relationships. (ones that are not just “tied” or “bound” but actually are “sealed” so tightly that they cannot be dissolved)

  25. The idea that we are not free to make associations with whomever we choose (providing a reciprocal desire from the other individual) is contrary to the principle of agency.

    I wonder how this is working out for the homosexual members of the church out there.

    I understand what you are saying, but I think that this type of thinking really undermines the churches strong support and emphasis on the traditional family.

  26. It’s seemed to me for a while now that forcing the concept of sealing into the box of the nuclear family leads to skewed notions of what exactly it is and how it works. I think the concept is much larger than that. The theology of it’s been reinterpreted in the past eighty years or so, but all the same scripture, procedure and structure that led nineteenth century Mormons to read sealing in terms of celestial polygamist patriarchates are still there. Not to say that that interpretation is necessarily correct either (though it has greater scriptural precedent than our own). I suspect both our current sentimental notions of forever families and those of Orson Pratt and Brigham Young are in some way incomplete and limited.

    I’m hesitant about assuming that God will sort it all out in ways that will conform to my present understandings of happiness; rather, I think confronting the theology of the thing might lead us to greater truth. I think we make a big mistake when we confuse a sealing with a wedding. It’s not a wedding; it’s an ordinance. It performs some sort of salvific function, in the same way other ordinances do. For nineteenth century Mormons, getting sealed to Joseph Smith or Heber Kimball or whoever had particular salvific meaning; this raises questions, then, about the relevance of who is sealed to who. It seems to matter in some way, but I’m not entirely clear how these days.

  27. Who Knows? says:

    Perhaps I’m revealing some real ignorance here: our mortal existence is a blink compared to eternity. If our marriage sealings are even potentially non-binding eternally, why is there such an emphasis on performing these ordinances on earth?

  28. To get into the chain, I think. The chain needs to be forged on this earth, but the links can be rearranged later.

    That would make it more of a web than a chain.

  29. And that, I think, gets to the heart of it. There’s only one family; Joseph Smith called it Adam’s. If we’re all bound into it, are there really discreet familial roles that mirror those we experience here on earth?

    There may be a chain, but it interlocks in a weblike way.

  30. Anon for now says:

    My maternal grandmother was a 31 year old or so widow with 6 kids after 13 years of a marriage (including a temple sealing about 5 years into it). She promptly (within 18 months) married a widower with 5 kids of similar circumstances – meaning a temple marriage as well. They were married for time only in the temple and have now spent the last 40 years together and have 2 more children together. There are all sorts of questions this brings up. While both speak fondly of their “first love,” they know their current spouse better and possibly love them as much if not more. Should they have canceled my grandma’s first sealing to make another since it was likely to last far longer? I think making that choice would greatly upset both of them. Will they even have to choose? What about the kids? Are the last two BIC?

    In the family, we just kind of figure that we will all be one big happy dysfunctional family if and when we make it to heaven. Yet another reason why I tend to not get as worked up about this sealing thing with my nonmember husband.

  31. I’ve always thought of it more as a web. A web that ultimately will spread out and join us all.

  32. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 31 I really hope you are proven right in the hereafter, Tracy M.

  33. If the “web” explanation is correct, how do you explain the “which husband to be sealed to” dilemma? Why would God make people face these kind of “either-or” decisions that they are compelled to view as potentially eternally lasting? The current sealing practices of the church lead one to believe that eternal families are far more limited.

    The way I see it, God knows the family unit is super-important here on earth. To be worthy of receiving this sealing ordinance, we need to accept this fact (get married). The Lord has given us a peek into what sealing is by basically declaring that “families are forever”, and most members know view this idea from a very limited scope.

    I don’t have an answer to the problems with women only being able to be sealed to one man. A guess? Maybe there is some physical act or ordinance that the priesthood holder that a women was sealed to has to perform in the afterlife. The woman just needs to pick who is going to do it – because it only takes one.

  34. Before I was married, I thought that remarriage after death was no big deal. As such, I would have encouraged my spouse to remarry if the opportunity presented itself. Similarily, I figured that I would probably remarry as well if my spouse pre-deceased me.
    After having been married for awhile, I’m not so sure anymore. One of the main reasons is that the “wholesome recreational activities” of, I would assume, most married couples nowadays is much, let’s say, “fancier”, than their grandparents or even parents.
    Such actions with the second spouse wouldn’t seem conducive to reuniting in the next life.

  35. .

    I wrote the story because of the complexity of the doctrinal issues, yes, but first and foremost because of my terror that either my wife or I will die–which fear is undoubtedly universal.

    I’m grateful to those of you who have read the story and commented on it because it helps me realize that these complex feelings about death and sealing and reunion aren’t unique to me, and that they are hugely important to our understanding of our own lives.

    In some ways, we are the sum of our relationships; and in this sense, Mormons are allowed to be a bit more complex. That can be seen as a downside, but I believe, in the end, it will indeed “all work out”–although I have no idea what that means–and we’ll all be plenty happy.

    So let’s keep imagining.

  36. Reminds me of the second-last episode of Big Love. It touched on this issue in a surprisingly authentic and poignant way for me. When Barb’s mother remarries in the temple (1st sealing cancelled), we are confronted with the tension between current Mormon sealing practices and classic polygamy. Plenty of pain and doubt to go around.

  37. When I was depressed and didn’t think I was celestial material any more, I thought how good it would be for my family if I was dead. Then, my DH could marry a righteous faithful woman and have the eternal marriage he deserved.

    This doctrine can mess with your head when you’re crazy anyway.

  38. #37 – I really hate to sound callous, but that same basic thought hits many people regardless of doctrine. I am deeply and sincerely sorry that anyone would have such a thought, but it is not the doctrine’s fault at all.

  39. #38
    “…it’s not the doctrine’s fault…”

    True, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that the doctrine can be highly problematic and stressful to some people in certain situations they cannot control.

  40. I think all these questions arise because, as has been said before, we don’t understand sealing. After reading this, I plan on researching and writing up something later.

    Off the top of my head, I’d say that sealing is about the covenant, not about who is hooked into whom. It helps to replace the word “sealed” with the word “covenant”. Children of a sealed couple are part of a covenant (hence, Born in the Covenant). They are still part of that covenant. Which covenant that is, and what it means, I’ll have to go into in a post on my own blog.

    Additionally, The most important part of sealing is the sealing between a person and Christ. You’ll note that in no part of the sealing ceremony does the husband or wife promise anything to each other. All the promises and covenants are made with the Lord. Those promises and covenants still hold contingent on personal purity no matter whether the other partner in a marriage keeps their covenants or not. Re-realizing this has seen me through a lot of marital trouble. No matter what my spouse does, I still have my Rock and my Anchor to hold to, and I know He keeps all His promises.

  41. Ward Organist says:

    # 39 “True, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that the doctrine can be highly problematic and stressful to some people in certain situations they cannot control.”

    Life itself can be highly problematic and stressful. It’s hard to imagine that this doctrine can cause clinical depression.

  42. SilverRain,
    You raise some interesting points, and I look forward to your additional post on this topic. Perhaps the most important sealing and covenant is between us and the Lord, but the spouse also has some significance in the ordinance, right?

  43. MikeInWeHo says:

    I didn’t say it can cause clinical depression. I said that for some people it can be highly problematic and stressful. Big difference.

  44. Tracy, your web notion appears fairly close to what Joseph Smith originally proposed. I call it his “sacerdotal genealogy,” but that’s to make me feel like I’m projecting a strongly academic persona. The other image that I like is rete mirabile (the miraculous net [of life]), which was used by early anatomists/physiologists. (FYI this definitively proves that Joseph Smith was an adept in 18th-century neurophysiology).

  45. I remember teaching a clinical psychologist on my mission. My companion and I cheerfully taught him about eternal marriage. He took it rather well, but at our next discussion he told us that he went to work and took a survey. He and all of his colleagues “turned pale with horror” at the thought of a never-ending marriage. We were mystified. Sure, a regular marriage might be yucky for eternity, but a temple marriage? He just didn’t get it.

    Of course we were the clueless ones. (Perhaps just a bit naive.) Some people just don’t like each other after they’ve been married and even though they stick it out in this life are not planning on spending eternity with their previously beloved.

    None of my non-member parents care to be sealed to each other. They would turn “pale with horror” should I suggest it, but that leaves me in sort of a unlinked situation. It’s always a bit poignant to represent the daughter in a temple sealing.

    I have no clue how God’s going to work it all out. Just reminds me that the rest of the play is going to be as interesting as the first few acts have been.

  46. #45 Your comment reminded me of a family who was converted about ten years ago. And when it came around to the time for the “sealing” discussion a year after their baptism, the wife adamantely refused. She flat-out told her husband that she didn’t want to marry him for eternity.

    By the way, I know this because the husband shared a tearful and awkward testimony about the whole thing in an effort (I think) to talk his wife into it. And as far as I know, they still haven’t been sealed.

  47. My brother and I are both members of the Church, converts from our college days. He has been married in the temple and has three children. I am not married. Our parents are not members, and I sometimes wonder whether they would choose to be sealed for all time and eternity (if they were members and believed in the doctrine).

    What used to really bother me was that I was not sealed to my brother as siblings. Since our parents are not members, we weren’t connected in any way. I think I have come to realize that it isn’t so important, as long as we are all sealed into the family tree. (Then, of course, I worry that I will never be sealed to anyone and I will die an old maid, but that is a whole different post…).

  48. anonymouse says:

    I didn’t say the doctrine caused my depression, either. I said I was depressed, and the doctrine messed with my head.

    I think even mentally healthy people can find the doctrine confusing when they try to apply it to atypical families. Throw poor mental health into the mix, and the going gets really weird.

    I had a list of reasons why everyone would be better off if I was dead; a new, improved eternal companion for my husband was only one of the reasons. I was depressed, so distorted thinking was part and parcel of my existence.

    I’m much better now.

  49. Sorry about the extra “e” in my “anonymous” sig above. I am anonymous #37.

  50. I understand the responses described in #45 and #46. The thought of being married for eternity to my first husband sure doesn’t sound like heaven to me. Hell, actually.

  51. Ward Organist says:

    I like the handle “anonymouse.” That’s cute. Glad you’re doing better.

  52. #42 Who Knows? – The spouse has significance, assuredly. After all, you are promising the Lord to stick with that person. There is nothing, however, that makes any covenant you make in the temple dependent upon your spouse’s covenants. A spouse cannot break a covenant YOU have made. They can cut themselves off from the Lord, but they cannot take away your blessings or your covenants.

    On the other hand, if you’re not willing or able to work eternally with one temporarily imperfect being, you probably don’t have what it takes to work eternally with countless others.

  53. SilverRain: I agree that we are each responsible for our own covenants. Ideally, in marriage, spouses support and strengthen each other in keeping covenants- I think this is a key purpose of marriage and part of our covenant. But, like you said, we are still responsible to keep covenants even if our spouse doesn’t.

  54. #48 – My ealier comment wasn’t meant as a hit-an-run. I have been out of the state and unable to connect since then.

    Thanks for the clarification – and to Mike for his. I can’t argue at all with either of you. Those who don’t have to deal with situations not represented by the ideal often have no idea what it’s like for those who do have to deal with them. Good reason not to judge others, I think.

  55. My wife died after 18 years of marriage and five children. We had been sealed in the temple and were very happy. I was serving as Bishop of our ward when she died and was released a couple of months later. Our children ranged in age from 5 to 16 at the time. They kept me very busy. Each night after they were asleep, I cried myself to sleep for two years.

    Other widowers told me to remarry right away, but I didn’t think it would be fair to a wife to have her husband still grieving his late wife. I didn’t start dating until I stopped crying myself to sleep each night.

    At first, I thought I would remarry a widow who had been sealed in the temple. This would avoid the whole “threesome” on the other side. Unfortunately, the only think I had in common with these women was a dead spouse.

    I ended up marrying a woman who had been divorced, but had no children. We have been sealed in the temple and have faith that things will all be worked out on the other side. Some things have to be done by faith, not knowing exactly what will happen.

  56. I have read that the more happily a man is married, the faster he will remarry if his wife dies.

    I’ve thought long and hard about this. I think that if my wife were to pass before me, there’s a really good chance I wouldn’t marry again. Not that I don’t like the idea of marriage or family. And I have a happy marriage. But on an intellectual level, I find it really hard to conceive a second marriage that even begins to approximate the one I have, in terms of fulfillment and happiness. Now, I understand that people usually change their minds. That’s fine. But as to my way of thinking now, I probably wouldn’t remarry.

    As to the Elder Peterson story – I have heard on numerous occasions that Elder Richard G. Scott has not remarried, because of a promise he made to his wife on her deathbed.

    As to the cancellation issue – I know a guy who was dating a widow of a rather famous tragedy. She had been sealed in the temple and had no children. Advice had been sought about the possibility of a temple sealing and the word from one apostle was that it was not automatic – that the odds of the petition being granted were better if the woman married the new guy and they had children. In the end, they broke up over this whole situation — she was getting pressure not to ever appeal for a cancellation and the new boyfriend was understandably concerned about marrying someone he couldn’t get sealed to (I’m being intentionally vague as to certain details here as to protect the anonymity of the two people involved, because it wouldn’t be hard to triangulate them.)

    As for children who were born in the covenant to a canceled sealing — I have seen this situation before. The children remain “sealed to parents”, even though the parents are no longer sealed. I think the best way to explain it is that “sealing to parents” is an ordinance in and of itself and the status of the parents themselves is immaterial.

  57. Advice had been sought about the possibility of a temple sealing – I mean, the possibility of a temple sealing cancellation.

  58. The thought of a sealing and a wedding being different and interesting and may, if it is true, and when it becomes understood, answer a question that troubles many LDS people, specifically why did Joseph Smith seal himself to the wives of active members of the church. Some of said to tie close associates closer to him, although that answer to many seems to leave the husband out in the cold. An informed scholar, who became a GA later, told me he thought it might involve “a new order of marriage” we don’t understand and probably Brigham Young, who took at least one Joseph’s wives from her first husband as his own, didn’t understand either. Smith did not live with any of the wives of other men whom he was sealed to. Maybe things are different than we think, perhaps the web concept answers those questions. Has anyone ever heard of a church authority say a sealing is not synonymous with a wedding?

  59. I know it’s a little late, but I finally posted some of my thoughts on the subject, for any who would like to read. (Just click on my name.)

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