LewisC

I am a widower planning on marrying again in the temple but my kids aren't accepting of it. Please give me some advice

Recommended Posts

Hello, I have 4 children 2 sons who are 19 and 18, and 2 daughters who are 14 and 11. I lost my wife 4 years ago after a long term illness, it was really hard for us as a family. My 18 year old son lost his testimony at that time and we ended up arguing a lot about him coming to church and he ended up moving out to live with his maternal grandmother. I met my fiancée 2 years ago through a mutual friend she is a convert since 2015 and I fell in love with her, in January we decided to get married in the temple. When I told my children they were upset and my 18 year old son he began accusing me of being unfaithful to his mom. He thinks this because he believes that when I was sealed to his mom I promised to love her and be faithful to her for time and eternity and he feels that by me making those promises to someone else that I am not keeping the promises I made to his mom. My daughter who is 14 feels the same way and she said that now she has lost her testimony because of the discrepancy in being able to be sealed to multiple people, it has brought up many questions for her and she has decided to not come to church anymore and she is very upset with me so has also gone to live with her grandma. Yesterday my 11 year old said that she wants to be with her brother and sister so she has also gone to live there and I know she doesn't understand the situation very well too. So my question is how can I explain to my children that I am not being unfaithful to their mom? My oldest son is away on his mission and we spoke about it and he was also not happy but less upset than his siblings.  Any advice that you have for me is really welcome about anything in this situation but especially explaining that there isn't a conflict and I can keep the promises to their mom and be with my fiancée. I probably left out details so ask me and I will try to respond and I would love you to pray for me and my family. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, LewisC said:

Any advice that you have for me is really welcome about anything in this situation but especially explaining that there isn't a conflict and I can keep the promises to their mom and be with my fiancée. 

Hi and welcome LewisC,

From what they tell me, 2nd marriages just come with an extra package of grief and headache.  I don't think you get to fix your kids' attitudes or beliefs here.  They will need to work through their issues, and make their peace with your decision, or they won't. 

By way of advice - 2nd marriages, especially with minor kids involved fail a lot.  Anything you can do to arm yourselves against those odds, you should do.  Now is the time to talk with your fiance about her role in your kid's lives.  And then talk with your kids about how things will be.  There needs to be a lot of buy in from everyone, if a new normal is going to work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, LewisC said:

 So my question is how can I explain to my children that I am not being unfaithful to their mom? 

Ok, we got to back up way up here--

First @LewisC, your children are still mourning the loss of their mother -- which is a completely different feeling that you mourning the loss of your wife.  Be there for them.  Build that relationship.  Visibly honor their mother, and their mourning.   You got to be there for them.  Listen to each one individually.  Don't ever try to forcefully speed up any one of their grieving process and working through things.   This comes first and foremost.

Next, there is this idea of each of them welcoming another adult woman into thier temporal lives (not even talking about sealing yet).  This woman will never ever be their mother.  But the idea of you marrying her is... obviously unsettling.  Yes, you can and have found another woman you love.  But they will never have another mother.  So this obviously brings all of those feelings of mourning to the surface -- feelings that a mature adult would obviously struggle to work through, let alone a kid whom loss his mom at age 6.  This needs to be taken slow and respectfully.  

 

Loss of a parent is a gut wrenching trauma, especially at a young age.  No rational conversation is going to make that feeling go away.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It sounds to me like even before introducing this other woman into your kids’ lives, there were some underlying issues that perhaps might usefully be addressed with some family therapy.

My gut feelings are very akin with what @Fether wrote; but I also firmly believe that as a single parent one’s primary obligation is to one’s minor children, even if that adversely affects one’s own need for companionship.  Yes, it sounds like your kids are being unfair and potentially manipulative—in short, your children are behaving like children (which they are), and like hurt/scared/traumatized children (which they also are).  That’s just a burden we carry, as parents. They may be more willing to engage in some give-and-take if/when they see us sincerely ready and willing to do the same.

Once the kids are out of the house, we can pursue our affairs of the heart with impunity; and if the kids don’t like it then they can go live their lives.  Until then . . . I probably wouldn’t force the stepmom thing.  :( 

Edited by Just_A_Guy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, LewisC said:

I lost my wife 4 years ago after a long term illness

During that long term illness, did you as a family discuss the topic of you remarrying someday? Did your wife share her approval/blessing that it is was okay for you to remarry while in front of the children? Surely during that long illness, as a couple and family the subject was brought up, right?

I'm sorry for your loss. My aunt married a widower as well. The kids all have issues, almost an exact repeat of the thoughts you shared here. It has taken about 20 years now and they are at best luke warm to my aunt. Not the fault of their father or my aunt. Losing their mother is the issue, not the new step mother.

Edited by NeedleinA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, LewisC said:

son lost his testimony
she has lost her testimony

5 hours ago, LewisC said:

I have served in many roles in the church but I stepped back when my late wife was unwell and since I haven't served much because trying to look after 4 children on my own is very time consuming.

Be as conspicuous in your testimony as you can. Your children will look to your example, your testimony.  Ask for a calling and jump back into serving again. If you children's testimonies begin to weaken/fail, don't let it be because of our example as the parent. There is always time, the Lord will bless you with the ability to juggle both. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When one spouse looses their partner it has always been social acceptable to move on after a reasonable period of time.

When a child looses a parent it is a grief that never ends although time and lessen it and the gospel can help with coping.

Sadly these to events often happen hand in hand.  This is not a situation that is unique to the church.  In fact had none of your family been member you would still have alienated your kids by moving on .  As others have posted you need to be helping your children cope with their grief and lost. Can you do this while moving on yourself? I has been done, but it is clear you are failing.  When you see that your actions are failing that is a good time to stop what you are doing and focus on those that need you to find a different way 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First of all thank you all for your responses, I really appreciate them. 

However, I may not have asked the question clearly enough about how I can explain to my children that there is no discrepancy between being sealed to their mother for eternity and being sealed with another woman. My son told me that if I had married his mom not in the temple then I wouldn't be being unfaithful to her but as I made covenants with her for eternity I would now be breaking them. This is very key for me to clear up for my children

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Jane_Doe said:

Next, there is this idea of each of them welcoming another adult woman into thier temporal lives (not even talking about sealing yet).  This woman will never ever be their mother.  But the idea of you marrying her is... obviously unsettling.  Yes, you can and have found another woman you love.  But they will never have another mother.  So this obviously brings all of those feelings of mourning to the surface -- feelings that a mature adult would obviously struggle to work through, let alone a kid whom loss his mom at age 6.  This needs to be taken slow and respectfully.  

My understanding of the situation regarding this life is that my daughters get on well with her and would be accepting of having her in the home. My 18 year old son has chosen not to engage with her, they have crossed paths a few times and he has chosen not to acknowledge her presence. Of course I love my son but he is an adult now and for the last 3 and a bit years has chosen not to live with me. So I haven't looked for his approval in this but of course I would like it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, NeedleinA said:

During that long term illness, did you as a family discuss the topic of you remarrying someday? Did your wife share her approval/blessing that it is was okay for you to remarry while in front of the children? Surely during that long illness, as a couple and family the subject was brought up, right?

We never discussed it. How could I ask my wife that? 

I know my late wife would want me to put the children first and that is something I always tried to do. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, LewisC said:

When I told my children they were upset and my 18 year old son he began accusing me of being unfaithful to his mom. He thinks this because he believes that when I was sealed to his mom I promised to love her and be faithful to her for time and eternity and he feels that by me making those promises to someone else that I am not keeping the promises I made to his mom. My daughter who is 14 feels the same way and she said that now she has lost her testimony because of the discrepancy in being able to be sealed to multiple people, it has brought up many questions for her and she has decided to not come to church anymore and she is very upset with me so has also gone to live with her grandma. Yesterday my 11 year old said that she wants to be with her brother and sister so she has also gone to live there and I know she doesn't understand the situation very well too.

 

24 minutes ago, LewisC said:

I know my late wife would want me to put the children first and that is something I always tried to do. 

 

I don't envy your situation, LewisC, and I feel for you.  You're asking for advice on helping your kids understand that you're not doing anything wrong by remarrying.  But if I'm reading correctly, none of them are living with you any more.  18 yr old left years ago, and 14/11 yr olds live with Grandma?

I don't know how any of us can give you advice here.  Your story just screams "there is more going on than getting remarried".   I'm sorry.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, LewisC said:

My understanding of the situation regarding this life is that my daughters get on well with her and would be accepting of having her in the home. My 18 year old son has chosen not to engage with her, they have crossed paths a few times and he has chosen not to acknowledge her presence. Of course I love my son but he is an adult now and for the last 3 and a bit years has chosen not to live with me. So I haven't looked for his approval in this but of course I would like it. 

You need to let them have the needed time to work through their mourning.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, LewisC said:

First of all thank you all for your responses, I really appreciate them. 

However, I may not have asked the question clearly enough about how I can explain to my children that there is no discrepancy between being sealed to their mother for eternity and being sealed with another woman. My son told me that if I had married his mom not in the temple then I wouldn't be being unfaithful to her but as I made covenants with her for eternity I would now be breaking them. This is very key for me to clear up for my children

My friend, you have two separate, though intertwined, issues in play:

1. The doctrinal and moral teachings (and implications) of you remarrying

2. Your children's feelings about you remarrying.

It's important to recognize that these are actually separate issues and should be addressed separately.

In point of actual fact, #1 is a red herring. You know perfectly well that you are on solid legal, moral, and doctrinal grounds in remarrying and even being sealed to a second spouse. Plainly put, this is not an issue. At all. Based on the rather miniscule possibility that your children truly do not understand this, a simple review of doctrine—probably including the Doctrine and Covenants, the Church's sealing policies, and any number of General Conference addresses (in addition to the fact that 2 of the 3 members of the First Presidency remarried after the deaths of their respective spouses)—will be more than enough to establish the propriety of your remarriage in their minds.

But as I said, this is not really the problem. This is the excuse for the problem, which is...

Your children don't like the fact that you're considering remarrying.

And THAT is what is really going on here. This has nothing to do with you betraying their mother. Nothing. Rather, it has to do with their perception that you're somehow betraying her or forgetting her or replacing her.

If you spend your effort focused on teaching your children why you're morally allowed to remarry, I fear you will miss the heart of the issue. Do not concentrate on defending yourself or explaining your reasoning, unless there is a real deficit of understanding there. Rather, spend your time on talking to your children, heart to heart. Listen to what they say and how they feel. Repeat back to them how you understand their words, so that they can know deep down inside that you understand. Empathize with them. Cry with them, if they cry (or maybe even if they don't). Be fearlessly authentic. Show them that you honestly, truthfully understand what they're going through.

Then, when it's your turn—which may possibly be at another time, but in any case after you have demostrated to them how truly you understand their feelings—present your own. Show them in word and in feeling how much their mother meant to you. Show them what a beautiful marriage you had, and how that changed your life. Show them that they themselves are the living representation of your and your wife's love for each other. Let them see how deeply your love and your commitment are for your wife.

Then, and only then, you can begin to explain to them that, while you can never replace your dearly departed wife (their mother), you do not wish to live out the remainder of your days in perpetual mourning. Life was beautiful, is beautiful, and you want to continue to experience that beauty in your life. Beyond all odds and seemingly beyond hope, you have found a woman that might share your life with you in a manner similar to how their mother did. And that's what you want.

Those who have studied such things have concluded that many widowed women remain unmarried simply because they don't want to be married again. Yes, they miss their husbands, but they don't want to bother with all the emotional and other issues that marital intimacy brings. In contrast, many widowed men seek to remarry precisely because they loved their marital state so much. They enjoyed being married, loved having a wife, and are typically devastated when she dies. Not only do such men feel deep sadness in their mourning and loneliness, they also feel incomplete, like half a man. Their efforts don't seem to mean anything.

It's telling that the suicide rate in the first year of bereavement among widowers is almost four times the rate among widows (widowers 0.167% vs widows 0.0435%).

Now, you don't need to share such things with your children. They ought not think that you're going to kill yourself if you don't remarry. But they should understand and even try to empathize a little with your situation. This is not about your first marriage's deficiencies. If anything, the fact you want to remarry is a testament to how much you loved your first marriage. Help them to understand this point of view. They may not agree with it—indeed, it's probable that they will not—but they should at least understand it.

Best of luck to you.

Edited by Vort

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, LewisC said:

First of all thank you all for your responses, I really appreciate them. 

However, I may not have asked the question clearly enough about how I can explain to my children that there is no discrepancy between being sealed to their mother for eternity and being sealed with another woman. My son told me that if I had married his mom not in the temple then I wouldn't be being unfaithful to her but as I made covenants with her for eternity I would now be breaking them. This is very key for me to clear up for my children

Your son is lying to you.

You said yourself he has lost his testimony.

He doesn’t care about the theological propriety of what you’re doing; he’s trying to manipulate you into staying single because that’s how he thinks he keeps some semblance of his mother alive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, LewisC said:

We never discussed it. How could I ask my wife that?

I'm sorry that it wasn't discussed beforehand.
There isn't anything you can do about that conversation now, but it is not uncommon (rather encouraged) for couples to engage in this type of dialog before a passing. It is not uncommon for the person who is passing to initiate the conversation either.

I share this last thought with other readers, I'm definitely not trying to poke anyone in the eye, least of all LewisC.
Hard and uncomfortable conversations/questions before a death can help avoid even harder ones after a death.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Your son is lying to you.

You said yourself he has lost his testimony.

He doesn’t care about the theological propriety of what you’re doing; he’s trying to manipulate you into staying single because that’s how he thinks he keeps some semblance of his mother alive.

That was my first thought as well, but it may be that he hasn't actually lost his testimony but is struggling to understand why his mother who he felt was a good person would be taken from him, especially during a time earlier in his life.

I'm not a psychologist, but my thought is that children who lose a parent can go through stages of grief.  One of these is anger, sometimes extreme anger.  Sometimes adults don't even get through this.  Anger seeks someone to blame.  When a parent dies early it can be hard to find someone to blame.  Some children blame themselves, others blame the surviving parent and sometimes they blame heaven and deity.

It could be that he has voiced his anger in ways that appear that he lost his testimony while in truth it may actually be his struggle to understand and in absence of being able to understand, he is blaming heaven for the loss.  He may still hope to see his mother again someday but he is struggling at the same time with a testimony that he feels means that since he feels she was so good, that she should not have been taken or lost.

So, it is possible that he has voiced many things that may appear he has lost a testimony but in reality are just him expressing his anger and his raw feelings in ways that he could as a teenager at that time.  At the same time, he may still have a testimony which is struggling and so he actually does believe that his father and mother have an eternal promise and sealing and he hopes to someday be there with them.

With his father getting married, his dream of seeing his mother and father together again may seem to be being torn apart again because now another has entered the picture.  He wants the feeling of his family from before his mother died, when his mother and father were together and all the kids were there as well.  Another woman was never in that picture or dream of his, and she being introduced may feel like his hopes of eternity are being ripped apart again.  It could even feel like the wounds that were slowly beginning to heal from several years ago have been torn right back open.

It thus can be VERY hard for him and both appearances, of him losing his testimony (though more it would be anger at heaven and wondering how such things could happen, thus a very struggling testimony of a teenager in grief) as well as a belief of eternal sealing and marriage could both be true for him.

These things can be hard enough for adults when their parents die.  An early death of a parent while one is a teenager is bound to be just as hard if not harder, but they don't have all the experiences and development to fall back upon to help them overcome their grief and pain.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My 2 cents:

It was your responsibility to hold the ship together after your wife passed away.  Yes, you're grieving too.  But you're Dad.  It's one of those times that you needed to put your shoulder to the wheel even while the tempest was raging.  Grandma held the ship for you in your stead.  It's not yet too late.  Go over to grandma's and have a heart to heart with her on why your kids felt it safer to be in her house than in yours.  Then start righting this ship.  Professional counseling could help you.

Your fiance can wait and needs to stay in the background for a while.  If she can't, then she wasn't eternal family material as she put herself first before your children.

I'll add your family in my prayers.

Good luck, man.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is a tough spot.  I'm sorry you and your kids are going through this.  

My grandmother fought brain cancer for a couple years before she died.  Before she passed,she actually told my grandfather who he should marry.  Of course they were in different circumstances.  All their children were grown, most had kids of their own.  It worked out pretty well for everyone, but there were still some hard emotions for the family while going through it.

You've gotten some great advice, even if it's not the answer you were specifically looking for.  I can't help with that.  What I'd like to add though, is that you don't have to let your minor children live with someone else.  If you want to keep your family together, I think it'd be best to have them under your roof.

I wish you the best, man.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Again thank you for the advice it is amazing and I feel very blessed that people have taken time to answer.

19 hours ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Your son is lying to you.

You said yourself he has lost his testimony.

He doesn’t care about the theological propriety of what you’re doing; he’s trying to manipulate you into staying single because that’s how he thinks he keeps some semblance of his mother alive.

Perhaps I shouldn't have said that he has lost his testimony, those were the words he said to me at the time. However, I have a few reasons to believe that he may not have lost his testimony. 

1) His girlfriend is a member and he told his grandma that he doesn't want to serve a mission but he does want to marry his girlfriend in the temple;

2) He went to general conference with his girlfriend last year, I thought at the time he was only travelling to Utah with her but he actually attended the sessions;

3) I know he sometimes goes to his girlfriend's house to study the gospel with her family; 

4) He once told his grandma the reason he doesn't go to church is because he misses his mom the most when he goes there;

5) His views regarding me being sealed to another woman;

If I sound like a deluded dad who wants to believe that his son hasn't lost his testimony then please tell me that I am clutching at straws. 

8 hours ago, JohnsonJones said:

So, it is possible that he has voiced many things that may appear he has lost a testimony but in reality are just him expressing his anger and his raw feelings in ways that he could as a teenager at that time.  At the same time, he may still have a testimony which is struggling and so he actually does believe that his father and mother have an eternal promise and sealing and he hopes to someday be there with them.

 I agree with you, at the time of his mom's passing he had a lot of anger towards God and he had a lot of questions as you can imagine. I couldn't answer them all or he didn't like the explanations. I think at the very least he wants it to be true that he will be with his mom again. 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, NeuroTypical said:

18 yr old left years ago, and 14/11 yr olds live with Grandma?

 

My 18 year old son went to live with his grandma over 3 years ago. 

My 14 year old and 11 year old daughters went to live with their grandma within the last week. That is only since they became upset about me remarrying. I think they will come home soon, I would love my 18 year old to but he is an adult now so that is up to him. 

Edited by LewisC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, LewisC said:

If I sound like a deluded dad who wants to believe that his son hasn't lost his testimony then please tell me that I am clutching at straws. 

No, those are useful data points.  🙂 

But I still think that the core issue here is issues relating to your wife’s passing.  Your son (occasionally?) goes to a church where two of the top three leaders are remarried widowers; his objections to your remarriage will not be cured by improved doctrinal exposition or appeals to ecclesiastical authority.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if some of the son's anger and uneasiness about his father's impending remarriage might not actually be originating from the son's girlfriend? Lots of women can feel threatened by this. I don't want to point the finger of blame at an innocent, but I wonder.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Just_A_Guy said:

But I still think that the core issue here is issues relating to your wife’s passing.  Your son (occasionally?) goes to a church where two of the top three leaders are remarried widowers; his objections to your remarriage will not be cured by improved doctrinal exposition or appeals to ecclesiastical authority.  

I really do believe that the objections regarding me being sealed to another woman are genuine from both my children. Especially, from my 14 year old daughter because she is an active member and I think this has caused confusion for her. If my children are coming to me with these concerns then I trust that they are sincere. The possibility that they are using these issues as subterfuge for other reasons has occurred to me, but I must address the issues they are expressing first. 

If you can offer me any advice on doing this then I would be very grateful. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Vort said:

I wonder if some of the son's anger and uneasiness about his father's impending remarriage might not actually be originating from the son's girlfriend? Lots of women can feel threatened by this. I don't want to point the finger of blame at an innocent, but I wonder.

My son has always been very emotional and his emotions get the better of him often. He was the same way as a child, my wife and I hoped he would grow out of it but if anything it has gotten worse. I wouldn't think his girlfriend has anything to do with it, if anything I get the impression she has a calming influence on him. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now