A request for your help

My wife and I are working on a book about second marriages, with the goal of distilling the things we gather for application in the lives of those preparing for their first marriage, as well as assisting parents in directing their marriage age children toward a good, godly marriage. We believe, furthermore, that we can glean points that will be helpful for those looking toward a second marriage. So this letter is sent with prayer that the Lord will impress you to take the time to help us help others.

My name is Ovid Need, and I have been in the Lord's service since I got out of the military in 1965. I pastored for 19 years (the Linden Baptist Church, Linden, Indiana) before I resigned in order to pursue writing full time. I lost my wife in June 2000 to breast cancer. Divine providence (using a Reformed Singles matchmaking service) placed me in contact with a Baptist minister's widow, Bettie Ethell, who lost her husband in a plane crash in 1997. (Jeff Ethell was flying a P-38 for a museum at a pilot's reunion when it ran out of fuel.) We both had good 29 year long marriages, and we have an excellent marriage now, with my 17 year old daughter living with us.

We realize that this may be a very emotional and "touchy" subject which can bring up bad memories that are best forgotten. One may also feel we are prying into the very most personal part of his or her life. However, the purpose of the questions is to help others avoid the same kind of mistake, not to bring bad memories forward.

Isaiah 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

No doubt the following questions bring back bad memories, but the ashes of bad memories can be turned into the oil of joy when they can be seen as a blessing to others.

Sin has taken and is taking its toll, and second marriage is becoming more prevalent in our society. Thus, there are more second marriages than probably any other time in history. One of our goals is to help those considering marriage, first or second, to avoid the heartaches and tribulations others may have experienced. We must admit that there is a need for something that addresses second marriages, with the prayer that what we have to say will help others.

Several things have taken place to impress us to put together a book about second marriages, and how they can apply to first marriages and those contemplating second marriages, or a first time marriage marrying a second time marriage. We believe what we have experienced in our first and second marriages can be used to bless others. We believe we must expand our vision to include divorced people who are now in their second marriages, as well as people who have lost a spouse through death.

Thus we want to gather as much information as possible from those in their second marriages. We plan to use this information in a book, and distill the information into a concise form for use in working with married couples, with young people looking forward to marriage, and to use it to help instruct and encourage parents who are preparing their young people for marriage.

The following is a list of things we would like for you to address. Ideally, we would like to have enough written text from you to address the following points that apply to your case. We know that not every thing applies to your situation, so just take the things that do. We would then like to reproduce your thoughts in the book, with your permission. We will withhold your name if you request. We will edit your response as necessary to make it fit properly, and will return the edited version to you for approval.

Obviously, your answer by e mail would be the best way to respond. Second, if not by e mail, please type it out, so I can scan in your response. However, many may do neither, so write your response in readable form, and then we will type it in, returning the finished manuscript to you.

Bettie and I have been asked to have a family conference at the end of June (27-29), and it would be a great help to have your response as soon as possible, so we can address as many of these issues as we can.

I realize the vast majority of folks who will receive this letter will be on their second marriage as a result of a divorce, so please ignore the points that do not apply to your situation. We would like to have both husband and wife respond in separate letters, for each will be from different circumstances.

We will also address situations where one is on his or her first marriage, and the other is on his or her second, which is not uncommon. There will be points for thought under this topic also below.

Also, I certainly realize the time pressure in our day of time-saving devices, and it will take some time and thought to put together good responses to the following. However, my wife's and my goal is to put together material that will be a blessing and encouragement to the young people of our day. We have encountered young people and parents who want to know the things we have learned from our first marriages, so they can work to avoid the pitfalls we encountered. We also want to be a blessing to those facing marriage from every angle: first marrying a first, first marrying a second, second marrying a second. There are many pitfalls in these marriages that need to be exposed.

The Lord seems to have given some young people and their parents an ear to hear godly instruction concerning marriage, (Ps. 49:1, Isa. 28:23ff., Isa. 50:4, Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22, 13:9) and we are asking for your help. Our goal is to help this next generation miss the heartaches and difficulties many have encountered in the marriage relationship.

Titus 2:1But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: 2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. 3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

What greater opportunity and privilege might Christians have than to share the things they have learned the hard way with young people who are just starting out in life? We pray you will take the time to address the following thoughts.

Note: We realize that it takes two to make a marriage work, and it is never all one person's fault when marriages fail. You can list fault, if you like, e.g., 20% mine, 80% the other's.

To prevent being too wordy, I will use the term "loss" to cover either divorce or death. Please address it appropriately. Obviously, we assume this letter reaches those who were the "righteous" party in the divorce. There are many questions here to motivate your thinking, so skip the ones you feel uncomfortable answering, and add other things that you think might help others.

Regardless, please, for the sake of those contemplating marriage, take the time to answer as many of the following questions that apply to your situation that you can. Also, please be honest in your answers, for others will be influenced by what you say. When published, we will give a complementary copy of the book to those whose experiences we use.

Questions to motivate your thoughts

FIRST MARRIAGE TO SECOND MARRIAGE Addressing the "first marriage" party

Did you marry a divorced person or someone whose spouse died?

What is the biggest hurdle you have had to overcome by marrying someone who has been married before?

What would you advise others who might be considering marrying for the first time someone who has been married before?

Please address any of the "questions" below that might apply to your situation.


How did you meet your first spouse?

Did you hold any hope of changing anything about your first spouse after you were married the first time? The second time?

Were you saved before your first marriage? Was your spouse?

Were you involved in Christian activity before your first marriage? Was your fiancé/fiancee?

Were you involved in Christian activity after that marriage? Was your spouse? If your spouse stopped Christian activity, why?

Did your "theology" change after you married? Did the change cause problems?

How old were you and how old was your spouse when you married the first time? When the loss occurred? How long had you known each other before the first marriage? Before the second? Why did you marry the first time? The second time?

How long were you married before your loss (divorce or death)?

How did your church family react after the loss of your spouse? Did they make "room" for you, or did you feel left or even pushed out?

Did you have family living near? Parents, siblings, etc?

How did you cope with the grief of the loss of the first marriage?

Did you undergo counseling before and/or after the loss? If so, what kind?

To what might you attribute the failure of your first marriage?

What were the strong points of your first marriage? Weak points?

What steps have you taken to prevent the same things that led to the divorce from taking place again?

Was your spouse your best friend, or did others become "best friends"?

What was your communication like – silence, war, or ...? Who failed in the communication area?

Were your expectations too high for your first marriage? Did you expect too much from your first new spouse? Were you looking for a "dream world", and reality caused disappointments that could not be overcome?

Did you have children at home at the time of the loss?

Did you have children away from home at the time? Were they married?

Ages of the children at the time?

If children were present in the first marriage, was the home "child centered" or "spouse centered"? In other words, who received the primary attention – the children or the spouse?

Was your first spouse able to leave his or her parents emotionally, and cleave to the new spouse?

What were the major decisions and hurdles you faced after the loss? After the remarriage?

Do you think your situation is unique? Why?


Was the first marriage a good marriage?

What motivated you to remarry?

What were you looking for in another marriage?

Were you looking for someone to replace your first spouse? Explain.

What guidelines or standards did you set for your second marriage – how were those things different than the first?

How long after the loss did you meet your next spouse?

How long after the loss before you remarried?

How did you meet your second spouse? What attracted you to him or her?

How would you compare your first and second marriage?

If you are a woman, did you have a problem submitting to another man?

Do you have problems comparing your second spouse with your first?

Were you more "picky" or choosy for your second marriage than the first? If yes, in what way?

Have you found yourself living with the "ghost" of your previous spouse, or with the "ghost" of the previous mate of your new spouse?

How long did it take to be "comfortable" with your new spouse?

In the second marriage, is the child rearing different than in the first? How?

Who now has the authority over the children from the first marriage that might be in the home in the second marriage?

At remarriage, did you experience any problems with the "new" family?

How have the children reacted to the second marriage – ones at home? Ones away from home?

What reservations, questions, objections and/or suggestions did your children have concerning your remarriage?

After remarriage, how did you settle the holiday question – whose children get which holidays?

How did your children respond to your next marriage? To the next spouse?

What steps have you taken to get the children to accept the second marriage?

How long did it take them to "accept" the new spouse?

How did you handle your finances when you remarried? (Probably by the time a spouse is lost to death, one may be about ready to retire or retired. Prenuptial agreements?)

How did you handle housing after the remarriage?

What steps did you take to combine your two families?

What did you learn from your first marriage that you think helped with your second marriage?

What would your advice be to others who have lost a spouse through death or divorce?

After your past experiences with a former marriage, in your opinion, what should a perfect marriage look like?


How long was the illness of the spouse, or was the death of the spouse sudden?

Did you have problems realizing that death ended your marriage? Did others have that problem?

How long did your children feel you should mourn?

What expectations did others place on you about "mourning" – what you should do, how long to "mourn," etc.

Did you feel comfortable around couples?

Did you have trouble fitting in with others? Singles, married, other widows, widowers?

Did you lose old friends and/or make new friends after the death?

What areas of your life or personality changed after the death? What did others say changed?

How did your children respond to your spouse's death?

If the parent(s) of your deceased spouse was still alive, how did you handle the situation if the responsibility had been left to the deceased spouse, e.g., only child?

What would your advice be to others who lave lost a spouse?

What kinds of heart issues (ways you thought or things you wanted) were exposed by:

(1) death/divorce of your first spouse

(2) your entrance into a second marriage?

Thank you so much for any assistance you can be in this important matter.

By His Sovereign Grace Alone,

Brother Ovid Need

PS. Please send us names and addresses of others whom you know who are in their second marriages. We would like to contact them also. We need as much input as possible.

You can e mail at <tbe@biblicalexaminer.org> Or snail mail to:

Ovid Need
9017 Stonewall Jackson Hwy
Front Royal VA 22630 (1-540-622 2525)

Ovid Need
The Biblical Examanier
PO Box 81, Bentonville VA 22610

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