In the moments after the loss of a beloved spouse, whether through death or divorce, the initial reaction of our community is one of support and comfort. But as we move on from those initial moments of grief, there comes about a more real need and focus. A focus on how we manage the feelings of loneliness, a need for intimacy and comfort. Even the simple need of adult conversation and someone to share the decision-making process of a home. Often, homes that have been dealt with grief now have to slowly rebuild- the mental load of parenting and acclimatizing to this new way of life can be extremely difficult on a single parent.
In a situation when a man is left with children after the death of his wife – it seems to be an accepted norm that he should remarry to take care of the load. Yet conversely when a woman wishes to remarry, she is often met with negative feedback and is often made to feel like she is not worthy. First and foremost, we must restructure our mindframes into understanding that the loss of your spouse as a female, is a test that has come to you from Allah Ta’ala. Your worth has in no way depreciated because you are a single parent.
Secondly, as a society our responsibility should be to learn to respect women who are experiencing divorce or widowhood as Islam has determined that besides Aisha (ra), every other wife of Nabi (s) was either a divorcee or a widow! The mothers of the believers – women who are our role models and the wives of our beloved Prophet(s) were in this very role. In restructuring our minds, we focus our understanding of remarriage, we see that this should not be a stigma or a fault in any person.
The reality of remarriage in Islam is to focus our efforts on assisting the Islamic society function in a way that keeps families together and functioning. In the era of the Holy Prophet (s) remarrying was a norm. When the Holy Prophet (s) lost his beloved wife Khadija (ra), the entire Muslim community was affected. They recognized that Nabi (S) needed the assistance to take care of his four daughters and the massive load and responsibility of running a home. A sahabiyah by the name of Khawlah (ra) approached Nabi (s) expressing to him that there were two women who were possible marriage partners: One, young and never married before and the other older almost fifty years of age, a widow with five children of her own.
To the surprise of everyone, Rasulullah (s) chose to marry Saudah binte Zam’ah – a widow, with many children! This highlights to us the important focus of the remarriage process. One must take into consideration your own personal needs at the time of remarriage. The needs of each family will be vastly different from other families, so your choice of spouse is an important part of the marriage process. Often, people don’t voice their individual needs, and this does not allow for the second marriage to be successful.
Nabi (s) chose a woman who had experience in running a home and could take care of the children. At the same time Saudah (ra) was a very amusing person and would often go out of her way to make the Holy Prophet (s) laugh or feel at ease. In choosing a life partner, you are now not choosing only for yourself – but you are in essence choosing someone for yourself and your children. This decision should be done with care and a deep understanding of your own personal needs and at the same time your own abilities or weaknesses in a new marriage.
Factors that impact a second marriage:
Mutual respect in the new marriage is integral- understand that a second wife or husband should be treated with respect and valuing your new spouse as an individual. We cannot look at a second wife as a worker or someone who must take care of our homes and children.
When you are ready to remarry, focus your talk to Allah and place the pain of the loss of your spouse to Allah. You may feel like no one will be able to take the place of your first husband. Umme Salamah (ra) made a beautiful dua that allows us to understand that even though no one may be equal to your first husband – in asking Allah to grant you someone better, Allah grants you someone who will be the best for you in this new chapter. At the time of making this dua, she wondered who could be better than her husband Abu Salama and when Allah granted her the Prophet (s) in marriage she marveled at the way that Allah granted her a new husband that was the best of men.
Be as clear as possible in discussing your needs in your new marriage. Do not remarry with the expectation of healing from your new spouse. Yes, your new spouse will assist you in learning joy again – but one must have total healing prior to marriage without expectations for your new spouse to heal you and to shoulder your own grief. May Allah grant every person who has lost a loved one, a partner who is a coolness of your eyes and a means of joy after such test. Ameen