What happens to your widow status if you get remarried?
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Short and Sweet Summary: Is a widow still a widow if she remarries? Obviously, if you remarry, you are legally the wife of your new spouse. But does that mean you’re no longer a widow? What happens to your widow status if you get remarried? It might be less of a legal question and more of a spiritual one.
Here’s a question for you…if a widow remarries, is she still a widow?
You’re a widow because your spouse died. But maybe you’re wondering, if you remarry can you still call yourself a widow? First, who cares what you call yourself. And second, why the hell not?
Your widowhood doesn’t define you anymore than your hair color or whether you’re ambidextrous. It’s a part of you, but doesn’t make you, you. The fact that you’re a traveler or business owner or friend or daughter or writer doesn’t define you either.
These labels are just society’s way to distinguish people from one another and provide a basic understanding of roles and identities.
So, if you remarry and believe you’re still a widow, so be it. Or if you decide you’re not, that’s OK, too.
Use the label as you see fit.
I AM A REMARRIED WIDOW
I got married again AND I’m a widow.
So I am a remarried widow.
I like the way that sounds.
Just because I’m remarried doesn’t mean my marriage to my deceased spouse is any less relevant. We were married “until death do us part” and his death made me a widow.
So, I’m still a widow. Only I got married again. And when you’re a widow, one marriage doesn’t cancel out the other.
I DON’T QUESTION MY WIDOW STATUS (BUT THE LAW DOES)
According to the law, you’re a widow until you remarry. So, the law states that when you get married again, you’re no longer a widow for legal purposes.
Obviously, if you remarry you are legally the wife of your new spouse. I get that. But, I’m not questioning the legal status of my widowhood.
Spiritually, I’m still a widow.
My new husband has zero problem with me calling myself a remarried widow because he knows and understands and encourages my connection to my deceased spouse.
I wouldn’t be who I am today without being a widow first.
So why should I give up my widow status and everything I fought so hard for just because I got remarried?
When you’re first widowed, time stands still and days drag on. The pain, grief and confusion permeates every waking hour of every day. It seems as if nothing will ever be good again.
As time goes on, the grief softens. It’s not so intense. Of course we know that grief never goes away, but we learn to make room for it. It becomes part of your existence.
And then, you settle into this widowhood living and learn that even though things are different, it’s not ALL bad. You start to have good days too. You’re learning new things about yourself and how to do all sorts of incredible things you never thought you’d be able to do.
You decide you really ARE brave.
I have fought really hard to accept my widow status and create a life that I am (my deceased spouse would be) proud of. Managing the grief and pain along with the joy and blessings is a balancing act when you’re starting over from scratch. When your world implodes and you’re left to pick up the pieces, it takes an immense amount of bravery to sift through the rubble and put the shards of your shattered existence back together again.
It also takes an immense amount of bravery to allow a new love into your life. When that new love grows and flourishes through your hard work and dedication to live the kind of life you’re entitled to live, hallelujah!
And if you get married again? My sincere congratulations!
But, guess what? You’re still a widow.
You wouldn’t be where you are right now without being a widow first.
I don’t know about you, but nothing is going to take that away from me. I fought hard to accept and live with widowhood.
I’m not about to abandon my hard-won self discovery over some legalese.
WHAT THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION THINKS ABOUT YOUR WIDOW STATUS
Even though you’re fee to decide whether or not to call yourself a widow, the Social Security Administration (SSA) decides you’re no longer a widow or entitled to widow benefits if you remarry before age 60.
The SSA determines your widow status if you get remarried by assigning a “penalty” to any widow who remarries before she turns 60. She no longer has any claim to widow benefits on her deceased spouse’s record.
But you can remarry after age 60 with no penalty. Literally the day after you turn 60, you can remarry AND claim widow benefits on your deceased spouse’s record. If you decide at some point to claim benefits on your current spouse’s record you can switch, but you can’t claim both. The SSA doesn’t allow you to double-dip on benefits.
Waiting to get married until after age 60 to claim widow benefits on your deceased spouse’s record is a matter of personal and financial preference. It does pay (pun intended) to do the math before you make a final decision.
You can read more about social security widow benefits here.
WHAT THE IRS THINKS ABOUT YOUR WIDOW STATUS
The year your spouse died, you can still use the married filing jointly tax filing status. For the two years following the year of death, you may be able to use the Qualifying Widow filing status. I’m not a CPA so you’ll have to consult an expert about what works for you.
However, if you remarry the same year your spouse dies, you can’t file jointly with your deceased spouse because you can use the married filing jointly status with your new spouse. So the IRS determines your widow status if you get remarried as no longer widowed. Because you’re married.
If you have a child you claim as a dependent, you can use the qualifying widow tax status but only for the first two years post death. The married filing jointly and qualifying widow statuses have the same applicable tax rates and tax brackets.
After two years, your tax filing status changes again. I know, it’s confusing!
Click here for more information on your tax filling options after the death of a spouse.
WIDOW REMARRIAGE ETIQUTETTE – WTF?
Believe it or not, etiquette experts exist who suggest widows follow certain “guidelines” for a second marriage.
I call bullshit.
Would you believe I actually found an article that said widows who remarry should wear light purple or lilac for their second wedding. I mean, who thinks up this stuff?
Who are these widow remarriage etiquette “experts” anyway? I’d venture a guess that they’re not even widows. Suggestions like “keep your second wedding a quiet affair out of respect for your deceased spouse’s memory” are just ways to put limitations on what should be a completely personal affair. If you want to get married again and hire a marching band to boogie down the aisle with you, do it!
I wouldn’t get too caught up in the “shoulds” or “have to’s” because that’s where you get into trouble in the first place. Following antiquated or outdated ideas about what it means to be a widow doesn’t let you be you in all your unique glory.
WIDOW WRAP UP
Is a widow still a widow if she remarries? Obviously, if you remarry, you are legally the wife of your new spouse. Both the SSA and IRS agree that your widow status is revoked once you remarry(unless you remarry after age 60 for SSA purposes).
But all legalities aside, you can decide your widow status if you get remarried. I’m a remarried widow because that’s what I’ve decided. I’m not willing to abandon my hard-won widowhood title. I worked really hard to accept my widowhood. To move forward from my first spouse’s death. And to make a life worth living – on MY OWN terms.
So, legally, I’m no longer a widow because I got remarried.
But spiritually, I always will be.
- 10 Tools and Resources to Make Your Widow Life Easier
- Dating Excuses Every Widow Should Retire
- What Successful Widows Do Differently to Boost Confidence
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