Will Happily Married Couples be Together in Heaven?

The first article in this series, “Didn’t Jesus Say There’s No Marriage in Heaven?” responded to a Spiritual Conundrum from a reader named Nita, in which she wrote:

Wedding Rings

Wedding Rings

I am widow and a believer in Jesus Christ. . . . I am so lonely without my husband of 38 years, we did everything together, even in the ministry. Will we be together in heaven? Jesus told the religious leaders that there will be no marriage in heaven. I miss my husband so much, my life without him has been turned upside down. Many tell me move on with my life and find someone else. He was my soulmate. Please help me understand! Thank you. I still trust God and love him.

Sincerely,

Very Sad Widow

As I said in that first article, contrary to popular belief Jesus did not say that there’s no marriage in heaven!

The second article, “Marriage in the Resurrection: The Deeper Meaning,” goes into much greater depth on Jesus’ teaching about marriage in the afterlife. If you want all the nitty-gritty details, or you’ve been told by your minister or priest that there’s no marriage in heaven and you’re skeptical of anyone who says otherwise, I invite you to read those two articles.

In this third and final article in the series, I’ll simply deliver the good and comforting news to this Very Sad Widow, and to every other widow and widower who dearly loved a partner in marriage—not to mention everyone who is happily married and is deeply troubled by the words in the traditional Christian wedding vows, “till death do us part.” That news is:

Your marriage will continue after death. You will live with your beloved husband or wife forever in heaven. The two of you will continue to grow together in love, understanding, happiness, and joy to all eternity. Death has no power over what God has joined together.

In his book Marriage Love, originally published in 1768, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) provides a detailed description of what happens for married couples after death. In the rest of this article we’ll quote and expand upon a few key passages from that book about man, woman, and the afterlife, and what happens there for happily married couples.

We are still male and female after death

Traditional Christianity commonly presents angels, and humans after death, as sexless, ethereal beings who no longer engage in interpersonal relationships such as marriage, but instead spend eternity totally absorbed in never-ending rapturous praise and worship of God.

Not so, says Swedenborg:

People live on as people after death, and people are male and female. Maleness is one thing and femaleness another in such a way that one cannot change into the other. Therefore a man lives on as a male and a woman as a female after death, each a spiritual person. (Marriage Love #32)

In modern terms, we would say that our gender identity is a fundamental part of our identity as a person. Being male or female is not just an incidental add-on to our personality. It is central to who and what we are, and to how we think and feel about ourselves. If our gender identity were taken away and we became sexless beings, we would no longer be ourselves.

Swedenborg simply brings that reality to its logical conclusion: if God created us male and female, so that our maleness and femaleness is an essential part of who we are, then we will continue to be male and female after death.

This means that we will have all the same thoughts, feelings, desires, and ideals as we do as men and women here on earth—including the romantic and sexual ones.

Swedenborg goes on to say that the particular kind of love and character that makes us the unique person we are also continues on after death. We continue to be exactly the same person we were before, with the same loves, feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. Nothing about us changes except that instead of having a physical body equipped for life in this material world, we have a spiritual body equipped for life in the spiritual world.

And yet, our spiritual body is so much like the body we have here on this earth that we will hardly be able to tell the difference. It is every bit as solid, warm, alive, and huggable as our physical body. And it has all of the same parts and organs, both external and internal.

This means that men still have a fully male body, and women still have a fully female body. And in case that’s not clear and explicit enough for you, yes, men do still have male genitals and all the rest of the physical parts and organs of a human male, and women do still have female genitals and all the rest of the physical parts and organs of a human female.

In short, after death we remain fully male or female, both psychologically and physically.

Sexual love continues after death

This means that we also continue to feel romantic and sexual love.

Swedenborg writes:

Love for the other sex, especially, continues after death, and so does marriage love for people who come into heaven. These are the ones who become spiritual on earth. Love for the other sex remains with people after death because then men are still male and women are female, and masculinity in a male is masculine in all of him and in every part of him. The same goes for femininity in a female. And every particular—in fact, every little detail—of them offers union. This disposition to unite has been implanted from creation, so it is always there, and this means that the one yearns and longs to unite with the other.

After all, people were created male and female in this way so that the two of them could be like one person, or one flesh. And when they do become one, taken together they are a complete person. Without this union they are two, and each is like a divided or half person. Now, because this attraction hides deep within each particle of a male and each particle of a female, and because the ability and the drive to join together into one is in each particle, a mutual and reciprocal love for the other sex remains with people after death. (Marriage Love #37)

If after death we remain male and female as God created us, how could it be any different? What would be left of our maleness and our femaleness if we did not feel a love and desire to be united together in love?

And so once again, Swedenborg simply takes the reality of our gender identity as a core aspect of our self to its logical conclusion. If we continue to be male or female after death, we will continue to have all the sexual and marriage-related loves, drives, and desires that we feel here on earth.

Furthermore, the type of sexual or marriage love that we choose and grow into here on earth also continues in the afterlife.

If as adults we choose to live a promiscuous life of sleeping around with multiple partners, cheating on our husband or wife, and focusing mostly on our own physical gratification and pleasure when it comes to relationships and sex, we’ll continue to be the same sort of person after death—which means that we will never be in a real, spiritual, eternal marriage.

But if as adults we choose to value love, faithfulness, commitment, and oneness of mind and heart with our partner and soulmate, then our loves and feelings will continue in the same way after death, and we will live eternally in a happy marriage relationship with our soulmate.

If we are married to the wrong person here on earth, or have been married several times, that will all get sorted out so that we end out with the person who is truly one with us in spirit. For more on how this works, please see the article, “If You’ve been Married More than Once, Which One will you be With in the Afterlife?

True marriage never ends

For people who are happily married to their true spiritual partner here on earth, after death their relationship picks up right where it left off, and continues on to eternity. In fact, when one partner dies before the other, as usually happens, spiritually the relationship is not even interrupted. About such couples whose souls are united, Swedenborg writes:

The two of them are not even separated by the death of one, since the spirit of the deceased husband or wife continues to live with the husband or wife who is not yet deceased. This continues until the other one’s death, when they meet again, reunite, and love each other even more tenderly than before because they are in the spiritual world. (Marriage Love #321)

And so to very sad widows and widowers everywhere, who have lived in a deep, loving, and happy marriage with your partner, I can assure you that your husband or wife is still with you. If you feel his or her presence at times, that is not an illusion or a hallucination. He or she really is still living together with you in spirit.

And when it comes your time to move from this world to the next, you will rejoin your beloved soulmate. Then, as the classic fairy tales all say, the two of you will live happily ever after.

This article is a response to various comments and questions by readers here on the blog, and to a spiritual conundrum submitted by a reader.

For further reading:

About

Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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Posted in Sex Marriage Relationships, The Afterlife
212 comments on “Will Happily Married Couples be Together in Heaven?
  1. Vikki L Roady says:

    Hello. It is me again. I am still struggling and keep thinking of things over and over. The night after my husband passed away, both my daughter and I, in separate rooms, hea.rd a lamb ba – ing. THe next night I woke startled to what felt like Rob stroking my face. The way he did so many times. And recently, I woke to Rob holding my hand. All these are very real to me. I feel as if they are truly my husband. I have have dreams of him and I believe they each have a meaning. I do not dream often or rarely remember a dream, but lately when I have a dream I remember it is of my husband. Very recently, I swear when I walked into my room that I saw my husbands face at my desk. He looked at me over my computer with his big eyes and then vanished. Am I going crazy?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Vikki,

      Good to hear from you again.

      No, you are not going crazy. I have heard similar stories from other people whose beloved husband or wife had passed into the spiritual world. Clearly your husband is still close to you in spirit, even if he is separated from you in body. And since your thoughts are often with him, and he is in the spiritual world, your spiritual senses are briefly opened from time to time so that you have brief glimpses, and can even feel his hand on yours.

      It is not surprising that this happens most often just as you wake up. At that time your mind is not yet fully engaged in the material world. It is a common time for people to have brief experiences of connection with the spiritual world.

      In short, all of this makes perfect sense, given how close the two of you were, and still are.

  2. K says:

    Swedenborg says our sexuality stays with us after death. But he also mentions that angels gain “chaste sexual love”. Does this mean that people who were raised to think sex is “dirty” or “obscene” will will be able to not think ill of good sexuality in Heaven? In other words, will prudes cease to be such when it comes to good sexuality, despite the modern world demonizing sex?

    • Lee says:

      Hi K,

      When we die, we don’t go immediately to heaven. Rather, we spent a shorter or longer time in the “world of spirits,” which is between heaven and hell. On the short end, some people spend hardly any time there at all before heading to their final home in heaven or hell. But most people seem to stay in that intermediate state for the equivalent of one, two, or even three decades. This allows time for their true inner self to come out, as determined by the “ruling love” that they have chosen on earth. And it gives time for them to gradually let go of mistaken ideas and attitudes that they have picked up along the way here on earth.

      Given how central marriage, and marriage love, is to heaven, presumably one of the things people will leave behind is the sense inculcated into them by a corrupted Christian church that sexuality is a merely physical and earthly thing, and is intrinsically dirty and tainted with evil. That is not at all the case, of course. People who come from such a background will have time to unlearn these physical-minded ideas about sex and marriage, and learn the true spiritual and divine origins of sex and marriage in the marriage of love and wisdom in God.

  3. D A says:

    Due to many concepts in the posting not being Bible based, I find much of it to be lacking credibility.

    • Lee says:

      Hi D A,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. However, like others who have made similar comments, you seem to have ignored the links at the beginning of this article to the first two articles in the series, which take up the biblical basis of marriage in the afterlife in great detail. Since you seem to have missed the very first things I said in the article, I do wonder whether you read the article at all.

  4. DelphiPro says:

    I’ve been reading the back and forth between you and Isabella, and I find one thing very interesting. If you examine the belief in no marriage in heaven, it seems to have Catholic origins. And if you read the commentaries and look at the people who promote this belief, they all seem to point back to Augustine and Aquinas. Yet, Protestants and Evangelicals, who broke away from the Catholic church, have picked up that belief. They rejected many things from the Catholic church, such as praying to saints, the elevation of the Blessed Mother as a deified person and lighting candles for dead people, but they clung to no marriage in heaven. There seems to be some kind of motivation for people to want to believe that, maybe some kind of guilt complex that sex is dirty or something of that sort. I really don’t know.

    • Lee says:

      Hi DelphiPro,

      Good to hear from you again.

      Protestantism is simply a reformed version of Catholicism. The core of Protestant doctrine is the same as Catholic doctrine, because it came from the Catholic Church. For example, the doctrine of the Trinity of Persons and the doctrine of Original Sin are both Catholic doctrines that are key to Protestant theology.

      Yes, I think the idea that sex is dirty plays a key role in the rejection of eternal marriage in traditional Christianity. But the idea that sex and marriage are merely worldly and physical, and required only for the reproduction of the human race, plays a greater role, I think. Traditional Christianity believes that marriage ends at death because it believes that marriage is a merely worldly relationship, not a spiritual one. Because it rejects spiritual marriage, it also rejects eternal marriage.

  5. George says:

    Good day Lee. I’m lost. I recently lost my wife of almost 50 years. We married young at 19 & 20 and had a child 7 months later. We had other children as well as several grandchildren. We were always together and did everything together. My wife was ill for about 40 years with the last 5 more seriously. We always held hands and I opened and closed doors for her.
    She asked me several times in life if I ever cheated on her. I told her no. It was a lie. Once after 5 years and another time after around 9 years. A close call around that same time. As a Catholic they were all confessed. I’ve hated myself ever since. I never answered no because I was a coward and afraid of the consequences. I know Jesus has forgiven me but I know I will need to serve time in purgatory when I die. I’m told that since my wife is in a spiritual state of existence that she has no holding onto of ill feelings towards me. I’m concerned that she may forgive but not forget. The same as I would think might have been the consequences if I had the guts not to lie to her. I’m concerned that she may learn of a high school boyfriend that would have been more faithful and turn me away. I miss her so much and I love her so much. Is there the possibility that when I die she could turn me away? My vow breaking was so long ago and as I said I have hated myself for breaking our vows and have no reason to justify what I did 40 years ago.

    • Lee says:

      Hi George,

      Thanks for stopping by and telling your story. The short answer is that though your situation is a bit messy, since you repented of what you did, and remained faithful to your wife for forty years afterwards, the fact that you had affairs and did not tell her about it will not destroy your chances of being with her in the afterlife. In the spiritual world, we are married to the person who we are one with in mind and heart. Past sins that we have since repented from will fade into the background. See:

      Ezekiel 18: God’s Message of Hope . . . If You Think there’s No Hope for You

      Now, I should say that you will probably have to ‘fess up to your wife when you rejoin her on the other side. After we have been in the spiritual world for a while, we lose the ability to put on masks and hide our true thoughts and feelings. If you are still actively ashamed and embarrassed at what you did, and at lying to her about it, she will see that in your face. But if you never did it again, and were a good husband to her for all those years, I believe she will forgive you.

      • George says:

        Thank you for the reply. I have told her so many times that I miss her, I love her, & I am sorry. Does she hear me? Does she see the sorrow and pain I am in? I’m kinda confused on all of that. I’m hearing so many different things. I’m hearing that heaven is all loving therefore she has forgiven me. And that since it is all forgiven it is all forgotten. If she hears me she knows how sorry I am. I honestly have no problem telling her when I get to see her. If it is true that she already forgives me I need to learn how to forgive myself. Does she have the option though to choose to not accept me?
        The forgive but not forget saying.
        Could she meet someone else from her past and find out that they might have been better to her.
        I’m told by so many that we had such a beautiful life together and that I did so much for her. That I could not have done anything else. That I was always there for her.
        Am I a fraud? Should I not say ‘a love as true as mine’ in the songs we danced to?

        • Lee says:

          Hi George,

          Please do read the article based on Ezekiel 18 that I linked for you. It deals with these issues of past sins.

          Yes, I think you need to forgive yourself. Unfortunately, since you never told your wife, you didn’t give her the chance to forgive you before she died. And realistically, sometimes it is best to let sleeping dogs lie. But everything does come out in the afterlife. In heaven there will be no more secrets between you and your wife. But also, things we did in the past will fade into the background. I suspect that your wife will be so happy to see you again that she won’t even be interested in hearing about some old flings of yours. In heaven, people look for the good in other people, and when they see something bad, they overlook it and excuse it as long as the person’s heart is good.

        • Lee says:

          Hi George,

          About whether she hears you, she probably doesn’t literally hear your words, though sometimes she might. However, she can sense your presence and your feelings, and based on them she’ll have a good sense of your thoughts. She will know that you still love her, and that you are sorry for what you did.

          And you know, it’s possible that she already knows that you cheated on her in the first decade of your marriage. If she didn’t suspect it, why would she ask you about it? Maybe she was testing to see whether you would tell her the truth. But then life went on, and it was a good marriage, so she just let it slide, and didn’t make an issue of it.

          The most important thing in her mind will not be that you cheated on her when you were young and stupid, but that you then wised up and were faithful to her for forty good years of marriage.

        • George says:

          Thank you again for your responses. I hope I am not asking too much of you. I will work on forgiving myself and on hating myself for breaking our vows. The one thing Jesus gave me to do and be I didn’t and wasn’t. That is be faithful and truthful to my wife. You use the word ‘fling’ and it stabs me. And rightfully so. Both unfaithful encounters were a one time thing. The other close encounter almost happened but didn’t was with a work associate. We both stopped it before it became a one time ‘fling’.When you talk about no more secrets in heaven do you think we communicate about the earthly good times and bad times? As I want to apologize to her and get on my knees, if they exist, to beg, if necessary, for forgiveness. Is there any biblical readings that indicate we get to reminisce over good things? When I say my prayers in the morning and evening I talk to Jesus, St Michael and St Theresa. I also talk to my wife. And I cry a lot. Why are we taught to pray to saints and ask other deceased love ones to intercede to The Lord on our behalf?I have read Ezechiel 18 and I am getting the message. I just keep beating myself up for breaking the vows I made to Jesus and my wife. I have no idea what I was trying to accomplish at that time. I was around 25 and 30. The sad part is we were happily married the entire time we were married. Does that make sense? It is so evident that I had a gem. A beautiful looking person who as I learned during our life together was more beautiful inside as a person. What a fool I was. What a stupid dumb … Thank you!

        • Lee says:

          Hi George,

          People commonly do foolish and wrong things in their youth. Hence the verse from the Psalm:

          Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
          according to your steadfast love remember me,
          for your goodness’ sake, O Lord! (Psalm 25:7)

          And, sometimes it takes our violating God’s gifts, and facing the possibility of losing them, for us to truly value them. The sins of our youth are not good, but God can bring good out of them if we are willing to repent and live a faithful life from then on.

          The Bible doesn’t say a lot about the afterlife. But yes, in the spiritual world we keep our memories, and we can reminisce over our good and bad times on earth. Meanwhile, we are having new experiences and making new memories that will be fresher in our mind than the things we did on earth.

          Yes, in heaven we have knees, and all the rest of our body, too. Only it is a spiritual body, not a physical body, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:44.

          There is no teaching in the Bible that we are to pray to saints and ask them to intercede for us. That is a Catholic belief and tradition, but it is not biblical. In the Bible, all prayer and worship is directed to God alone (see, for example, Revelation 19:10, 22:8–9), and God does not need humans or angels to intercede, since Christ is God’s own mediator::

          For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus. (Timothy 2:5)

          My belief is that we should pray only to the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is the Father.

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