Do Amish remarry?

I’ve started to take a crack at your many questions.  There was quite a range of topics which should make things interesting. And I was stumped by a few, so might have to get a little help!  But we’ll put some on the burner and start working through the list.

Mona asks:

How do the older people date/marry after a spouse dies ? Or even the younger spouses who may lose a spouse to an accident, etc. ?

Divorce is taboo but Amish do fairly often remarry after a spouse dies.  If you look through an Amish publication like The Diary for instance, you can find a monthly record of marriages, with several second marriages typically listed in each issue (The Diary is a limited publication so wouldn’t include nearly all Amish marriages).

amish remarryAmish adolescents typically find that special someone via a youth group, with dating occurring in a fairly structured format (Sunday singings and so forth).  On a related tangent, I was recently asked at what age youth start to migrate out of a youth group, ie when do you get “too old” to attend.

I’m not aware that there is an official “cutoff age” in any group, but like with a lot of things Amish it’s hard to say definitively.  I don’t think you’ll see many 30-somethings in youth groups though;  based on singings I’ve attended and what I’ve encountered, I believe that by the mid-to-late 20s people are generally starting to drop off.  Amish marry on average in their early 20s, so once you get past that range you are becoming one of the older youth in the group.

As for how second marriages happen, in their study of Ohio Amish the authors of An Amish Paradox reveal that courtship is typically quite private, sometimes happening by mail, with the couple not even seeing each other during the period of courtship.

The authors also cite a paper on Anabaptist remarriage by Gayle Livecchia.  She describes two types of re-marriages: “companion” marriage, and “family formation” marriage.

“Companion marriage” would happen when two older people get married, for instance a widower with another widow or with an older unmarried woman (there are typically more unmarried women than men in Amish communities).  “Family formation marriage” happens when a widower marries a younger woman still in childbearing years.  You can find all of this on pages 130-1 of An Amish Paradox.

Related to this topic, Lisa Roszler asked when Amish typically get married, which you’ll find an answer to here: When do Amish get married?

And here are some more posts on the Amish marriage topic:

Amish marriage

Can Amish get divorced?

Can Amish marry non-Amish?

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    1. Mary Manna

      Do Amish Remarry?

      Erik, question:

      Since Amish men do not grow beards until they marry, can they shave, or do they shave their beards when they become widowers? Would a shaven face, if that does occur, be a sign of availability once again to marry? Or once a beard, always a beard, even if the wife dies?

      Thanks, Erik.



      1. Hi Mary, I’m not aware that ever happens. Widowers I’ve met keep the beards. And Amish in different communities actually have different times when they grow beards, not always upon marriage.

        1. Mary Manna

          Thanks, Erik! Interesting! Hadn’t heard that one before … Different times when they grow beards!


          1. Growing a beard at different times

            Yes in some communities it is on reaching a certain age (ie in the case of single men), or following baptism, and so on.

            Most cases it is pegged to around the time of marriage but there are some variations.

        2. David


          I have read that single Amish men will grow beards at forty years of age. But as Erik states, that may vary.

    2. Sherry Gore

      Good job. Great informative article, Erik.

      1. Thanks Sherry. Hope the new publication is going well! You’ll have to “visit” and share with us soon 🙂

      2. RomanceReader


        Sherry- Are you windowed? I know that you have children. How is your daughter?

    3. A Remarriage

      Hi Erik — More than 20 years ago our friend Joe was remarried to a sweet woman named Fanny after his first wife died from cancer. He had several children going into his his second marriage, and he and Fanny had several more. She raised them as her own. Their children are all grown now, and all but two of the boys are married off. Fanny has been a true blessing to Joe. He had a stroke a couple years ago that has left him somewhat incapacitated; one of his sons took over for him in his workshop where he made rustic birdhouses and lawn ornaments. Your readers who have placed orders with us have received stamped card-stock bookmarks with a simple kapp ribbon and the names of crafters whose products they purchased. These are Joe’s handiwork.

      1. Keith, wonderful story. Joe sounds like he did pretty well finding Fanny.

    4. Alice Mary

      Labor of Love!

      Keith, thank you for sharing that sweet story. Fanny sounds like a saint of a woman!

      From what I’ve read about the Amish, I think it would be, oh, how can I put this…”unnatural” for them NOT to remarry. Their communities are so closely knit, I would think that the widow or widower would want to share “togetherness” (companionship, if not “family formation”) with another spouse, one caring for the other.

      Their “selflessness” (putting their spouse’s needs before their own) is something I think young people should really take to heart before considering marriage. In our “Me” society, that would seem to be a major challenge/obstacle to marriage for many, young and old, in the “English” world!

      Alice Mary

    5. Lee Ann

      Alice Mary:

      Your correct that many young people today, only think of themselves. My husband has had 3 strokes in the past 2 months. Its not easy caring for someone who has had a stroke and needs help. Lucky mine can still talk, but he is getting weaker everyday.

      We are told to put others before ourselves. Giving service to our family and others in the community is what life is all about.

      I do understand the Amish way to remarry and have a companion there to share life with and have someone there to help care for you. Many in the english world prefer to stay alone after one’s spouse dies or a divorce.

    6. I applaud the Amish

      Alice Mary and Lee Ann sure hit the nail on the head regarding the worldly current ‘Me First’ society, and the contrasting values demonstrated by couples in Amish marriages. I applaud the Amish for retaining that selfless treasure of mates serving one another so faithfully – it is what God first ordained. (from a Christian ‘Englisher’)

    7. Mona (Kentucky Lady).

      Thanks Erik for answering my questions 🙂 Mona

    8. Alice Mary

      Bless you!

      Lee Ann, I’m so sorry to hear about your husband’s strokes! Please know that he is in my prayers (as are you) as you both continue your own “story” as husband and wife. I can only imagine how difficult your task is. He picked a good woman as a spouse, I’d say.

      I’m sure he’d take good care of you, if the situation was reversed. Bless you both!

      Alice Mary

      1. Lee Ann

        Thanks so much Alice Mary. Appreciate your kindness.
        You can keep in touch with me via email if you like. I could give you my email address if you give me yours.

    9. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      Write a post on beards, please!

      I think a detailed, and separate, entry on beards would be useful, to explain the various reasons why and when Amish men wear them.
      Excellent entry on remarriage though!

      1. Amish beard practices

        Shom, thanks, and in lieu of a post, for the time being I’m going to nudge anyone who’s interested towards Stephen Scott’s book “Why Do They Dress That Way?” which contains a quite detailed description of beard practices in different communities in chart form.

    10. Jessica

      Thanks for your post, Erik. 🙂 I would also like to know a little more on how the older people do courtships and marriage, since they no longer go to singings. How would a man let an unmarried woman know he is interested in her and what would that courtship be like? How long do those courtships usually last in comparison to the younger couples’?

    11. Mona (Kentucky Lady).

      Me too Jessica 🙂 Erik will let us know I’m sure….perhaps you can write a book on all of our questions Erik !!Another project for you in case you get bored in Poland 🙂
      So what are you doing these days ? Does your girlfriend live in Poland ??? Just wondering 🙂

      I think we need to get you married Erik LOL… need some kiddies…..they are so much fun and they will keep you plenty busy…ask any of us mothers we can tell you……I only had 2 and I love them dearly, and wouldn’t take a million dollars for them, and wouldn’t give you a penny for 2 more just like them LOL…heard this somewhere and thought it was cute…..just sayin…….

    12. Marilyn

      Very interesting post, Erik…What would we do without your helpful answers!

    13. Lee Ann

      Erik, thanks so much for the idea of another book to learn more about the Amish and their ways.

      Funny on Mona’s comment to get you married. Im sure there are lots of women you can date and marry in Poland. Yes, children are a joy to have.

    14. tiffany rangier

      2nd chance

      when someone gets a divorce it is bad,bad things cause divorce.I aint sure about remarriage.god knows the reason for divorce of each situation…I am not trying to step on toes here,I know I am a women.women who divorce and remarry will live with a stigmitism.

    15. Saw


      I don’t really get the Amish stance Jesus set free the woman at the well. I am divorced because my ex divorced me she cheated committed adultery And left me for another man. I was very new Christian and did not know.what it meant to hear from God.I basically found out that I was conned into the marriage even by her parents. And now my girlfriend is from the Mennonite and Amish community she fears her family will not approve. Jesus died so we would not have to face punishment. Do you really think I should be punished for the rest of my life because my wife left me? because she was not a true believer and she comitted adultry?

    16. Don Curtis

      Amish and remarriage

      I asked my son, Mark, who is Amish. He said that Amish may and often do remarry after a spouse dies. The retired senior bishop in his district has been married three times being widowed twice. Another older bishop has been married twice losing his first wife to cancer. However, divorce and remarriage is forbidden. To answer you Remarriage, according to Mark, it doesn’t really matter what we think or don’t think about divorce and remarriage. It is what the Bible and specifically, Jesus said on the subject. The Lord Jesus says that to remarry after divorce is the same as adultery. Don’t disagree with the Amish, take it up with the Lord.

    17. Don Curtis

      Marriage and beards

      Mark told me that in his community a boy or man is expected to grow a beard as soon as he is able. Most of the unmarried boys kind of have stubbles. Mark has a full beard because he feels at his age he should. Mark is 63. By the way, today is my birthday and I turned 93. Mark said that in some very traditional Amish communities men may not grow a beard until they are married. Mark saw this in the Lancaster County, PA area and in other communities as well.

    18. Judith

      Happy Birthday! WOW!

      Wow! Don, 93 years old today! That is totally awesome! You have seen a lot – heard a lot – lived a lot! You are amazing and super special that God blessed you with that many years, and more to come. I know a lady at church who’s 94 and she still dances – can you believe that? What’s your secret?


    19. tina cook


      hello, I have known this wonder full Amish man for 12 years his wife had passed , children grown, I buy wood from his sawmill he said for the first time that he is lonely and asked if I had anyone I said no I did not but I was kind of shocked that he said that, but I am very interested in him but what should I do? or what happens next? do older men date or just hang out? how long do they see each other? or could it be short and sweet?

    20. Helen Curtis


      Who married the bishop? Especially if it is his second marriage. Also, would they have the full 2 hour service before?

    21. ART MILLER


      Thank you for all the articles. I enjoy reading each one!