Thank you in advance. I have found myself in quite a pickle. I have been studying the Bible for eight months now. I am a 58 year old widow and currently engaged to a 64 year old witness. We want to marry and be together in this life and in the New World. We are already committed to each other and want to make this commitment legitimate. After speaking to my attorney, it appears marriage will take a significant financial toll on me. My attorney being worldly, suggested that at this age we just cohabitate. I know this is not acceptable in the eyes of Jehovah so at this point I have to decide between giving up on this second chance at love or giving up my worldly possessions including my home, savings and retirement. It is not a lot of money I can assure you, but all I have to live on for the rest of my life. Is there ever a situation where a religious ceremony or commitment ceremony would suffice or do I have to have a legal wedding. I am still terribly jaded by my departed husbands sudden death and am sick with worry that I will find myself not only alone again, but alone and destitute if something happens to the man I am currently engaged to.
Thank you for your question. Since it's a very serious matter and a personal one I don't want to offer my own thought or opinion but would like to instead suggest the following publications and articles.
Since they are all Bible based publications / articles thus I'm very confident that you will find the answers your looking for and then some.
Here's a link to our online library and contains many topics regarding marriage.
But the one I like most is this publication:
"The Secret Of Family Happiness"
You can download it from the link below or get it from the Kingdom Hall.
It would be good if both of you consider the articles so as to see the pros/cons of the decisions you're contemplating.
Also, below are some of good advice about your situation.
*** g 9/10 p. 8 How You Can Find Solutions ***
Seeking a Marriage Mate?
Some single ones may pursue marriage simply to cure their loneliness. True, a kind and loving mate can bring tremendous joy to your life, but be careful not to rush into such an important decision as marriage.
Marriage is not necessarily the solution to the problem of loneliness. Married couples with communication problems are said to be “among the loneliest people in the world.” Unfortunately, there are more people in that situation than one may think. So if you wish to get married someday, why not address your problem of loneliness before you become romantically attached to someone? By adjusting your attitude and habits and by taking the initiative in making friends while you are still single, you may very well be establishing a solid foundation for a happy marriage."
HOW I RELIEVE MY LONELINESS
Anny, widow: “I try to control my thinking and to see the positive side of my situation.”
Carmen, single: “I have learned not to be ‘addicted’ to the past but to move forward and start new relationships.”
Fernande, widow: “If you put forth effort to help others, you forget your own troubles.”
Jean-Pierre, single: “I regularly take long walks, during which I open up my heart to God in prayer.”
Bernard, widower: “I keep in touch with my friends by telephone, not to recall sad memories, but for the pleasure of keeping in contact.”
David, single: “Although by nature I enjoy solitude, I have made a point of opening up to others.”
Lorenna, single: “I take the initiative to approach people and befriend them.”
Abigaďl, age 15: “I spend time with adult friends and benefit from their experience.”
Cherry, single: “I found that if you tell people that you are lonely, they make more of an effort to be friendly with you.”
*** w02 3/15 p. 28 You Can Conquer Loneliness ***
“Each One Will Carry His Own Load”
Although others can help, and their support can be very encouraging, “each one will carry his own load.” (Galatians 6:5) In carrying the load of loneliness, though, we need to beware of certain dangers. For instance, loneliness might conquer us if we withdraw into an emotional shell. On the other hand, we can conquer loneliness with love. (1 Corinthians 13:7, 8) Giving and sharing is the best way to find happiness—regardless of our circumstances. (Acts 20:35) “I don’t have too much time to think about being lonely,” says one hardworking pioneer sister. “When I feel useful and occupied, I don’t feel lonely.”
We must also be careful that loneliness does not push us into an unwise relationship. For example, how sad it would be to allow the desire for marriage to blind us to the many problems that stem from marrying an unbeliever and especially to the Scriptural counsel to avoid such a yoke! (2 Corinthians 6:14) A divorced Christian woman said: “There is one thing much worse than being single. It is being married to the wrong person.”
A problem that cannot be resolved may have to be endured, at least for the time being. With God’s help, the feeling of loneliness can be endured. As we continue to serve Jehovah, may we be confident that one day all our needs will be satisfied in the best possible way.—Psalm 145:16.
As to this, you asked:
>> Is there ever a situation where a religious ceremony or commitment ceremony would suffice or do I have to have a legal wedding.<<
The WT56 9/15 p. 569 par. 6 gives these advice on the matter.
***Marriage Ceremony and Requirements ***
"a religious marriage strictly necessary? No. Is a civil marriage authorized by God’s Book the Bible? Yes, and in this regard Christians may ‘give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.’ In most countries of Christendom a civil marriage performed by an appointed officer of the state is either allowed or absolutely required. So no social or religious stigma rightfully attaches to a civil marriage, and the Most High God recognizes the civil marriage of his dedicated people and holds them bound by it. In some lands inside and outside of Christendom the governments recognize marriages performed by the Roman Catholic priests and by ministers of other recognized religions. These ministers it licenses to perform marriages in religious buildings or at certain registered places. Along with these the appointed ministers of Jehovah’s witnesses are authorized or licensed to solemnize the marriage. In all these cases the officiating minister of religion acts as a servant of the state in legalizing the marriage. Hence, too, such marriages are binding and have God’s recognition. When persons come into the New World society who have been married by the religious ceremonies of any of these authorized religions, Jehovah’s witnesses recognize the marriage of such incoming persons as binding and still having effect. Where Jehovah’s witnesses do not have authorized ministers of their own to officiate at a marriage, they can conscientiously go to the appointed government offices and have a valid, divinely recognized marriage performed by a state officer."
Anyway I'll stop here and let you go through the articles and the publications that I included.
Lastly, please keep on learning and let your study conductor know your situation also, especially the elders in the congregation (as they are there to help all of us walk in the way).
May Jah Jehovah bless you Toni as you continue to praise and glorify his name!