In most cases, two partners will meet after death, recognize each other, and resume their relationship by living together for a while. This happens in their first state, when they are focused on external matters the way they were in the world. We undergo two states after death, one outer and one inner. We enter the outer one first and the inner one later. When they are in the outer state, after death one spouse meets the other and they recognize one another; and if they had been living together in the world [at the time the first of them died], they resume that relationship and live together for a while. As long as they are in the outer state, neither of them knows how the other truly feels about him or her because this is hidden within. Later, though, when they come into the inner state, the relationship between their hearts becomes obvious. If it is harmonious and sympathetic, they continue their married life; while if it is discordant and in conflict, they dissolve the relationship.
If a husband has had more than one wife, he lives with them in turn during the outer state; but once he enters the inner state, in which he senses the love that each of them has, then he chooses one or none of them. It is the same in the spiritual world as in this earthly world, that is: no Christian is allowed to have more than one wife because this offends and profanes his religion.
Much the same holds true for a woman who has had more than one husband, except that she does not initiate the attachment between her husband and herself; she simply makes herself present where her husband is. It is the husband who initiates the attachment.
It should be known that husbands rarely recognize their wives, but that wives recognize their husbands without difficulty. This is because women have a deeper sensitivity to love, while men’s sensitivity to love is more superficial.
Gradually, though, as they leave these outward concerns behind and become involved in deeper matters, they sense the quality of their love for each other and attraction to each other, which determines whether or not they can live together.
After death, everyone is brought into a world called the world of spirits. It is halfway between heaven and hell and is where we are prepared for heaven if we are good and for hell if we are evil. The goal of this preparation is for our inner and outer selves to agree and be whole and not to disagree and be split in two. They are split in two in this world and are whole only in people who are honest at heart. The split is particularly obvious in perpetrators of deception and fraud, especially by hypocrites, sycophants, imposters, and liars.
In the spiritual world, however, no one is allowed to have this kind of divided mind. If we were inwardly evil, we must be outwardly evil as well, or, conversely, we must be good in both respects. After death, we all become what we were inwardly, not what we were outwardly. To this end, we are allowed to experience our outer and our inner states in turn.
When we are in our outer state, all of us are sensible—that is, we want to appear sensible—even evil people; but inwardly, evil people are insane. The succession of changes is designed to enable the evil to see their insanity and come to their senses; but if we have not come to our senses in this world we cannot do so later because we love our insanity and want to stay in it. So we make our outer nature just as insane as our inner; and in this way our inner and outer selves become one. Once this is accomplished, we are ready for hell.
On the other hand, if we are good because in the world we turned to God and came to our senses, then we have been wiser inwardly than we were outwardly. That is, outwardly we have from time to time been seduced to madness by the enticements and empty pleasures of this world. In this case, our outer nature is brought into agreement with our inner, which, as already noted, is wise. Once this has been accomplished, we are ready for heaven.
This serves to illustrate how we shed our outer nature and adopt our inner nature after death.
If [a married couple] can live together, they remain married; but if they cannot, they separate. Sometimes the husband leaves the wife, sometimes the wife leaves the husband, and sometimes they leave each other. The reason separations occur after death is that the unions formed on earth are rarely based on any inner awareness of love. Rather, they are based on a superficial awareness that masks what lies within. The cause and origin of this superficial awareness of love is found in matters involving love that is worldly and bodily in nature. Love that is worldly has to do primarily with wealth and possessions, while love that is bodily has to do with rank and high position. Then too, there are various seductive pleasures like beauty and the pretense of elegance, sometimes including unchastity. Still further, marriages are contracted within the particular region, city, or town where people are born or live, where the only choices available are strictly limited to the households of acquaintances, and even more narrowly to households of similar status. This is why marriages in the world are for the most part outward marriages and not inner ones at the same time; and yet it is the inner union, the union of souls, that makes a real marriage.
We cannot sense this union until we shed the outer self and adopt the inner self, which happens after death. This is why there are separations then, followed by new unions with compatible and congenial partners. There are exceptions when compatible partners have been provided on earth. This happens with people who from their youth have desired and longed and asked the Lord for a properly sanctioned and loving relationship with one individual, and who have rejected and turned up their noses at promiscuous desires.
[If the couple separates], a suitable wife is found for the man and a suitable husband for the woman. This is because the only married partners who can be accepted into heaven and stay there are partners who are or can be deeply united so that they are practically one, because in heaven a married pair is not referred to as two angels but as one. This is the meaning of the Lord’s statement that they are no longer two but are one flesh.