On Friday I set this puzzle…

Imagine that you are a politician who has been asked to examine marriage and the law.  One of your teams asks whether a marriage between a man and his widow’s sister should be legal.  What would you say?

If you have not tried to solve it, have a go now.  For everyone else the answer is after the break.

If a man has a widow then he must be dead, so there isn’t really too much of a legal issue.

However, you could argue that it is possible for a man to marry his widow’s sister.  Imagine a man marrying a woman, separating from her, and then re-marrying his first wife’s sister.  When he dies his first marriage would have been to his widow’s sister!.

Any other perspectives on the issue?

I have produced an ebook containing 101 of the previous Friday Puzzles! It is called PUZZLED and is available for the Kindle (UK here and USA here) and on the iBookstore (UK here in the USA here). You can try 101 of the puzzles for free here.


    1. @Salem
      A widow means a woman who has lost a husband. Meaning that the husband is deceased. You have been tricked by the puzzle.

  1. I’d have said “don’t come in to work on Monday”, but on the other hand it could explain a lot about politicians.

  2. Well, if we’re getting that technical about the meaning of “marry,” it could also mean that he performed the ceremony (in the scenario you’ve described, or as a zombie.)
    Or, if we allow for arranged marriages, he arranged his sister-in-law’s marriage before dying; or my favorite, which keeps the spirit of the question: his will stipulated who his wife’s sister should marry after his death. 🙂

  3. Damn your outdated necrophobic agenda! If a woman wants to marry a corpse, who are you to say it cannot be? If a man can be baptized after death and can father a child after death, he should have every right to be married after death as well. If elected, I would enact legislation that would expand the definition of marriage to cover ALL loving unions, be they animate or inanimate.

    I’m Impossibly Stupid, and I approve this message.

  4. another possibility. someone may be declared legally dead after a prolonged absence. their spouse will be legally a widow. but when they turn up alive after it turns out they eloped with the legal window’s sister!? that is why the lawyer is consulted.

  5. you all need to pay more attention to the american presidential election.

    the widower in question could have been mormon, with the marriage in question having occurred before his death.

  6. He could marry his widow’s sister if he faked his own death, but then he’d be a bigamist and a fraud, so it would not be legal.

  7. I am missing the friday comments, which in a lot of ways are often more stimulating than the original questions. Can we have them back please?

    I know people sometimes give too much away or even supply the answer, but if that worries you just dont read them till you have devised your own answer.

  8. That dosent make sense because it says is it leagle for a man to marry his widows sister implying his wife or widow is dead not him!?!

  9. This would not be possible, so therefore it couldn’t even exist to be legal…. There is no moral/ethical boundary to this… A man has to be alive to marry his EX-wife’s sister.. If the man were to marry his ex-wife’s sister then die, his ex-wife would be considered a divorcee, not a widow.. The man has to be in a marriage with the women then die before divorce before she becomes a widow.. So no, it is not possible..

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