Excerpt from Conjugial Love
The State of Married Partners after Death
by Emanuel Swedenborg
45. We have just shown in the preceding chapter that marriages exist in heaven. In this chapter we will now show whether or not a marriage covenant contracted in the world will continue and remain in force after death.
It is necessary that I make this known, because it is not a matter of judgment but of personal experience, and I have had this experience through association with angels and spirits. Nevertheless, I must make it known in such a way that reason may also assent.
Among the prayers and yearnings of married partners, moreover, is a wish to know the state of married partners after death. For men who have loved their wives wish to know - if their wives have died - whether it is well with them. So, too, wives who have loved their husbands. And they want to know whether they will meet again.
Many married couples also would like to know in advance whether partners separate after death or whether they stay together. Those who are discordant in spirit wish to know whether partners separate. And those who are concordant in spirit wish to know whether they stay together.
Because these are some of the things people would like answers to, they will be made known, and this will be done in the following order:
Development of this outline now follows, elucidating and supporting the various statements:
46. (1)In every person after death, love for the opposite sex continues to be what it was like inwardly, that is, what it was like in the person's inner will and thought in the world. All a person's love goes with him after death, because love is the inner being of his life. And the dominant love, which heads the rest, remains in a person to eternity, along with other loves subordinate to it. These loves remain, because love is properly an affection of the spirit in a person and is felt in the body from the spirit. And since a person becomes a spirit after death, he consequently carries his love with him. Moreover, since love is the inner being of a person's life, it is apparent that a person's lot after death becomes such as his life was in the world.
As regards love for the opposite sex, this is universal in all people, for it is implanted from the moment of creation in a person's very soul, from which comes the essential nature of the whole person, and it is implanted for the sake of propagating the human race. This love remains especially, because after death a man is still a man, and a woman is still a woman, and there is nothing in the soul, mind, or body which is not masculine in the male and feminine in the female; and the two sexes have been so created as to strive for conjunction, indeed, for conjunction in order that they may become one. This impulse is the love for the opposite sex which precedes conjugial love.
Now because an inclination to conjunction has been engraved on each and every element in the male and female, it follows that this inclination cannot be wiped out or die with the body.
47. Love for the opposite sex continues to be what it was like in the world inwardly for the reason that in every person there is an inward aspect and an outward aspect. These two are also called the inner person and the outer person, and so there is an inner and outer will and thought. A person leaves the outward aspect behind when he dies, and he keeps his inner self. For outward qualities are properly those of his body, while the inner qualities are properly those of his spirit.
Now because a person is what his love is, and love has its seat in his spirit, it follows that love for the opposite sex remains in a person after death and continues to be what it was like inwardly in him. So, for example, if that love inwardly had been conjugial or chaste, it continues to be conjugial and chaste after death. But if it had been inwardly licentious, it continues to be also like that after death.
It must be known, however, that love for the opposite sex is not the same in one person as in another. Its variations are limitless. But still, whatever it is like in each person's spirit, so it also remains.
48. (2)Conjugial love likewise continues to be what it was like inwardly, that is, what it was like in the inner will and thought in the person in the world. Since a love for the opposite sex is one kind of love and conjugial love another, therefore we mention both and say that conjugial love also remains after death and continues to be what it was like in a person, in his inner self, when he lived in the world. But because few people know the difference between a love for the opposite sex and conjugial love, I must therefore say something about it at the outset of this discussion.
A love for the opposite sex is love for several of the opposite sex and experienced with several, whereas conjugial love is love solely for one of the opposite sex and experienced with one. Love for several and experienced with several is moreover a natural love, being shared in common with animals and birds, which are natural, while conjugial love is a spiritual love, being particular and peculiar to human beings, because human beings were created and are thus born to become spiritual. The more spiritual a person becomes, therefore, the more he divests himself of a love for the opposite sex and clothes himself in conjugial love.
It appears to begin with in marriage as though a love for the opposite sex were bound together with conjugial love. But as the marriage progresses, the two loves are separated, and then in the case of people who are spiritual, a love for the opposite sex is banished and conjugial love insinuated. In the case of those who are natural, however, the opposite occurs.
From what we have now said, it is apparent that a love for the opposite sex is impure and unchaste, because it is experienced with several and is in itself natural, being, in fact, animal, and that it is licentious, because it is promiscuous and not restricted. It is altogether different, on the other hand, with conjugial love.
In the following chapters it will be clearly seen that conjugial love is spiritual and peculiarly human.
47r. [repeated] (3)Most married couples meet after death, recognize each other, associate, and live together for a time, which occurs in their first state, thus while they are still maintaining the outward aspects of their lives as they did in the world. There are two states that a person goes through after death, an external state and an internal state. A person comes first into the external state, and afterwards into the internal one. It is during the external state - if both partners have died - that they meet, recognize each other, and, if they lived together in the world, associate and live together for a time. And when they are in this state, one partner does not know the other's feelings toward him, because these feelings keep themselves hidden inside.
Later, however, when they come into their internal state, the feelings manifest themselves. And if these feelings are concordant and congenial, the partners continue their married life. But if these feelings are discordant and uncongenial, they end it.
If a man has had several wives, he associates with them in turn, so long as he is in the external state. But when he comes into the internal state, and perceives what their feelings of love are like, he then either chooses one or leaves them all. For in the spiritual world, just as in the natural world, a Christian is never allowed to have several wives, because this attacks religion and profanes it.
A similar thing happens with a wife who has had several husbands, although wives in this case do not attach themselves to their husbands. They only present themselves, and the husbands attach the wives to them.
Let it be known that husbands rarely recognize their wives, but that wives readily recognize their husbands. The reason is that women have an interior perception of love, while men have only a more superficial perception.
48r. [repeated] (4) Progressively, however, as married partners put off outward appearances and enter into their inward qualities, they gradually perceive what sort of love and mutual feeling they had had for each other, and consequently whether it is possible for them to live together or not. There is no need to explain this further, since it follows as a conclusion from what was explained under the preceding heading. We will only clarify here how it is that a person puts off outward appearances and takes on inward qualities.
Everyone is first introduced after death into a world that is called the world of spirits, which is midway between heaven and hell; and there he is prepared, for heaven if he is good, and for hell if he is evil.  The purpose of the preparation in that world is to bring the inner reality and the outer appearance into harmony, so that the internal and external become one, instead of being at variance and divided in two. They are divided in two in the natural world, and only in the case of people who have an honest heart do they become one. (That they are divided in two is apparent from crafty and deceitful people, especially from hypocrites, flatterers, fakes and liars.)
In the spiritual world, however, one is not permitted to have a mind divided like that, but a person who had been evil inwardly must also be evil outwardly. So, too, with a good person, who must be good in both ways. For every person after death becomes what he had been like inwardly, and not what he had been like outwardly.
To achieve this end, the person is then brought by turns into his external character and alternately into his internal one. And everybody is wise so long as he is in his external character; that is, he tries to appear wise - even one who is evil. But if he is evil, the same person is irrational in his internal character. By these alternations he can see his insanities and recover from them. However, if he had not come to his senses in the world, he cannot do so afterward, because he loves his insanities and wants to remain in them. Therefore he forces his external character into becoming similarly irrational as well. So his internal and external characters become one, and when this happens, he is ready for hell.
 It is quite different, on the other hand, if the person is good. Because he had looked to God and come to his senses in the world, in his internal character he was wiser than in his external life. In his external life he sometimes even acted irrationally owing to the enticements and vanities of the world. Therefore his external character is also reduced to harmony with his internal one, which, as we said, is wise. And when this happens, he is ready for heaven.
This makes clear how it is that the outward character is put off and the internal character taken on after death.
49. (5)If it is possible for married partners to live together, they remain partners. But if it is not possible, they separate, the husband sometimes separating from the wife, the wife sometimes from the husband, and both of them sometimes from each other. The reason separations occur after death is that unions formed on earth are seldom formed on the basis of any internal perception of love, but as the result of an external perception which conceals the internal one.
An external perception of love takes its cause and origin from such things as have to do with love of the world and love of one's own person. Love of the world is concerned primarily with wealth and possessions, and love of one's own person with positions of rank and honor. In addition to these, there are also various other attractions that entice into marriage, such as good looks and a pretended elegance of manners. Sometimes even a lack of chastity attracts.
Furthermore, marriages are also contracted in the area, city or town of one's birth or residence, where the only choice possible is confined and limited to the households one knows, and there only with people of a station matching one's own.
As a result, marriages entered into in the world are for the most part external marriages, and not at the same time internal, even though it is the internal union or union of souls that makes a real marriage. And that internal union is not discernible until a person has put off his external character and taken on his internal character, which happens after death.
That, now, is why separations then occur, followed by new unions formed with partners of a similar and compatible nature - unless unions like this were provided on earth, which happens in the case of people who from their youth had loved, desired and sought from the Lord a lawful and lovely partnership with one, and who spurn and reject roving lusts as an offense to the nostrils.
50. (6)A man is then given a suitable wife, and a woman, likewise, a suitable husband. This is because the only married couples who can be accepted into heaven so as to remain there are those who have been inwardly united, or who can be united as though into one. For married couples in heaven are not called two but one angel. This is meant by the Lord's words, that they are no longer two but one flesh.
The reason these are the only married couples who can be accepted into heaven is that they are the only ones who can live together there, that is, who can be together in the same house and in the same bedroom and bed. For all those who are in heaven are associated according to the affinities and close similarities of their love, and their homes are determined accordingly. This is because there are no dimensional spaces in the spiritual world, but they have appearances of space, and these appearances are determined according to the states of their life, and their states of life are determined according to states of love.
Consequently, no one in the spiritual world can stay anywhere but in his own house, which is provided and appointed for him according to the nature of his love. If he stays anywhere else, his chest labors and he has difficulty breathing. By the same token, two people cannot live together in the same house unless they are likenesses of each other. And they cannot live together at all as married partners unless their feelings for each other are mutual. If these feelings of attraction are external and not at the same time internal, the very house or place separates them, repels them and drives them away.
So it is that, in the case of people who after preparation are introduced into heaven, marriage is provided with a partner whose soul inclines to union with the soul of the other, to the point that they do not wish to lead two lives but one. That is why, after separation, a man is given a suitable wife, and a woman, likewise, a suitable husband.
51. (7)Married couples enjoy the same intimate relations with each other as in the world, only more delightful and blessed, but without begetting children. Instead of or to take the place of begetting children, they experience a spiritual procreation, which is one of love and wisdom. Married couples enjoy the same intimate relations as in the world for the reason that after death a male is still a male and a female is still a female, and an inclination to conjunction has been implanted in each of the sexes from creation. In the human being, moreover, this inclination is an inclination of the person's spirit, and of the body as a result of his spirit.
After death, therefore, when a person becomes a spirit, the same mutual inclination continues, and this would not be possible without a continuation of the same relations. For people are people as they were before, and nothing is missing from the male, and nothing from the female. They are the same as they were before in form, likewise in their affections and thoughts.
What other conclusion follows from this, then, but that they have the same intimate relations? And because conjugial love is chaste, pure and sacred, that their intimate relations are also full and complete? (But for more on this subject, see the narrative account in no. 44.)
The reason these relations are then more delightful and blessed is that when a person becomes a spirit, this love then becomes more interior and pure and so more capable of being perceived, and every delight increases with a person's perception of it, increasing even to the point that the blessedness of the love is noticed in its delight.
52. The reason marriages in heaven do not result in the begetting of children, but that instead they experience a spiritual procreation, which is one of love and wisdom - the reason is that in the case of people who are in the spiritual world, a third element is missing, which is the natural element. This element is the containing vessel of spiritual things, and spiritual things without their containing vessel do not assume fixed form like those that are produced in the natural world. Also, regarded in themselves, spiritual things relate to love and wisdom. Consequently, it is spiritual things that are born of their marriages.
We say that these are born, because conjugial love perfects an angel, since it unites him with his partner so that he becomes more and more human. For, as we said above, married couples in heaven are not two but one angel. Therefore by the conjugial union they fulfill themselves in respect to their humanity, which is to want to be wise and to love what has to do with wisdom.
53. (8)This is what happens in the case of people who come into heaven. It is different, however, with those who go to hell. When we say that after death a man is given a suitable wife, and a woman, likewise, a suitable husband, and that they enjoy delightful and blessed relations, but without any procreation other than a spiritual procreation, it should be understood that we are referring to people who are received into heaven and become angels. That is because these people are spiritual, and marriages are in themselves spiritual, and therefore sacred.
In contrast, however, those people who go to hell are all natural people, and merely natural marriages are not marriages, but pairings that result from unchaste lust. What these pairings are like will be told later, in the chapter on chastity and its absence, and further in the chapters on licentious love.
54. To what we have related so far about the state of married partners after death, we should add the following:
1. All those married partners who are merely natural, separate after death. The reason is that the love of being married is cold in them, and a love for committing adultery warm. Nevertheless, following that separation they still sometimes form associations with others as married partners, although after a short time they part from each other. Quite often this happens repeatedly, with one person after another. And finally the man is handed over to some licentious woman, and the woman to some adulterer, which takes place in a prison in hell (as described in The Apocalypse Revealed, no. 153, paragraph 10). There, promiscuous licentiousness is forbidden to both under pain of punishment.
 2. When one partner is spiritual and the other natural, they, too, separate after death, and a suitable husband or wife is given to the spiritual partner, while the natural one is consigned to his or her like in places of lasciviousness.
 3. Moreover, in the case of people who lived a celibate life in the world and completely turned their minds away from marriage, if they are spiritual, they remain celibate. But if they are natural, they become licentious.
It is different, however, if during their unmarried state they had wanted to marry, and still more if they had sought marriage without success. If these people are spiritual, they are provided blessed marriages, though not before they come into heaven.
 4. In the case of people who in the world were shut away in convents and monasteries, both unmarried women and men, their cloistered life continues for some period of time after death. At the end of this time they are released and let go, and they gain the desired freedom they had prayed for, either to live married, if they wish, or not. If they wish to marry, they become married. If not, they are conveyed to other celibates at the side of heaven. Those who burned with forbidden lust, however, are cast down.
 5. The reason celibates live at the side of heaven is because the atmosphere of permanent celibacy disturbs the atmosphere of conjugial love, which is the essential atmosphere of heaven. The atmosphere of conjugial love is the essential atmosphere of heaven because it descends from the heavenly marriage of the Lord and the church.
55. To this I will append two narrative accounts. Here is the first:
I once heard a very sweet melody coming from heaven. The singers there were wives, and also young women, who were singing a little song together. The sweetness of the singing sounded like the harmoniously flowing affection of some love. (Heavenly songs are nothing else but voiced affections, or affections expressed and varied in musical tones. For as thoughts are expressed in spoken words, so affections are expressed in the singing of songs. Angels perceive the subject of the affection from the balance and flow of the musical variations.)
I had many spirits around me at the time, and I heard from some of them that they were listening to this very sweet melody, and that it was the melody of a some lovely affection whose subject they did not know. Therefore they began to make various guesses, but without success. Some guessed that the singing expressed the affection of a bridegroom and bride when they become engaged. Some supposed that it expressed the affection of a bridegroom and bride when they celebrate their wedding. And some thought that it expressed the early love of a husband and wife.
 However, an angel from heaven then appeared in the midst of them, and he said that they were singing about a chaste love for the opposite sex.
But the spirits standing around asked what a chaste love for the opposite sex was.
So the angel said that it is the love of a man for a maiden or married woman beautiful in form and lovely in manners, which is free of any idea of lasciviousness, and vice versa [that is, the same sort of love of a woman for a single or married man]."
Having said that, the angel vanished.
The singing continued, and now that the spirits knew the subject of the affection that the singing expressed, they began to hear it with a great deal of variety, each in accordance with the state of his own love. Those who looked upon women chastely heard the singing as harmonious and sweet. Those, however, who looked upon women unchastely heard it as discordant and sorrowful. And those who looked upon women with repugnance heard it as harsh and grating.
 But then, suddenly, the plain on which they were standing was turned into a theater, and they heard a voice say, "Examine and discuss this love."
Suddenly, too, spirits from various societies were present, and in the midst of them some angels in white. And the angels then addressed them saying, "We have inquired into all kinds of love in this spiritual world, not only the love of a man for a man, and of a woman for a woman, and the mutual love of a husband and wife, but also the love of a man for women, and the love of a woman for men. We have been allowed to pass through society after society as well, and to investigate, and we have not yet found the prevailing love for the opposite sex to be chaste, except in those who, because of their truly conjugial love, are in a constant state of sexual ability, and these are in the highest heavens.
"Moreover, we have also been granted to perceive an influx of this chaste love for the opposite sex into the affections of our hearts, and we felt it exceed every other love in its sweetness, except the love of two married partners whose hearts are one.
"But we pray you examine and discuss this love, because to you it is new and unknown. Also, because it is so exceedingly pleasant, in heaven we call it heavenly sweetness."
 As they were therefore discussing it, the first to speak were spirits who could not think of chastity as applying to marriages, and they said, "When one sees a beautiful and lovely woman, maiden or married, is there anyone who can so chasten the ideas in his thought and so purify them from lust that he loves her beauty, yet without at all wishing to taste it if he could? Who can turn the instinctive lust that every man feels into chasteness like that, thus into something against his own nature, and still feel love? When love for the opposite sex enters from the eyes into the thoughts, can it stop at a woman's face? Does it not instantly descend to her breast and beyond?
"The angels have spoken nonsense, saying that a chaste love like that exists and yet is the sweetest of all loves, and that it is only possible in husbands who are in a state of truly conjugial love and who consequently possess an extraordinary sexual ability with their wives. When these husbands see beautiful women, can they hold the ideas of their thought on high any more than others, and keep them suspended, so to speak, to prevent those ideas from descending and extending to that which prompts such a love?"
 After them, spirits spoke who were in both a state of coldness and a state of heat, in a state of coldness towards their wives and in a state of heat towards the opposite sex. And they said, "What is a chaste love for the opposite sex? Is it not a contradiction in terms when the word chastity is added to love and sex? What is left when a contradictory adjective is added but something robbed of its proper attribute, which is meaningless? How can a chaste love for the opposite sex be the sweetest of all loves when it is chastity that deprives it of its sweetness? You all know in what the sweetness of that love lies. Consequently, when the idea naturally accompanying this love is banished, where is the sweetness then, and what does it come from?"
Some others then interrupted and said, "We have been in the company of some very beautiful women, and we have not lusted. Therefore we know what a chaste love for the opposite sex is."
But their companions, who knew their lascivious natures, replied, "You were then in a state of antipathy toward the opposite sex owing to impotence, and that is not a chaste love for the opposite sex but the final result of an unchaste love."
 Having heard these things, the angels crossly asked the spirits who were standing to the right, towards the south, to speak, and these spirits said, "There is a love between men, also a love between women, and there is the love of a man for a woman and the love of a woman for a man. And these three pairs of loves are completely different from each other.
"Love between two men is like the love between one intellect and another, for men were created and so are born to become forms of understanding.
"Love between two women is like the love between one affection and another for the understanding of men, for women were created and are born to become forms of love for the understanding of men.
"These loves, namely, the love between two men and the love between two women, do not enter deeply into their hearts, but remain outside and only touch. Thus these loves do not unite the two of them interiorly.
"That is why two men together also spar with each other with endless arguments, like two athletes boxing, and two women sometimes as well, with endless insistence on their own wishes, like two marionettes battling with their fists.
 "On the other hand, the love between a man and a woman is a love between intellect and its affection, and this enters deeply and unites them. The union also is the love. But a union of the minds and not at the same time of the bodies, or an effort to a union of minds only, is a spiritual love and therefore a chaste love. This love is possible only in those who are in a state of truly conjugial love and who consequently possess an elevated sexuality, because men like this, out of chastity, do not permit themselves to feel an influx of love on account of the body of any other woman than their wife. And because they possess a highly elevated sexuality, they cannot help but love the opposite sex and at the same time turn their backs on anything unchaste.
"Thus they have a chaste love for the opposite sex, which regarded in itself is interior spiritual friendship. This friendship takes its sweetness from an elevated sexuality, but one that is chaste. These men have an elevated sexuality owing to their total renunciation of licentiousness. And it is chaste, because they are only in love with their wives.
"Now, then, because that love in them does not partake of the flesh but only of the spirit, it is chaste. And because the beauty of a woman, owing to the inherent attraction, enters at the same time into their mind, it is sweet."
 On hearing this, many of those standing around put their hands to their ears, saying, "Your words hurt our ears! The things you have said are meaningless to us."
These spirits were unchaste.
Then again, the singing was heard from heaven, and now sweeter than before. But to those unchaste spirits, it grated so discordantly that because of the harshness of the discord, they threw themselves out of the theater and ran away, the few spirits remaining being those who in their wisdom loved conjugial chastity.
56. The second account:
One time, while speaking with angels in the spiritual world, I was filled with a pleasant wish to see the Temple of Wisdom, which I had seen once before. So I asked the angels about the way to it.
They said, "Follow the light, and you will find it."
And I said, "What do you mean, follow the light?"
They said, "Our light grows brighter the closer we get to that temple. Follow the light, therefore, in the direction it grows brighter. For our light emanates from the Lord as the sun of this world, and so, regarded in itself, that light is wisdom."
In the company of two angels I then went in the direction that the light grew brighter, and I ascended by a steep path to the top of a certain hill which was in the southern zone, where I found a magnificent gate. When the guard saw the angels with me, he opened it, and behold, I saw an avenue of palm trees and laurels, which we followed. The avenue curved around and ended up at a garden, in the middle of which stood the Temple of Wisdom.
As I looked around in the garden, I saw some smaller buildings, replicas of the temple, with wise men in them. We went over to one of the buildings, and we spoke at the entrance with the receptionist there, telling him the reason for our coming and the way we had arrived. And the receptionist said, "Welcome! Come in, have a seat, and let us spend some time together in conversations of wisdom."
 I saw inside that the building was divided into two sections, and yet the two were still one. It was divided into two sections by a transparent partition, but it looked like one room because of the partition's transparency, which was like the transparency of the purest crystal. I asked why it was arranged like that.
The receptionist said, "I am not alone. My wife is with me, and though we are two, yet we are not two but one flesh."
To which I replied, "I know you are wise, but what does a wise man or wisdom have to do with a woman?"
At this, with some feeling of annoyance, the receptionist's expression changed, and he stretched out his hand, and suddenly, then, other wise men were present from the neighboring buildings. To them he said with amusement, "Our visitor here says he wants to know what a wise man or wisdom has to do with a woman!"
They all laughed at this and said, "What is a wise man or wisdom apart from a woman or apart from love? A wife is the love of a wise man's wisdom."
 But the receptionist said, "Let us join together now in some conversation of wisdom. Let the conversation be about causes, today the reason for the beauty in the female sex."
So they then spoke in turn. And the first speaker gave this reason, that women were created by the Lord to be forms of affection for the wisdom in men, and affection for wisdom is beauty itself.
The second speaker gave this reason, that woman was created by the Lord through the wisdom in man, because she was created from man, and that she is therefore a form of wisdom inspired by the affection of love. And because the affection of love is life itself, a woman is a form of the life in wisdom, while the male is a form of wisdom, and the life in wisdom is beauty itself.
The third speaker presented this reason, that women have been given a perception of the delights in conjugial love. And because their whole body is an instrument of that perception, the abode where the delights of conjugial love dwell with their perception cannot help but be a form of beauty.
 The fourth speaker gave this reason, that the Lord took beauty and grace of life from man and transferred them into woman, and that is why a man not reunited with his beauty and grace in woman is stern, severe, dry and unattractive, and also not wise except for his own sake alone, in which case he is a dunce. On the other hand, when a man is united with his beauty and grace of life in a wife, he becomes agreeable, pleasant, full of life and lovable, and therefore wise.
The fifth speaker gave this reason, that women were created to be beauties, not for their own sake, but for the sake of men, so that men's natural hardness might become softer, the natural solemnness of their dispositions more amiable, and the natural coldness of their hearts warmer. And this is what happens to them when they become one flesh with their wives.
 The sixth speaker offered this reason, that the universe created by the Lord is a most perfect work, but nothing is created in it more perfect than a woman attractive in appearance and becoming in behavior, in order that a man may thank the Lord for such a gift and repay it by receiving wisdom from Him.
After these and several other similar views were expressed, one of the wives appeared through the crystal-like partition, and she said to her husband, "Speak, if you wish."
And when he spoke, the life in his wisdom from his wife was perceived in his speech, for her love was in the tone of his voice. Thus did experience bear witness to the truth expressed.
After this we looked at the Temple of Wisdom, and also at the things in the paradise surrounding it. And being filled with feelings of joy on account of them, we departed and went along the avenue to the gate, and so descended by the way we had come.Footnotes