Widower in Love with Sister-in-Law
But they fear family members’ reactions
Is it wrong to be in a relationship with the sibling of a departed spouse? A widower and his sister-in-law are in love but they worry about the effect on her family. See what “Ask Amy” advises.
I am a 60-year-old widower. My wife of over 30 years passed away four years ago after a long illness.
My late-wife’s sister and I started spending time together about six months ago. We have many shared interests and have always gotten along very well.
She has been divorced for several years. Our relationship has turned romantic, and we are in love. We discuss our future together and want to make this work.
So far we have kept our relationship a secret.
There are adult children on both sides. There are several family members, along with our children, that we will have to tell.
Are we wrong in pursuing this?
How should we tell our children and other family members?
We’re concerned that even one unaccepting person may be the grounds to break this up and cause years of tension. My marriage was wonderful, and all the family relations on both sides are great – for now.
Congratulations to both of you for finding love at this stage of your lives. You are not wrong to pursue this relationship – you are lucky!
My main recommendation is that you go into this understanding that your relationship might come as a shock to some family members, that some might not like it, and that these people might act out in a variety of ways.
Your attitude throughout is vital – in terms of telegraphing how this will go.
You should both remain calm, patient, and adopt an understanding attitude.
What you should not do is to convey that any family member (including your adult children) will have the power to manipulate you into breaking up your relationship.
You should tell your children and she should tell hers – at the same time and separately. Tell them that you two are dating, that you are very happy, and that you both believe it is time to let family members know.
Do not allow any negative reactions to trigger you. Simply let people react, answer any questions honestly, remain calm and reassuring: “This will be fine. You’ll be OK.”
I don’t think it’s wise to tell people right away that you are planning a longer-term future together – only that you’re dating and happy.
You should then tiptoe out of your cone of secrecy, take things slowly, and enjoy yourselves.
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from a widower in love with his late wife’s sister to dark family secrets and DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.
©2023 by Amy Dickinson