Dating an In-Law

Dating an In-Law

Dear Michele,
My husband died years ago, and I am very close to my ex-brother in law. I consider him my ex because his brother has died. I’m starting to consider dating him. My question is this: is it all right for us to date and have a relationship, and possibly even beyond?

Dating an Ex-Brother-in-law


Dear Dating,
I’m glad to hear that you are considering this question before moving forward. It shows you are thoughtful and you are handling this in a mature manner, trying to consider potential issues.

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, you are free to date and marry because your spouse has passed away. I’m sure you are aware of the story in Scripture where the religious leaders are questioning Jesus about a woman who marries her brother-in-laws (multiple times) after her husbands pass away. This is one area of scripture that provides the basis of the marriage vow being valid until “death do we part.” So, the church would say it is “all right” for the two of you to date.

Since your husband passed away “years ago,” then I will spare you the advice about taking time to grieve, giving yourself space to find your new identity, etc. I am going to assume you feel ready to date, so you may want to take time and make sure choosing your ex-brother-in-law is not in some aspect a way reclaim a part of your lost relationship with your deceased spouse. Have you dated anyone else? This can help you examine if choosing your ex-brother-in-law is in any way a rebound relationship.

In all things, be to bring this decision to prayer. Have you talked to God about this, and waited to hear a response? You can also ask Him for the gift of discernment. The next step would be to have an open and frank discussion with your ex-brother-in-law. Does he feel the same way? Would he be willing to take it to prayer? Are there children involved, even adult children that may have difficultly with it? How would the two of you handle that situation? What is his dating status? Is he free to date and marry in the Church?

And finally, how do you feel about it? Do you think it’s ok? If you have some concerns, listen to them and address them. If you feel excited about the potential new relationship, then that’s information for you too. Be sure to consider how dating may permanently change your friendship, and how it may effect future family gatherings. So, if you’ve taken the time to consider all of the emotional, spiritual, and even physical considerations, and if you are at peace with the decision to date, then my prayer for you is you will continue to seek God’s guidance and wisdom as you embark on this new relationship.

God Bless,

Michele Fleming, M.A.