My father-in-law proposes that I marry my late wife’s elder sister

By Dinh Tung   May 22, 2024 | 04:25 pm PT
Three years after my wife’s death, my father-in-law suggested that her elder sister and I should marry.

My wife and I had been married for 10 years following nearly three years of courtship. I cherished her for her simplicity, resilience, and her insightful nature, typical of a woman from Central Vietnam. Throughout our relationship, we experienced little to no conflict.

After marrying, we remained in the city to advance our careers. Following our career advancements, we had our first son, purchased a house in the city, and later had another child.

Tragically, my wife passed away three years ago when our youngest child was just over a year old. I was so overwhelmed by the news of her death that I was initially unable to process anything. Once I recovered, I was left questioning why fate had been so cruel.

I grieved for my late wife, our young children, and myself, doubting my ability to raise two children alone. Despite the challenges, I managed to transport my wife’s remains back home for her funeral and vowed to look after our children in her stead.

My sister-in-law, who is a year younger than me and a Japanese language teacher, resides in the same city. After my wife’s passing, she brought her mother to the city to assist me with raising the children.

Over time, the children grew healthy and strong, for which I am forever thankful to my mother, sister-in-law, and my wife’s family. The children refer to my sister-in-law as "mom," feeling blessed to have two mothers — one in heaven who gave birth to them and another on earth who is raising them.

Since losing my wife, I’ve dedicated myself to working and spending time with my children. Some female colleagues, knowing I am a widower, have expressed romantic interest, but I have maintained my distance. I am not looking to exploit anyone or remarry, as I am still in love with my wife, and any new relationship would likely cause pain.

My sister-in-law previously dated a man for nearly five years, but his family did not approve of her, leading to their breakup. Since then, despite many admirers and her attractive, gentle, and thoughtful nature, she has remained single. When our father-in-law suggested marriage, she was concerned about who would care for my children.

After a recent memorial service for my wife, while preparing to return to our hometown, my father-in-law pulled my sister-in-law and me aside for a private conversation. He expressed his concern that I couldn’t manage alone and suggested I remarry.

He then proposed to my sister-in-law: "If you care for the children, why not marry him and take over your sister’s role in caring for him and the children?"

His suggestions caught me off guard and made my sister-in-law embarrassed. I have always seen her as a sister, nothing more, nothing less. I care for her deeply and worry about her, but I recognize that our relationship is purely familial.

Therefore, I worry that marrying her without love would cause her suffering. What should I do? Has anyone else experienced something similar? I would appreciate any advice.

Thank you.

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