Catholic brother-in-law divorcing wife of 38 years


My wife’s brother (herafter referred to as BIL) has suddenly asked his Protestant wife for a divorce after having engaged in an affair. He continues that affair. They have two adult children, both not practicing. Daughter is trying to maintain a relationship with him, son is actively cutting contact off. He had a daughter who has not yet been seen by BIL. All over the past three months or so.

My wife and I are faithful Catholics. She has 5 sisters, two of whom are Catholic, though they don’t practice regularly.

BIL continues to reach out to his six sisters and others, including in-laws. He updates us with his current situation via email and wishes to belong to our facebook networks, for example. His updates include things like his personal career stuff as well as family news such as the birth of his new grandchild. One disturbing incident was when he invited my wife and me to attend Mass with him and his mistress. We declined, citing an explicit desire to not meet the mistress. This was the second time we voiced these concerns, yet BIL persisted.

I feel my wife and I should also end communication with him until he comes around, however feel also that he needs to have the truth in front of him. To my knowledge, no one has confronted him directly from a Catholic point of view. Actually, the main reason for posting here is to determine if I and or my wife have any obligations in this manner as far as the Church is concerned.

Thanks for anyone’s input!


I think you are handling it well, especially not wanting to meet his mistress. Look, i assume you love him, so go about this thing in a loving manner. Point out where he is wrong - the rest is up to him. What is the saying “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. We have something going on in my family. I love this person and I try to live my life as best I can. I have been frank with this individual, but in the end it is up to them and God. This person is a part of my life. I try to be understanding, but in the end can do nothing except pray. Good luck and may God bless you.


I think you do have the obligation to witness and evangelize on the Sacrament of Marriage, the sin of adultery, and the consequences of his choices.


I have to agree with this. Cutting someone off is not going to help him see the error of his ways. Only confronting him might do that. Ultimately, it is up to your brother-in-law to realize what he is doing and what he is risking, and you can’t make someone change their minds or their actions if they don’t want to, but the words of our Heavenly Father are pretty clear on the subject.

"But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself."
Proverbs 6:32


He goes to Mass with his MISTRESS?! Wow, talk about not getting it! I mean, let’s look at this practically… he engages in illicit, adulterous sex on Saturday night, and then takes his illicit, adulterous sex partner with him to partake of Jesus Christ in the Mass? My mind is boggled at how someone can rationalize that one away.

I don’t think anyone needs to confront him. He knows adultery is wrong, and he knows the Catholic Church is against it. He evidently does not care.

If I were you, I would un-friend him from any Facebook pages, and put him on my blocked list of senders in e-mail. And screen my calls.


I definitly agree. Shut him out of your life. At least for awhile. If that doesn’t do any good, I don’t know what else to say. Keep praying for him and his family. This must be rough on everyone involved here. :frowning:


Thanks everyone!


*I wouldn’t shut him out of your lives…he is your wife’s brother, afterall. BUT…I wouldn’t attend mass with them. I wouldn’t hang out with them like everything is fine. My sister dated a married man for a while, he eventually left his wife. I met the guy, during a business trip when my dh and I were thinking of moving to Florida. I didn’t like him. How could I ever strip from my mind, that this man left his wife and three little kids (one was a baby) for my sister? This is not how true love expresses itself. My sister stopped talking to me, because she knew how I felt. I wasn’t crude, but I said…this is not God’s plan for you, God would NEVER tell you to have an affair to find your ‘true love.’ She stopped emailing me, calling me…for a few months. Then one day, he dumped her. He was cheating on her too. It was one of those, I told you so moments, but I never told her so, you know? But, I always thought that it was doomed. I was there, with loving open arms, when the whole thing crashed down on her…and I just listened. But, I also spoke, and told her…God doesn’t want this for you…God doesn’t want this for you.

Relationships that are created from affairs are ALWAYS DOOMED. God will never bless such an affair. Never. That being said, in a gentle way, I would try to get that point to him. He needs to end this affair…regardless if he divorces or not…the relationship with the mistress will never ever be ‘right.’

The irony of a man and his mistress going to mass together is this, though…by going to mass, hopefully, they will be brought to their knees before the Lord, humbled and moved that what they are doing and have done is wrong. They will choose to repent. I think there are worse places for them to go, but they should not be receiving the Eucharist. On some level, maybe he and she are not willing to admit they are living in sin, just yet. But, pray that their attendance at mass will move them to change.

That being said, I would not allow them to spend the night or anything. I also would limit my time ‘hanging out’ with them. We are all sinners, but it’s wholly unfair to ask family members to witness your sinning, and stay quiet. :o At some point, like my sister found out, they will hopefully realize they are living a big lie.

I will pray for you all.*


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