Weeks after our marriage, my husband’s father suddenly died. Months later, his best friend made an explicit sexual advance to me.
He’d emerged from a shower, naked (friends were all hanging out on his patio).
He came into the room where I was changing. What he wanted was obvious. He told me to “take care of it.”
I was shocked, and walked away quickly. I didn’t tell my husband what happened.
Eight years later, and divorced, it still bothers me. I was wary around his friend and felt like I was somehow “guilty” for not telling my husband.
Our marriage was already badly stressed. We split up after only three years. We’ve both had relationships since.
But I still wonder, what was the right thing to do – tell my husband then, later, or never?
Still Upset and Unsure
You made the most important right decision from the start, by walking away.
And you tried to save your husband from further stress and loss.
Now, stop second-guessing yourself. You have no “guilt.” But if the incident feels like a past trauma, consider getting counselling.
You’ve raised an interesting question for others: If a partner’s close friend or relative suddenly comes onto you without invitation, should you tell your partner? Do you consider it an emotional/sexual assault?
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman who believes her daughter-in-law stole some of her jewellery, but is uncertain whether to confront her (April 27):
Reader #1 – “I was in a very similar situation. I was terrified to accuse my cousin of stealing and causing a rift in the family.
“When asked to babysit her children, I accepted, hoping to shed some light on my perception that she might be the one who actually did take my jewellery.
“Imagine my surprise when looking for a pot to make hot chocolate, I find my missing jewellery. I did take my jewellery back and never once mentioned it to her.
“I don't know if she realizes that I now have my jewellery back, or maybe she thinks she’s misplaced it in her house.
“Since she occasionally drops by for visits, you can bet that my jewellery is now well hidden, in a place that she’d never think of looking.
“We have never mentioned this to each other. However, I’ve lost all trust in her.”
Reader # 2 – “To the woman: You’re best not to be accusatory towards your daughter-in-law. Not because it may rock the boat, but because you can’t be sure that she took anything at all.
“One should apply what is called the “reasonable man test” before setting your mind on one particular person.
“For example, it could be anyone else who visited your home during this time. If no one visited, it’s also possible that your son or grandchildren confiscated these items.
“The reality is that you may never know who took these items, and the best thing to do is to protect your valuables in the future.”
Reader #3 – “I'd lie low, take the sneaky way, see if she ever wears the stuff. I'd also see if I could snoop and locate some of the items.
“Also, less sinister: Maybe she just had her stuff lying around, and wasn’t too aware as to what she had, so that the daughter-in-law could easily pick some up. Maybe she figured her mother-in-law wouldn’t notice if the odd piece was missing. Or thought they were just costume jewellery, and not of great value.”
Reader #4 – “You didn’t ask the ages of the children. A younger child might have taken what was thought to be “costume jewellery” for dress-up. An older child might have taken the jewellery and sold it.
“It was not necessarily the daughter-in-law!”
Reader #5 – “Sadly, I can think of another scenario for the woman who believes her daughter-in-law stole jewellery and other items from her.
“The items may not be missing at all, but misplaced or hidden by the woman and forgotten. Her suspicions and paranoia can also be signs of dementia.
“I think your suggestion to put other valuables in a safety deposit box and then just let it go was the best route she could follow to keep the relationship with her son and grandchildren intact (through not accusing the daughter-in-law).”
Ellie – A topic that hit a nerve! Thanks to these readers and the many more who responded.
Tip of the day:
A shocking incident of an unwanted sexual come-on, can leave long-term doubts about how you reacted at the time.