My sister-in-law recently confided to me that she’s been having a secret affair with a carpenter who’s been working in her house for several months.
He’s the sole person working on a renovation project while her husband (my brother) works.
I’d been asking for a time to see how the renovation was going, but she kept putting me off with excuses.
A couple of week ago I called to say I was in her area and coming with coffee and muffins. She sounded panicky, saying she’d meet me instead.
She rushed over and confessed to cheating.
She said she doesn’t want to break up her marriage but her husband goes early to the gym then works late, then he’s tired by 10pm and goes to bed.
She begged me to not tell my brother anything. She says that the carpenter made her feel like a woman again, but there’s no thought of a future together.
She’s ashamed now and says she’ll end it but she can’t just drop the project without explaining why to her husband.
I’ve always liked her a lot, and love my brother but know he’s a workaholic and not the romantic type.
Do I keep listening to her stories now that she’s sharing details with me, or tell my brother?
Too Much Information (TMI)
Tell her you know too much already and don’t want to be an audience for “the story” any further.
Say that because you care for your brother and her, your only role is to encourage her to talk to a marriage counsellor with him, about not “feeling like a woman.”
Her husband may be uninterested in, or incapable of, an intimate relationship.
She’s apparently been unwilling to confront him about her feelings, or she’s chosen to stick with married life and a renovated home.
It’ll take professional therapy to get to the crux of that cold divide between them.
Otherwise, she’ll go from this secret affair to another until she’s caught out as a cheater. Urge her to avoid that by seeking help.
As for your brother, if you ask him why he works late all the time, you’ll likely break down and end up revealing the affair.
Better to get your sister-in-law to be the one to make that happen by urging him to join her in marital therapy.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the woman’s sexual noises when they make love, and the man’s noise-phobic reaction (August 1):
“My partner also makes this sound A LOT during our intimate time.
“With us, the air intake and expulsion is caused by the unusually forceful and frequent contraction of my partner’s vagina, during build-up to, and including, orgasm.
“It’s unusual but happens because the sex is so good!
“However, I also have Misophonia. I can be with one of my kids, hear open-mouthed chewing sounds and feel a blinding rage.
“But I’ve never responded to the intercourse sounds from my partner that way.
“Perhaps it’s because we both recognize it as a sign of the intense pleasure response she’s having and the strength of her vaginal muscles. Those are good things.
“Perhaps the letter-writer was right to see the psychologist, as considering the noise disgusting is about context.
“For me, food-eating noises mean people eating like animals. The rage response is associated with that.”
Ellie – You have a healthy understanding of vaginal sounds. But your instant-rage response to food-eating noise is worrisome for you and your family. Behaviour modification techniques might help.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman whose husband became “very toxic” including explosive anger, threats and abuse to her (July 31):
“I grew up with a father who was constantly angry and abusive toward my mother - and frequently to us too. This toxic atmosphere has left deep scars and is far worse than a divorce would have been.
“I would tell this woman: Get your kids out of that environment before they grow up to think that that's how relationships work.”
Ellie – Agreed. Abuse is more harmful. Thanks for sharing your own difficult home life.
Readers sometimes wonder why I don’t just say “Leave immediately,” but when this writer asks, “What about the kids?” I hear the hesitation. So, I suggested family counselling as a step to her initiating the separation process.
Once she makes that move, she’ll leave him, as she’s said that she’s too tired to try any longer.
Tip of the day:
Avoid too-much-information about a family member’s cheating. Encourage counselling so the couple confronts their problems.