Saturday 18 November 2017

Dear Mary: I'm feeling stressed and guilty over my affair with my sister's husband

Close up of woman, man blurred in background, laying in bed.
Close up of woman, man blurred in background, laying in bed.
Photo: Getty Images

Mary O'Connor

I have been in love with my sister's husband and this whole issue is stressing me.

We have been having an intimate relationship for two years now though there has been no sex.

He loves me and I love him too but still I am not comfortable with this secretive relationship and it makes me feel guilty every time I am around my sister or her family.

I have also not been able to love any other man despite me trying to get into several relationships.

Please help - I need your advice on what I should do to get over this and be able to start a healthy relationship.

Mary replies

Very often when a woman is having an affair with a married man they have only heard of the wife and have never seen her. So she remains a shadowy figure very much in the background.

Sometimes the man makes derogatory remarks about her, sometimes not, but he is almost always unhappy with at least some aspect of his marriage.

In your case, not only do you know his wife but she is your sister and very much in the foreground.

I am not surprised then that you are feeling guilty when you are around her because she is the only one in the trio that is unaware of what is really going on.

It is of very little consequence that you have not had sex. By this you must mean that you have not had sexual intercourse, because you have been intimate with him and that is sex. Bill Clinton comes to mind when denying his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

You have written asking for advice to help you to move on so here it is:

You must speak with your brother-in-law and tell him that anything that has gone before has now to be firmly left in the past as you need to move on.

You are only damaging yourself (and, of course, your sister) by continuing this affair. He, meanwhile, is having the best of both worlds, and doesn't seem to feel the same guilt that you do.

So at a very personal level you need to stop immediately from being in any situation where you and he are alone together and from making any further plans to meet up.

You will have to think up some excuse for not going to your sister's house for the foreseeable future.

See her on her own, meet up for coffee or whatever it is that you normally do, but at no time should you be with her and her husband.

You want things to go on as normal, because it would be very unfair if she were to find out what has been going on for the last two years.

So a certain amount of being economical with the truth may be necessary to explain why you are not seeing her at home.

If there are family gatherings then keep away from him, and don't speak to him about anything except the most superficial of things. You can't after all ignore him as that would also arouse suspicions.

When you meet somebody new try not to compare them to him but instead concentrate on getting to know them for themselves.

It will surely be refreshing and good for you to have a relationship that is without guilt.

Naturally, it will also be without the excitement and drama that you are currently experiencing, but in the long run it will be far more healthy and enjoyable than what you are having right now.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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