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My sister is having an affair

(9 Posts)
Mustfly Tue 11-Aug-15 14:32:50

Posting here because I can't ask for advice in real life for fear of making a bad situation worse. Long story short, I recently found out my sister is having an affair behind her husband's back. Her very worried best friend told me - I know she must be concerned because they are ridiculously close and she'd usually protect her to the death. Anyway, my sister has been very unhappily married for several years and they have a five year old ds. They actually split up for three years but got back together, coincidentally at the same time as my sister would have had to go on to Jobseeker's Allowance because ds was of school age. I mention this because I know the reason for the reunion to be primarily financial on her part, although not on his...he is besotted by her and I think was happy to take her back on whatever terms. I know the relationship has continued to be very volatile, my sister frequently threatens to chuck him out again and I worry about the impact on my nephew. I also know from her own mouth she has been violent towards him. She doesn't contribute financially to the household, despite having thousands in savings and a new job...he supported her through a college course so she could work in the job she wanted to. I fear I am painting a terrible picture here...for the record we are very close, we have children of similar ages and as a family we all see each other several times a week so the last thing I want is to fall out and create tension. However, at the weekend her best friend told me she has been using her as an alibi to have an affair. The guy in question also has a girlfriend, has a history of football violence and is not allowed to see his own children (my sister has been friends with this guy for a while and has also told me this so I'm as sure as I can be on that fact). Of course, she blamed the ex wife for making up lies about him, but I am deeply cynical. I'm sorry this is so long, but basically, I don't know what to do! I am very friendly with her husband, who brings my nephew round every weekend while my dsis is elsewhere. He is a truly lovely guy but so soft - he does everything for her. For example, he does all the cooking, all the housework and allows my dsis to go out six days a week in the evening while he is home looking after my nephew. She completely takes advantage of him, I know by her own admission that she doesn't love him, but I guess he allows it, so is it even my business? My main concerns are the violent rows around my dn and the fact that she is now involved with a very unsuitable guy who I don't want around my dn. I know she went out with him and dn the other day because dn told me. She lied when I asked and said they just bumped into each other but in the context of what I know and where they were, I find that hugely unlikely. So mnnetters, what should I do? Push it all out of my head and pretend I know nothing? Distance myself from her? Tell her husband? Tell my parents? I feel sick about it all and concerned for everyone involved! This can only end terribly whatever, but my main concern is for dn and keeping him safe.

wannaBe Tue 11-Aug-15 14:40:06

well, firstly you definitely shouldn't keep it from your husband.

It sounds as if your sister lives an incredibly destructive lifestyle without the presence of the OM, and in truth no-one can save her from that or your bil from staying with her regardless of the way she treats him.

You can't do anything about the affair, but I would tell her that you know, that you're not going to cover for her, but I would say that you know who this bloke is and that he has a conviction for violence and as such she shouldn't be taking your nephew anywhere near him if she doesn't want your bil to find out and go for residency.

Your bil sounds like a mug tbh if he lets her treat him like this and does nothing about it. That doesn't excuse your sister's affair fwiw but tbh I don't think that telling him would achieve anything.

Mustfly Tue 11-Aug-15 14:53:53

You're right, he is a mug, I pity him but get so frustrated! He was crying to me the other day saying he doesn't think he can take much more, but when I told him it was a very unhealthy relatiobship and he should leave, he just said he loves her too much. But I think the priority for both of them needs to be dn's emotional stability and not their own dysfunctional relationship!
For the record I have told my dh all this...he is good friends with bil so he is even more conflicted than me. He can barely even look him in the eye at the moment.

mynewpassion Tue 11-Aug-15 14:58:07

If it was me, i would tell bil and hopefully it would end this destructive relationship once and for all.

shovetheholly Tue 11-Aug-15 15:02:51

What a horrible shock, you poor thing.

I would speak to your DSis, but be very, very careful to keep wider judgments about her behaviour and the boundaries of the marriage out of it. She sounds difficult, and I realise that it might be incredibly hard to avoid an argument, but it's really important (in terms of the conversation having any good effect) that she feels she can trust you and that you are looking out for her wellbeing. Your main 'job' isn't to express all your thoughts and feelings or to sort this out on her behalf, but to develop as much influence as you can over her so that she will listen to your advice. People don't tend to do that if they feel attacked or judged, so playing your cards very, very carefully will be necessary.

You could try to represent to her what she is risking, and what she stands to lose, but also how horrific and psychologically damaging affairs can be for all parties. I think she's likely to minimise or ignore the really worrying aspects of this fella's behaviour, but it's worth stating them and that she may lose her children if she 'ends up' with him. I would definitely tell your DH, but absolutely and under no circumstances would I tell anyone else, especially not parents. Give her a chance to mend this herself first (and this may take a bit of time, it may not be an instant choice).

It might be well worth coordinating all this with her best friend, since she is also concerned. A pincer movement on both sides might be helpful! If everyone around you is holding up big red flags, but doing so in a way that is quite caring for your wellbeing, it becomes very hard to ignore very quickly!

pocketsaviour Tue 11-Aug-15 15:06:01

I agree with WannaBe about which direction to take here. Maybe your concern for DNs safety will make your sister wake up to reality.

tribpot Tue 11-Aug-15 15:08:39

Well, she's physically, financially and emotionally abusive. MN is littered with posters who take similar partners back time and again - his story is likely very similar. He may worry about losing custody of his son, and how he would cope financially in the event of a split.

He doesn't sound like a person to have 'violent rows', so I'm assuming the violence and rowing is all on her side? Now your nephew is school age the chances of them crossing SS radar is only going to increase. Your BIL should act before he is made to act. Why are you worried more about the cheating than the violence? Presumably he 'deserves it' for not standing up for himself?

Seems quite likely your sister is going to leave her DH for this football hooligan, provided he's got a few quid. You're going to have to make some hard choices about safeguarding your nephew.

Bubblesinthesummer Tue 11-Aug-15 15:10:09

I'm not sure that people would use the word 'mug' if the genders were reversed and it was the husband that was having the affair.

I would tell your BIL if I was you. It may be the thing that makes him see what your sister is like.

Mustfly Tue 11-Aug-15 15:27:23

I don't think the affair is worse...it's all terrible. And calling him a mug is wrong too I agree...she is the one totally in the wrong here. Her behaviour is unconscionable and he is the victim of it. She has always been very, very difficult...bringing her up nearly killed my parents. I don't think she will change, she has always sought out men she can walk all over. This guy is different inasmuch as he seems as volatile as her. I fear that if I force my sister into his arms even more by telling her dh then I will be putting my dn into a situation where he is potentially forced to live with a dangerous man rather than his doting dad. In a way though the affair is just the tip of the iceberg isn't it..the lack of respect and love means her dh needs to get out whatever happens. I know she won't go unless this other guy agrees to financially support her...she has never paid any bills in her adult life and has no intention of. Btw, I feel terrible guilt over all this too, she is my sister and I feel my loyalty should be to her. Being so critical of her doesn't sit comfortably, but her behaviour is just unjustifiable. I know she loves her son, but I don't honestly feel she is capable of unselfish love and putting him first.
Thank you for all the advice, I think a non-judgemental conversation is the way forward. If that cuts no ice, I may have to threaten to tell bil. I just fear that he will forgive even an affair and I will have solved nothing!

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