Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Sister is getting divorced, wants me tone happy for her that she has found love with affair

(128 Posts)
Londonmamabychance Wed 09-Nov-16 17:20:27

My sister is wanting to divorce her husband. They've been together for 15 years, married for 11. Three kids of 9, 7 and 2.

She has been having an affair for the last eight months and has now told her husband about it and said she wants a divorce. The kids don't know yet. She and her husband are currently taking it in turns to be at the house, and while she's not there she's with the new guy. This situation has been going on for about a month now. Her husband does not want a divorce and keeps begging her to stay and hoping she will. But I know she won't as she tells me (also told him but he appears not to pay it any mind) that she hadn't loved him for years and only stayed for the sake of the kids.

She just sent me a photo of her with the new guy and captioned it 'happy deep down inside. Tomorrow I'll be home again and will find solutions to
Everything.' She clearly wants me to express happiness on her behalf or some sort of approval, but I'm finding it so hard.

I understand and respects that she does not love her husband anymore and have suspected that for some time anyway. He can be quite difficult and from the beginning of their relationship I thought he was quite dominating and a bit controlling towards her, but is by no means a bad person. No abuse or anything like that involved, just too much arguing and general dissatisfaction.

She seemed very broken and sad by it all last time we spoke and I was very sympathetic to her. She did mention the other guy but not as the main reason for her wanting to leave. But the way she presents things now and from what I hear from my parents it sounds like he is the main reason. She wants to divorce her husband and move straight in with this guy who she is head over heels in love with.

First of all I very worried for her future. She got with her husband when she was only 17, and they had kids quite early. I always thought she would be likely to have some midlife crisis due to so much commitment and children so early, especially as she also had a vey serious and demanding career and never really let loose. Now I worry that she's thrown herself in the arms of the first available guy - met him at work - and that after some years or even sooner she'll realise that he was just a rebound and that she lost her family for a fling, or missed the opportunity to find her own feet. I wish for her that if she was to have a divorce that she's spend some time on her own and find her own feet first before settling down with someone new. But I guess this is easier said than done.

Secondly, I feel so deeply sad and sorry for her husband and children who are about to loose their mother and wife. I know it sounds dramatic as of course they'll share custody and the children won't as such loose their mother, but she is breaking up the family.

I am not saying she does not have the right to make her own decisions and the right to be happy, I just wish that it would not have to involve another guy immediately, as an immediate transition, as it just seems so mean to her husband and will be too much for her children to handle.

Thirdly, I have to admit that I, on a completely personal level, feel that it's a tall order for her to expect her family (my parents and I) to be happy for her that she's in love and has met someone else when we see the devastating effect it's having on her children - the two oldest are beginning to suspect and are getting very nervous and unsettled - and her husband, who after 15 years is also a family member to us, and someone we care deeply about, despite the fact that his relationship with us hasn't always been plain sailing, we've reached a good and very warm relationship over the years.

I simply don't know how to respond to her happy picture and message.

Am I being selfish by not being able to be happy for her? Am I being judgemental? How to handle this? Any advice much appreciated.

Dozer Wed 09-Nov-16 17:26:13

Her behaviour certainly invites judgment! She doesn't seem to be considering her DC much.

In your shoes I'd express strong disapproval, but try to maintain a relationship with my relative and, if possible, help the DC.

Dozer Wed 09-Nov-16 17:27:04

Oh, I would be taking a big step back from exBIL though, especially as he doesn't sound very nice!

Lunar1 Wed 09-Nov-16 17:29:21

I'd ignore the message I think. How does she think she won't lose her children though. It's not like she can just move them in with her OM.

AddToBasket Wed 09-Nov-16 17:32:40

Just keep being kind and calm to everyone. Try not to judge if you can because it has no helpful purpose.

Don't create drama - that will push her and new fella together - just be steady for DC and BiL.

The situation may feel like it will last forever but it won't. Whatever happens, bite your tongue/fudge conversations in the heat of the moment if it means a better warmer long term outlook for all your relationships with them

jeaux90 Wed 09-Nov-16 17:33:54

What addtobasket says. She will have enough people judging her and needs your support

MorrisZapp Wed 09-Nov-16 17:35:34

Absolutely what addtobasket said. There are so many very ordinary parents splitting residence with kids, it's totally normal.

With greatest respect, you can't know the level of control her dh exerts or what their marriage is like. This is between them.

Drbint Wed 09-Nov-16 17:56:33

Ignore the message. It's clear you care very deeply about your sister and want her to be happy, but whatever her marriage, she is fucking another man and about to drop a bombshell onto her children. It's not the time for pukey little messages trying to get you to gush 'so happy for you hon' like nothing's happened. You can support her and the children without going along with that.

Trying to imagine what my sister would say if I sent her something like that while having an affair. Fuck me.

QueenOfTheNaps Wed 09-Nov-16 18:00:07

He can be quite difficult and from the beginning of their relationship I thought he was quite dominating and a bit controlling....*too much arguing and general dissatisfaction.

She seemed very broken and sad by it all last time we spoke*

OP it sounds as if she was stuck in an awful relationship from the age of 17 and has finally found a bit of happiness. This new guy might not be her future but he's helping her to see that what she had isn't all that life has to offer.
Yes, I think it's bad form that she's had the affair I would never condone that but I feel that you are sticking up for her husband a bit too much.. this would upset me as a sister if you knew how unhappy I had been. Plus you were only privy to what they told you/let you see so who really knows how miserable she has been behind closed doors.
It might help to look at it not that she's not throwing away her family for a fling... but more that she's leaving a bad relationship, as she should!

Bluntness100 Wed 09-Nov-16 18:02:09

Yes, you are. She is a grown woman, she was in a bad marriage and I'm sure she is capable of thinking through the implications on her kids and how to manage it.

Would you prefer she stayed In a bad marriage? Maybe that she was a single mum on her own with the kids?

So yes. You don't need to be happy, but if uou loved her you would be supportive and non judgemental.

Are uou jealous by any chance?

Offred Wed 09-Nov-16 18:05:45

The only two things that would remotely think I should interfere in this situation are; 1. That she wasn't thinking about her children's welfare if she was planning on moving the DC in with him right away and 2. That she wasn't thinking about her own welfare in moving in with him right away.

What is the affair guy like? Such a whirlwind relationship that started as an affair with an unhappy and overburdened woman with a not very nice husband is a red flag for someone predatory...

Damelo Wed 09-Nov-16 18:08:28

Well even if it does not work out with the new man, at the very least he is the stepping stone to get away from a domineering and controlling man.

She's been with him since she was 17, for 15 years? so she's still young.

I was in an abusive relationship. It's NEVER easy to get away. These domineering males don't acknowledge your right to leave them so perhaps, having another man ''claim her'' will be something he will accept quicker than that she disliked him so much she chose being single over him.

Offred Wed 09-Nov-16 18:25:41

Here's what I would advise her if I was her sister;

'I have been worried about how unhappy you have been for years. I know your life with H has not been easy, even though I don't know the ins and outs of what has gone on, and I am very pleased and will support you taking steps to make life for yourself better than it has been up until now.

The only thing I'm worried about is that you could be going from the frying pan and into the fire with this new guy if you move in together so quickly. Wouldn't it be so much better for you and the DC to take it a bit slower and see how your relationship unfolds now you are public before you take the step of living together?

I'm never going to be superior and judgemental about you or your choices, you are my sister and I love you very much. It is nothing to do with this guy, he may end up making you happier than you ever have been and that really is my wish for you. It's really just that I think you could do with a bit of time to focus on you and the DC and to see how this relationship functions through the inevitable difficulty of the affair coming out and you divorcing.'

Offred Wed 09-Nov-16 18:34:37

Well if it was actually my sister and I it would be a response to the pic via text that read "Cool, but how do you know he isn't a knob like the last one?" grin

QueenOfTheNaps Wed 09-Nov-16 18:37:14

Ooooh offred perfect

Offred Wed 09-Nov-16 18:40:33

The first one or the second one?

Offred Wed 09-Nov-16 18:40:38

Ha ha!

Toffeelatteplease Wed 09-Nov-16 18:43:19

Actually I think you can be pleased for someone you care about being happy when they haven't been happy for a long time, even if you don't approve of the way they have got there.

Myself I think I would write I'm glad you are happy, let me know if there is anything I can do to help make sure the rest of it comes together (if I really want to make a point i'd add "in the best possible way given the circumstances")

My2centsworth Wed 09-Nov-16 18:47:20

You know this is happening in reverse in my family where my DB has 'found love' and left his wife and children for his affair. I am comfortable with judging him. He is being an asshole. Not everyone leaving a relationship is a victim (DB sure as feck is not), he and DSIL were always destined for a relationship breakup because they were too alike but there are proper ways and means none of which he felt should apply to him. I reserve my kind words and sympathy for DSIL and their children.

Sunnydawn Wed 09-Nov-16 18:47:33

Having been in a very similar position with my own sister, I agree it's actually very very hard.

I was quite furious with her, in my head, as she did break up her family, did not think if the children at all, and all in a very dramatic fashion. She also rushed into the marriage, but her husband was quite decent considering.

She also tried the soppy messages about how much in love she was etc, but she knew that I wasn't wanting to hear it. I thought she was completely out of order, and she knew it.

We have managed to keep a relationship, but she doesn't try and tell me about her dramas now, as I have time for them. She split up with the love of her life, then found another one, and eventually finished with him too. I just can't keep up.

I have a great relationship with her children, and still get on fine with her ex.

So no advice, but wish I could just answer like Offred

QueenLizIII Wed 09-Nov-16 18:49:24

It doesnt mean it wont work out.

A very long time ago, a male work colleague went through this. He had two DC of 6 and 8 and his wife had been cheating for a long time. he tried to work it out, he did what he could but she left him and took the DC with her. It wasnt straight in with the OM though.

my old colleague was distraught and thought his wife would realise and come home.

5 weeks after moving out of the marital home she was pregnant to the OM. They all moved in together, divorced. My old colleague married again to a woman with 3 DC from a previous relationship. Family home sold etc.

my colleagues DC hated the mums new DH and their dads new partner and didnt get along with the dads partners DC. I worked with him for years and when the 8 year old hit about 12-13 they refused to see dad and go to weekedn contact with him or on holiday or anything, they said mums baby is my half brother, those kids are nothing to me and I hate them.

It all fell apart and although mum caused it with her affair, they favoured being with her and OM ultimately.

Dont reply or make any judgments, you dont know how this will play out. If it all gets ugly the DC will need their auntie too and so try to stay neutral.

HandyWoman Wed 09-Nov-16 18:53:41

I think you should understand she probably feels ecstatic and relieved to have got away from a difficult, controlling man. Although she isn't thinking too clearly regarding next steps and should be living elsewhere and focusing on the dc. However, she's an adult and while she's loved up she will pay bugger all attention to your more sober point of view. Her family was already broken if that's how she felt. Hopefully these are the first steps to a better future long term. She is going about this clumsily but all you can do is support. If you are finding it really tough then maybe just reply something ambiguous like 'nice pic good to see you looking brighter' or something bland.

HolyshitIfuckedupbigtime Wed 09-Nov-16 18:57:57

I think it's so old fashioned to blame the woman for 'breaking up the happy home'.

Truth is know one knows what's going on in a relationship apart from the person in it, but yes hope she is not going from frying pan to fire. I would make some comment as such and then stay out of it.

Londonmamabychance Wed 09-Nov-16 18:58:17

I think I inadvertently made ex brother in law sound worse than he is. His main issue is insecurity due to a difficult upbringing which I guess has made him lean on her too much and feel a certain need for control. But she has always stood up for him and projected an image of happiness to all of us so it's also a bit of a shock that she suddenly says she's been unhappy for so long. I say I had my suspicions which I did, but right now I'm
So confused as. To how much is her hair being in love with this new guy and so looking for reasons to leave and how much is really him having been so bad. She says eg he never took enough responsibility with their kids but from having been around them quite a lot that accusations seems complerely unfair. I guess it is confusing because she never wanted to be open about we relationship and I always tried to entry make her open up but to no avail, which I suppose I did see as a red flag. However, I also know ex brother in law very well and he has always been kind and nice to me as a sister in law, and generally loyal and supportive to my sister, but like people say who knows what goes on behind closed doors and it's not my place to judge that. If she says she was unhappy suppose I have to take that at face value.

offred I worried this is not the right thing for her. I have no clue how the new guy is, so maybe on being too concerned. It just seems as if she's running straight from someone controlling to someone else taking over her life rather than finding her own feet. I'm not entirely sure how she plans to introduce DC'a to the new guy but fear she wants to do it quickly which I fear would greatly upset them. Your suggestion for what to say sound v good.

addtonasketand queen think you are right that it is not to add to drama and just be kind and gentle. The last thing I want is to push her away as she feels judged by everyone already.ast time we spoke she said 'everyone will hate me' and I said of course we won't hate you sweetie. It's clear she wants to share her happiness with new guy someone and feel I'm one of he few people that won't judge her so I just feel awful for now actually being a bit upset with her and silently judging her a bit. Feel I should just hide it. It's just I can't stop thinking about how upset her children will be and the image of my ex brother in law crying inconsolably on my mums shoulder. In That context the image of them pairing happily in the snow just seems so crass. Guys it's so hard because she deserves her happiness but to a certain extent it will be at the expense of her children at least in the short run.

bluntness I haven't been anything but supportive to her, she has no idea I am feeling this way have only shared it here. But you're right I may not have to feel outright happy, just, perhaps, compassionate and supportive. Why on earth would I be jealous btw, she's in a horrific situation

Bluntness100 Wed 09-Nov-16 19:08:42

She doesn't need to justify her decision to uou, so yes, you need to take her at face value, no "suppose " about it, she absolutely doesn't owe you an explanation.

And perfectly lovely men to your face can be the worst behind closed doors and no not everyone shares and no uou don't know what goes on behind closed doors or how it feels in that situation,

So yes, being supportive is the way forward, because honestly you act like your questioning how honest she is being, as if she's lying in some way about her husband to justify her position to uou.

Personally I'd prefer he was EA, rather than face the prospect that i have a sister who felt the need to lie to me about her motives, because what that would say about me would be something deeply unpalatable.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now