Dear Dr. Buckingham,
My marriage has been torn apart because of the actions of two people that I love to the moon and back. My husband of 6 years slept with my younger sister. My younger sister came to stay with us after she graduated college. We allowed her to stay with us until she got on her feet.
My husband is 42 years old and my sister is 22 years old. You might be wondering why I mentioned their ages. Well I believe that my husband seduced my younger sister. He purchased her clothes and gave her money. Initially, I did not think anything about their relationship until he allowed her to drive his Aston Martin Vanquish. The car cost over $200K.
I started to question their relationship when this started because he has never allowed me to drive the car. I went to work one day and decided to come home early. As I walked through the door I saw the two of them on the couch kissing. I quickly closed the door and jumped back in my car. I went to a friend’s house and stayed there for the night. My husband called and begged me to come home. My husband provides me with a first class lifestyle, but treats me a like a second-class citizen. I know that I have to face this, but I feel so disrespected by both of them and my heart is crushed. I know that my marriage is over, but I cannot divorce my sister. Should I Disown My Sister for Cheating with My Husband?
Second Class Wife
Dear Second Class Wife,
I am truly sorry that you are dealing with such pain and betrayal caused by your loved ones. However, in matters such as these, I often encourage individuals to not make long-term decisions while in emotional distress. Disowning your sister by terminating all connection with her is a serious decision and can be emotionally taxing. While the thought of disowning her might be the best way to move forward from the painful experience, you must make sure that you are doing so for the right reason.
Will disowning her help you cope or just punish her? Some people might think that the answer to this question does not matter, but it does. If you would like to disown her because you do not want to be reminded of the trauma, then I believe that you have to process what disowning your sister means and what it would look like. As long as you harbor bitter and angry feelings towards her, it does not matter if you cut ties physically or financially because she will always be present in your psyche.
In my opinion, disowning a family member, especially a sibling, is not simple matter. I say this because family dynamics also have to be considered. Parents and family members might feel torn or divided if they take sides. Will your family treat your sister like the “black sheep” of the family? This might not matter to you now, but how your sister copes with being disowned can become a source of on-going anguish for you and others.
When others betray us, we want to see them suffer and may even have thoughts of punishing them. While these feelings are normal, I recommend that you take some time to think about your next steps. Your sister’s betrayal probably has more to do with her than it does you. Believe it or not some people are so self-centered that they have difficulty thinking outside of themselves. Your husband and sister may or may not have been thinking about you before or during their romantic encounters. Either way, you can be grateful that their deceit came to light. It might not feel good to you now, but the revealed deception is good for you.
Whatever decision you make, do so in the right state of mind. If disowning your sister will help you heal and protect you from future harm, then do so. However, I would encourage you to have a conversation with your sister at some point. The purpose of the conversation would be to help you understand, not to agree with or accept her thinking or behavior. Sometimes when people do not understand or know why something happened, it eats them alive. The conversation is important from a therapeutic viewpoint because it can potentially help you with closure and forgiveness down the road. If you cannot bring yourself to have the conversation, consider seeking family therapy for you and your sister.
As a reminder: disowning someone does not always fix or address betrayal effectively. Healing from this situation and gaining insight about how to manage your sister will probably require a lot of prayer and professional counseling. Please get some help because sibling betrayal can feel like the world is ending, especially to individuals like myself who breathe and believe that blood is thicker than water. This kind of thinking causes us to believe that relationships and loyalties within a family are the strongest and most important ones.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.