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15 Feb 2003

After the affair:Rebuilding relationship with extended family
18 months ago my husband and sister ended their affair. Only in the last 2-3 months have I begun to feel like a human being again. My husband & I have been married now for 22 yrs. We are trying to rebuild our relationship again, sex is still a very sad issue (couldn't be bothered!) He is very patient and is allowing me the time I need. The marriage was a good one until this happened (Or so I thought) The issue I now need to start facing is the relationship with my sister. Of course this has broken up the extended family (I am eldest of 5 children) I do not want to spend any time with my family, especially in a group. To finally heal and get closure I know I have to deal with her. I know that this is an impossible question! How the hell do I do this? When the hell is the right time? We live in the same town, our children go to the same school, we shop at the same shops. We used to be best friends! I know my mother is hurting very badly over this whole story. I don't accept any guilt for myself. They were adults and made adult decisions. They new that this was going to create a huge rift for everyone. But it seems all are waiting for me to heal the wounds. Possibly they are right?
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Expert
CyberShrink
cybershrink

01 Jan 0001

Dear Curly,
Firstly, congratulations on your sense in not blaming yourself and not accepting guilt. You are absolutely right -- they are adults, who made a free decision which they must have known would be deeply hurtful to others.
Healing the situation may indeed need a contrbution from you, but it is hardly fair for everyone else to wait around for you to take all the initiative and do all the healing.
It sounds as if you feel uneasy about meeting the rest of your family, because it'd feel artificial to not talk about this affair, which presumably they all know about, and neither you nor they know what to say about it. It's like what an old friend of mine used to call "The Horse on the Dining-Room Table Syndrome" --- it's like visiting someone, finding a large horse lying across the table, and trying to talk about something else, while pretending that nobody can see the horse.
Have you tried discussing this with your husband ? Surely he could and should play a major role in helping people to get through this barrier ? And how about some marriage counselling for the two of you, to help heal the rift between you two, --- a healing which will also help to deal with the larger set of rifts ?
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