Dear Barb—Home for the Holidays

Dear Barb:

My mom is having Christmas dinner this year and all my siblings are coming home with their partners—a good thing, for the most part.  My oldest brother and his wife are even coming home from Europe; no one in the family has seen them for two years.  The problem is, just before they left, I believe my sister-in-law had an affair with my youngest brother.  I’m the only one in the family that is aware of this.  I discovered them out together while my oldest brother was out of town.  It was pretty obvious to me by the way they were acting, that they were intimately involved, although I did not mention it to either of them.  Shortly after this my brother and his wife left for Europe, and I chose to put the whole thing out of my mind.  I am close to my oldest brother and don’t like that he is being played like this.  Since this event my relationship with my youngest brother has been strained.  Now that my brother and his wife are coming home, I’m not sure if I should continue to keep this secret.  Looking for some advice.  Thanks, confused in Nova Scotia.

Dear Confused:

You are in the middle of a pretty sad situation.  When people cross a boundary such as this you never know what else they will do.  It is possible your sister-in-law has disclosed this to your brother during the two years they were away.  My suggestion would be to talk to your sister-in-law before you do anything.  If she has discussed this with your brother, then there is nothing more for you to do.  If she hasn’t, you might want to encourage her to come clean with her husband.  If she refuses then, I think you owe it to your brother to tell him the truth.  Undoubtedly, he will be upset and angry with you.  You know the old saying “don’t shoot the messenger.” Give him some time to digest this news.  Hopefully they will be able to work through this situation.  Once you tell your brother, it is up to him and his wife and your other brother to come to a resolution.  Best of luck.

Dear Readers:

We have come to the end of another year and I would like to thank all the people who have sent in questions and also those who read Dear Barb and have commented.  I enjoy reading your comments.  We can all learn from each other, as another person may see a situation from a different perspective.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and thank you so much for sharing your dilemmas with me.  Barb

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.