More threads by Jacob


I have always been close to my brother and his wife. Their marriage was not perfect, but it was strong enough to last 25 years.

In the past year my brother had an affair and got his "girlfriend" pregnant. He was pursued, but he still allowed himself to be caught. He is now separated from his wife, and is pursuing a relationship with this new woman. Things are messy, messy, messy.

I have been civil but not overly warm towards his new lady friend. My brother wants the same level of closeness that I had with his wife, but I'm not comfortable with that yet. My wife also has some anger towards this woman, whom she considers a home-wrecker.

Avoiding them forever isn't realistic, so my wife and I have to try to develop some sort of a relationship with them. Their baby will be born soon, and I don't want the baby to be isolated from his extended family.

We've met together once in a neutral location, but that's all so far. My brother would like to meet more often, but my wife feels like she's done her duty for now. Things are just very, very awkward.

If not for the upcoming birth I'd take a lot longer to figure this out. As it is I do feel pressure to move forward quicker than I'd like. Has anyone else experienced anything like this? Any advice would be appreciated.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
I think this is one of those situations where everyone should be allowed to proceed at his or her own pace.

If you feel you can handle more contact with your brother and his girlfriend, then go ahead. If your wife feels differently, I think both you and your brother have to respect that.

I will add one more thing though: No one knows what a relationship is truly like except the two people living it. In my experience, people do not go outside of relationships unless there is something missing or wrong in their existing ones. No matter how the relationship between your brother and his ex-wife may have appeared to you, evidently there was something missing for him and only he can know that. That may help you to accept what your brother has done and to accept his new girlfriend too in due course.

It seems to me that part of your reaction is one of divided loyalties - your brother versus his ex-wife. People often feel as if they need to "back" one person or another in a situation like this. In truth, that's both unnecessary and unrealistic. Whatever happened in that marriage, and remember you probably can't ever really know what that was, it is not your brother's "fault", or his ex-wife's "fault", or his girlfriend's "fault" -- in fact, "fault" is really irrelevant in these situations, except perhaps for one of the three people directly involved who may need to salvage some self-esteem or alleviate guilt feelings.


Thanks for the quick reply.

I know there were deeper issues in my brother's marriage. His affair was not a great surprise to anyone. Where things got messy was after the affair was discovered his wife made great efforts to repair the marriage, to the point where I doubt she has much self-respect left. My brother allowed this to continue long after he should have stopped it. He may not have intended to be cruel, but he was cruel - and his girlfriend contributed to it.

So it's not the failure of the marriage that's the hard part, it's accepting this new relationship. Both my wife and I need some time, but the baby is creating pressure to move quickly. I guess I'll just fake it for now and maybe my feelings will change in time.

Daniel E.
Both my wife and I need some time, but the baby is creating pressure to move quickly.

My understanding is that most uncles and aunts usually don't play a major role in the lives of their nieces and nephews, anyway. So there's certainly no societal pressure to do anything.


True, but I've always been the fun uncle. The one that takes kids to movies, camping etc... I don't want to shut out this baby just because of the circumstances of his birth. He'll have enough obstacles to face without that.

I guess the pressure I feel is self-imposed, but the alternative to not accepting my brother's relationship is to exclude this baby from a lot of family activities, and I don't want to do that.
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