I didn’t tell my sister because she would’ve been devastated. My BIL is 49 years of age and he, and my sister have been married for twenty-five years and have two children. They currently seem happy. Six years later I still feel anger towards my brother-in-law. We’re civil when we’re together, but I have a lot of repressed anger. Should I have told my sister? Should I tell my sister now? How do I know he hasn’t been with other women? Can I trust him? Or should I forgive him and move on? It’s not the first time he has raised my eyebrows. At his 30th birthday, I was introduced to an attractive woman who was interested in me. Because he also thought she was attractive, he jokingly said, “Can I leave your sister?” Please offer any advice you have. — Repressed in Anger
Your sister has been, from what you can tell, happily married for twenty-five years, and you are seriously considering potentially ruining her marriage, her relationship with you, and your relationship with her kids, because you think you remember seeing her husband walk a drunk woman to a taxi one night six years ago and because of an inappropriate joke your BIL told over nineteen years ago? Really?! Unless you have other evidence than what you mentioned, I cannot begin to understand why you are plagued with worry about your sister’s well-being, or why you think it’s your job to know whether your BIL has been with other women, whether you can trust him, and whether you should forgive him. Forgive him for what? You literally have nothing on him!
Do you have a relationship of your own? Are you married? Do you have a girlfriend? Do you have a social life? I ask because rather than sound like someone who is concerned for his sister — you gave literally ZERO reasons for questioning her happiness and in fact you said she seems perfectly happy — you sound like someone who doesn’t have a life of his own and is trying to butt into other people’s lives. Please, mind your own business! Even IF — and it’s a big, Trump-level conspiracy-theory unsubstantiated IF — your BIL has slept with other women, your sister may very well be aware. For all you know, they’ve had an open relationship in the past, or have an open relationship now, or maybe he flat-out cheated and she found out and they worked through it and have moved on, in which case your bringing up your suspicions years and years after they first were raised would only serve to open a can of worms that has been shut and put away. Even if your BIL cheated and your sister never found out about it, the fact that they seem happy and you have no other reason to suspect he has ever cheated again means that your speaking up about something you think you saw years ago would do nothing but make you look bad and would beg some uncomfortable questions: WHY are you bringing this up now? Why didn’t you say something before? What is your end-goal here? Are you trying to break up their marriage and their family? Get back at your BIL for stepping on your chance with an attractive woman at a birthday party nineteen years ago? Open your sister’s eyes to behavior she may be ignoring or has never been aware of?
It would be one thing if you had reason to believe your sister was unhappy or that their marriage was unstable or that there was any indication your teeny shred of evidence of questionable behavior might shine a light on a broader issue and provide one more clue in a case that’s been open and wreaking havoc for a while. But you have no such indication at all. Your sharing this story about what you think you saw six years ago would likely do nothing but make YOU look a little unhinged, which, frankly, you might be. And I say this with as much kindness as I can: Maybe you are the one who needs some help and saving. With all this “repressed anger,” you sound like you would benefit from speaking to someone who can help you figure out its origin and how best to deal with it, move on, and create a life that brings you comfort and a feeling of wholeness, so that you are no longer tempted to damage the life of someone you say seems happy and whom you love, for no apparent reason at all.
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