Ask Amy: Advice for the Real World

DEAR AMY: I recently learned that my younger sister is dating a married man. They’ve been dating for many months.

Of course, he claims that he was never in love with his wife, etc. They have children. She portrays him as the victim, trapped in an unhappy marriage.

They seem to be dating openly. Her friends have met him and their co-workers know about the relationship.

My sister claims that he recently told his wife he wants a divorce.

I have a very hard time believing or respecting anyone that would disrespect their marriage so outwardly.

My sister has stood by me through all of my many past relationships and trials, and now she wants me to not judge her, and to respect her decision to move forward and continue in this relationship.

I am having such a hard time, knowing that there are nameless/faceless people on the other side of this equation. I’m a mother of young children and can’t help but imagine what it would be like for them if their father cheated on them.

I’ve also witnessed the divorces of friends and family and I know how messy things can get.

I just don’t think she’s thinking this through. What advice do you have for a worried sister?

— Sleepless Sister

Dear Sleepless: You will lose less sleep if you embrace the fact that your sister’s relationship really has nothing to do with you. This might be what she is trying to get at when she asks you not to judge her.

You see this relationship as flawed and unethical (I do, too). Your sister is a party to the pain caused by infidelity and the possible breakup of a marriage.

If your sister asks for your endorsement, you need only state your own truth: “I want you to be happy, but your happiness seems to be contingent on other people getting hurt. I believe that this is unethical.”

You don’t have intimate knowledge about this man’s marriage (she doesn’t, either).

Be extremely circumspect. Don’t speculate about the future (the future is her problem). If this couple ends up together, long term, you may have to face him as a family member. You don’t need to agree with or endorse this relationship, but you may have to accept it.

Contact Amy Dickinson at: askamy@amydickinson.com