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I can't stay away from my husband's brother

Gloria Ogunbadejo
~Punch Nigeria. Sunday, July 31, 2016.

Gloria Ogunbadejo
I have always wondered what it is in human nature that makes certain attractions almost impossible to resist for some people. Maybe it's the forbidden fruit aspect or the potential risk that makes it so appealing. One thing is for sure, men and women have been engaged in immoral, liaisons with their in-laws, with spouses of their friends, and other complicated relationships from time immemorial. Whatever the gratification derived from it, almost always goes awry, in the long run and there are always casualties. There are many stories of these clandestine forays ending in fatalities.

Over the years of practicing as a therapist/counsellor, one of the most consistent themes with my clients is related to infidelities with both sexes. Similarly, of all the letters I receive from readers, infidelity rates quite high. What is even more interesting with the letters is the particular type of infidelity that is reported, and informs the topic today. I receive a wide range of variable permutations of unholy alliances with married couples. The majority and the most complex are involved with familial relationships, and bosses at work having affairs with the spouses of their colleagues or friends' wives. It's a total mystery to me. I received a remarkable letter from a reader which I will share with you today. Please, read it below:

Dear Gloria,
I am writing you a letter that I implore you to keep confidential because the information can ruin many lives. I give you the permission to share it with your readers but please take note of the thing I need you to keep private. I feel assured and confident that you will honour my request because I have been following your column for a few years and I know you treat people with respect.

I am in my forties. I have been married for over 15 years and have two children. I hold a very high position in society and so does my husband. Before I met my husband, K, I first met my brother in-law J when I went on a trip abroad with some friends. We had a brief but very passionate relationship which lasted a few months and that was the end of it. I was quite young and I already had a boyfriend I was planning to marry, but after four years with my boyfriend A, I decided to end it after I had the encounter with J.
I just thought that what I had felt with J was so powerful that I could not marry someone else if I did not feel the same thing with him. My family were very angry with me but I knew if I married my boyfriend, I would be unfaithful to him.

A few years went by and I was building my career and becoming successful. Then I met my husband. Apart from the fact that my husband's last name was similar to J's, when I met my husband I did not know they were brothers. It crossed my mind for a minute but I thought it was just coincidental that their last names were the same. My husband and I got married abroad and that was when I met his brother and realised that it was J. I was so shocked because my husband never said much about his brother and he called him by a different name to the one I knew.

It was a bit uncomfortable and I was not sure if I should tell my husband about my past relationship with his brother. I decided it would be too dangerous not to tell him as it may come out somehow. I decided to tell my husband that his brother and I had just flirted briefly years before I had met him. My husband was a little taken aback but he accepted it was in the past and I had no way of knowing they were brothers.

My brother in-law, J travelled immediately after the wedding but during the wedding, what shocked me was that I noticed that I still had some very strong feelings for him. I just brushed it aside. A few years later, my brother in-law returned to live in Nigeria and he stayed with us to help him settle.
Almost immediately, we started an affair. It went on for a year, and then J moved out and got married so it stopped for a little while, but it started again and even though both of us feel it is wrong and we do not want to hurt our spouses, we do not seem to be able to stop.

Gloria, this has been going on now for over six years and I do not see it ever ending. I do not know how we have not been caught. I just do not know what to do anymore. Our spouses are happy and our children are doing fine so a part of me feels we can continue as we are because I cannot see my life without him.

When I first wrote to you about this, you said the fact that I wrote to you about the affair was possibly an indication that somewhere in my subconscious mind, I wanted to stop and that was why I was exposing the information about the relationship. You said it was possible I was looking for a way out, but just felt I could not do it alone. I dismissed what you said at the time. But here I am writing to you again with all the details.

I told J that we should stop the affair now and he said it was too late for that. He said we were part of each other's lives and that it was like we were married. I understand what J means and I feel a bit like that. J is a significant part of my life now and he fulfils a significant role in my life. What can I do?


What life has taught me
  • The right decision at the wrong time is still the wrong decision.
  • The loudest boos come from the closest seats so surround yourself with people who will be honest with you, but who will cheer the loudest for you.
  • Sometimes, you will receive everything you have asked for and want from God only because God wants you to see and appreciate once you get it that it's not all you need. In fact, it could be a painful realisation. So be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.
  • Worrying does not take away tomorrows troubles, it takes away today's peace.
Online affairs 'are infidelity'
Having an affair over the Internet is perceived as actual cheating by most people, a survey suggests.

The affairs, even if not physical, are damaging to relationships, the British Psychological Society's annual conference was told.
More than half of 245 students who took part in a survey carried out by Belfast's Queens University said anyone flirting online was being unfaithful.
Experts said they were often a symptom of a relationship in trouble.
Dr. Monica Whitty, of Queen's University asked students to complete stories in which one partner in a couple had developed a relationship over the internet.
The stories were then studied to see if the online affair was interpreted as infidelity.

In 51 per cent of cases it was, while 84 per cent of the students thought the other partner would feel betrayed.
Women were more likely than men to see the internet affair as damaging to the real life relationship.

However, some people argued that the interaction was just a friendship or could not be infidelity because no sex was taking place.
Dr. Whitty said: "The results of this study show that couples need to be clear what the rules are when it comes to online cheating.
"Emotional involvement, even without physical consummation, can be just as damaging to a relationship.

"It might be easier for people to justify an online affair to themselves, but the consequences, like loss of trust or hurt, can be just as damaging as an offline affair."
Christine Northam, a senior counsellor at relationship guidance experts Relate, agreed there was a danger in internet relationships.
She said they were often a reaction to dissatisfaction in a relationship with one member of the couple thinking they could solve it by having a "fantasy" connection online.

She said: "Up to a point it is okay, but past the boundary is where it is not.
"Where the boundary is depends on the individual relationship."
Rather than resort to internet affairs, people should face up to problems in their relationships by talking to their partner.

If they felt unable to do that alone, they should go to a counsellor, she said.
She added, "Just to bury your head in the sand is not going to solve anything.
"The best thing to do is take your courage in your hands, sit down and have a chat about what you are feeling and what bugs you."

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