DEAR NATALIE: I recently discovered that my husband has been having an affair with my sister. My sister and I have never been particularly close, but I cannot BELIEVE that she would do something like this. They are both very remorseful and claiming that it was a big mistake, but I am disgusted and heartbroken. My husband wants to go to counseling and try to work it out. He claimed that he was tired of being “alone” all the time since I work a very demanding job. My sister is just attention-starved and I have no idea what would possess her to hurt me and my family like this. We have two children together and now I’m not sure if I want her in their lives, either. Everything has been a mess for weeks now. I have no idea what to do. Any suggestions? -- DUMPED FOR SISTER
DEAR DUMPED FOR SISTER: I don’t know how you could ever take back your husband after this incredibly disrespectful and hurtful thing that he did. Not only did he decide to cheat on you, which is bad enough, but he had to cheat on you with his sister? That’s sinister behavior. I wouldn’t want any part of him in my life. Unfortunately, because you have children, you will have to figure out some way to work through this, and I don’t think counseling is a bad idea in this case. I would just make it more about how to move forward as cordial co-parents and not about your relationship. He spit on that and I don’t know how I could ever look at him the same way. If you are able to divorce him, do so. Affairs are hard enough to move beyond, but adding a betrayal like this to the mix takes it to the next level. As far as your sister is concerned, I am not sure how you move forward with her. I think you deserve some time and space from her. She really did something so despicable, it may take years of family therapy to get through it. Give yourself six months without communication and see how you feel. Maybe cutting her out forever isn’t the best plan for you or your family, but I think you deserve some respite from both of them. Whatever your issues were in your marriage didn’t warrant your husband doing this to you. I find it laughable that they are both remorseful at this point in the game, but maybe a cold dose of reality just hit them. They realized that they both blew up their lives and their relationship with you. Whatever the reasoning they had for their poor choices, they need to take ownership and realize that you don’t get a redo. What’s done is done. Since they loved their bed so much, they can go lie in it.
Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Don’t be closed off to connecting with people that you may thought you wouldn’t have much in common with. We are so often in our own little bubbles or “echo chambers” that we forget that there is a big world out there full of interesting people and ideas. If we keep an open mind, we may just discover that we have more in common than we think!
Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Follow her on Twitter at @NBSeen and on Instagram @NatalieBenci
DEAR NATALIE: Just met a great girl and we exchanged numbers. I really want to call her and ask her out, but I am worried about the "three day rule". I don't want to come off as a stalker. What should I do? -- NOW OR LATER
DEAR NOW OR LATER: I think the “three day rule” is antiquated at best. If you liked this person and felt a connection, there is no reason not to reach out. Shoot her a text and say that you were glad to connect and that you will call her tomorrow if that is okay with her. Let her then respond back and be a part of the decision for when to talk again. This will reduce your worries of appearing overly eager, and it also gives you insight into how interested she is, as well, or if she’s into playing games. If she responds in a reasonable amount of time and says she would love to chat and make plans, it sounds like a date is on the horizon. But, if it takes her a few days to respond to the text and seems ambivalent to getting to know you better, just let go and see what happens. Sometimes, I find that that the more ways we have to communicate with one another, the worse we are at actually connecting. So, take it all in stride and put it out there. If it’s meant to be, she’ll respond!
(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)