DEAR NATALIE: I recently got married and was at my sister-in-law’s birthday dinner at her home last weekend when things got out of hand. We were all pretty drunk. My wife fell asleep in the guest bedroom and my sister-in-law and I ended up messing around. I know this is absolutely horrible. I am hating myself for what happened. My sister-in-law is totally disgusted by what we did, and we have both vowed to keep this secret between us. But, now, things are really uncomfortable. What do I do? Should I tell my wife? We seriously just got married and it will destroy her. I feel awful. I love her. I have no interest in her sister. I don’t know what I was thinking. — BAD DECISION
DEAR BAD DECISION: To cheat on your new wife is bad enough. But to do it with her sister? This is just another level. I don’t see how both of you can keep this secret forever. Things are already uncomfortable and awkward. Eventually, one of you may crack and that could make this way worse if you go further and further down the road with this lie hanging over your heads. Some people may say to carry this to the grave. But that depends on if you can do that. I wouldn’t take that chance. If she finds out another way other than from the two of you, she may truly be devastated and unable to salvage a relationship with either of you. My other concern is this: What if you both get drunk again and this becomes a little thing to do on the side from time to time? You are playing a very dangerous game. Having a secret is a bond of intimacy. The more time that bond has to solidify — well — it could cause other issues down the road. If she did this with your sibling or relative, would you want to know? Would you want all the information on the table? It isn’t fair to do this to her and then hold this secret. What if it comes out ten years and two kids later? Then what? You could destroy more than just your marriage at that point. Be prepared to have everything fall apart. Be prepared to go to couples’ counseling. Be prepared to be ostracized at family events. Be prepared for anything. Unless you know in your gut that both of you will never tell a living person and will never speak of it again, I don’t see how you can keep this from her. Go talk to a therapist first and find a way to share this with her. You owe her the truth. And she owes you nothing.
DEAR NATALIE: My brother and his wife refuse to get the Covid-19 vaccination and it is really driving a wedge between our family. We have a really tight group and it hasn’t been easy with not being able to be around each other all year. But, my brother and his wife are very bohemian and they think that the vaccine has “bad stuff” in it. They have two small daughters and I want our kids to be able to get together like we used to. My mom is refusing to see either of them until they are vaccinated and that has become a huge issue, as well. I find it really irresponsible that for her sake that they refuse. I love my brother and his wife and I really do miss being together. I know they are both a bit out there, but they are funny, sweet and loving people. How do I convince them that the vaccine is safe? We have all had it in my family — shouldn’t the proof be in the pudding? — VACCINATION HESITATION
DEAR VACCINATION HESITATION: Now that we are in this weird limbo of transition, where some people are fully vaccinated and others are hesitant to do so for whatever reason, it can feel like the world has turned a bit upside down yet again. How can we get back to “normal” after so many have died and so many have suffered? Expecting people to just be “over it?” Some people have acted like nothing has happened all year long, and some people like your brother and sister-in-law, want to believe there is a secret monster hiding under the bed. The monsters are clear: Coronavirus and the spread of misinformation. Until we decide to stand together and collectively work towards a common goal to end this misery, we are going to remain in this limbo land. The way forward is to get vaccinated as soon as you are able. The fact that your brother and sister-in-law refuse to do that based on misinformation and pseudo-science is sad to me. I know so many doctors, nurses and medical professionals who are mentally exhausted from trying to convince people that the vaccine is safe. What’s scary isn’t the vaccine but the mob mentality around it. I don’t know what to tell you other than to keep encouraging them. Keep sending them medically-backed and evidence-based articles. Keep offering to go with them. Keep dangling carrots like being with your mother as part of the reward for vaccination. I don’t know what we are going to do if we continue to limp along like this as a nation. I am saddened for those who won’t be able to celebrate with their families ever again because Covid cut their lives short. My heart breaks for those who are in financial ruin, out on the streets or unable to make ends meet because of the economic fallout from this disease. Until we recognize that in order to thrive we all must put in the effort, we will continue to lag behind as other nations start to pick up the pieces faster than we do. I hope your brother and sister-in-law recognize that their behavior is self indulgent and harmful. Beyond that, keep your boundaries in place. They have made their choice, now you have to make yours.
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