My Sister-In-Law Is Having An Affair

Dear Messenger:

Question and Answer #1

To Tell or Not to Tell

My sister-in-law told me she is having an affair with our Pastor. What should I do?

Need help getting along with partners, relatives, coworkers, and people in general?
Do you have questions about living a healthier lifestyle? Ask The Messenger

The Messenger takes your questions about whatever is on your mind.
Please send your questions for publication to (Questions may be edited.) All names will be changed.

Dear Messenger

I was visiting with my sister-in-law this morning, and she told me that she has been having an affair with our Pastor for the past year. Not only is he the minister of our church, his wife, Claudia, is also my best friend. I wish she had not told me, but now that she has, what should I do. I want to do the right thing, but if I told anyone and my brother Bob and my best friend found out. They both would be devastated.


I don’t know if I can live with this disturbing secret much longer. It is causing me to lose sleep, and my husband is beginning to think maybe something is “going on” with me. He has been questioning me about why I seem to be so distracted. I do not want him to think that there is something that I am not telling him. I feel just terrible keeping a secret from my husband. I will be having lunch with Claudia on Tuesday. What should I tell her, if anything. Should I let my brother know? He is my brother, and I love him dearly?
—Caught in the Middle

Dear caught in the middle

Well, it is not a secret anymore, and it is not your secret to keep. Your sister-in-law put a load on your shoulders that is not yours to bear. And she let you in on her sordid affair, knowing whom she was telling. Not only is she married to your brother, but she is also getting it on with your best friend’s husband. I would normally say it is not your business, but this time, it is. Here is why, what if your brother and your best friend found out what is going on and that you knew and did not tell them. How could you explain?

There is probably not very much you could say that would heal the wounds that have been open by none other than your brother’s wife, and of course, the Pastor of your church. The first person you need to speak with, though, is your sister-in-law. She is the one who should tell, and you should let her know that if she does not, you will. A thing to remember is, if she had an ounce of respect for you, she would not have felt she could do what she did to your brother and then have the nerve to tell you. She did it because she knew she could. That tells me, to put it bluntly, you have little self-esteem, and it shows. Otherwise, your sister-in-law would never have told you what she did.


You need to take a look at yourself and find out why you have such a low opinion of yourself. You are better than you think you are. Of course, it is how you think. And this kind of thinking always starts in childhood. You know what it is. Take one last look at your hurt and pain from the past, and then leave it there.

Here You Are Free to Say What You Think