TV’s Steph and Dom Parker, 53 and 55, draw on their 22 years of marriage to solve your relationship problems . . .
Q: I have a horrible dilemma. My husband and I have a close-knit group of friends. We’re all in our late 40s and many of us have known each other since we were at school.
Very recently, my husband learned that the husband of one of the women in this group is having an affair — with my younger sister.
I felt sick when I found out. My sister has always been a bit of a loose cannon, but this feels like a personal betrayal.
An anonymous reader asked British TV’s Steph and Dom Parker for advice on discovering her husband’s friend is having an affair with her sister (file image)
Last year she went through a tricky divorce and it was to help her get over it that I started inviting her to social functions with my friends.
She’s always been very pretty, but recently she got herself slim and bought new clothes . . .
It’s such a mess. I veer from wanting to go in all guns blazing, to hoping it’ll just fizzle out and I can stick my head in the sand for ever.
STEPH SAYS: First things first. You need to cut yourself some slack. You feel awful, but try to remember that you have been very unfairly placed in this position by both parties, not just your sister.
Having something threaten your friendship group is hard to navigate — and so much worse when your sister is the threat!
In my opinion, she has behaved appallingly. Despite this, you must be the big sister now: your family are your family whether you like it or not.
You may love your friends enormously, but they are not your blood. You will always have your sister in your life and she must be the main focus here.
Ask her to come over, then sit her down and point out, in detail, the very real damage that is being done.
She’s probably having a lovely, exciting time, enjoying clandestine meetings and thinking no one will find out and nothing terrible will happen.
Steph (pictured, with Dom) advised the reader to give her sister 48 hours to end the affair, or do it herself
In reality, she is potentially breaking up a marriage and a family. Tell her, in no uncertain terms, what will happen when the affair becomes public knowledge. The romance will disappear. The excitement will evaporate in a puff of guilt and accusation.
His marriage will likely be over. And she will be removed from the social group. This is not a love story, it’s an ego trip.
Then tell her she must end the affair. Give her 48 hours — or you will do it for her.
If she refuses, then ring the other party. Meet him and your sister together — and treat them in the same way you would anyone who has betrayed you or their wife. Again, give them 48 hours to end their relationship or you will. Remember, this is the right thing to do. They have placed you at the centre of this, so you must act.
Give her 48 hours to end it, or you will
Your duty is to guide your sister away from the mess in which she finds herself.
I’m sure you feel responsible because you invited her into your group — and she has repaid you in an unforgivable manner.
You can repair the damage to your relationship over time. The pressing issue now is putting an end to the affair. This will take courage — but afterwards you will know you’ve done everything you can, for all concerned.
The wife may never forgive you for bringing your sister into her life, but you did not create the affair and you cannot be held responsible for it.
What you can be held responsible for is the way you act now. Nip this in the bud at once. Be brave, be bold, and be very clear. It is time to do the right thing — today.
I wish you every luck and hope you can forgive the pair in time.
Dom (pictured) advised the reader to put herself in her friend’s position and imagine how she would feel about the situation
DOM SAYS: You poor, poor thing. I’m so sorry you’ve been put in this horrible situation by two very selfish and inconsiderate people. It seems like marriage vows made in front of God are pretty worthless in this modern day and age, which is terribly sad.
Your problem is multi-faceted. On the one hand is the infidelity of the husband — and, on the other, the stupidity of your sister to come into your social group and explode it.
This would be bad enough if you ‘just’ knew that your friend’s husband was having an affair, but the fact that it’s with your sister makes matters even worse.
I’m sorry to say, I can’t really see a way in which this is going to end well.
Of course, when people have affairs there is always the possibility that they really have fallen deeply in love. In those instances, support should be offered. But it doesn’t seem like that’s the case. You say in your longer letter the husband has form, so it’s likely he’s chanced his arm — and your sister, on the rebound and in need of attention, has fallen for it.
Do the right thing and tell your friend
The problem is that other people will find out. Let’s face it, you and your husband know, and if others aren’t in on it yet, they will be soon. Your sister will blab, or she will be spotted.
What you must do is put yourself in your friend’s position and imagine how you would feel if you found out that a friend knew, yet hadn’t told you. She will be distraught — and probably convinced you have been laughing behind her back.
So I’m afraid you must do the decent thing.
But I also think you need proof first. Then you need to talk to your friend and tell her what’s going on. If you don’t, you will lose the friendship. To be honest, I think you will probably lose it either way, but you must do the right thing nonetheless.
Then, you are absolutely within your rights to tell your sister what you think of her behaviour. She has acted in an unbelievably selfish way and is clutching at straws without thinking of the chaos she will cause. You are quite right to be livid — and she should know that, too.
One final, but very important, point. Please remember that none of this is your fault. Your sister’s actions have wreaked havoc on the lives of many. Of course, the poor wife is the main victim — but you, your husband and your wider group of friends will probably suffer, too.
You are not responsible for that. All you can do now is to continue to act like the decent person you are — and be there for your friend when she needs you.
If you have a question you’d like Steph and Dom to tackle, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org