Help! My brother-in-law made advances

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By Nyambura Maina

I am keeping a secret from my sister. Her husband made advances towards me and even though nothing happened I still feel guilty about the whole episode. I now feel nothing except contempt towards him. Just seeing my brother-in-law reminds me of the guilt burden I carry. Lately, my sister and I have become closer than we were before and we share a lot with each other. I am afraid that one day she will notice that I am holding back something from her. Telling her my secret might be detrimental to her marriage and she might also end up blaming me and loathing me. I don’t want to lose the bond we have, but I fear the consequences of disclosing my secret. What should I do?

Hannah, Karatina

Guilt is a heavy burden to carry. The conscience always desires to be clean and this can prove to be a formidable task to accomplish. A nagging conscience could bring you down and leave you feeling awful. Judging yourself as wrong is what produces guilt. This judgment is self-inflicted and therefore the guilt only harms the person carrying it and no one else.

Guilt is concerned with the past — When you feel bad about something you did or failed to do. Past events, however, can never be changed regardless of how much guilt you carry. You cannot undo history by carrying around guilt. We rationalise that by feeling guilty we will somehow exonerate ourselves from past misdeeds. This is all futile because what happened, happened, and nothing that you do will change the past.

Instead, you need to focus on your blossoming relationship with your sister. It is a beautiful gift you have been given in the present and guilt, which is consumed with the past, threatens to sabotage it. Enjoy the now, where you and your sister are close, rather than spoiling those precious moments with regret. Likewise, with your brother-in-law, choose to live in the now and discard your contempt for him. It takes you back to a period you regret and this will waste a lot of your valuable energy.

Common counsel

Get over it

What is the sense in feeling guilty when nothing really happened? It was your brother-in-law that erred and not you. You have nothing to feel bad about unless you led him on. So stop carrying that burden and move on with life. There’s no need to ruin things with your sister just because your conscience is bugging you. Get over it and move on.

Noel, 39

Reveal all

Hannah, tell your sister the truth. If you were in her place, wouldn’t you want to know? Put her needs before your own. Right now your sister has a wrong impression of her marriage. Her husband overstepped his boundaries and she needs to know and deal with that information in her own way. Keeping secrets will only worsen things since women are very intuitive. Maybe she has already sensed the tension between you and her husband. Disclose what happened and leave your sister and her husband to sort out the rest.

Stephanie, 44

His true colours will show up

It’s important not to blame yourself in all this. Your brother-in-law made a stupid move and now you are torturing yourself for it. It is him who should pay for his bad behaviour. Extract yourself from the equation and before long your brother-in-law will mess things up all on his own. People like him cannot hide their true colours for long. Be there for you sister in case she needs a shoulder to cry on. Don’t beat yourself up over this. Carrying guilt will not change the kind of man your sister is married to.

Amy, 27

Pat on the back

Hannah, look on the bright side of things. You are an attractive woman, otherwise your brother-in-law would not have approached you. We men get weak in the presence of pretty ladies and this is a fact of life that you just have to deal with. Luckily his vibes did not work on you maybe because you are also blessed with a lot of self-control. Your sister is fortunate to have a sister like you. Give yourself a pat on the back instead of feeling terrible about the whole episode.

Tim, 31

What you fear will come to pass

Tell your sister at your own risk. That which you fear will come to pass. She will blame and exclude you henceforth from her life. I suffered the same ordeal as you did. When the guilt overwhelmed me, I made a confession to my sister.

She lashed out at me blaming me for leading him on — walking around the house in shorts and tight tops. I was thrown out of the house and I lost my sister’s love and trust. I still keep away from them and I truly regret opening my mouth. I also realised that my motive for telling her the truth was selfish in a way. I did it not so much for her sake, but so that I could absolve myself from any guilt and emerge as the ‘good guy’. But I ended up the loser.

Julianna, 34

Out of sight, out of mind

Considering the close relationship you share with your sister, you would only be creating lasting enmity and the temptation to fall prey to her husband’s advances will be enormous.

I therefore advice you to look for an alternative place to stay and tighten your morals. You could even go back to your parents or any other relative close by. Remember when siblings collide when they are all adults it becomes very hard for them to reconcile.

Phyllice Khasandi

Mum’s the word

What your sister does not know cannot hurt her. By telling her what happened, you will definitely hurt and even break the marriage. Be fair, mind your business and avoid your brother-in-law.


Grow up

Behave like a mature person. You said nothing happened. Therefore, there is no reason to disclose since it may impact negatively on your sister’s marriage. It could even lead to divorce. If your brother-in-law was not forceful then there is no need to disclose. Remember no one knows what your heart holds unless you speak it out. So keep your secret.

Ali Wanje

Let go of fear

It is obvious that keeping the secret is not doing you any good. It is like a time bomb that is waiting to explode. You already hate your brother-in-law and this feeling will surely eat you up until you push yourself to doing something. The more you hate him, the more you hurt him and the more he gets away with the terrible thing he did. Your sister is still in the dark so you are really helping no one. You are holding back out of fear of breaking your sister’s marriage and loosing her love and trust.

These fears have made you a prisoner and you have become blind to what is right. Get out of that prison so fast and save your sister from a disaster that is waiting to happen. If your brother-in-law has the audacity to make advances on his sister-in- law, what makes you think he will hesitate when it comes to strangers?

Sarah Akinyi

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