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Not exactly step related but I could use some opinions

kathleen's picture

My FIL has been dating a woman I'll call Betty for 10 years. We've become really close. Over the years he's run around with other women and it has been super painful for Betty. One woman, I'll call Sue, has been in and out of his life for over 30 years. FIL actually claims her daughter as his own, giving her his last name but isn't biologically his. Sue and FIL dated while she was pregnant 30 years ago. I've only met Sue a handful of times. So, Sue starts coming back in the picture and meets up with FIL more often than Betty can handle. Finally FIL and Betty break up. She and I talk on the phone all the time, almost as much as my own mother and I do.

FIL is planning to marry Sue and he hasn't told Betty. I feel like I'm lying to her all the time because it is a secret I'm keeping for FIL. She is in a lot of pain and truthfully I think knowing would nail the lid on the coffin for her. I've explained to my FIL that what he does with his life is his business and that I will welcome Sue with open arms. However, I have a strong relationship with Betty, and although separate, I feel like I am lying to her by keeping this secret. I've asked FIL to tell her and he said he would. He called and left one message and never called again.

So bottom line, the wedding is in a few weeks.

Here's the question:

Should I tell Betty, after it has taken place since he doesn't seem to have the courtesy to do so, or do I leave it his secret and continue having an elephant in the room every time I talk to her? When she finds out, I"m sure eventually somehow she will, I"m afraid she'll feel I've betrayed her too.

Please give me your opinions. I'd like to have un-buffered opinions from lots of view points and that is hard to do in my own circle.


ColorMeGone2's picture

It's not like you're getting between FIL and Betty or interfering in their relationship, because they no longer have a relationship. So the relationship that you used to have with them as a couple is no more. You now have two separate relationships with two separate people. She is your friend, which I understand completely. My MIL is more than just my MIL. We have a relationship that goes beyond my being married to her son. I know if we ever divorced, she and I would still be close friends. She deserves to know and he should have told her, especially since he said he would. So I say tell her and if he has a problem with it, then you say, "Oh, I'm sorry, FIL! You said you were going to tell her yourself and I thought surely you had done it by now. My mistake!" That turns it back on him, for not telling her in the first place as he said he would.

♥ Georgia ♥

"Good men don't just happen. They have to be created by us women." (from ROSEANNE)

kathleen's picture

So do you think I should tell her now, before the wedding or give him a little bit more time? And, how would you explain my not telling her until now?

Sita Tara's picture

To spare Betty from dwelling on it and getting more depressed. It's actually what I did to my "former" love, when I married DH. He knew we were engaged, but that news was only shared after he asked. Then a couple weeks after the wedding he wrote inquiring if we had set a date. I then told him we got married already. I explained I didn't want him sitting around the day of my wedding, depressed and morose.

So....I would let the day pass and give Betty the gift of blissful ignorance to the goings on. It should still be up to him. If he doesn't do it, I would tell him you are going to. But he may be hoping for that to relieve him of something he should be man enough to do.

Just my opinion. Sticky wicket of a situation.

“I never gave away anything without wishing I had kept it; nor kept it without wishing I had given it away.” ~Louise Brooks

kathleen's picture

I'm no longer in surprise over my FIL, I just hope to God my husband fell very far from that apple tree. I would have a terrible future in store for me if DH turns out like his Dad. Not a bad man in general but a pussy and the women in his life deserve better. Especially Betty. She is a very cool woman and I love her to death. I can't actually imagine visiting FIL anymore without her there. That is why making friends with the new "wife" will make things easier, but it is still a shock. BTW this is his 6th marriage.

Sasha's picture

My ex-husband never told the girl he was dating that he and I were engaged. I had urged him time and time to be truthful with her, but he was too much of a coward to do it himself. She found out when she went to his mother's house to find out why she hadn't seen or heard from him in a year (yeah, maybe she wasn't too bright). His mother told her we were engaged and she was very angry, understandably so.

Can you ask your FIL if he has told Betty and if not does he want you to tell her? I still think it should be up to him to break the news, but some guys are just schmuks and can't man up and do their own dirty work. Some people will go out of their way to avoid confrontation at all costs, even if it's the wrong approach.

If you and Betty are that close, I'm sure she will understand your reasons for not telling her. When she does find out I would just let her know that not telling her was the hardest thing you had to do, but that you really felt it was his responsibility.

I'm glad I'm not in your shoes.

Most Evil's picture

She deserves better but it would be much worse if she got really upset before the ceremony or at the ceremony. Can you possibly avoid her for a little while? and then when you tell her, you can tell the truth, I couldn't bear to talk to you for a while because you promised you would not tell, he wanted to tell you himself. If she really puts you on the spot though I would tell her.

Either way she will be crushed and hopefully will not be so mad if you let her cry on your shoulder then. Your FIL really put you in a bad spot though! very awkward for everyone, I am so sorry.

"In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer." -Albert Camus

Karma_'s picture

Save her the torture of counting down the days to the wedding and then moping around on the wedding day thinking about the family gathering without her.

Perhaps you could ring her in the next few days and arrange to spend time with her the day after the wedding. Just tell her you want to come for lunch or a visit. If she finds out about the wedding from someone else in the meantime, tell her your FIL had promised to tell her and you were respecting his wishes.

The fact that you had already arranged to spend the day with her after the wedding will reassure her that she was always you main concern. Does that make sense?

}:) Being my husbands third wife does not make me third rate. It just means he is a slow learner }:)

Sita Tara's picture

I agree with this one whole heartedly. It may be tough on you if she gets terribly upset, but since you're good friends that's where you'd want to be I'm sure.

“I never gave away anything without wishing I had kept it; nor kept it without wishing I had given it away.” ~Louise Brooks

ColorMeGone2's picture

...that you'd tell her afterwards.

"Should I tell Betty, after it has taken place since he doesn't seem to have the courtesy to do so, or do I leave it his secret and continue having an elephant in the room every time I talk to her?"

No, I wouldn't tell her before the wedding for all the reasons given above, but after the wedding has taken place, it's not a secret, anymore. It's a matter of public record. I don't think FIL will do it. He may intend to, but I don't think he will actually tell her. It may even be easier for her to hear it from you, anyway.

If she mentions FIL between now and then, just let her talk and be a good listener. They are broken up, so you can speak to the relationship as being in the past tense. If FIL doesn't tell her before the wedding, then you definitely tell her soon after and reassure her of her place in your life.

♥ Georgia ♥

"Good men don't just happen. They have to be created by us women." (from ROSEANNE)

Sita Tara's picture

Sometimes I read through too fast. Didn't catch that one. Georgia you are too sharp!

“I never gave away anything without wishing I had kept it; nor kept it without wishing I had given it away.” ~Louise Brooks

kathleen's picture

I wish I could go to Betty's house and visit with her, hold her hand and help her through. I actually believe that once she knows she will be much better off. When we talk, she wants to know stuff, doesn't ask right out but just talking about events etc. that she would have participated in conjures up dread in my heart. So I tell her things that I can not otherwise avoid. She knows for example that Sue is moving to live with FIL, so that is a "marriage" in a way. Betty believes that Sue is manipulating herself in FIL life and it won't last. She also believes that FIL would never marry again. And, that he broke up with her only because he didn't want to be a one woman man. So the news about the wedding will be a big one.

I'm thinking now that after the wedding is over, I will ask my FIL if he has told her. If not, I will let him know that it is difficult for me to maintain an honest relationship holding a secret for him that he should have shared himself. Then I will tell her how this is just one more example of what a shitty partner he was and would be for her. She deserves so much better, SO MUCH BETTER>

The hardest part is that she is 70 years old. Girls, our troubles don't end as we age, we still want the same things in every way, it just begins to feel more and more helpless. I don't want to tell her she will meet someone else, maybe she won't.

I'll tell you. This whole things makes me think long and hard about making the right kinds of commitments with my time and my heart. I know she will ache deeply, she has for some time. I tell her all the time that the time she spent with him was worth it, because she thinks of it with the best of memories, but that he is not her forever pet. He is a selfish, self absorbed man who could never in a million years meet her needs. Friends could do better and she should continue dancing on Saturday nights to get a little gentlemen attention.

Verdict: Talk to FIL after wedding tell him I'm going to tell her and then delivery message gently.