I recently found out that my wife’s sister has past. I am upset because I never even knew she had a sister. My wife hides her family and her past from me. Worse she asked me not to come to the funeral and wants to go alone. We have been married for over a year but have been together for more than 8 years. What should I do. I want to be there for her but I am also very sad and feel betrayed by her actions.
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A female reader, mystiquek + ♥, writes (18 March 2019):
If you love your wife then the best thing you can do is to respect her, support her and allow her to go alone. She has her reasons whatever they are. If she wants to open up to you she will. Just ask her if you can help her in any way. Some of us are not lucky enough to have wonderful caring supportive families and we have had to escape and cope the best way that we can. I speak from experience. Some members of my family are absolutely toxic and I prefer that people I love do not have to be subjected to them. If your wife never talked about her sister to you in all the time that you have been together, there is obviously some reason why. Again, just be supportive of her.
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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious + ♥, writes (18 March 2019):
This is not about YOU. This is about your wife and whatever dysfunctional relationship she has with her family. If she has never mentioned her sister in all the 8 years you have known her, then there was obviously some problem between them. In your shoes I would not press for more information and I certainly would not insist on being there for her when this is quite clearly something she needs to do alone. Instead, ask if there is anything you can do to help and give her a big hug when she comes back. Don’t ask questions but tell her you are happy to listen if she WANTS to talk. There could be many painful reasons why she has not talked about her family for all these years. (I don’t talk about certain aspects of my upbringing because the raking up the memories still causes me distress.) Respect the reasons your wife has for not wishing to share this information about her past while offering support IF she wants it. This is not something you can fix for her. All you can do is be there. Don’t add to her distress by demanding she shares what she obviously prefers to forget.
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A female reader, janniepeg + ♥, writes (18 March 2019):
There is nothing you do on your part. This is not about you but her family. Ideally couples share everything because they have trust. This is harder for families especially of Asian descent or those who had taken an oath of secrecy. I can relate to her so I have sympathy for her. For me, the test of love is to let go of the need to control and to know everything. To love such a woman is to accept her need for her secret, when most would press for answers and look at her family as abnormal. Her ability to love you is not dependent on her willingness to tell you about her family. There must be a reason why she kept the secret. Fear of shame and being looked down upon. Fear of judgment. It’s possible that her family has special arrangement for her or paid her to shut up about certain things. You agreed to marry her knowing you would not have an in law relationship. You have been together for 8 years and then you wanted to be with her for long term. That shows you enjoy this relationship even when her background is obscure. You can still be a source of support without having to press for information. I keep a big secret from my extended family too. I am still a happy being, not someone who needs rescuing or be corrected of what the proper thing to do is, when it comes to family secrets. I stick to my decision based on what I think yields the best outcome for everyone and I have no regrets.Every family has a different story. I am not certain if her secrecy is in some way affecting your marriage. Such as her mental well being. Has her complicated relationship within her family caused her to become cold towards you, or is she still able to carry her duty as a wife?
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A male reader, WiseOwlE + ♥, writes (18 March 2019):
People have their reasons why they hide their families. Usually it is shame. If you come from better circumstances and have a better relationship with your family; you may judge hers once you discover the contrast. That’s what she fears.If she asked to go alone, allow her to save face. You were her boyfriend for 8 years, and her husband for the last year. You went 8 years without being curious, and you didn’t seem to mind. We receive hundreds of posts from people who write DC, who come from toxic family situations. They sometimes have to escape their past; because it was nothing but a source of pain and shame. They often ask the aunts and uncles what to do. Their only choice is to distance themselves from people who bring them nothing but grief and abuse. Then there are others who come from poverty; and have very unsophisticated and under-educated families, who are crass and may embarrass them. What they fear is being judged. Ashamed of their families and their background; or protective of them, because they would rather die than see pity or disgust on your face. I speculate she doesn’t want to see the look on your face when you realize how poor or different her family is from yours. They just may not be the kind of people you would normally want to associate with; or you may have unwittingly made insensitive comments that created the shame. If you have expressed certain prejudices or intolerance towards certain kinds of people; they may fall into one of those categories. She has apparently done everything she can to be unlike the people she left behind. Respect her privacy. If they’ve never visited, and you got married without inviting her family. I guess you were doing fine not knowing them.Let her go alone. How are you betrayed now, when you were together 8 years and you never inquired about her family origins? Everyone comes from somewhere, and has to be related to somebody. If her family-relationship is estranged, toxic, or abusive; it’s better to fly above the drama. She went out of her way to stay away from them, probably for good reasons.Especially if they’re a crime-family. If she comes from another country; perhaps they are undocumented immigrants living under the radar. It could be more about you, than them!She may be hiding you from them to protect you. Either way, allow her to bury her sister and deal with her family. When she returns, and you have given her ample time for her grief period; then ask some questions. If you’ve been happy thus far, don’t open a can of worms.
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