AdviceHey, Bonita!

Did My Brother Really Cheat on His Dying Wife?

Dear Bonita,

My brother’s wife died of breast cancer last year. It was a long and painful process that I know was very emotionally draining for him and their children, especially since their relationship had plenty of problems. They fought a lot, and she was very controlling, to the point that she wouldn’t let him see his family (specifically, my mother) when she was really mad at him. She’d make absurd claims and threaten him with divorce if he did anything—“If you go visit your mom today, that means you don’t love me, so I’ll leave you” type stuff. She stole so much money from him that he had to take his own wife to court once, and she resented our family—for what reason, I have no idea.

Obviously, I never really liked her, but I was sad to see the kids lose their mother. Now that she’s gone, it’s like my brother is a whole new person. I’ve never seen him so happy. It’s like he has a real personality now! He’s started a business and moved out of the home where he gave his wife hospice care, and now he’s living with his new girlfriend. He says they’ve been dating for six months and living together for just two, but I’m having a hard time with this.

First off, there’s the fact that his two youngest children hate his new girlfriend’s guts. I can understand them not liking to see their father in love with someone else, but it’s almost scary how my niece regards my brother’s new woman. I’m worried that one day I’ll have to break up a fight between them. His son is better, but not by much. Beyond that, they just seem entirely too close for a couple that new. Six months is pretty fast to move in together, and I’ve never known my brother to play it so fast and loose.

Basically, I think my brother was cheating on his wife while she was on her deathbed. I think he met this new girl way before his wife passed, because they’re just too close. It feels like an older relationship than what he’s presenting to us.

His wife, frankly, was a nightmare, and I know they both cheated during their marriage, but something about this just makes me feel sick. I want to do some snooping around or ask some questions, but I don’t want him to know that I’m onto him. I also don’t want to make an already intensely emotional family situation worse by stirring up anything. Right now I’m just having an awful time even looking at my brother. I want to know if it’s true, because the idea alone is offensive. Nightmare or not, how could he?

I really hope your brother didn’t cheat on a dying woman, because I’m with you—what a dick move! This woman does sound like she was a real piece of work, though, and being with her must have taken a lot of work. It’s possible that your brother might have simply known his current girlfriend before his wife died, and they formed a relationship after she passed. Perhaps she was a friend who comforted him or provided support during his wife’s illness, and it makes sense that feelings could have developed during a time like that. Seems to me like maybe they got close while his wife was still alive and decided to date after she died.

I think you should just ask your brother what’s up, but also ask your niece and nephew, too. Your brother might wanna save face by lying about the timeline of events or other details, but an angry kid will spill their guts on a parent gladly. The real question is what to do with the information you find out. At what level should you be involved in the goings-on of your brother’s relationships?

I understand your moralist urge to chastise your brother for this possible indiscretion, but it’s not really your business, is it? It doesn’t really affect your life beyond your peripheral involvement with keeping the peace between the kids and his new girlfriend. In that case, you could ask your brother to work this shit out so you can stop playing referee when you come over.

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