Dear Amy: One of my female family members — unmarried and in her 50s — recently disclosed to our large family that she has been having an affair with a married man for 30-plus years. They met while she was in college (he worked at her university), and he has one adult daughter. He is in his 70s.
Her announcement was prompted by the recent death of his wife. Now they are public about their relationship, attending family weddings, sending gifts, etc., as a couple.
Shortly after their relationship became known openly, she announced that they were engaged. Their wedding and her bridal shower are both being planned. My family and I have already been asked to save the dates.
She is an adult and is free to make her own choices; it's really none of my business. My dilemma is this: I do not want to be a part of the shower or the wedding. I feel that while the intent is for these events to be a celebration, they are a disrespectful spectacle; their infidelity is now public only because his wife has passed away.
I don't want to take a dramatic stance in any of this. I just want to avoid it altogether. Any suggestions? — Disapproving
Me 41 H 40 S 9 S 6
I want to live in a world where George Zimmerman offered Trayvon Martin a ride home to get him out of the rain that night. -Bishop G. Brewer
Dear Disapproving: If you want to avoid drama, then you should also avoid harsh judgment. If it is possible for you to forgive your relative for her decades-long involvement in an extramarital affair, you should do so. You presumably don't know the circumstances behind this affair and — spun differently — your relative seems like someone who has been profoundly patient. Would you wish to deny her the fullness of happiness now?
It is quite easy to decline an invitation without making a statement designed to ramp up the drama. You simply respond politely that you will not be able to make it to the festivities. You do not need to supply a reason.
My mom's first cousin was involved in a relationship like this one, though not for quite thirty years. They did marry in their 70s, and the marriage was plagued with tragedies and serious health issues. He died after just a few years and she is seriously ill and bedridden. There was not a lot of forgiveness among family members on his side, and her family just pretended the affair hadn't happened and chalked it all up to "idle gossip".
I agree with Amy's advice. I'm not much on pronouncing my condemnation on others, and I actually don't assume that everyone needs to hear my opinion. I'd skip the grandstanding proclamations of why and simply not go.
Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit
"That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens