Thursday, May 5, 2005

Dear Abby:

My husband's aunt, "Vivian," recently confided a family secret. She told me that my father-in-law is not my husband's biological father. (I have always instinctively felt that he wasn't.) Aunt Vivian also informed me that the person was her now-deceased husband, "Uncle Zeke." Abby, it was incest. Uncle Zeke was my husband's mother's brother.

Aunt Vivian asked me never to divulge this to anyone, but my husband and I have a marriage that's based on trust. I feel that I should tell him. But if I do, it will mean breaking a promise to an old woman whose husband is no longer here to defend himself. Should I go to my husband with this, or go to my mother-in-law and tell her?

My husband and his parents do not have a close relationship. He has always been treated like the black sheep in the family. His younger brother was given all the attention and was treated like a prince by his parents. An example: My in-laws had a family portrait taken of them with their youngest son. My husband was not asked to be in the picture. Because of this, I feel I wouldn't be upsetting a close family if I reveal this.

What should I do? I'm afraid if I don't tell my husband and he finds out later that I knew, it will cause problems in our marriage.

Lost in South Carolina

Aunt Vivian didn't confide a family secret; she exploded a family bombshell. It would explain why your husband has been treated the way he has by his parents all these years.

It was unfair of Aunt Vivian to place such a burden on your shoulders, so go back to this fountain of information and tell her that you don't keep secrets from your husband and she has a choice -- she can tell him or you will. It could answer a lot of painful questions for him.

Dear Abby:

My 30-year-old daughter lives in Denver. She grew up with her mother, although I was an active -- albeit distant -- father.

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