in mind

'I am attracted to my sister-in-law, please help me to come out of it'

'I always think of my sister-in-law and get pleasure out of it'

Moderator: Biju Mathew, Web Editor
16:03 March 28, 2014

A reader asks: I am settled in Dubai for the last 8 years. I have a strange sort of problem, I am attracted towards my sister-in-law, who is 26-years old. She is divorced with a kid and I am married to her younger sister.

Initially, I had sympathy towards her when she got divorced, but later on I started loving her. When she is around, I stare at her face and body, and I think she has noticed it. But I can't stop... I love my wife very much and we have 2 children. When I am kissing or making love to my wife , I always think of my sister-in-law and get pleasure out of it.

Please help me come out of this situation.

Dr. Melanie C. Schlatter, (PhD, Consultant Health Psychologist, Well Woman Clinic, Dubai) replies: Thank you for your query. To be honest, you are the first person in a long time who states that they love their wife very much, you are off to a good start! However, it appears that because of the divorce of your sister-in-law and perhaps your involvement in that situation, you started to feel sympathy and then physical attraction towards her. As such, I am not convinced that this is indeed truly love as you suggest, or whether it is simply pure physical attraction. Indeed, it can be very enticing to want to help someone in need, and perhaps because of their vulnerability or even reliance upon you or looking up to you, you can end up feeling very powerful. This can easily lead into the kinds of feelings, which you are experiencing now. The problem is that when we let these emotions and fantasies control us, it is difficult to remain grounded and sensible, and it obscures our ability to see everything that we have right in front of us, as well as the ability to see any danger ahead.

I realize that it must be difficult when you genuinely care for those close to you, but to allow yourself to continue having these deeper feelings for your sister-in-law, can only lead to trouble. Indeed, although you have not mentioned it, I would hasten to add that I do not think that taking action on your feelings for your sister-in-law would be fair to her,  she is undoubtedly already dealing with the ramifications of her divorce and trying to cope with her child, let alone coping with the emotional confusion of your attraction for her. Furthermore, there is no need to sabotage the relationship between yourself and your wife if there is already a lot of love there. Indeed, your wife would be unlikely to react well if she knew that you were fantasising about her sister, and I am sure you do not want to destroy any bond that they have between themselves. You are also responsible for 2 children and they could be adversely affected if your feelings were to come out into the open. So, as you can see thus far, there are many red flags in this situation.

I do not know if you live in close proximity to your sister-in-law, or how long this situation has been going on, but if it is difficult to avoid her, I would recommend that you keep everything as normal as it was previously. Minimise or stay away from 'risky' situations such as being alone with her; taking her out; doing things that require extra cooperation together: such as cooking or childminding; staring/looking at her when she can catch your gaze, and so forth. You have not mentioned how she has reacted to your stares, but again, I believe that this is a vulnerable woman who also may not be thinking clearly, and you are not in a position to take advantage of this.

The thoughts that you have about your sister-in-law are more difficult to control when there is physical attraction, and no one can stop you thinking about her, but you must be aware of *why* you have a need to entertain these thoughts, and as to *why* they have come about. If your marriage was having any kind of difficulty beforehand, please address these with a professional soon, so that you can learn to have a more satisfying relationship. You must realise that this is a very dangerous and awkward situation, which could negatively impact several peoples' lives, and you have an opportunity to stop this all right away. I wish you all the very best.

Disclaimer: This blog is a conversation and is not an alternative for treatment. The recommendations and suggestions offered by our panel of psychiatrists are their own and Gulf News will not take any responsibility for the advice they provide.