I’m in love with my half brother.

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker


I have been unhappily married for 11 years. I basically married the wrong person. We have 2 boys. I thought my husband represented all I wanted from life. My sex life consisted of all give and no take before. I had no intimacy with my husband, he was gone all week and only home on the weekends only to be miserable and grouchy and very non-intimate, but expected sex every night he was home and blatantly told me at the beginning of our relationship that sex was a very important part of a marriage.

Being a single mom, I wanted the perfect relationship and I wanted to be the perfect wife and mother. I made sure my husband got what was important to him in a marriage – sex. But I received no satisfaction or his interest in satisfying me. It took a long time, but I finally came to realize that I was feeling used. I was shunned when it came to intimacy. He didn’t like to cuddle or talk to me unless we’d had a few drinks and stayed up until the wee hours of the night. Alcohol inflicted sexual relationships can only go so far.

My problem is this. About a year ago I met my half brother for the first time in 25 years. Our father was basically absent from both of our lives. My half brother is 10 years younger than I am but has been through more in his life than I can account for. So we met and were so intrigued by each other, it didn’t take us long to fall in love. We have had sexual relations and for the first time in my life I can honestly say that I know what sex or “love making” is supposed to be. We are so much alike and we love to laugh and have fun. It is so refreshing. This is a deeper love than I have ever known. We crossed the line. I’m sure my older son suspects something. My brother strongly believes that because our love is so strong, we will be able to conquer all eventually. We talk about marriage!!!

I have tried and even asked for a divorce, but my husband has decided now how important I am to him and he has made a complete 180 degree turn around on me. NOW he wants to hug and cuddle and treat me like a lady and treat me with respect. He apologizes profusely for the past 11 years and tells me I should have kicked him in the a** years ago. He doesn’t want to lose me. We have gone to couples therapy and I have gone through individual counseling. I can’t get over the resentment I have for my husband for treating me and the kids the way he has. When he tries to touch me now, I feel dirty and cheap. I feel like I am cheating on my true love, but my true love happens to be my half brother.

I KNOW the consequences my half brother and I could suffer if we were ever found out. We both know. But we don’t know what to do with our feelings now. My husband has taken the position that he would do anything to save our relationship. He has become a completely different man. My personal counselor feels so deeply for me because of my situation with really feeling love for the first time and it just happens to be with the half brother I’ve never known, she says the only way we could have a relationship is if we moved to a different place where no one knew us. I live in a small town and am known by everyone as well as my children. I can’t take them out of their schools and away from their friends. They do so well here and are so well adjusted boys. I am willing to hear anything anyone has to offer. I am torn. Please help.

A: I too am very, very sorry you have lived such a difficult life for such a long time. However, that doesn’t justify your current situation. I think you and your brother are mistaking relief and the excitement of doing the forbidden for love. You have both been deeply unhappy so it makes a kind of sense that you would each fall for someone who understands your pain. But — Your lover is your half brother, 10 years younger, and a father. You are married and a mother. You are both longing for family and connectedness but there are too many differences and obstacles to overcome to make this work over the long haul. Most important, at least three children are going to be deeply affected if you and your brother try to live together as a couple. If you stay in your town, the kids will have to bear taunting and shame. If you keep your secret by moving everyone away, they will be wrenched from their security. (You do realize that relatives and friends will eventually figure things out so the kids will find out anyway.)

That doesn’t mean you should stay with an abusive husband. It does sound like all he is doing now is too little, much too late. You are not obligated to forgive him. You certainly shouldn’t forget how he treats people when he takes them for granted. It could be that this time with your brother has been a much needed boost so that you could finally think about the divorce you’ve been too afraid to consider without a safety net.

Now that you’ve taken the step of asking for a divorce, you need to use your personal counselor to help you find the courage and strength to make a life for you and your kids on your own — not to indulge in fantasies about a forbidden love that will wreck so many lives. I hope your counselor hasn’t gotten so caught up in feeling sorry for your pain that she isn’t able to see the larger picture and give you the support you need to move forward.

Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Aug 2007

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2007). I’m in love with my half brother.. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 2, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/08/13/im-in-love-with-my-half-brother/

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